Paneltronics AC load shedding, smarter power
Paneltronics new load shedding system is somewhat related to my battery/monitor/charger travails. Boaters of all sorts are struggling to manage their electrical appetites, and the line between electrical and electronic is getting fuzzy indeed. And there are all sorts of us; I have no need for AC load shedding personally, though this device is unique in that it's aimed at boats like Gizmo...The Paneltronics power management system is only $689 MSRP and it's only designed to manage a 30 amp shore service, shedding up to three loads before the dock circuit breaker trips and turning them back on again once the excess load has gone away (assuming, I guess, that they will go on again by themselves when power is restored). In other words -- heat wave on the East Coast! -- you wouldn't have to get out of your deck chair after the ice-maker kicks in and knocks the AC, inverter, etc. out. It can also manage 30 to 75 amp generator loads.
Load shedding is already a feature of some distributed power systems, like Moritz's OctoPlex seen below, but those are whole boat systems, not add-on modules like the Paneltronics design. And there is another approach to this issue, which is a synchronized inverter that can use a boat's batteries to get through peak loads. I think Victron pioneered this technology, and Nigel Calder has proselytized about it in Ocean Navigator and Professional Boatbuilder. Reducing generator size is a good thing, whether done with battery assistance or load shedding. In fact, I heard an NPR radio interview today (available here) discussing ways whole national power systems could be made much more efficient thanks to a central systems for managing home and business loads on a grand scale. Check out the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition. Electricity is definitely getting more electronic, at all sorts of scales.