To raise public awareness about renewable energy, CPES at Virginia Tech is modifying a research lab to incorporate emerging and anticipated future home/small-office renewable energy technologies and power management systems. This project, which is focused on researching, developing and demonstrating advanced technologies that would create self-sustained homes, is featured in the July issue of Virginia Business Magazine.
Four rooms in CPES are being converted into a “living lab.” This 1500-sq. ft. space includes a kitchen, utility room, library/lounge and conference room that students, faculty and staff can use for normal daily functions. The lab is outfitted with next-generation home appliances, high-efficiency light-emitting diode (LED) lamps and home robotics. Everything is powered by multiple renewable energy sources, including the solar panels and wind turbine currently installed at Virginia Tech.
The home also relies on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles for use as backup generators or for energy storage. Candidate appliances include a washer, dryer, microwave oven, range, dishwasher, refrigerator, air conditioners, television, and audio system. With all these features in place, the home/small office could then act as both a supplier of energy to the local power company and as a user.
Implementation of home automation technology will manage power generation, conversion and usage. Wireless control and monitoring will manage power consumption of lighting, home electronics, appliances, and other loads. The goal is to test the efficiency and efficacy of the various technologies and power sources, hoping to demonstrate that we could help minimize utility power to a point where the home could be self-sustaining.