What is SPAN?
Our homes are getting smarter and are now more connected to devices and the Internet of Things (IoT). SPAN is a smart service panel that allows you to monitor and control each circuit in your house through the SPAN app on your phone.
The SPAN service panel is a modern-day update to the century-old electric service panel in a house. This computerized panel can control and monitor every electric load in your house. It allows for utility-grade metering of every breaker in your house to help you make more informed electric usage decisions. In addition, the app gives the user full control of each load, allowing you to turn them on or off remotely via the SPAN app.
When paired with a backup battery and a residential solar system, the SPAN service panel allows customers to make informed choices during emergencies such as grid disruptions and blackouts. With SPAN, customers can shift load consumption and improve home energy efficiency. The ability to strategically turn off devices when they’re not needed will ensure that your batteries last longer.
Put simply, the SPAN smart service panel is the “brain” that controls the electrical circuits of a smart home.
What Is a Backup Battery?
Home backup batteries store electricity for use during a grid failure and are frequently paired with solar systems. Solar panels themselves do not protect homes from blackouts. If the grid goes down, the solar system will shut off. However, if you integrate a backup battery system with an automatic transfer switch, the solar system will store energy in the batteries that will run when the grid goes down.
Managing Electricity With the SPAN Service Panel and SPAN App
The SPAN smart service panel allows homeowners to monitor and control circuits in their house from their smartphone using the SPAN app. SPAN can alert a homeowner of battery levels and electricity usage. This allows homeowners to adjust their energy usage.
For example, by analyzing load-specific usage data, an electric vehicle can be set to charge in real-time to increase efficiency. This is particularly useful during grid outages, which ensures the batteries continue to power only critical loads until the grid is restored.
The SPAN app allows you to control circuit breakers remotely. From your smartphone, you have the ability to turn outlets—such as living room lights—on and off. When on vacation, a homeowner can turn their lights on to make their house look occupied, or simply shut off a hot tub that has been left on. The SPAN app uses metadata from homes with identical electric loads to identify if your appliances are consuming more electricity than expected and thus costing you more money.
Furthermore, the SPAN app is integrated with the home’s solar system, allowing you to track its production in real-time and can let you see where the solar power is going: whether it’s to the grid, the battery, or towards home appliances. The app also identifies if the system is underproducing or not producing at all, which may indicate the system needs to be inspected or repaired.
In addition, the SPAN App is compatible with Amazon Echo and can respond to voice commands.
When a Tesla Powerwall is installed with a SPAN panel, the homeowner can choose which circuits to back up during a blackout. Loads can be categorized as either “must-haves,” which are powered until the battery is exhausted, or “nice-to-haves” which only work when the battery has greater than 50 percent capacity; non-essentials will not be powered by the battery. The smart panel app also allows you to move loads to other categories to lengthen battery life.
SPAN has load tested one of its panels in over ninety simulated outages (Read here to see the full report). They found that the battery backup lasted an average of 40 percent longer with a SPAN smart panel than without. Furthermore, because of the fine control a homeowner has over energy usage with SPAN, it is possible to get away with fewer backup batteries. These cost savings can potentially pay for the SPAN smart panel entirely.
Preparing for the Future
SPAN’s real-time electric data can have uses outside emergency situations. The electric grid in the United States is transitioning to become more “spot-priced,” which means electricity prices will vary based on demand throughout the day.
These pricing plans are already available in many markets and are known as “Time-of-Use” plans. The SPAN panel’s integration with solar systems, battery systems, and their electric loads allows for maximum versatility in the changing electrical market.
Installing a SPAN Service Panel
A SPAN service panel, with installation, costs around $8,500. This does not include the costs of adding a solar system or backup batteries. However, If the SPAN panel is installed as part of a solar system installation, it may be covered under the Solar Investment Tax Credit provided by the Federal government.
While the cost may seem steep, SPAN serves as a great upgrade to a battery system; having such detailed electrical information and load flexibility can lengthen battery life. Traditional backup batteries only allow loads to be preselected before installation, and these loads cannot be changed without the intervention of an electrician. The SPAN panel allows battery load shifting at any time.
SPAN service panels replace the century-old main electrical service panel, modernizing it for the twenty-first century. SPAN will equip your home with a tool to fight against an ever changing and uncertain energy market.