Honda "smart home" showcases off-the-grid energy solutions
April 29, 2012
Honda has unveiled a demonstration house in Saitama, Japan, to showcase and test its new Honda Smart Home System (HSHS). Featuring a line-up of innovative energy production, management and conservation solutions, the company hopes HSHS will free homeowners from the constraints of on-grid living somewhat, give them a leg up on self-sufficiency when disaster strikes and help reduce carbon dioxide emissions both at home and on the road by networking electric vehicles into the mix.
Included in the concept dwelling are thin-film solar cell panels, a gas engine-driven cogeneration unit and water-heating system, a rechargable home battery and an energy control device called the Smart e Mix Manager that ties everything together.
The HSHS-equipped home will produce clean energy utilizing new solar cell modules that incorporate high-efficiency, thin-film CIGS (copper, indium, gallium, selenium) cells.
To further lower greenhouse gases produced by home heating/cooling, cooking and water heating (functions which account for about 60% of the energy typically used by average Japanese homes), a cogeneration system driven by a specially-designed high-expansion-ratio engine, dubbed EXlink (for Extended Expansion Linkage Engine), will provide combined power generation and heat recovery efficiencies of up to 92 percent.
The Smart e Mix Manager functions as the central control for the entire system and keeps track of all energy produced by the system's components as well as power supplied from the grid. Additionally, in tandem with the Home Battery Unit, it can supply emergency electricity in the event of blackouts or disasters such as earthquakes, of which Japan has more than its fair share.
In true home-of-the-future style, on top of optimizing home energy use and fostering a low-carbon lifestyle, the HSHS will alert the homeowner of lights and utilities that could be turned off before leaving, allow voice-recognition remote control of appliances from on the road (with Honda's Japan-only Internavi in-car telematics system) and provide real-time feedback on all components. There's even a provision to use electric vehicle batteries as additional back-up electricity in the home should grid power be interrupted for some reason.
Honda plans construction of additional homes and will continue testing and refining the system until at least 2018. No pricing has yet been discussed, nor is it clear whether existing buildings can be retrofitted, but hopefully, some form of this innovative system will become available before that distant date.
The Honda video below (in Japanese) shows the features of the HSHS: