Smart charging in winter wonderland
In Norway, cabin culture is strong, and it is not unusual for families to head to their remote homes away from home for the weekends. Electrician Trine Tjørhom visits more of these cabins than most during the course of a year, and reports that the trend among the cabin people is a smart control of heat, light and electric car charging.
Some electricians work on large construction projects such as hospitals and schools, some are on an offshore platform or boat, while others thrive best when working at home with private customers.
And then you have Trine Tjørhom in Active Elektro, who drives from cabin to cabin between snow-capped mountain peaks in Sirdalen, Vest-Agder, Norway.
– I am actually trained as an engineer but chose to fall back on my electrical vocational certificate. For the past six years, I have worked full time with service and installations in the Sirdal area. There is plenty to do, to put it mildly, says Trine.
Planning by weather and distance
She lives in a detached house at the very top of one of the many mountain peaks, with a good view in all directions. From here, she lays out her weekly and daily plans based on location, type of assignment and the weather forecast.
– There are many long distances, so I try to plan so that I start at the very bottom of the valley, and then work my way down every day. It is both more convenient for me and cheaper for the end customer.
She tries to add indoor assignments and office work on days when bad weather has been reported, while outdoor jobs such as the installation of electric car chargers are quickly given priority on cloud-free days with sun. In the latter case, she likes to take her breaks in the open air. Trine points to the viewpoint Slottet (680 metres above sea level), where a restaurant with 80 outdoor seats opened in 2021.
– There have been some lunch breaks up there this year, I must admit.
While a service electrician in the cities ends up in a fight with the clock as soon as an assignment takes longer than expected, Trine has far more flexibility up in the mountains.
– 90 percent of my assignments are in cabins. One of the advantages of this is that they are mostly empty on weekdays. If an assignment is suddenly more extensive than expected, it is unproblematic to move the next job to the next day.
Smart heat, smart light, smart chargers
A typical week can include everything from fine tuning satellite dishes to replacing dimmers. But one trend in particular is recurring: cabin customers are demanding solutions for smarter electricity usage.
– People have become more aware of electricity usage, both because cabins today have more things that use electricity than before, and because electricity prices are rising. “Everyone” wants to have smart control of heating and outdoor lighting, and when they switch to an electric car, they will have smart charging boxes. There are a lot of charging boxes.
One of the most common bottlenecks Trine encounters before a charging installation is the main fuse. It often has only one phase with low current capacity.
– Then there is not much left for electric car charging. The best solution in such cases is to rebuild the intake to the cabin from one to three phases. Then you get much more power available, at the same time as loading the main fuse much more evenly. This change must be applied for, but grid owner Agder Energi is also interested in a better and more even load on its grid, so I mostly get the green light fairly quickly.
Not everyone wants to upgrade, and in some areas the capacity you are allowed to have in the cabin is also limited, then it is extra nice to have smart products to resort to.
– When you arrive at the cabin, you like to turn up the heat at the same time as you start cooking. Then an Equalizer that adjusts the charging speed based on real-time consumption can be good to have. Otherwise, one of the advantages of a smart charger is that you can set automatic charging times outside the times with the highest consumption.
Not everyone wants to upgrade, and in some areas it is also limited how much capacity you are allowed to have in the cabin, then it is extra nice to have smart products to resort to.
– When you arrive at the cabin, you like to turn up the heating at the same time as you start cooking. Then an Equalizer that adjusts the charging speed based on real-time consumption can be good to have. Otherwise, one of the advantages of a smart charger is that you can set automatic charging times outside the times with the highest consumption.