Advanced household appliances are already capable of determing the best moment for power consumption all by themselves. However, a real breakthrough in the consumer market is still hampered by the multitude of non-interoperable systems and platforms. A situation that the project VIOS, aka EF-Pi, intend to change.
Technically no longer a rarity: washing machines, solar panels, freezers or rechargeable cars with smart logic that determines the right time to run their programs. This makes them an important link in the future of smart grids, which are intelligent and dynamic energy networks that are more responsive to demand for and supply of sustainable local energy.
The biggest stumbling block is that each appliance manufacturer chooses its own platform for device control. As of yet, there is no real common standard. This jumble of (communication) systems and drivers is confusing for both consumers as well as suppliers.
One common standard
In the project Virtuele Infrastructuur Operating Systeem (VIOS), or in english EF-Pi, research is being performed by Technolution together with Alliander, TNO and iNRG on the implementation of one common standard. By means of this open source solution, household appliances and energy-related equipment is connected to each other using a so-called abstraction layer. This layer ensures that all equipment communicates using the same common language.
Abstraction to required energy
This design has the major advantage that suppliers of household appliances only need to provide an interface from the device to the intermediate layer. The intermediate layer then manages the energy profile of each user and schedules energy usage based on their preferences. The intermediate layer does not require detailed information regarding the appliance it is communicating with - be it an LG washing machine or Bosch dishwasher - but only receives the required energy demand and task completion time. The intermediate layer then reverts to the appliance with the required start time.
Results in the home
During 2014, two field tests are being carried out with this new standard. Initial tests take place in a lab environment to verify that the abstraction layer provides sufficient flexibility in linking energy consumption to user preferences. After a number of optimization phases, a similar test will then be performed in a real home environment.
If both tests are successful, the EF-Pi standard will be transferred to the FAN-alliance. The FAN alliance is then responsible for publication and further distribution of the standard (in Dutch only). The ultimate goal is that consumers have a house full of devices that together ensure a low, green energy bill.