The Lumin Edge smart energy system tracks and manages a home’s electricity consumption
A hub and sensor array monitors and controls electricity at the circuit level; the system can also report the source of that energy: renewable resources or fossil fuels.
By Michael Brown
TechHiveNov 16, 2021 3:00 am PST
Lumin Edge is different than most of the electricity-tracking systems we’ve seen. Whereas its competitors attach to the wires coming in to your electrical panel from your utility and rely on algorithms to identify which devices are consuming electricity, Lumin Edge uses modules that connect in-line with the power cords for your major electrical appliances and your HVAC system. The modules therefore know exactly which appliances they’re monitoring, and they send this information to a hub that connects to your router. You can monitor this information using Lumin’s smartphone app.
But Lumin Edge goes beyond just reporting electrical consumption. It can turn individual circuits on and off according to rules you define. This enables features you won’t find in similar systems. For starters, it can orchestrate your home’s energy consumption—and its energy production, if you have solar panels and/or whole-home batteries installed—so that you’re always using the most cost-effective source of electricity. This Lumin-produced video shows how the system operates.
If you have solar panels and your utility is operating an asymmetric net-metering program where it buys the electricity your panels are generating at a lower price than it sells you electricity from the grid, the system’s software can detect when your home has excess solar power and will redirect it to be consumed inside the house, instead of being put out on the grid. If your solar panels feed whole-home batteries, the system will tap those batteries for electricity before it draws electricity from the grid. Furthermore, it will enable you to run your HVAC system and your electric vehicle charger at the same time, balancing the energy draw from both sources so your batteries aren’t overtaxed.
Lumin Edge can also identify what type of resource is being consumed to generate the electricity your home is using: renewables (hydro, solar, wind), fossil fuels (natural gas, coal), nuclear, and so on. This information is sourced from regional transmission operators covering about 80 percent of U.S. territories, according to Lumin, and it provides consumers with the information they can use to reduce their carbon footprint.
In markets where the utility bills are based on a time-of-use rate (i.e., the cost of electricity varies according to the time of day it’s consumed, costing less when demand is lower and more when demand is high), algorithms will analyze your home’s electricity consumption and act to make it more efficient. It can be programmed to automatically pre-cool your home in the morning when electricity costs less, so you don’t need to run your air conditioner as much the rest of the day when it costs more. By the same token, the system can direct your water heater to heat water only when it’s likely to be used, or to operate your pool pump only when rates are lowest.
If your utility operates a demand response program and you sign up for it, the utility might automatically turn off circuits in your home in exchange for a financial incentive for you to reduce your electricity consumption when the grid is taxed. For tasks that can’t be automated, such as doing your laundry, the app will suggest the best times to do them.
Modules are available for both 120- and 240-volt circuits, and Lumin suggests installing 10 modules for the average home to capture the most amount of information and provide the most control. Those modules would control major appliances such as your washer, dryer, refrigerator, range, oven, water heater, air conditioner, furnace, well pump, electric-vehicle charger, pool pump, and so on. The Lumin Edge hub and modules can be self-installed, although the modules require you to cut and partially strip the wires before feeding them into the modules. If dealing with electricity gives you the willies, Lumin has a network of certified installers that can do the work for you.
Lumin says the Lumin Edge Hub is pretty much ready for market and is going through regulatory approval, but supply-chain problems will delay its widespread availability until 2022. The system is slated to cost $199 for a starter kit that includes the hub and two modules. Additional modules will cost $30 to $60, depending on the amperage of the circuit being controlled. We’ll report our hands-on experience with Lumin Edge as soon as Lumin can provide us with a review unit.