Michelle Mapel | sonnen

By Maureen Jenson
Published on: September 5, 2018

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A year ago at CEDIA EXPO 2017 I met up with Michelle Mapel, sonnen’s Director of Sales and Marketing. This year, I wanted to share some of the company’s history, where they are now and what they are showcasing at this year’s EXPO.

Maureen Jenson: Tell our readers a little about sonnen as a company, what is your history?

Michelle Mapel: sonnen is the global leader in intelligent residential energy storage management systems offering the safest, longest-lasting and most eco-friendly residential storage solution on the market. The company was founded in 2010 in Germany and formally launched operations in the U.S. in 2015.

sonnen also pioneered the sonnenCommunity model in Germany in late 2015, which enables clean energy trading among homes with sonnenBatteries, forming a unique “Virtual Power Plant” capable of functioning independently of the utility grid. In 2017, sonnen partnered with Mandalay Homes to build the first sonnenCommunity USA with 2,900 solar + storage homes in Prescott Valley, Arizona.

To date, sonnen has more than 35,000 residential systems installed around the world. At sonnen we continually innovate new ways to intelligently use clean energy to power homes and 2018 is also the year we are making our debut in the home automation industry with the introduction of Energy Automation with ecoLinx.

MJ: I met up with you folks exactly one year ago at CEDIA Expo in 2017. What has the past year been like for sonnen?

MM: This has been a great year of innovation for sonnen! As I previously mentioned, we announced our first sonnenCommunity in the U.S., a 2,900 home project with Arizona-based homebuilder Mandalay Homes that’s located in Prescott Valley, AZ.

This project represents a first-of-its-kind community for the U.S., where all homes are built standard with solar panels + an energy storage unit from sonnen. The energy storage systems in the Mandalay Homes community have the ability to be aggregated together, forming a Virtual Power Plant in which stored energy is intelligently managed, powering the entire community with stored solar during high peak times of day and discharging energy to support the larger grid, when needed.

This is a model that has already been deployed in Germany with much success and we are currently in discussion with a number of other homebuilders throughout the country to plan additional sonnenCommunities, which will likely be announced in the coming months.

Additionally, in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which left the island of Puerto Rico devastated and thousands of citizens without power for long periods of time, sonnen and members of other organizations established the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security.

Through the work of the foundation and local partners, sonnen and del Sol established 12 solar + storage microgrids on the island which power life-saving technology at health clinics, schools, food/water, shelters and more. Recently, del Sol announced The Lighthouse Project, a continued commitment to empowering Puerto Ricans with energy security in the face of future natural disasters and grid outages. This project seeks to establish similar microgrids at a total of 3,000 community churches throughout the island, with the potential to reach 1.5 million people.

Over the past year, sonnen has also initiated partnerships with other key industry leaders including Itron, the world-leading technology and services company and SunPower, a leading sustainable energy company. sonnen also secured $71 million in funding from Shell Ventures in May 2018.

MJ: Your big news this year is the sonnen ecoLinx, a new energy storage system optimized for use in modern automated homes. Tell us about ecoLinx and what is your booth number at CEDIA so our readers can find you!

MM: With ecoLinx we are launching a whole new category – Energy Automation. ecoLinx, like sonnen’s other storage systems, can be paired with residential solar arrays to enable homeowners to use excess energy generated by the sun during the day to power loads and manage household energy usage during peak times.

The all-in-one ecoLinx smart energy management system brings together home automation, residential solar, and energy storage in an energy ecosystem that enables intelligent load controllers to effectively manage and optimize energy usage, secure smart homes against grid outages and help stabilize the existing power grid. This convergence of technology will unlock previously ignored value for both the homeowner and the greater electricity grid infrastructure, while bringing home automation to the fight for a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future.

Modern interior with white Sofa on hardwood floor decorated with potted plant.

sonnen’s ecoLinx energy storage system is the first of its kind to proficiently demonstrate the use of smart, configurable backup power and intelligent home automation demand control – facilitated by energy storage and solar. Smart configurable backup power involves an energy storage system working in unison with intelligent circuit breakers to provide multiple backup power options in the event of an outage, eliminating the inflexible and expensive protected loads panel and ultimately securing homeowners against power outages and natural disasters.

Intelligent demand control and load shaping automatically manages and maximizes the use of clean, stored energy to avoid peak utility rates and power the home in the cleanest and most efficient way possible. By integrating with smart devices within the home, such as Creston thermostats and Lutron lighting systems, ecoLinx is capable of taking advantage of inexpensive and low carbon footprint off-peak hours to power devices as well as storing self-produced energy to be used during dirty and expensive peak periods, such as morning and evening hours.

sonnen decided to partner with two leading home automation companies – PanTech Design and Cinegration, in order to develop the flexible, user-friendly software architecture required to elevate leading home automation systems into the energy automation application. sonnen also partnered with Eaton to incorporate intelligent breakers that enable cloud-based connectivity into a standard circuit breaker for intelligent load-monitoring and remote communication.

Readers are encouraged to stop by Booth #513 at CEDIA, to see a demonstration of the ecoLinx in action!

Maureen Jenson

Maureen Jenson

Maureen is editor-in-chief for the Technology Insider Group. She has been the editor-in-chief of Audio Video Interiors, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Home Theater, Technology Integrator, E-Gear and CEDIA’s Electronic Lifestyles Magazines. She is a CEDIA Fellow and IPRO Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.

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