Sydney-based startup, PooledEnergy, has spent over five years and $8m developing a system that manages domestic swimming pools, power consumption and, it hopes, grid power in the areas it serves, using IoT technologies.
The company’s offer to homeowners is that it will become their electricity supplier and will take over management of their swimming pool. To do this it either upgrades existing filtration and pumping systems or installs its own, complete with sensors to monitor key pool and environment parameters such as pH, oxygen reduction potential (a key measure of pool safety) pool and ambient temperatures, pool usage. The sensors are connected to a microprocessor and cellular modem that feeds data back to management software running in the cloud.
The company’s executive chairman is Australian telecoms industry veteran, John Riedl, former CEO of Jtec, and its directors are all well-known figures from the Australian telecoms and IT industries: Ron Spithill, former head of Alcatel-Lucent Australia; Roger Buckeridge; Chris Beare, a former head of strategy at Telstra and former CEO and chairman of WiFi pioneer Radiata. Clem Doherty, former head of KPMG Australia and Greg Irving, former CEO of Honeywell. Australia
Riedl told IoTAustralia that a typical domestic swimming pool accounted for about 30 percent of domestic electricity consumption, even if unheated. “There’s a big pump for filtration and chlorination that is running 10 hours a day in summer and five or six in winter, and the sweeper.”
He explained PooledEnergy’s offer: “We put in sensors, we upgrade the filter and we provide the chemistry management system for the pool for no upfront cost if you buy our electricity under a five year contract at the average price of Energy Australia, Origin Energy or AGL. Those people might give you a discount. We don’t, but we very substantially reduce the energy consumed by the pool, we optimise the chemistry, we provide maintenance on everything for the pool and we provide all the chemicals.
A cleaner, safer pool
“You will get a cleaner safer pool. It will computer managed centrally from our NOC [network operations centre] which is plugged into, amongst other things, the Weather Bureau and the grid, and you get a pool that is optimised 24 x 7.”
“A typical pool runs on time clocks so it’s the same whether it’s hot or cold sunny or raining, or whether the football team has been in or nobody has been in for a week. Our system continually optimises for the weather forecast, the time of day, the instantaneous cost of power and whether someone is in the pool.”
Riedl claimed that, over a five year contract, users would save about $1000 on the combined cost of electricity and pool maintenance, and save electricity equivalent to about 20 tonnes of CO2.
20 tonnes of CO2 saved per managed pool
“There are 1.2 million pools in Australia. If you can remove 20 tonnes of carbon from each of them you are talking a serious amount of electricity,” he said.
PooledEnergy is presently serving only Sydney. “We have been running since July 2014 with a number of beta trials and have now gone to full commercial launch. We have over 70 customers, ” Riedl said. “There are six years of R&D and $8m of investment behind this system. We have had pools under management for the past four years, and we believe it is totally unique.”
He said the company’s longer term goal was to use its control of pool systems to filter out demand peaks and also to help stabilise the supply of electricity to end users: voltages can fluctuate significantly based on demand and, increasingly power fed into the grid from domestic photovoltaic systems.
Riedl said: “Once we get enough pools in an area under management we will get a rebate from the power generators, and we will share that rebate with our customers.”