Engineerings

Smart Home Control

 FROM INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS, DEVICES AND PRODUCTS WHAT IS A SMART HOME?

Everything to do with the smart home for an absolute perspective on the subject of “intelligent living”

Is the stove still on? Is the basement light off? Is the heating in the bathroom still banging on? If you live in a smart home, these questions leave you cold. Because smart homes can be remotely controlled, automated and monitored. There are literally no mice dancing on the table here. But what is this intelligent home actually all about? Why live intelligently? And how does smart homework anyway? Familiarize yourself with the following questions and answers about the Smart Home and the associated possibilities.

  • What is meant by a smart home?
  • Sense and purpose of a smart home
  • How to implement a smart home
  • Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home
  • Areas of application of various smart home systems
  • Smart home products for more security
  • Save energy with a smart home
  • Conclusion: A new era of living

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Set up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home”.

What is meant by a smart home?

A smart home is a home in which the various electrical and electronic devices are networked with a central control system. The devices can be switched on and off at specific times, and they can also be activated when specific events occur.
Typical examples are a heater that is switched on automatically at 6 a.m. in winter and a light barrier that switches on the light when it is dark. An “intelligent home” thinks for itself and takes over processes of everyday life that were previously carried out manually. Learn all about Smart Home Designing by Burraq Engineering Solutions

Aren’t modern households all smart homes in some way?

Most households already have some level of ‘intelligence’ as many appliances contain built-in sensors or electronic controls. Practically all modern washing machines carry out certain washing, rinsing and spinning processes automatically, depending on the program, load and water temperature.
For central heating, a thermostat is usually installed on the wall, which turns the heating on and off depending on the room temperature, or there is an electronic control unit that activates the heating at certain times of the day. Vacuum cleaner robots are also part of the family in many households.
All of these things are examples of home automation, but they are not really what is meant by a smart home. This concept goes one step further by providing centralized control. In the most advanced form of the smart home, there is a computer that does what you normally do yourself: it constantly monitors the state of the home and turns devices on and off accordingly.
For example, it monitors the light coming in through the windows and automatically raises and lowers the blinds or switches on the light at dusk. Or it recognizes movements on the floor and reacts accordingly: if it knows that someone is at home, it switches on the lights and music in different rooms as required; if nobody is at home, the intrusion protection is activated.

Sense and purpose of a smart home

Initially, smart homes were seen as part of a luxurious lifestyle, but they have now become the norm for many medium-sized households. If you are not always on the lookout for the latest technology, you may be sceptical about a smart home.

  • However, a smart home promises advantages in many respects :
  • Power consumption: Components such as heating, lighting and entertainment electronics can be switched on and off from anywhere in the house with a single click or an app so that they are used in an energy-efficient manner and as little electricity as possible is consumed.
  • Convenience: blinds, television, light… most electronic devices now have remote control and their own apps. This can be extremely practical, but it can also quickly become a nuisance if you lose track. Smart homes offer a convenient solution here: You do not have to move around the house to carry out different functions. With smart devices, you can centrally control all household operations while comfortably sitting on the sofa or lying in bed.
  • Peace of mind: A smart home also ensures a certain peace of mind. Is the garage door closed? Is the light in the basement still on? Is the skylight closed? All questions can be answered at a glance in a smart home without having to rush through the house.
  • Individual adaptation: Smart homes also make it possible to use electronic devices according to one’s own wishes: The blinds can be opened automatically at a certain time, the brightness of the interior and exterior lighting can be regulated individually. In a similar way, each individual electronic device is optimally adjusted and, in addition, the points in time for various options to be implemented can be specified.
  • Security: Burglary protection is also successful with smart homes. Smart networking of lights, cameras and even doorbells provides additional security and the presence of a smart system can even deter potential burglars. In the event of a fire, the intelligent home can also react and alert the fire brigade.

Tip: A smart home is particularly interesting if, for financial or legal reasons, no energy-related renovation is possible. These solutions are less expensive and usually do not require landlord approval.

How to implement a smart home

There are numerous different systems for the realization of a smart home. While these differ mainly in terms of how the smart home products are connected and controlled in the system, the basic principle can be explained in general terms.

  • The following elements are typically required to implement a smart home:
  • Gateway (central control unit)
  • Networking (by radio or cable)
  • Sensors such as motion detectors or thermostats
  • Input devices such as displays, controllers, switches, tablets and smartphones
  • Devices such as lamps, shutters, televisions

The basis for communication between the devices is a digital data network that works invisibly in the background. All information from the respective sensors, input devices and end devices comes together via a central control unit. Control commands are received and forwarded by radio or data cable. With the help of input devices, the user can individually program, remotely control and automate the smart home.

Setting up a smart home: 5 steps to a smart home

Regardless of how extensive your own smart home should be, a step-by-step and structured approach is important for the success of the smart home project. The following 5 steps are part of the implementation of a smart home.


Step 1: Rough planning


Before you can really get started, the smart home has to be well planned. First, make a rough plan and determine which devices you want to network in the respective rooms.
Consider all aspects such as lighting, security components, home appliances, shading, air conditioning, heating and entertainment equipment.


Step 2: Concrete planning


Once the rough plan is set, you can go into detail and determine the finer points of the smart home system to be set up. Find out the pros and cons of each solution.
Before you move on to the next step, you should know exactly which products should be networked and how. Creating a product list is particularly easy if the smart devices are listed by room.


Step 3: Cost calculation & procurement of materials


Using the product list you created earlier, you can now determine the cost. If necessary, also factor in the labour costs for the installation.
Once the cost calculation has been determined, it is time to procure all the equipment and materials.


Step 4: Installation & Commissioning


In this step, the components are installed and configured as planned. If you take care of the installation yourself, you should start with the core of the smart home: the smart home hub or the smart home centre.
If the heart of the smart home is in place, the system can be supplemented with the devices to be connected using an app.


Step 5: Practice Optimization


Now it’s time for the fun part of the smart home: the intelligent system has to be used and put through its paces. If there is a desire for additional components, the smart home can be expanded accordingly in this post-optimization phase.

Areas of application of smart home systems

The areas of application of smart home technologies can be divided into the smart house, smart living and ambient assisted living. The demarcations between the various systems are fluid.

What is meant by the smart house?

This area of ​​application relates to the automation of the building technology in a house. The purpose of a smart house system is to ensure security and high resource efficiency in the supply in a building.
In terms of security and surveillance, networked smoke detectors, water sensors, surveillance cameras and intruder alarms are used. Heating management systems, intelligent ventilation and lighting systems as well as door and garage controls are implemented for efficient building supply.
What is smart metering?
Smart metering is an important field of application in the field of energy management. With intelligent, networked consumption meters, the energy consumption and the energy supply for water, gas and electricity are measured, determined and controlled with the aid of computers.

What is Smart Living?

With smart living, the main aim is to increase the quality of life and living for the residents of a smart home. For this purpose, home electronics are networked in the areas of multimedia, household and comfort.
Examples of smart home appliances are smart vacuum cleaners, connected washing machines and tumble dryers, coffee machines, as well as cookers and dishwashers connected to the smart home. In the area of ​​entertainment, smart TVs, loudspeaker systems and smart boxes are networked.

What is Ambient Assisted Living?

The term Ambient Assisted Living (AAL) summarizes smart home solutions that are intended to make everyday life easier for people with physical disabilities. The technologies used for this are characterized by the simplest possible operating concepts and can be easily integrated into the everyday life of people in need of care.
Simple examples of the approach, which is often referred to in German as age-appropriate assistance, are the installation of a home emergency call system, but also alarm systems that can be used to notify relatives, for example, if the refrigerator door has not been opened for a long period of time.

Smart home products for more security

Intelligent networking is a smart home that offers various options for increased security with regard to the following aspects:

  • Protection against burglary through prevention and alarm
  • Protection against smoke/fire by detecting smoke development and alarm
  • Protection against water damage

How does burglary protection work in a smart home?

Smart home not only helps to leave the home secure and locked, it can also prevent possible break-ins by simulating your presence. Using networked sockets and roller shutters, lamps, roller shutters, music and televisions can be switched on and off according to the principle of the housekeeping function in order to intelligently simulate the presence of the occupants.
If there is an attempted break-in, networked motion detectors and camera systems detect unusual activities outside and report this via SMS or email. And what if it’s just the neighbour’s cat? No problem, because modern sensors can distinguish people from animals and a false alarm is unlikely.
The motion detectors are installed at potential break-in points such as front doors, on balconies and terraces as well as in gardens and driveways. The sensors can be linked to an alarm system or to the lighting system to deter intruders from the act.
TipMake sure that camera systems have an integrated infrared night vision function.

How does fire protection work in a smart home?
 

The best way to minimize fire damage is to detect a developing fire at an early stage using smoke detectors. As is known from conventional smoke detectors, these trigger an acoustic alarm in the same room. In a smart home, networked smoke detectors can forward the alarm to the smart home system.
Depending on the setting, the system in the house uses an optical or acoustic signal to provide information about the development of smoke and can also notify the mobile phones of residents and neighbours without any smoke signals. The rapid forwarding of the alarm increases the chances of containing or even preventing the spread of a fire in good time.

How does protection against water damage work in a smart home?

While many security measures to protect against burglary and fire are often considered necessary, protection against water ingress or water damage from storms and problems with drains or sewers is usually neglected. The earlier water damage is detected, the better its costly consequences can be prevented.
A Smart Home not only warns of storms and heavy rain but also helps to notice windows that have accidentally been left open. Water detectors can be used to quickly detect heavy rainfall through open skylights and backwater in the sewage system, for example in the basement, before the damage is too great.
TipIn regions at risk of flooding, an outdoor camera can also be used to monitor the water level and to protect against water damage.

Save energy with a smart home

One of the main arguments in favour of smart home solutions is the savings potential they bring with them. How much electricity can be saved depends on factors such as usage behaviour, the size of the smart home, the building fabric and the installed smart home products. A relatively large amount of energy can be saved when heating.

How can you save on heating costs in a smart home?

On average, more than two-thirds of all energy costs are incurred for hot water and heating. Thanks to intelligent networking within your own four walls, these costs can be limited to what is necessary.
With an intelligent heating control, it is possible to precisely set the periods in which heating is to take place, only a little heating or no heating at all. In addition, the right temperature can be set for each heating period, so that rooms do not become saunas unnoticed. The humidity can also be regulated and mould formation can be optimally prevented.
By intelligently coupling sensors with thermostats, for example, the heating can be switched off automatically while the windows are open for ventilation. The programming of such commands as well as all other settings are made via an app, so the heating system can be controlled not only in the smart home but also when you are out and about.

Which smart home products are used for heating control?

  • Radiator thermostats for monitoring and regulating the room temperature
  • Room thermostats for controlling several radiator thermostats in a room
  • Door and window sensors to detect closed/open doors and windows
  • Humidity and temperature sensors for monitoring the temperature and humidity indoors and outdoors and transmitting the determined values ​​to the central house control

Note: As the savings potential depends very much on the individual conditions, the manufacturer’s information on maximum savings should be viewed critically.

how can you reduce power consumption in a smart home?
Electricity can also be saved with smart home solutions for the central control of electrical devices and lighting elements. In comparison, the energy-saving potential is lower here.
Laptops, smart TVs, chargers, fully automatic coffee machines and printers – many devices are only used for a few hours a day and still consume electricity all the time. Even if less energy is consumed in standby mode, this power consumption can be reduced with suitable smart home products without any loss of comfort.

Which smart home products reduce power consumption?

  • Wireless wall switch: With a push of a button when leaving a room, all the electronics in the room can be switched off wirelessly. In addition to lamps, radio, television and any other devices, there can also be an intelligent coupling with the heating system so that the room is not heated unnecessarily when you are away.
  • Switching and measuring sockets: By connecting to the central control unit, these sockets can be used to switch devices on and off as required. In this way, the coffee machine can even get a smile out of the morning grouch when the coffee has been brewed on time. Using these sockets, the light can also be switched on or off automatically when entering or leaving the room – in response to the signal from a motion detector. The power consumption can also be determined using the measurement function.
  • Adapter plug: Similar to the switch and metering socket, the status of the power supply (on/off) can be timed with this smart home product or called up and checked using an app while on the go. Normally, however, it does not have a measuring function.


Tip: When purchasing smart home products, care should be taken to ensure low energy consumption. While some switches even efficiently use the energy generated when the switch is actuated, widespread use of touchpads as operating elements can undesirably increase power consumption.

Conclusion: A new era of living

As clear and simple as the term smart home sounds at first glance, the solutions and technologies behind the intelligent living approach are as different and diverse. While the typical example is a modern family home, a trailer that has been converted into a home can also be set up as a smart home.
With its diverse areas of application, the Smart Home is on the technical advance and thanks to constantly newly developed fields of application, even the most sceptical Ottosmart citizen may be offered a helpful and convincing solution in the future.
Purpose-oriented goals such as saving energy, burglary protection and fire alarm are contrasted with playful and entertainment concepts: While one person evaluates his home heating statistics over morning coffee, the other comfortably let Alexa and Co. tell his favourite joke. Both in their smart home.

ELECTRICAL WIRING AND DRILLING

Drill correctly – It’s so easy to track down the power line

If a shelf or the latest family picture is to be hung up, the drill is used. However, before drilling begins, the wall must be specifically examined for the power lines installed behind it. If you simply drill, you risk a damaged cable, an expensive workman’s bill and a life-threatening electric shock. Discover how to avoid such a risk and how to skillfully locate your power lines in the wall.

  • Why should power lines be found?
  • Is there an installation plan for the line route?
  • How do power lines usually run?
  • How do I identify power lines in the wall?
  • What happens when you drill into a power cable?
  • How do I react correctly in the event of damage?
  • Conclusion: think first, then drill

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “What happens if you drill into a power cable?”.

Why should power lines be found?

Quickly drill a hole in the wall: It sounds tempting, but it is not recommended. Why? The power lines running in the wall are not visible from the outside and can quickly be hit by the drill unintentionally.
If a power line is drilled into, it’s annoying at first, because you’re most likely sitting in the dark. In addition, damage to the power cable is not only associated with follow-up costs for the repair but may also pose a risk of injury for the eager driller.
Even if you only need to quickly drill a hole for a picture frame, you should make sure beforehand that there are no cables running in the wall provided for this purpose. This is the only way to avoid accidents, injuries and damage to property.
TipWhen drilling, you should not only pay attention to power lines but also to water pipes to avoid water damage.

Is there an installation plan for the line route?

Before you can start drilling, you first have to locate the lines. This naturally raises the question of whether the course is recorded in a plan. If the craftsman responsible for the electrical installation has not just drawn cable figures and has carried out the installation professionally, he has also drawn up a plan for it.
An installation plan of the line route is basically the simplest solution for locating the lines. However, these plans are often not available, even for relatively new buildings, because the relevant electrician is either unknown or not available. After all, very few electricians are happy about a spontaneous invitation to drill on a Sunday.
Note: When drilling according to the installation plan, make sure that subsequent changes to the electrical installation are also visible on this plan. 

How do power lines usually run?

In modern buildings, in particular, it can be assumed that the power lines were laid according to a fixed principle during construction. With a professional installation, the installation zones are observed and the power lines only run vertically and horizontally to the floor and ceiling.

How close to the socket drill?

The first thing to do is locate the outlet or light switch near the area to be drilled. From this point, the cable runs vertically up or down. According to the rule, the vertical power line is converted to a horizontal one about 30 cm below the ceiling or 30 cm above the floor.
Accordingly, the area can be used from a distance of 30 cm from the ceiling to 30 cm from the floor. In bathrooms, the pipes are usually not laid near the floor, but below the ceiling.
Note: This logic can only be used when drilling if there is a certainty that the electrical installation has been carried out in accordance with the regulations. In older buildings, in particular, it cannot be assumed that the cables were laid in such an orderly manner. When in doubt, it’s safer to trace the cables in the wall.

How do I identify power lines in the wall?

If there is no installation plan or you are not sure if the plan is up to date, there are other ways to locate the power line in the wall. Such devices can be the safest solution, especially in old buildings, since there is often no direct plan and the cables in the wall may not have been laid in an orderly manner. Two main types of locating devices are used: line locators and metal detectors.

How reliable are line locators?

Cable locators reveal electrical voltages. Therefore, to trace a power line, run the device over the wall until the power finder deflects. Since this procedure does not detect the line itself, but rather the voltage surrounding a line, the approximate area rather than the exact route of the cable is displayed. Therefore, do not take it too precisely and plan a sufficient distance to the determined area when drilling.
Tip: Since line locators detect electrical voltage, they only work if there is actually voltage on the line. So make sure the fuse is on. It is particularly easy to find the line when the current is actually flowing. It is, therefore, best to switch on the light or your karaoke system.

Which lines can be traced with metal detectors?

With the help of special metal detectors for house walls, it is not voltages that are detected, but metal deposits. They are therefore suitable for searching for power, gas and water lines. The devices are sensitive enough to also detect metal lines that are laid in a plastic conduit.
NoteIn modern buildings, water pipes made of pure plastic are often installed. These are not detected by metal detectors.

Can you find power lines with the app?

Finding the power line with the app sounds like a great idea. Because modern tablets and smartphones usually have magnetic field sensors that can theoretically also be used to detect power lines. However, the sensors are not always strong enough to reliably detect the cables in the wall. In addition, the result can be distorted by electromagnetic waves from devices such as televisions or PCs and is rather unreliable. Neither the search for the line nor the drilling via the app is promising solutions.

What happens when you drill into a power cable?

If you are toying with the idea of ​​just drilling into it, then you should think twice about it. If you drill into a power cable, it can have a wide variety of consequences.
If the power cable is still live when you start drilling, there is a risk of fatal injury, as you could suffer an electric shock while drilling. If you’re lucky, your fuse blows, shorts out, and maybe sparks fly.
Even in the best-case scenario, the result is a nuisance: you have a damaged power cable in the wall and need to have it repaired.

Did I drill into a power line?

Have you been busy drilling and now you suspect that you have drilled into a cable? A clear indication that you have drilled into a power line is a loud bang, flying sparks or a fuse blowing. There may also be a short circuit or you are suddenly left in the dark.
However, it is also possible that you have drilled into the protective conductor. Then nothing happens to the outside, but the most important protective measure of your power supply is damaged.
Even if you turn the backup back on and everything seems to be working normally, it’s not something to be taken lightly. Not only may the protective earth wire be affected, but it could also be that the power line insulation is damaged.
As a result, the cable is no longer so resilient and there is a risk that an apartment fire will develop at some point.

How do I react correctly in the event of damage?

Ideally, you shouldn’t have to ask yourself this question, but sometimes things don’t go well. So what if you did drill into a power line? Then caution is called for and the cable must be repaired.
In most cases, there is a direct power failure and the residual current circuit breaker, circuit breaker or fuse has blown. Never turn on the switch or fuse again. If the switch or fuse has not blown, be sure to turn it off. In any case, secure the switches against being switched on again.
If the power does not fail, the defective power cable is either currently de-energized or was only scratched. Even then, the cable cannot continue to be used normally under any circumstances. If the insulation of the cable is defective, a gradual danger develops: with the continued operation, the cable overheats, sparks fly and the cable fire is inevitable.
Note: Repairing a faulty power cord is not safe for laypersons and can be dangerous. Contact an electrician and have the damage repaired by a specialist

Conclusion: think first, then drill

Sometimes it helps to just get started and see what comes up. Definitely not when drilling in the wall. This becomes clear at the latest when it flashes briefly while drilling and you are sitting in the dark. Therefore, consider the drill site carefully before you start drilling.
Ideally, the line route can be read from the installation plan or, with a little logic, can be deduced from the usual distances to the wall and ceiling. If a plan is not available and the installation zones are not entirely reliable, it is preferable to use line locators to locate the power line rather than a drill.
If you have opted for the optimistic approach and accidentally drilled into a power line, it must be checked extensively. Even if no damage is apparent at first glance, you should definitely leave this part to the professional electrician.

SOLAR ENERGY FOR DOMESTIC USE – DOES A MINI SOLAR SYSTEMS MAKE SENSE?

The most important questions and answers on the subject of mini solar systems at a glance

Go to the hardware store, buy a mini solar system and connect it at home… sounds good, but is it really that easy? Since 2017, operators of such solar systems no longer operate in the legal grey area but are officially allowed to use the solar systems at home. But what exactly are these mini solar systems all about? Does such a small solar system even make sense? Do I have to observe certain regulations? Find out everything worth knowing about the sun harvest in your own four walls.

  • How does a “small” solar system differ from a “big” one?
  • How is a mini solar system constructed?
  • Installation of mini solar systems – Where can I install a mini solar system?
  • Legal aspects: Is it permissible to connect a mini-PV system to the household electricity network via the socket?
  • How do I know if my mini solar system is working properly?
  • What are the electricity meter regulations for mini solar systems?
  • How much does a mini solar system cost?
  • Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?
  • Conclusion: sunny prospects

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?”.

How does a “small” solar system differ from a “big” one?

Basically, mini solar systems and photovoltaic systems have the same purpose: to collect solar energy, convert it into electrical energy and then use it as electricity. A mini solar system is essentially a miniature conventional PV system.
In comparison to a large PV system, however, plug-in solar devices have the following special features:

  • Small and compact
  • “Plug & Play” (independent assembly, installation, use)
  • Electricity for self-consumption in the house electricity network or as an island system with a battery
  • Mobile and flexible in assembly and operation
  • Rated power: 600 W (0.6 kWp)
  • Independent registration with the network operator and market master data register
  • ImageWhat is the best way to capture the sun’s rays?

The special feature of mini solar systems, in addition to their size and compactness, is that they are designed according to the “Plug & Play” principle. With these “small” solar systems, everything from assembly and connection to use should be able to be carried out independently by private individuals. They are mainly developed for self-consumption and only feed electricity into the house electricity network or into a small battery.
With photovoltaic systems on private houses, on the other hand, sufficient electricity can be generated to feed it into the power grid. The installation and maintenance of the components of such a “large” solar system must be carried out by a specialist company. This also takes care of the registration with the network operator, which can be carried out by the consumer himself in the case of mini solar systems.
The systems also differ in their mobility and flexibility. PV systems are installed on the roof for permanent operation and can only be removed and moved to another building with great effort. Mini solar systems, on the other hand, can be installed on balconies, terraces, on facades or in a sunny spot in the basement and can be easily removed and operated at another location.
While mini solar systems usually consist of one or two modules with a nominal output of 300 watts each, PV systems are made up of several modules and produce between 3 and 20 kilowatts.
Note: Mini solar systems are also known as plug-in solar devices, plug-in solar systems, balcony power plants, balcony modules, mini PV systems and guerrilla PV systems.

How is a mini solar system constructed?

A mini solar system usually comes in a set with the following components :

  • solar panel
  • mounting frame
  • inverter
  • battery
  • Plug and cable for the socket

A plug-in solar system usually has one or two solar modules that can be flexibly combined. An inverter converts the direct current generated by the solar system into alternating current so that the current can be fed into the 230-volt household power supply. For off-grid systems that are not connected to the domestic power grid, the inverter function should be able to switch off automatically.

Tip: If you would like to evaluate your yield data and the performance curve of the solar system, opt for a set with a display and Ethernet connection on the inverter. You can use software to visualize your energy yield.

How big and how heavy are mini solar systems?

The standard format of such a solar module is 1 MX 1.70 m with a typical nominal output of 300 watts and a weight of up to 20 kg.
In addition to the standard modules, smaller and lighter solar modules with outputs of 50-150 watts are also available. These are suitable, for example, for mounting on balcony parapets. However, two to four of these modules must be connected to an inverter for it to work efficiently.

What does Wp or Watt Peak mean for a solar system?

Since the performance of a solar system depends on the solar radiation, it varies greatly depending on the day, the weather and the time. In order to have a comparable nominal output, the peak output and thus the output under standard conditions with full solar radiation is specified with “Watt Peak” (in short: Wp).
The power actually generated often deviates from this value depending on the weather conditions. As a guideline, a mini solar system with 100 Wp achieves an output of 90 kWh of electricity per year.

Installation of mini solar systems – Where can I install a mini solar system?

In order to be able to harvest solar energy ideally, it is first necessary to find a sunny place where the solar module or modules can be attached.
Mini solar systems can be mounted in many places such as:

  • balcony
  • terrace
  • facade
  • garden
  • roof

The purpose of a mini solar system is that the consumer can connect it almost intuitively and save installation costs. The systems are therefore usually designed in such a way that the installation can also be carried out by non-professionals.
The mounting frame supplied is an elevation triangle made of aluminium or steel. Not only do they provide secure support, they also ensure the tilt that allows for the best possible yield. Although environmentally friendly frames made from recycled paper reduce CO2 emissions, they can have a negative impact on the yield of the solar module.
Tip: Make sure that the screws are tight and that the mounting frame offers a firm hold even in strong winds.

Legal aspects: Is it permissible to connect a mini-PV system to the household electricity network via the socket?

no . In some EU countries, it is permitted to plug the plug-in solar modules with an output of up to 600 Wp into a normal household socket. In Germany, however, a special power connector is required according to DIN VDE 0628-1. This is a so-called feed socket. In Germany, the so-called Wieland socket and the associated Wieland plug have become established.
If the mini solar system is not used as an island system but is fed into the domestic power grid, not only does the power socket have to be installed by a specialist, but they also check the existing circuit and replace the fuse if necessary.
This topic is still controversial in Germany. While some consider the connection of solar systems with up to 600 watts to the normal socket to be harmless, others warn against it. Technology for the direct transmission of energy via solar radiation has not yet been developed.
The German Society for Solar Energy (DGS) advocates simplified regulations and demands official permission to operate mini solar systems via a Schuko plug. Associations such as the VDE advise caution and generally recommend having the installation carried out by a qualified electrician.
Note: Never connect several mini solar systems via multiple sockets. A separate socket must be provided for each mini solar system to prevent overloading of the power line and cable fire.

How do I know if my mini solar system is working properly?

Everything mounted, connected, in operation… and now? The solar modules themselves and also the inverter does not show directly whether a solar system is working properly and how much it is doing.
Some inverters have an LED that lights up or flashes to indicate certain operating states. However, it does not show if a device is working properly and how much it is performing. If your inverter has a power measurement, you can read out, save and evaluate the performance data externally.
Alternatively, the power can be measured via the socket. Plug a standard power meter between the socket and the consumer – for example, your refrigerator. Depending on the power meter, you can not only determine the power consumption of the refrigerator but also measure the power in the opposite direction and thus determine the power generated. Intelligent sockets, such as those used in smart homes, often have an energy measurement function.
If you use a solar module with a connection using a Wieland special plug, there are still no compatible power meters and intelligent sockets. In this case, small measuring electronics can be installed in the socket, which measures the current flow and transmits the measurement data to a terminal device via WLAN or Bluetooth.

What are the electricity meter regulations for mini solar systems?

Bidirectional meter – Do you also have electricity flowing in all directions?  mini solar systems
Bidirectional meter

If you connect your mini solar system to your home electricity network, there are also special regulations regarding the electricity meter. Your electrical installation must have a counter with a backstop or a bidirectional counter.
The background is as follows: Especially on particularly sunny days, you may not be able to fully use the electricity generated by your small solar system. If there is a connection to the domestic power grid, your excess electricity flows into the public power grid.
In this case, a conventional counter without a backstop simply rotates backwards and that is forbidden in Germany. Because the price for the electricity consumed (approx. 30 cents per kWh) is significantly higher than the value specified in the EEG feed-in tariff (11 cents per kWh). You would get your excess electricity reimbursed for a much higher price through the return function.
In the case of a meter with a backstop, the meter reading cannot be reduced by electricity fed into the grid. If you would like to record the current fed into the grid, we recommend installing a bidirectional meter. It is designed to measure consumed and fed-in power separately.

How much does a mini solar system cost?

In recent years, the prices of solar modules have fallen sharply, so energy generation using photovoltaics is becoming increasingly affordable. With mini solar systems, the step towards environmentally friendly electricity seems even closer. The market for mini solar systems is growing and some models are available for as little as €300.
However, if you are looking for a high-quality and safe product, you should expect costs of between €400 and €1000. The German Society for Solar Energy (DGS) offers a market overview with performance data, manufacturer and price.

Is a mini solar system worth it and when will it pay for itself?

For maximum performance, the sun’s rays must fall as vertically as possible. The right location is therefore essential for a quick return on investment. As a guideline, a good mini solar system with 100 Wp can be expected to yield 90 kWh of electricity per year.
For an estimated amortization calculation, let’s assume a 300Wp mini solar system, which therefore achieves 270 kWh per year. With an average electricity price of around 30 cents per kWh, the mini-PV system offers electricity savings of around €80 per year.
If you have invested a total of €800 in your mini solar system, it will pay for itself after 10 years. Service life of at least 20 years can be assumed for high-quality mini-PV systems.
TipNot only shading but also soiling of the modules can lead to reduced energy yields. Therefore, check and clean your module regularly.

Is a mini solar system worthwhile for the garden house?

Many gardens and garden houses are not connected to the public power supply.
Of course, the purpose of a garden plot is actually to spend some time in the countryside, but for one or the other application, some electricity would be very practical.
While the classic solution for generating electricity is a generator, a mini solar system for the garden house offers numerous advantages:
⦁ Energy is generated from the sun and thus from a renewable energy source
⦁ Mini solar systems are quiet and do not disturb the environment
⦁ Thanks to inexpensive solar systems, no major investments are necessary and the electricity generated by the sun is free
⦁ Plug-in solar systems can be installed quickly and easily
⦁ Very little to no maintenance is required
⦁ Mini solar systems have a long service life of at least 20 years
You often spend time in the garden when the sun is shining and the solar cells are generating electricity. However, if you want to use the solar energy generated during the day in the evening and at night, it is worth buying a battery.
The unused energy is fed into the battery and can be used at a later time. Such an energy store is particularly ideal for evening lighting and for the operation of small electronic devices.

Conclusion: sunny prospects

The concept of the mini solar system offers a simplified way of taking the first steps towards solar energy in your own home without having to make major investments. Mini solar systems are also ideal for stand-alone systems. Above all, they can actually be used according to the “Plug & Play” principle.
If you don’t want to use your mini PV system for the allotment garden or camping trips, but actually want to contribute something to the domestic electricity, you still have a few things to consider. The standard stipulates, among other things, a professional inspection of the domestic electrical installation. In addition, a power socket and the right electricity meter are mandatory.
Even if consumers are still faced with a few obstacles when it comes to repairing their small solar system, the approval of mini solar systems and the relaxation of the law in recent years represent an important step for flexibility and DIY in the field of solar energy.
If you want to protect the environment and at the same time enjoy some independence from the electricity provider, mini solar systems can offer an interesting solution. Will you also follow the sun?

8 COMMON MISTAKES IN ELECTRICAL INSTALLATION

Typical errors in electrical installation – what is correct and what is not

Have you ever questioned your knowledge of electrical circuits? And are you sure that the fire protection regulations are observed within your own four walls? No? Then test your knowledge below and make sure you know better about other assumptions circulating in society. Discover below 8 common mistakes in electrical installation from the socket to the smart home.

  • Misconception 1: I’ll just get started!
  • Misconception 2: I’ll do it quickly…
  • Misconception 3: Multiple plugs are the solution when a socket is missing
  • Misconception 4: One circuit per room is completely sufficient!
  • Misconception 5: The church tower next door is higher than my house – so the lightning doesn’t hit my house
  • Misconception 6: I’m not a tenant, I’m the owner – so I don’t need a fire alarm
  • Misconception 7: Smart Home is only for new buildings
  • Misconception 8: Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted
  • Conclusion: Little knowledge can be dangerous

Due to the high demand, we have updated this article and added the question “Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted”.

Misconception 1: I’ll just get started!

As a practised do-it-yourselfer and hobby electrician, you prefer to take matters into your own hands – right away. However, where electricity is involved, a lack of prior knowledge and willingness to experiment can have serious consequences. Before starting any electrical project, first, find out in detail about the appropriate procedure and necessary safety measures.
In electrical work, you should also have a basic knowledge of the various materials and common tools and work practices. As a rule, it is also important to observe standards, rules and regulations. With the previous knowledge, the project can then be ideally planned and you not only guarantee your safety but also save time and money during implementation.

Misconception 2: I’ll do it quickly…

Changing a socket or hanging up a lamp can quickly go wrong. Even if you can almost change the light switch in your sleep, electricity still poses the same danger.
In principle, the absence of voltage must always be established before working on cables or electrical systems. The following safety rules are therefore always a top priority for laypersons and experts alike:
⦁ Only carry out the work if you have sufficient specialist knowledge.

Is your line suffering from tension? voltage tester shows it!
voltage tester
  • Always unplug the power cord before working on electrical equipment.
  • Turn off the power by turning off the circuit of the associated fuse.
  • Provide the fuse box with an information label so that third parties cannot accidentally switch the fuse on again.
  • Use a voltage or phase tester to check that the system in question is dead.
  • Never use protective conductors for other purposes and never remove or disconnect them. A lightning rod offers no substitute.
  • Finally, after completing the work, check the protective conductor function.

Misconception 3: Multiple plugs are the solution when a socket is missing

Multiple sockets are practical, yes. However, they are by no means a safe permanent solution if there are not enough sockets. On the contrary: thanks to the multiple plugs, several devices can use one socket at the same time. It is quickly overwhelmed and gets warm. In the worst case, the overloaded socket can lead to a fire!

So what if the sockets are not enough?

Whether multiple sockets or sockets in a room are sufficient depends on the total load of the devices operated simultaneously in a circuit. If there are permanently too few sockets, the domestic electrical installation can be expanded later. If you are planning an extensive renovation and would like to renovate the electrical installation in the wall, this involves complex work. The new lines may only be installed by a trained specialist!

Tip: An alternative associated with less dust and dirt is offered by so-called baseboard or surface-mounted installation ducts with integrated sockets. These are easy to install and the wall does not have to be prized open.   

Misconception 4: One circuit per room is completely sufficient!

While this statement may be true for some rooms, it can not be taken as a rule of thumb and in many cases, it is simply not true. How many circuits are required depends entirely on which devices are ultimate to be operated in the room.
The correct rule of thumb is one circuit per 3600 watts total load. Individual devices with a load greater than 2000 watts should have their own circuit.
A typical example of a room where multiple circuits are required is the kitchen. A relatively large number of electronic devices are used in most households. In addition, many appliances with high loads such as the electric stove, oven and dishwasher are used at the same time in the kitchen. Other examples of high-load consumers are the washing machine and tumble dryer.

Misconception 5: The church tower next door is higher than my house – so the lightning doesn’t hit my house

Tall buildings are often considered as protection against lightning strikes. But in principle, lightning does not always hit the highest point!
And what about all those church towers struck by lightning? It is true that in many cases tall buildings are struck by lightning, but not always. Lightning doesn’t like church towers, it just wants to get down to earth from the electrically charged cloud. And as soon as possible.
Air is a poor conductor of electricity and has a particularly high resistance. That’s why the flash looks for a building to strike as quickly as possible. If there happens to be a tall building in its path, that’s an appealing option for the Blitz. But the cables in your own home also offer a fast route to earth.
In general, high trees, flagpoles or electricity poles can only offer protection in a very small area. Lightning can strike as little as 50 meters from such an object.

Tip: Protect yourself reliably with a multi-stage lightning protection system consisting of lightning and surge protection. In the event of a lightning strike, this dissipates the energy into the ground in a controlled manner and compensates for the overvoltages that are harmful to your electrical installation.

Misconception 6: I’m not a tenant, I’m the owner – so I don’t need a fire alarm

As the “master of the house” you enjoy a lot more freedom than a tenant, but certain legal regulations and obligations must also be observed in your own four walls. Anyone who thinks that the owner is not obliged to have a smoke detector is wrong.

When the smoke rises to the ceiling
Ceiling Fan


 

Smoke detectors serve to protect the residents and therefore smoke detectors are compulsory in all German federal states for living space. This affects both tenants and owners. Even those who live on their own property are obliged to install fire alarms.
A fire can be life-threatening, especially at night. Our sense of smell is inhibited in deep sleep and we do not notice the smell of burning in time. In this case, after just a few breaths, the person loses consciousness without realizing it. It is therefore important to install smoke detectors in bedrooms and children’s rooms.
Each federal state regulates exactly where and how fire alarms have to be installed. In principle, however, it is advisable to install smoke alarms at least everywhere where you sleep, stay longer or use smoke signals.

Misconception 7: Smart Home is only for new buildings

A smart home comes with enticing features. And these are not withheld from residents of old buildings! Basically, a smart home is simply a house in which many processes take place independently and intelligent technology regulates certain processes. For example, the heating is turned down automatically when you leave the house.
In order for the house to be able to “think for itself”, the devices must be networked and able to communicate with each other. Here there is the possibility of communication by cable or radio. The advantage of new buildings is that the corresponding control lines can be implemented directly during construction. Subsequent renovation of the electrical installation for cable-controlled communication involves a lot of dust and dirt and can be expensive.
However, simple radio-based solutions in old buildings offer the possibility of networking and intelligently controlling all relevant building components. Motion sensors, temperature controllers, probes and contacts can also be easily installed in old buildings and communicate with each other. Here your heating system learns via radio from the motion detector that you are leaving your house and not via cable.

Misconception 8: Electrical installations are protected and do not have to be adjusted

The standards and guidelines are updated frequently and if buildings and their electrical installations had to be adapted with every change, we would be constantly building and modernizing. Therefore there is the so-called grandfathering, which is a system has that was manufactured at the time of construction according to the standards applicable at the time.
So electrical installations in old buildings are out of the question? It’s not that easy! Because with electrical systems, safety must always be the priority, and from a certain point in time this is no longer the case with old electrical installations.
Old lines alone can pose a safety risk. Electrical cables are assumed to have a service life of around 40 years, as they become brittle and brittle over time and can lead to short circuits. Therefore, the rule of thumb is that the protection of an electrical installation in an old building expires after 40 years.
Wires that are too old or damaged should not only be seen as a reason for modernizing an electrical installation. The electrical installation of a building should also be renovated if there are no FI circuit breakers, too few sockets and circuits as well as outdated fuses and distributors.

Conclusion: Little knowledge can be dangerous

From the light bulb to the smart home, electrical engineering is present in ever larger parts of our lives. We therefore often think that we are familiar with a topic, although we only have half-knowledge.
And that can be dangerous. Because where electricity is involved, it sparks quickly. It is important to get enough information before starting any project. If you want to find out for yourself, you can get advice from like-minded people in forums, for example. When in doubt, however, it is better to play it safe and consult an expert.
Being properly informed is not only safe but can also be worthwhile. This is the only way to find out about the latest developments and discover new opportunities. With new insights, you and maybe your home will become smarter.

Latest Technology

Latest Technology: What to expect in 2021?

The world of the latest technology continues to evolve at a lightning pace but also to impress with its myriad possibilities, mainly because of its almost essential role today in this time of crisis. Between health measures, confinement and teleworking, technology has once again proved its importance and effectiveness. So what are the latest technological advances that are gaining in importance in 2020 and that could be among the trends for 2021?

Today’s article offers you 4 major technological trends that are gradually materializing and could very quickly emerge in 2021:

Artificial Intelligence (AI):

You have surely heard of the concept of AI, Artificial Intelligence, where techniques are implemented to allow machines to “simulate” intelligence. AI is used in many areas today, especially when it comes to handling difficult calculations or large amounts of data.

Artificial Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence

For example, artificial vision is integrated into smartphones, mainly in cameras, allowing sensors to automatically identify objects to adapt their settings according to the captured scene. It also allows automatic organization of images according to object, scene or face among others.

In addition, AI is also present in the field of sales, in particular with the popularity of “chat bots” allowing businesses to spontaneously respond to customer requests through an instant messaging system. On the E-Commerce side, automatic or voice search makes it easier and faster to find products. On the other hand, some applications try to adapt their content and thus personalize their services according to user preferences.

Augmented reality (AR)

Another emerging technology, AR, or augmented reality, fuses the real world with digital elements while allowing the user to interact in real-time. How does it work? According to the Futura Tech website: “The synchronization of the real world and virtual information is done using geolocation and onboard sensors (accelerometer, gyroscopes, etc.) which locate the user in relation to his environment and adapt the display to his movements ”.

Augmented reality
Augmented reality

An example of AR that has now become an integral part of the field of sales, the possibility of testing a product before buying it. Many stores or online stores allow customers to “analyze” a product before making a purchase; clothing, shoes, accessories or even devices, the customer can determine in advance whether the product suits him or not.

The AR is also invited in the real estate field; some online furniture stores allow their customers to visualize the appearance of a piece of furniture to see if it suits them in terms of size or decoration. Likewise, some apps now allow you to preview walls in a room in different colours.

The network of the future, 5G

A hot topic in 2020 but also a source of debate, the emergence of 5G. Gradually, we see the arrival on the market of smartphones equipped with this new technology, which could well in the near future be THE network used throughout the world.

5G Internet
5G Internet

In summary, 5G, therefore, promises us:

10x faster internet speed,

A consequent decrease in latency,

And wider coverage to allow the management of a greater number of connected objects, among other things.

More concretely, this new ultra-fast network could make it possible to manage more than smartphones, tablets or connected objects, but also a real “ecosystem” of machines. These are houses, vehicles, security systems or even a real smart city.

However, the advent of 5G is still not unanimous, especially when it comes to the impact of its waves on health. Some claim that these could prove to be very dangerous for human health, an idea that was denied following a study conducted by the ICNIRP (International Commission for the Protection against Non-Ionizing Radiation) last March. . However, the subject remains to be debated.

“The Internet of Behaviors”

Does this term sound unfamiliar to you? The Internet of Behaviors (or “Internet Of Behaviors”) refers to a technology in charge of monitoring human activities with the aim of “influencing” behaviour. This technology will be mainly used in the field of Marketing, more particularly in order to convince the user to buy products.

A more concrete example, a health and well-being application with access to information such as weight, physical activity, heart rate and others could soon be able to automatically suggest a specific diet or better habits to the user according to the ‘information collected and thus “influence one’s behaviour” in order to achieve a final objective, “sell the product”.

In addition, some companies such as banks and insurance agencies could use this technology to offer more personalized services or “better tailor them” to user needs.

However, as with 5G, the subject remains to be debated, this time in relation to the confidentiality and security of the data used.

The latest smartphones are entering our catalogues

At Digital4Business, we are gradually starting to focus on the latest trends of the moment with the latest smartphones being added to our mobile catalogue; Galaxy S20, Note 20, iPhone 12 or connected objects, nothing but new technology to ensure fleet renewals!

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