Pika was Ready for Tesla!
By George Harvey
Pika Energy is a company that started up about five years ago near Portland, Maine. It was founded by two engineers who met while they were studying at MIT. The company is focusing on design and manufacture of equipment that is particularly suited for microgrids. They are also working primarily with small systems, especially those that would be of interest to homeowners and people who run small businesses.
At the heart of the microgrid is a technology they call RebusTM. This is what they call an “energy operating system.” It allows a number of inputs, from different kinds of electrical sources, to be connected with a variety of different loads and storage interfaces. The same wires used to transmit power also conduct information among the pieces of equipment, providing a level of intelligence that rises above other systems.
The Rebus system operates at 380 volts, providing a level of efficiency that is unmatched in small systems. This means that power can be distributed over much longer distances than had previously been used. Multiple conversions between AC and DC power, each of which reduces the efficiency of the whole system, are also eliminated. An additional benefit is that the wire used for the system can be lighter, and therefore of lower cost, than wires of typical DC systems.
At the heart of the system is an inverter. Pika’s first model is the impressive X3001 Hybrid Inverter, which is particularly suited to grid-tie systems. It is bi-directional Incoming power from the grid can be converted from AC, 240 volt to DC, 380 volt and sent to a battery charge controller. Incoming power from wind turbines can similarly be converted from DC to AC, to power lighting and equipment. Solar panels, micro-hydro, and other power sources can be handled similarly. And all these operations can happen simultaneously. The X3001 inverter is rated at three kilowatts and weighs about 26 pounds.
The announcement of the new Tesla Powerwall batteries seems to have come as no surprise to the people at Pika Energy. When Elon Musk announced the Powerwall, Pika announced the equipment they would provide to support it. Pika’s new product is a 7.5 kW grid-tie inverter with islanding capabilities. It provides an all-in-one solution for small microgrids that had multiple electrical sources, such as wind, solar, and others. The technology allows the energy produced at the home can be used, stored, or sold to the grid.
Pika Energy President Ben Polito said, “Tesla’s announcement of an affordable battery solution for homes is an exciting development in the home energy industry.” He added “It highlights the need for intelligent, bi-directional inverter solutions, and Pika Energy’s inverter products fill that gap. Our microgrid product suite perfectly complements high performance batteries with affordable, smart electronics, to capture and manage clean energy to power our homes.”
Pika’s website is www.pika-energy.com. The number is 207-887-9105.