Smart DCC attend the opening of the Smart Home Research Facility at Salford University

Smart DCC has been working with the team at the Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group at the University of Salford since May. It was great to be present on Friday 7 December, with a cross section of the smart meter and smart home industry, at the opening of the Smart Meters>Smart Home Research Facility in Joule House.

Rebecca Long Bailey, MP for Salford and the Shadow Business Secretary, spoke with conviction about the importance of smart meters to help meet carbon targets and support people who find it difficult to pay their energy bills. This Christmas Eve will mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of James Joule in the building that now houses a key smart energy testing facility.

The new lab includes a model 'smart' living room with a host of exciting new technologies - including an Alexa Smart Meter skill created by one of the team [as shown in the video clip], and a smart kitchen full of connected appliances. The most interesting work for DCC takes place in the room full of gas and electricity SMETS1 and SMETS2 meters, which also has an air source heat pump and a couple of domestic sized batteries. There was also an electric vehicle connected to the side of Joule House and a small solar array in the yard.

The lab is intended to follow the model already established for the very successful Energy House facility - supporting business and academic research. Companies will be able to bring their products and prototypes to test with SMETS1 and SMETS2 platforms - in due course the facility will become a fully fledged DCC Remote Test Lab connected to the DCC User Integration Test environments used by the energy suppliers and other parties. The lab will also support academic studies across a range of activities - from consumer behaviour to the interaction of smart home and smart energy devices with each other.

Dr Richard Fitton explained that whilst it had been a tough journey to install the smart technologies in a listed building, that had also provided useful insights into the real world challenge of making has technologies work. We don’t expect that the typical British home will need quite as much CAT5 cabling as runs through the cellar of Joule House, it is realistic to try and maintain ZigBee connections through thick walls and in increasingly noisy radio conditions.

Members of the DCC team have spent time at Salford, training them how to use our testing toolkit and getting feedback from them on our approach - they have been the guinea pigs for DCC delivering the training rather than the test toolkit provider. Dr Fitton thanked the DCC at the launch event for their time and their ongoing support when their testing falls over.

Written by Simon Harrison, Design Director at Smart DCC. Simon has been invited to speak at the Smart Meter conference that the University of Salford are hosting on 7 February 2019.