Extreme Low Energy (ELe) is a small company working in Skelmersdale who are set on being game-changers in the way we power homes, schools and businesses. Although we don’t have rooms full of computers anymore, I am sure you remember walking into a computer room or office and hearing that drone of power supply fans. Imagine what it would be like if it was almost completely silent. Imagine not having to lug around a large power brick or power supply for your iPad, laptop or phone. Imagine if the regular power grid was just a backup to a much more efficient system. Well, all those imaginations are a real-world reality.
ELe have developed a system to use low voltage DC (direct current) power around a home as opposed to 240v AC (alternating current) power. All electronics use DC power. And every time you convert from AC to DC or DC to AC (there is a band name in there somewhere) power is lost via heat making it less and less efficient. What if there was only one conversion or better yet none. That is what ELe has made a reality.
A prime example of energy loss is solar panels. As they work on DC voltage, they are connected to large converters to change it back to AC to distribute around the home where you plug in a laptop for example which has a large brick on it which converts it back to DC. You have probably noticed that those bricks get very hot, that is power that is being lost via heat and being wasted. Even LEDs have power supplies to convert the AC to DC so there is always a loss of power.
Walking through ELe’s modular show house in their office it is immediately apparent that it feels like any other house. Except for one big detail. The lack of regular 3 pin plugs. There are still some for very high load devices which cannot be directly powered by DC. What is also apparent is that in place of regular plugs there are RJ45 network ports. That is right, everything is connected through network ports to the power over Ethernet system. They can power an Intel NUC PC and a monitor from one single cable as well as providing a data connection.
They also have kinetic light switches. Completely wireless and completely no battery. The movement of clicking the switch creates enough power to send a signal to the distribution devices to switch the lights on or off. The best thing is, they can be fully configured to turn on or off any light or any socket making it do exactly as you want.
The system also makes use of several power options. From solar to generators, hydro, turbines, the national grid or even an electric car. Power is managed as efficiently as possible. Through artificial intelligence it will be able to predict when you will need energy storage and when it can be kept to a minimum. For example, it will know that on most days you use the hot water at 6 am in the morning, it will then heat the water in time for this as well as making sure your car is charged in the morning.
They have also made innovations into solar panels. When I think of solar panels, I think of very large, thick panels which weigh a lot. But ELe have developed a semi flexible solar panel sheet of solar modules which can be configured into any configuration or size. So, they can blend in with a building or stand out as a centre piece. They also prevent theft as they can be glued down to a roof without having to drill into the roof in anyway.
There is so much more that I can say about ELe but I think I will keep that for next time.
Jonathon Provost, Disruption Officer at Halton Housing