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Oct 1, 2013 - Building

My House, My Power Plant

Life and mobility during the energy transition: WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM delivers the research data.

The Federal Ministry for Transportation, Building, and Urban Development uses around 40 single- and multi-family dwellings to test Best Practice Solutions for virtually climate-neutral energy standards in new construction and for renovations. In Berlin, the Federal Ministry as the project sponsor went a step further and coupled an “Efficiency House” with electro-mobility. The I/O-SYSTEM 750 from WAGO has two tasks in the house at Fasanen Street 87a: Controlling the complete energy management and recording operating data for monitoring.

What kind of things does a family of four experience when they live for a year or longer in a futuristic-seeming house that offers every technological gadget that is currently on the market? How can the installed systems operate best? And how efficiently do they work? These were the questions that Jörg Welke and Dr. Simone Wichers and their children, Freya and Lenz, had to answer every day. As in all technologically driven research, the concern in Berlin was how the technology could be controlled. Consequently, the family was followed by social services during their long-term test.

“We wanted to consider the topics of living and residing, commuting and traffic over the course of the energy transition,” explains State Secretary Rainer Bomba within the context of a transition to electric vehicles. The German auto industry also wants to test their E-mobility activities. This expansion of autonomous energy generation with maximum self consumption creates new technical problems that extend beyond the otherwise common functional scope of building automation. In Berlin, the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 is therefore used for the actual building automation through Gira HomeServer. In total, the building in Berlin Charlottenburg has three controllers with three very different tasks.

Controlling battery charging

In addition, a WAGO Compact PLC takes on the complete charging management of lithium-ion batteries in an outdoor enclosure. These were previously used in the electric version of the Mini by BMW and at the end of their mobile usage, they are beginning a second life as stationary energy stores. Using this buffer, the electricity generated on site can be used for need-based applications in the house as well as for charging the electric vehicles. The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 takes over turnkey control and moves the battery-supported storage further in the direction of the “virtual power plant”. The research is also supposed to determine whether such systems actually have the ability to improve network quality and to smooth output fluctuations.

Controlling the energy management

A second control strand implemented using WAGO components serves complete energy management in the building. In this case, the controller tracked data points to determine how energy flows can be controlled to adjust based on weather predictions. For example, is the electricity generated by the photovoltaic system used to charge the vehicles? stored in the buffer? used to run the washing machine? supplied directly to the Berlin electrical grid? When does it make more sense to consume the self-generated power directly, and when should the inexpensive power from times of excess energy production be used as a temporary offset for charging? The intelligent processes used are so adaptively designed that they can autonomously adjust to the conditions described in brief, as well as to changed usage behavior on the part of the residents.

The Federal Ministry has linked the building with researchers and the public using the third control line. This is the point where the I/O-System 750 can display its transparency in terms of interfaces. Temperature, humidity, room- and device-related energy consumption are all tracked: 750 data points are installed in the home. This also detects social data – for example, the use of hot water during showers, cooking times, use of lighting, television viewing, and vehicle activities.

Making data available

In order to make the collected data constantly available to the around ten associated research projects, the I/O system forwards the data directly to the central history server via Modbus TCP. In addition, the WAGO solution functions as the interface with the Gira HomeServer. The task here is to detect KNX communication and transmit it to the GLT via ETHERNET so that this data is also available for monitoring, analysis, and optimization over the internet.

The measurement configurations are designed so that monthly energy balances can be generated as well as single performance evaluations of the system technologies used. In addition, air temperature and CO2 concentrations in all rooms is constantly measured. The usable and excess production from the photovoltaic system, as well as consumption by all devices in the house is constantly displayed.

Applicable across Germany

From the microcosm of the Fasanen Street in Berlin to the Federal German macro level: the Federal Ministry currently has more than 30 additional houses with comparable research focal points in the electrical grid. According to information from Hans-Dieter Hegner, Head of the Division of Civil Engineering, Building Research, Sustainable Construction at the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building, and Urban Development in Berlin, researchers throughout Germany are following two major issues: Which technologies deliver, and which also retain the highest energy production? How should the house from tomorrow be operated by its residents so that it is both a comfortable living space and it is truly fun to use the technology?

“We proceed in all of our individual projects completely independent of producers. That is the only way that we can determine which technologies truly work best and for which reasons,” says Hegner. The same applies to handling. If, for example, a system provides information about photovoltaic electrical production from the previous day in an easily accessible format, then this promotes general acceptance of the technologies used. Living in an energy-efficient manner should not also mean doing without.


  • WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 takes on complete energy management for the building.
  • Controlling the charge management for lithium-ion batteries and connection to the virtual power plant
  • WAGO´s interface transparency connects the Efficiency House Plus with researchers and the public.

Text: Thorsten Sienk, freelance journalist
Photo: BMVBS/Ulrich Schwarz, BMVBS, WAGO

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