SolarCity Aims At Integrating Solar Into The Connected Home

SolarCity and Nest’s consumer landgrab gets bigger with free thermostats to 10,000 new solar customers.
Published: Tue 14 Apr 2015

With the plethora of home energy devices now available on the market it makes good business sense for providers of complementary devices to team up. It is also one of the disruptive forces, showing how new entrants in the energy sector are out-thinking and out-marketing traditional utilities.

Such a partnership is now in place between solar power provider SolarCity and Google’s Nest. Effective from April 13, the first 10,000 new customers in California who sign up with SolarCity will receive a Nest Thermostat installed at no additional cost (normal retail price US$249). To qualify, customers must have a compatible air conditioning system and agree to connect their Nest Thermostat to SolarCity as part of the ‘Works with Nest’ programme.

‘Works with Nest’ is building a connected home and lifestyle. Other partners and devices that can be integrated include Dropcam video monitors, Big Ass fans, Whirlpool washing machines, LIFX LED lighting and Mercedes Benz vehicles.

Saving energy with solar and thermostats

With SolarCity – which claims to provide more than one out of every three new solar power systems in the US – homeowners are able to install a solar system at no upfront cost and pay a lower rate for solar electricity than they pay for utility power. The Nest Thermostat, which can programme itself to ‘remember’ preferred temperatures and automatically turn itself down when homeowners are away, can save customers an average 10-12% on their heating bills and 15% on their cooling bills, according to recent studies. [Engerati-Nest Claims Up To 17.5% Energy Reduction]

This translates to an estimated average savings of $131 to $145 a year with the Nest Thermostat alone, and combined with solar power from SolarCity, customers should save hundreds more each year.

Automated seasonal energy savings

SolarCity will offer qualifying customers access to Nest energy services, such as the ‘Seasonal Savings’ temperature fine tuning, that were previously only available through utilities and government energy programmes.

Additionally, SolarCity says it is building connections with the Nest Thermostat that can deepen solar integration capabilities and help homeowners further optimize their savings and comfort. These integrations are expected to be available to eligible customers this summer. No information has been given on what these will be but possibilities include a thermostat response to solar power availability and even optimizing the use of solar power, taking into account appliances in use and time of day.