Smart Solar Ensures Services at Remote Communities across the World

The Internet of Things (IoT) has emerged as one of the hottest topics, covering home security systems to refrigerators that tell you when to buy milk. The technology, which extends connectivity and computing capability to devices that are not normally considered computers and allows these devices to generate and exchange data with minimal human intervention, is now integrated into off-grid solar, creating “smart” solar.

BBOXX, a solar solutions company, and Aeris, an IoT provider, teamed up to deliver solar energy to people living in off-grid communities in the developing world. The IoT connectivity enables BBOXX’s devices to be deployed in areas such as East and Central Africa, remotely monitored, with expedited deployment time.

People living in a rural off-grid area normally spend 6-8 percent of their incomes on energy costs, purchasing kerosene and batteries and charging their phones. For those people, BBOXX provides a range of solar powered battery boxes for an individual’s home to power up small electric appliances such as lights, mobile phones, and computers. The cost of a solar system is spread over time to make it more affordable.

“For BBOXX, and the solar industry in general, real-time access to data usage, alert management and device-connectivity management is critically important to monitor solar panel connections and improve service up time, ensuring maximum service quality,” Evan Whitelock, senior product marketing manager of Aeris, said. “Additionally, these real-time capabilities allow the service provider, such as BBOXX, to manage service delivery and reduce costs.”

In fact, remote monitoring helps BBOXX understand how customers use battery energy and optimize the life of the battery.

Furthermore, Aeris’ advanced analytics capabilities allow BBOXX to understand device location, identify device usage trends over time, and identify billing anomalies to further improve customer services. For example, BBOXX can remotely disable a device when a customer misses a payment and enable it again quickly when payment is made.

Because Aeris’ technology supports major cellular technology standards, such as GSM, CDMA and LTE, it enables BBOXX’s devices to be deployed in remote sites in different parts of the world. Aerie’s global subscriber identity module (SIM) promotes quick deployment. A SIM card, normally found in a mobile phone, stores user identity, location, phone numbers, network authorization data, and so forth.

Aeris’ SIMs are installed in BBOXX’s solar devices at the point of manufacture.

“Aeris SIM and Aeris’ single global access point allow BBOXX to simplify their manufacturing process and supply chain by creating a single product, or SKU, that can be deployed anywhere around the world without any additional configuration or SIM changes,” Whitelock said. “For example, the Aeris global SIM can be deployed seamlessly in Africa and Europe with no configuration changes, so companies like BBOXX do not need to manage separate products for Africa and Europe. They can ship devices anywhere in the world, and they will automatically connect to a local carrier.”

Lead image credit: BBOXX

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Junko Movellan is a Solar Industry expert who writes and analyzes the US and Japan PV downstream markets. She has more than 15 years of experience in the PV industry, analyzing industry trends and developing business strategies for global companies. She previously worked as a Senior Analyst at Solarbuzz and as a Market Development Analyst at Kyocera. She is based in California, USA.

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