The SmartShift™ Beta Program

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In 2021, Amber partnered with the South Australian Government to begin the SmartShift™ Beta program that has led to what most of you know today as Amber for Batteries. 

The program was based on load shifting using automation for batteries, hot water systems and pool pumps. We worked on the best way to automate each device to benefit our customers and the grid provided transparent data via the Amber app (with a few updates) and collaborated with our customers to find the best solutions for any bumps along the way.

It’s all part of getting to a future where thousands of smart devices work together to run power-hungry appliances at the cheapest renewable times. We believe it’s Australia’s best path to getting to 100% renewables and reducing our need for fossil fuel power. 

This program closed in January 2022, although we may look into expanding smart device automation in the future. We are currently working on a report to share with you outlining the results and learnings from this program, so keep an eye out for more.

 

Batteries

As battery sales increased across Australia, Amber made it our mission to produce the best system for automating and controlling their battery in one app. 

SmartShift™ for batteries was compatible with Tesla batteries and LG batteries paired with SolarEdge battery inverters for this program. We were able to work with these inverters to optimise the battery to charge from the grid when the wholesale price was <0c/kWh and export to the grid when there were higher prices. Not only did this benefit our customers but also helps the grid to stabilise when there is high demand.

We were able to update the user interface with the launch of Amber for batteries that included what you see today, graphs, statistics and more. Similarly, as highly requested by our customers, we were able to add the manual control features to charge, export and preserve charge at any time. So we hope our customers are loving Amber for Batteries, however, we love customer feedback and suggestions so please feel free to contact us at smartshift@amber.com.au

If you would like to join Amber for Batteries and you are an Amber customer please head to the Devices tab in your app and fill out your battery details. 

If you are not yet an Amber customer, head to our website and check out the pricing page to see if you will be a good fit for Amber's wholesale model. 

 

Hot water 

In 2021, hot water heating accounted for a whopping 21% of most Australian households’ energy usage according to YourHome.gov.au. So saving on your hot water energy usage can make a big difference to your household’s bottom line.

SmartShift™ for hot water systems was designed to optimise and automatically shift more of your household’s hot water heating to peak renewable times, tackling climate change while our customers are busy living life. 

It’ll heat your hot water during the cheapest times of the day and avoid higher-priced periods (meaning you’ll never accidentally heat your hot water during a price spike). This combined with South Australia Power Networks (SAPN) solar sponge tariff, providing a cheaper tariff from 10 am - 3 pm, increased customers' savings on a home device that cannot usually be load-shifted.

To be eligible, our customers needed to have an electric hot water system coupled with a storage tank. This setup combined with a Symbiot smart switch, thanks to our partners at Ohmie, allowed the system to be switched off during the highest pricing points when the hot water system had access to power on the controlled load line. 

We also trialled using direct meter control via Intellihub smart meters, which allowed SmartShift™ to control your hot water directly from the meter via an API, without any additional hardware or installation requirements

 

Pool Pumps

Backyard pools have been a staple for Australian summers, so pool pump automation was a no-brainer. This was especially critical in the summer months when customers' pools need to be cleaned more frequently due to higher use. 

We used a TP-Link smart plug, set up by our partners Ohmie, paired with SmartShift™ to turn the pool pump on at the most optimal times during the day. Customers were able to let us know the duration during a certain time period they wanted it to run. For example, 5hrs between 10 am - 5 pm to optimise the system during times when the wholesale price is generally lower due to higher renewables in the grid. 

To be eligible, our customers needed a pool with a pump that was separated from the heating system and for the outlet to be in a dry protected location. For those with an outlet outside, we were able to troubleshoot this by sending out a waterproof electrical enclosure box to allow customers with this set-up to join the program. 

Partway through the program we added an edit function to the user interface, thanks to the feedback from our customers, to allow them to edit the duration and runtime of the automation. This gave customers more visibility around when the pool pump was on and more control over their system. 

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