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Direct current electricity could cut power bills, claims creator

The creator of a home electricity system that uses direct current claims it could cut users’ bills by up to 30 per cent.

Moixa Technology this week unveiled its Smart DC network, which uses solar panels and off-peak grid electricity stored in batteries to power electronic devices in the home such as televisions, laptops, mobile phones and LED lighting.

This reduces energy losses associated with converting alternative current from mains sockets into DC (up to 45 per cent), which most small electronic devices run on, or with converting DC generated by solar panels into AC to sell to the grid (up to 15 per cent).

The network comprises solar panels, DC sockets, an electric vehicle-quality Li-Fe battery — that could power LED lights in a typical house during a power cut for a day — and a hub device that takes information from a smart meter.

This hub manages the flow of electricity according to how much energy it predicts the house will need, how much is available from the solar panels and battery and how much grid power costs according to whether it is a peak or off-peak period.

It can also use weather information to predict how much solar power it will generate the following day and store grid energy in the battery accordingly.

‘People just want cheap and efficient energy,’ Simon Daniel, chief executive officer of Moixa, told The Engineer. ‘Too much information is annoying but people will take good advice if it is specific to their situation.’

Users could save between 10 and 30 per cent on their electricity bills, he added, and an additional 15 to 20 per cent on their gas bills by adding an electronic boiler monitor that predicts gas usage and turns off the heating when it’s not needed.

The company plans to follow a business model similar to that of Sky, making the technology easy to install by local contractors and offering gradual upgrades than can be added easily.

The network will also use data on the changing price of solar panels and LED lighting decreases to tell the homeowner when it becomes cost-effective for them to install more of these products.

Moixa is aiming to make the system available for between £1,000 and £3,000 per home. Daniel estimated this cost could be recouped in three to five years through savings on energy bills.

The firm expects the system to be of particular interest to those who work from home and operate electronic devices throughout peak hours, as well as to hotels and student accommodation.

Smart DC was developed following £1.4m of research projects led by Moixa and funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the EU.

Readers' comments (29)

  • For lighting it's easy to fit a 12V transformer to existing lighting circuits to use LED lights, existing wiring is up to the loading. LED lights to run from 12Vac should be a lot cheaper than running from 240Vac, produce less heat and take up less space in the light fitting.

    When running wiring in a new house, it will be cheaper to run 12V wiring, single insulation and no earth, saving copper and pvc and all with the supreme advantage that lighting voltage is no longer lethal when changing a light bulb: the only fittings in a house that are so easy to kill yourself.

    David Cutter Knaresborough

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  • All very nice for those who can generate local DC, but what about the millions like me. I have only an east facing roof, very little wind and no millstream, and I am lucky! I don't live in a flat or apartment, rented property or other home that has no access to alternative energy. I would love to install green energy but it is not practical, to say nothing of the extreme cost.

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  • The ideal of localised generation is seemingly very attractive at first sight until one considers efficiency, cost and environmental impact, all of which remain negative when compared to large remote power stations, properly managed.

    The reality of self generation is that the user will spend years repaying the capital costs of his generation and not actually saving money. The visual impact on the environment will be considerably worse in the places where we live, and the need for bulk will remain undiminished.

    When we talk about alternative power generation, please, let us have a rational balanced discussion and not another return to hippy type self sufficiency dream schemes.

    History has already proven what are the most efficient and cost effective power generators - thermally efficient steam producers on a bulk scale, not miniscule uncoordinated, independent and unregulated private power generation.

    What we desperately need, is a real energy plan for the benefit of the consumers by the consumers.

    When we structure our generation, based on that philosophy, then the excesses of private energy companies will be reduced if controlled by sensible, equitable power generation policies.

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  • It is always a good idea to cut down the generation, conversion or transmission losses wherever it is economically and technically feasible. Both can be achieved through sustained technological efforts. Cudos for the team for the concept. The idea is like planting a seed. We have to nurture the plant ie. the idea till it grows into a big plant. My Best Wishes for the Results to fructify early.

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  • In the US we have Enphase microinverters that can attach to each module, enabling it to instantly produce direct AC without passing through a central systemic inverter.

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  • DC is Ok for low power loads, but Ohms Law helps show that more copper is needed to efficiently distribute higher power. This capital cost would probably kill the dreams of "electricity bill savings".

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  • did Moixa developed a good technology for high power [1 to 2kw] DC connector? Will Moixa build up a whole industry to produce all the appliances for the DC household?..and many similar question?
    the last one: is thee is no any a better place to put the EU's money than Moixa ?

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  • Aren't they overlooking the fact that just about every DC operated device runs on a different voltage and there would still have to be voltage conversions and there would still be thermal engery loss. I have many DC operated devices including led lighting in my household the only ones that operate on 12 V are in the workshop.

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  • The only difference to what boat manufactures do is they use either landlines or generators to collect the power which is then stored in deep cycle batteries & is then changed from 12 or 24v to either 110-240v ac and can run a boat for anything upto 8 hrs silent running.

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