As Simple As A Sunrise

Your grid independent power needs Simplicity

Whether your power need is a home in the wilderness, a townhouse complex, village electrification in a developing nation, a military forward operating base, or anywhere the grid is unreliable — Simplicity™ is the most cost effective solution for solar independence.

Today, local independent power is a mix and match challenge, requiring elaborate design and planning. We’ve replaced the complexity with five building blocks and advanced software.

Our microgrid uses a patented¹ DC backbone on which all power sources and loads connect.

Solar panels, generators, the grid, batteries and inverters just plug in and all control their own power. Wiring is simple and mismatched loads are impossible.

We’ve changed energy production to be independent of installation size. Start with just a couple solar panels and an inverter. Grow to a city or country by adding, never replacing.

DMI 24 kWh system

Start small. Grow simply.

Start without batteries, or just a few to provide nightly power for an average home; expand to power a whole neighborhood or village. Start with no solar panels to just use your batteries as backup for grid power, or fill a whole field and share power within a cluster of buildings. You can mix solar panel sizes and orientation without worrying about clouds or shadows.

A totally off-grid solar power system for a "tiny house", cabin or RV can be installed for less than $12,000. A small passive home designed for 100A electric service can be NetZero Energy for less than $14,000. An average U.S. home with 200A service can eliminate electric bills forever for $26,000. With Federal and state rebates, these system may cost you 30% to 40% less.

On a larger scale, a 60-unit condo complex with shared solar array and shared energy storage can be installed incrementally as the units sell and be totally off grid with a cost per condo of $7,000.

Residential Energy Independence

Off-grid Tiny House to Community Microgrid

The Applications

We've been working with cutting-edge battery storage since 2008, and our battery management, control systems, and intelligent distribution is unrivaled in the industry. While there exist other energy storage systems on the market, none of them are designed with modular scalability at their core.

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Tiny houses

Tiny houses come in all shapes and sizes. While an average home may need a 100A or 200A service panel, a one or two bedroom tiny home might get by with 25A or 50A. The flexibility of Simplicity lets you tailer to the limitations of the small size while providing an expandable solution for particular needs. This home is 1200 square feet with tight construction. It has roof space for eight panels providing 12 kWh per day, just enough with heating provided by a wood stove. Two kWh of energy storage plus a 16 kW inverter plus eight 330 watt home-owner installed panels have a project cost of $12,900.

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This all electric, three-bedroom home is built for energy efficiency and is powered by twenty-one 330-watt 380 volt solar panels. A 32 kW inverter powers the 200A breaker panel and four 12 kWh 380 volt batteries provide power through the night. The electric grid or a generator can supplement the solar power as a backup in case of extended bad weather. Total project cost including solar installation is $43,100.

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Zero-net luxury condo complex

This complex of ten luxury condos is powered by four separate PV arrays with different orientation and some shading problems. Each of the 114 330-watt panels has individual MPPT control and the panels are connected in parallel at a nominal 380 VDC. For nighttime power, there is a centralized 90 kWh energy storage bank. Each condo has its own 16kW inverter and 100A distribution panel. All power through the complex is distributed on a 6 AWG pair of solar cables with MC4 connectors for each of the components in the system. The system can be expanded by simply plugging in more panels in any of the PV strings, adding more batteries or increasing the number of condos installed. Total project cost including installation is $130,000.

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Village electrification

Start small and add power as needed or as budget permits. Initial cost of the project is $4,630 including the inverter, panels and installation. This village power system, due to budget constraints, only provides power during the daytime. However, it can be easily expanded for higher output and nighttime operation by simply plugging in Simplicity Battery Modules. The first logical expansion is the addition of a 8kW/ 12 kWh battery module for an additional $4,688. No installation or reconfiguration is needed to expand the system. Simply plug in additional PV, batteries, or inverters as needed to the single-wire backbone.

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Community solar

A desert community powered totally off-grid by 600 ground- mounted, thin-film solar panels. Total solar output is 680 kWh. This array provides power for 45 homes and businesses. Power is provided through the night by 40 Smart Batteries. Power is distributed among the various locations on a low loss DC buss and each home has a 16 kW inverter feeding a 100A service panel. The total installation including panels, ground- mount array, a containerized energy storage bank, costs $216,000 for the installed PV; $130,400 for 45 16kW inverters, and $351,000 for 600 kWh of containerized, climate controlled LFP energy storage. Total for the project is $698,000.

How much electric power do you need?

This estimate is based on an analysis of homes similar to yours in your area. It is intended as a guide and is based on limited information about the construction, orientation to the sun, roof slope, lifestyle, and many other factors. Estimated cost includes installation, racking and mounting and assumes typical U.S. cost per installed watt. Your cost may vary depending on local conditions. Estimate does not include shipping or duties.

Provide the information for your home in the boxes and sliders below. If you are on the electric grid, compare the energy requirement against your monthly bill. If your location is not included in the list, pick a spot with similar weather. We're continually upgrading our climate and electric rate model and will be adding locations outside of the continental US soon.

How is your house heated?
Your heating, cooling and hot water account for about half of your total energy consumption. Selecting "All Electric" sizes your system to handle these loads
Where are you located? Select your state from the pull-down list.

How big is your house? Use the scroll bar to select your home's square footage or take a guess from small to large

How energy efficient is it? If you are unsure, we can provide some guidelines. How well your house is insulated has a very large impact on energy use.

How much of your electric load should your panels and batteries supply? Your solar panels and batteries can handle part or all of your electric requirements during the day. However, if less than 100%, then you will need to supplement with additonal batteries, generator or grid backup. A system designed to handle the daily average kWh will rarely need backup power.

How much of your electricity consumption needs battery backup? Your solar panels only provide power when the sun is shining and then full power is only provided mid-day. The rest of the time you'll either need to restrict electric use or have enough battery backup. Also, if the system is off-grid and without additional backup power, you'll need enough batteries to handle all your simultaneous power loads.

More Water With Less Solar

SunShot R&D Optimizes Pumps

Introducing PVFlex™

More water with less solar. SunShot Initiative R&D optimizes submersible pumps

Solar power and submersible well pumps are the perfect combination for low-cost irrigation where the water is needed. The combination eliminates the cost of long electric power connections to grid power and eliminates the high cost of fuel for a generator at the well.

eIQ Energy and The Digital Microgrid Initiative have made the solar/well combination more affordable, more efficient, and much simpler to install. Research and development by eIQ over the past three years under a U. S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative grant, has led to a more efficient point-of-solar converter which matches the power from each individual solar panel to the high voltage DC power needed for applications such as an integrated submersible irrigation pump.

PVFlex modules are available as either separate units which can be used with nearly all available PV panels, or are integrated directly into the solar panel. Each PVFlex unit performs local MPPT, ensuring maximum energy extraction per solar panel. Additionally, PVFlex modules automatically account for distance between the solar and pump so the PV array can be placed anywhere and at any orientation.

Setting up the solar well is simply a matter of mounting the panels, connecting standard MP4 cables between the modules and connecting the string directly to the well pump or its controller.

Since each PVFlex module produces just the right amount of voltage for the well pump, as few or as many PV panels can be used as desired to match the power needed for the volume and water pressure desired. Should conditions change, PV modules can be added or removed as necessary.

Traditionally, the “energy storage” has simply been an elevated storage tank for the water. A more compact solution which provides pumping on demand day and night, is to add one or more specialized DMI smart batteries, optimized for the particular high voltage pump.

Unlike traditional approaches requiring a specific number of panels sized to the peak voltage, the DMI PVFlex system allows any number of panels of any size and type. The number of panels can be sized to the pumping capacity needed rather than to the voltage required for the pump. Because the electronics are integrated with the solar panel, wiring becomes much simpler. Panels are connected directly together in parallel and then can be connected directly to the submerged pump.

The panels are also immune from the effects of shading or orientation as seen here. Covering part or all of a panel simply reduces total power. With traditional solar pumps, power is reduced for the entire solar array.

While the PVFlex system can be configured with nothing more than a submersible well pump and one or more PVFlex equipped solar panels, the pumping system can be made simpler, more efficient and able to run twenty-four hours a day with the addition of a DMI DC-DC converter equipped LFP battery.

Off-Grid System Design

For Tiny, Container, Modular and Panelized Homes

Sustainable Fossil-Fuel-Free Living

Tiny homes, panelized homes, and container homes are all about simpler living in balance with the environment. They often take advantage of locations where the construction needs to be totally self-sufficient with no fuel or electric power brought in from 'civilization'. We have extensive experience with residential and military mobile and modular housing and bring a holistic approach that takes into consideration appliances, lighting, heating and cooling, communication and entertainment -- all as part of a unified renewable energy systems design.

Sized for Real Life Power Needs

All-electric living in an off-grid home can be less intrusive and more cost effective than traditional "back-up" power solutions. The typical small US home has 100A to 200A electric service and a daily usage of around 25kWh. For an off-grid system this requires an inverter of 12-16kWh. DMI can provides solutions to match the off-grid power to the needs of real people.

LED Lighting and Appropriate Appliances

We've designed 24Vdc LED lighting systems with totally programmable infinite dimming and control, efficiencies 40% better than AC LED lighting, and with integrated mobile app control. This is the high-end architectural lighting that you'll find on cruise ships but at a surprisingly affordable price. The power for this can be 380Vdc, 48Vdc or virtually any AC power.

DC or AC Appliances

There's no single best answer for the best choice of appliances. AC mini-split air conditioners are less expensive and more efficient than DC verions. Truck cab air conditioners from Dometic are a personal favorite for mobile applications. Cooking can be more energy efficient (kWhs) with combo microwave/convection ovens and induction cooktops, although this usually requires a higher peak power from your renewable solar, wind and batteries.

Optimized for Energy and Power

Unlike traditional residential electrical design, off-grid applications need to consider when and how much various electric loads are used. We approach this with the same Electric Power Load Analysis (EPLA) process as marine engineers use to power ships

More Information About These Projects

OpenBMS

Open tiny houseSource Reference Hardware

The Digital Microgrid Initiative is the sponsor of OpenBMS, a standard for 48Vdc ESS modules

One of the most critical components of a high voltage battery pack used for high capacity energy storage is an isolated battery manager to balance all the cells in the pack. Without this batteries with hundreds or thousands of individual cells succumb to the limitation of the weakest cell in the pack.

OpenBMS provides a reference specification and MIT licensed hardware design. Nearly a dozen LFP battery manufacturers have agreed to supply batteries that are plug compatible with the standard.

If you have a car battery, flashlight, or TV remote, there's a standard battery size from multiple vendors for simple interchangeability. For small batteries there are IEC standards for AA, A, A23, C, D, etc. For car batteries there are BCI Group sizes. Why not standards for plug-in, replaceable modules for your home or business solar energy storage.

The Digital Microgrid Initiative is actively partipating in effort to provide standards for the physical dimensions, capacity, and interface of plug-in ESS modules.

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Capabilities

Electronic Building Blocks for Off-Grid Power

We build the electronics and software for economical and efficient, energy independendent microgrids. We sell and manufacture standard and custom solutions tying together standard solar panels, all types of batteries, the electric grid, and specialized hardware. Our Simplicity Microgrid products are the building blocks for a highly expandable, totally modular microgrid for the individual home, a mobile military encampment, marine propulsion application, of a housing development. Contact us with your requirements and we'll see if we can help.

Advanced electronics for renewable energy

Our team of power electronics engineers are experts in innovative power conversion. They bring decades of experience to applications including high power bidirectional DC-DC converters, a SiCFET 16kW inverter that you can hold in one hand, or wireless battery charger for troop mobility. We offer standard, semi-custom or fully customer designs for your product requirements.

Advanced IoT Software from the Hardware to the Cloud

We bring experience ranging from embedded hardware control, CANbus/MODbus/Bluetooth/WebSocket/mDNS communications, MEAN Stack mobile applications with D3.js dashboard technology, DSN and cloud-based IoT platforms (PubNub, AWS, IBM Node-RED). Our team has decades of experience developing standards and adaptive software for consumer applications.

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Products

High-voltage DC Power Conversion

We provide DC-DC and DC-AC power electronics using modern, light-weight SicFET designs. We cut the weight of taditional off-grid converters by 90%. We increase the efficiency by 20-30%. Check out our standard products or contact us about custom designs.

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Communications and Control

Our products support high voltage power-line communication, MODbus, CANbus, Bluetooth Low Energy, and various internet communication standards. Our microgrid modules are design to operate autonomously while negotiating with other products to improve efficiency, operating costs and resiliency.

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8kW to 32kW Off-grid Power Generation

This is the sweet spot for residential off-grid power. Our solution consists of an multiple OpenBms 48volt batteries with 48/380Vdc DMI battery chargers, a 16/30kW DMI off-grid inverter, and 380Vdc DMI boost controllers for the solar panels. Optionally, the system may include a DMI 16kW rectifier to use the grid as backup power.

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Energy Storage

Energy storage is a requirement for off-grid independence. Wind and sun need to be captured when available and stored to use as needed. We are experts on battery storage using a wide variety of battery chemistries including lithium iron phosphate, lithium titanate, lead-acid, flow batteries, and we can even provide solutions for pump water energy storage.

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IoT Software

We provide custom IoT software for mobile devices. We use state-of-the-art software for rapid development of dashboard designs, interface with remote support services, rempote control and data collection. Contact us about your specialized requirements.

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30kW to 200kW Commercial Off-grid Power

Operating with either a 380Vdc or 760Vdc bus, DMI battery chargers and boost controllers may be used with one or more IdealPower 30C3 inverters for solar or windpower systems from 30kW to 200kW.

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Get in touch!

So if home microgrids save energy, are more resilient from outages, work well with renewable solar power, use safer transmission lines, improve profits, and even save the view, why aren’t we changing all our power to microgrids? At The Digital Microgrid Initiative we’re making a power play to make sure that the change happens. If you’re interested in helping to invent the future, join us.

Please use the form below to contact us. You can call us at (800) 660-1320 or email us at info@digitalmicrogrid.com. We look forward to working with you and will get back to you as soon as possible.