Many solar and energy monitoring systems systems use WiFi to do their job; a growing number of home energy management systems rely on it as well.
At first, using WiFi may appear to be the obvious choice: Many modern homes already have a WiFi setup to which they can easily and conveniently connect energy management hub, making it easy to control their lights, electronic devices and appliances via the internet.
But as you shop around for a home energy management system, there are a number of reasons that you may want to avoid ones that depend on WiFi. We’ve outlined them in this article.
1. WiFi connections can be unstable
If you are expecting 24/7 access to your energy consumption or solar production data – not to mention 24/7 control of your household devices – WiFi may not be able to deliver. Do you often have problems with internet speeds at home, or find your connection dropping out repeatedly? These are good signs that you may want to fix your WiFi issues before going ahead with a WiFi-reliant HEMS – or get one that doesn’t use WiFi in the first place.
WiFi unreliability is an especially big problem for building fleet managers or solar system installers who use a WiFi-based portal to keep tabs on or troubleshoot the performance of the systems they’ve sold. While a singular home or business may be able to work to eliminate their own WiFi reliability issues, anyone monitoring multiple systems would face a higher probability of encountering their share of WiFi-related headaches.
carbonTRACK’s communications platform relies on mobile phone networks for greater reliability.
2. WiFi security is relatively easy to compromise
WiFi rose to popularity and is still known primarily as a way to connect to the internet. In its early days few people would have anticipated that it would be used to control devices within a person’s home.
By having a WiFi-reliant energy monitoring system in place, you are sending information about your energy consumption habits across the internet through your WiFi router. WiFi routers are notoriously susceptible to hacking (just Google it) – and if yours is compromised, vital personal information may be on display to whoever manages to access it.
On the most basic level, someone could use the illegitimately accessed data know whether you are home or away. The situation is potentially much more dire in the case of a WiFi-connected HEMS. Depending on what you have connected to your system, the gravity of a breach becomes all the graver. As an example, think of a HEMS-controlled front door lock: anyone who is able to tap into the system may be able to open your door remotely.
carbonTRACK relies on patented, highly secure communications link based on 3G/GSM connection, making it not only reliable but also safe.
3. WiFi router replacement requires re-configuring your HEMS
When you set up a home energy management system via WiFi, it is necessary to configure it to work with your WiFi router.
This means that if you ever need to replace or reset your router, your WiFi-based HEMS will also need to be re-configured. If you’re not technically-minded, this could prove very difficult and time-consuming, and even if you are tech-savvy it would still be an annoyance.
On top of the work required to set things up again, there’s also the fact that you’ll be losing both monitoring data and control functionality while your router is down – which could translate into lost savings, not to mention some degree of inconvenience.
carbonTRACK connects directly to communications lines without the need for a modem as intermediary; fewer moving parts means less likelihood of downtime.
4. There are better options available (namely: carbonTRACK)
carbonTRACK’s development team is well aware of the disadvantages of WiFi-based energy management systems – which is why we don’t rely on it. Our platform uses encrypted communications over GSM/3G mobile networks to deliver superior reliability and security compared to a WiFi network.
In addition to our the safety & reliability of the network we use, there are plenty of other reasons that carbonTRACK is one of the best energy management systems on the market. You can learn about them here.