The Plug&Play Energy Hub for domestic hot water: the first prototype


Thermics Energie in collaboration with Eurac Research have reached an important goal in the last month: the set-up of the first prototype of the Domestic Hot Water (DHW) module. The close collaboration with the teams involved in the renovation of 4RinEU demo represents a benefit in the development process. In fact, it is possible to develop a Plug&Play Energy Hub (PPEH) module according to a real scenario and specific needs, representative of actual requests from the market. In this regard, Thermics Energie and Eurac Research focused not only on the cost reduction of the module but also in the performance improvement of the remote control and certified energy accounting.

Currently, the DHW module prototype, for the management of the domestic hot water, is ready. This first prototype is an important test bench to complete controlling and communication procedures. The testing activities are ongoing in Thermics premises and will be completed in the next weeks to guarantee a stand-alone full usability of the module. The results from the tests of the first prototype will be the preparatory background for the development of the second one called PPEH for DHW and Heating and Cooling (PPEH – DHW – H/C).

The prototypical phase is strategic for the next industrialization and commercialisation of the product. In fact, the PPEH-DHW has been re-designed in the last months to improve the cost effectiveness of the components and the performance targets and it has been enhanced in terms of internal layout and better aesthetic appearance. Moreover, Thermics Energie has verified the robustness of the structure and that the ease of maintenance and assistance is guaranteed. Electrical cable connections have been designed to permit an easy electrical connection.

At the same time, Thermics Energie’ design team with Eurac Research collaborations started the programming activity of the controller in order to:

  • Define stand-alone functions;
  • Permit a Modbus connection with Energy Meter;
  • Use Energy Meters’ data for module’s managing parameters.

The most valuable aspects to using an Energy Meter with ModBus board driver is the possibility to measure not only the thermal energy but also other important values like, for example, instant power, flow, inlet and outlet temperature. These values give the controller important parameters to manage module’s behaviour and to collect important information about thermal energy consumption, issues, amount of used water and many others parameters. Normally, the Energy Meters obtain this information with a long refresh rate to saving battery energy, in the Plug&Play Energy Hub’s case the accounting component uses electricity grid, for these reasons Thermics Energie worked a lot with the supplier to custom the component to achieve the goals.

The integration of the PPEH with the energy management component is under testing: a first round is ongoing in Thermics premises. In the meanwhile, the communications algorithms are under improvement in order to permit a perfect connection between controller and Energy Meter. At the end of the first testing phase, the prototype will be sent to Eurac Research laboratories for further measurements.