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Powernet In Homes

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Participant Agreement

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Powernet in Homes Project about?

Powernet in Homes is a multi-year project, funded by ARPA-E which is within the US Department of Energy and by the California Energy Commission, and conducted by the Stanford University Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering faculty, staff and students and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory(Stanford University / SLAC), staff ( The Powernet in Homes project has developed and proposes to test a platform for real-time control of electricity consumption that comes from certain home appliances and devices – these are called Distributed Energy Resources (DERs). Powernet is built on the principle of connecting information networks (such as electricity information from appliances) to the power network (utilities electric grid).

What is the Powernet in Homes timeline?

The Powernet In Homes project proceeds in five stages:

1. Stage One: Home infrastructure and Energy consumption assessment (mid-April –May 2019) – during this stage we ask potential participants to complete an online survey regarding their use of certain appliances and devices (as well as solar deployment, presence of electric vehicles and charging), to schedule a visit with Stanford Staff to review household breaker panels, space around the breaker panel, and solar panels and EV charging stations, as well as household broadband internet services. Once this information is acquired and criteria are met, we move to Stage Two.

2. Stage Two: Early Home Hub (HH) Electricity Monitoring Installation (May –June2019): After a visit by staff to the home to review the electric panel, space, and major appliance/device loads such as dryers, air conditioning etc. and completion of a survey identifying most electrical appliances (from Stage One), information is also collected on the solar panels and electric vehicle (EV) charging arrangement. Next, equipment that monitors electricity consumption for each home circuit is installed in the electrical panel in homes. The Home Hub hardware equipment measures the electricity of the entire home at the sub-circuit level (i.e. each sub-circuit in your electrical panel is individually metered). It is installed by a licensed electrician at a mutually agreed upon time and permitted by the City of Fremont. Once installed, the equipment sends the electricity information to Stanford University / SLAC to be analyzed. The homeowner will also have access to this information. The hardware, installation and permitting fees are paid by Stanford. At the time of this installation, a NEST thermostat will also be installed at no cost to the homeowner.

3. Stage Three Battery installation: (June–September, 2019) After a period of data collection, review and analysis a subset of homes will be eligible to have a sonnen battery (8 kW/10kWh) installed near the breaker panel. The installation and permitting is managed by sonnen electrical contractors and Stanford staff. At the end of the project, the battery is owned by the homeowner. Liability insurance regarding the installation of the battery and its maintenance are provided by sonnen battery contractors. At this stage we are also going to establish the connection between the HH hardware and sonnen battery.

4. Stage Four Home Hub final setup and training (July –September, 2019) Stanford/SLAC staff engineers will do a final configuration of the HH device in all participating homes, regardless of the presence or absence of a sonnen battery, to regulate the use of the energy in the house by automatically controlling certain appliances and devices (e.g. Batteries, HVAC, etc.), if applicable. This automatic control of a few appliances is unnoticeable to participants and does not damage appliances.

5. Stage Five Testing: (August–December 2019): During this stage, Stanford/SLAC researchers will conduct tests to improve home energy use and demand flexibility without the direct intervention of the participants as well as give residents feedback on their energy consumption, their energy “sold” on energy markets, and potential dollars earned from their saving and “selling” of energy. Periodically, participants will be sent by email a brief survey regarding hardware changes in their home (such as purchasing new appliances, major electrical remodels or solar panels) and the ways that they consume energy. What is new about the Powernet project is that currently residents can affect their consumption of energy by delaying or curtailing the use of their appliances independent of the Powernet Home Hub. In addition, with the Powernet software and hardware, energy consumption can be controlled automatically and invisibly.

Who can participate in Powernet in Homes?

To participate in this project you must be:

  • Be 18 years of age or above
  • Live in a house that you own or co-own
  • Plan to stay in your home for at least three years                         
  • Purchase electricity from a utility
  • Have broadband internet access
  • Live in or near Fremont, CA

What will household residents be asked to do?

As a part of this study you will be asked to:

1. Complete an online survey about household appliances and devices and the presence of solar panels and electric vehicles as well as central cooling and heating.

2. At a pre-arranged time allow Stanford/SLAC staff to visit your home and view your generation and consumption appliances and devices as well as view the breaker panel and space around the panel.

3. At a pre-arranged time, allow a research team of two or three Stanford/SLAC researchers or staff (one is a certified electrician) to install electricity monitoring devices in your home. The devices will stay in your home for the duration of the study. Installation takes approximately 2 hours.

4. After installation, you can forget about the devices during the studies. In case we determine that one or more of the devices is not working properly we will contact you to schedule a time to fix the device.

5. Researchers will install, at a pre-arranged time, a Home Hub energy management device. As in the previous period, an electrician, and a researcher will schedule a convenient time to come and install these devices and explain them to you. Installation may take up to 2-3 hours. During this period, Stanford University / SLAC will run some preliminary tests on the new devices, these energy data tests will not affect your appliances, your home temperature comfort, and will not be apparent to household members.

6. After all the equipment is completely installed, the Home Hub will have a new interface (installed remotely) to control the devices at each home. At this time, multiple tests will be conducted controlling the appliances and devices in the houses to manage the electric energy and consumption. Those tests are not continuous in time during this period. They will be conducted during a pre-established window of time and household residents will be notified in advance. During the period between tests, household energy consumption data will be analyzed by the researchers.

7. Household members will be periodically briefed on their energy consumption patterns and insights regarding curtailing consumption during higher rate periods shared. Will I be compensated? All the houses will be equipped, at no cost to the homeowner, with an eGauge hardware (  and a NEST thermostat. Some houses will be equipped by the project with batteries. All devices will remain in homes after the project is finished.

What happens to the data collected from this project?

Once these data-data from your home, electricity data, utility and processed information-are obtained, your information will be stored at Stanford University in secure password protected servers. Your house data will be given an ID code so nobody outside of the research team can know which house is yours, these ID codes are stored in Box, a Stanford approved secure platform for data. The data collected during the monitoring and tests will be used to test algorithms and prototypes, validate models and optimization tools. Results of the studies and conclusions based on this data will be presented and explained to the household members. The data will be turned into reports that will be presented at scientific conferences and published in scientific journals. All information about you, your address or contact information is confidential and stored in secure and protected computers at Stanford/SLAC. Stanford University / SLAC shall not use Resident’s Confidential Information except as necessary in order to carry out its research work. Stanford University / SLAC shall not disclose Resident’s Confidential Information to any third parties (except to Project Collaborators and Funding Agencies as provided herein). Stanford University / SLAC shall take reasonable security precautions, at least as great as the precautions it takes to safeguard its own confidential information, to prevent disclosure of the Residents’ Confidential Information such as Residents’ identity or address.

We ask that participants agree that it is necessary to provide Confidential Information to Project Collaborators for the purposes of carrying out the Project and that Stanford University / SLAC may provide Confidential Information to a Project Collaborator provided that an agreement requiring non-disclosure of confidential information is in effect between such Project Collaborator and Stanford University / SLAC, proof of which shall be made available to Resident upon request. To help protect the privacy of the data, household members transmit through the Web Site or Service, the research team uses industry-standard; secure server software that encrypts the information household members input before it is sent to Stanford/SLAC. In addition, the research team uses standard industry practice to protect User Information against unauthorized access. However, household members must keep in mind that the Web Site and Service are run on software, hardware and networks, any component of which may from time to time require maintenance or experience problems or breaches of security beyond our control and for which we are not responsible.

How much time is involved?

Your participation may take up to five hours over three to four installation sessions; eGauge hardware, NEST, and if eligible a sonnen battery. In selected houses where batteries are installed, the required time for such work may take place over a few days, depending on home infrastructure. In the first session you will learn more about the study for a few minutes, have an opportunity to ask your questions, and show researchers the location ofthe house electric panel. After that you are not asked to work with researchers. In the second session, the installation session, an electrician and researchers will come with us installthe monitoring system. Similarly, in the third session theywill install a NEST thermostat and a battery (only in selected houses). In the fourth session the Powernet Home Hub is installed and household members trained in it use. In the final session, at the end of the project, the installed Home Hub monitoring equipment will be removed, and you will learn from our studies about your household’s electricity use. The NEST thermostat, eGauge hardware, and batteries will remain in the house. We will also make suggestions and help you figure out ways to save energy, optimize the use of appliances and opportunities to improve the energy consumption.

What are the risks of participating in this project?

Aside from the inconvenience of Stanford University /SLAC researchers and a contracted certified electrician coming to your home to install devices, we do not anticipate any risks for participating in this project. If equipment fails, Stanford/SLAC engineers will personally or with contracted electricians fix problems.

What are the benefits of participating in this project?

There may be several benefits of participation such as:

1. You will be participating in a state of the science electricity generation, management and storage program funded by the US ARPA-Eprogram of the Department of Energy.

2. You can learn a great deal about how electricity is consumed in your home.

3. You can learn about easy and important ways to reduce electricity and energy use and possibly lower your utility bills.

4. You will be contributing to advancing the science of a lower carbon emissions future.

Contacts for more information or questions.

If you have any questions, or need more information about this research project, contact either of the Project Directors, Dr. June Flora and Dr. Claudio Rivetta whom you can reach by email or 650 796-9104 and jflora@stanford.eduor 650 400-8069, respectively.