Strengthening Communities Against Power Outages With Smart Home Technology

With energy demands growing every day and severe weather events increasingly putting electrical grids under stress, homeowners are seeking more reliable and resilient solutions to power their homes.

In 10 pilot projects across the country, including new construction homes, workplaces and a university, the Department of Energy (DOE) is working with private sector companies, public utilities and learning institutions to create energy smart “Connected Communities.” Made up of grid-interactive, energy efficient homes and buildings that use smart controls, sensors and analytics to communicate with the power grid, these communities help reduce the energy required during periods of peak demand.

Keeping the power on even when the electrical grid goes out

While some commercial buildings and industrial sites have been using microgrids for years, they are a new energy resource in residential communities. Residential microgrids enable a group of homes to generate, store and share their own electricity, especially during emergency situations when the utility grid goes down. Because each microgrid community has interconnected power, all the houses share electricity, and all benefit from the same backup and enhanced power grid resilience.

Creating neighborhoods that use power wisely and communally

SunPower is leading the efforts in one of these connected communities projects, overseeing project partners, providing clean energy services and technology, and ensuring that home energy systems interact with the electric grid more reliably and efficiently. 

KB Home's Oak Shade and Durango at Shadow Mountain, will be the first residential new construction neighborhoods in California to be designed and built from the ground up with smart home technologies. This includes solar panels, a backup solar battery in every home and a local electrical grid connected to a self-supporting energy system with a 2.3-megawatt community battery.

SunPower and KB Home have a long-standing history of working together to bring innovative technology and sustainability to new homes. Oak Shade and Durango at Shadow Mountain provide both companies with an opportunity to demonstrate how new-build homes can sustainably and affordably produce and store renewable energy. When connected to a community battery, entire neighborhoods can reduce their impact and reliance on the public utility grid while lowering their overall energy costs.

Each of the houses in the new developments will be equipped with a SunPower Equinox® solar system and a 13 kWh SunVault® Storage battery. SunPower's solar battery storage system stores extra energy generated by the home's solar panels for future use. During outages, SunVault can provide seamless backup power by tapping into the reserve energy. SunVault also features a clean, minimal design and comes with an industry-leading 10-year warranty.

In addition, SunPower will provide electric vehicle (EV) charging options that will be pre-wired into every garage. Some will have bidirectional charging, which enables an EV to be an additional source of energy for the home during a blackout. All of the new homes are designed and built to meet the DOE’s Zero Energy Ready Home criteria, which can help homeowners reduce average energy use by up to 40%. This level of optimum energy efficiency reduces the power demands of the entire community on the electrical grid while reducing energy costs and emissions.

SunPower is proud to be at the forefront of creating new, power-outage resistant communities that will offer a blueprint for creating a new generation of sustainable, energy-resilient residential developments across the country.