Cellular Routers for Smart Energy Management

Utilities deploy many different kinds of equipment, and it tends to be spread out over large areas. They need rugged, resilient installations, especially for systems like power grids, where cascading failures can leave wide areas in the dark. Utilities must have data communications tools that can connect local networks and individual piece of equipment at great distances and in challenging environments.

As a result, utilities have made extensive use of cellular routers. Cellular routers can provide Internet connections anywhere there’s cellular service. They support robust security protocols and virtual private networking (VPN). They can use the cellular data networks as their primary connection, or for automatic failover if wired connections are available. They provide plenty of bandwidth, even for security cameras. Cellular routers have proven themselves to be invaluable in applications where network downtime is unacceptable.

Cellular Success Story: Wireless Communications for a Heat Distribution System

In the city of Prague, the capitol and largest city in the Czech Republic, Pražská Teplárenská a.s operates a district heating system with 265,000 customer connections, 49 heating plants and 696 km of pipeline. District heating systems aren’t a new technology; but when they are large enough they’re surprisingly cost effective. Rather than seeking to replace them, many operators are actively expanding them and networking key equipment with modern data communications technologies.

But Prague is more than 1000 years old. There are winding streets, irregular property lines and even some canals. Installing cable connections for every network node would have been a nightmare.

Pražská Teplárenská a.s deployed cellular routers. With multiple built-in hardware interfaces as well as Wi-Fi capabilities, the cellular routers are able to aggregate disparate protocols and technologies that include Wi-Fi, Ethernet, RS232/422/485 and even Modbus. They communicate with the central control over the cellular data networks using TCP/IP. Rather than abandoning their legacy infrastructure, Pražská Teplárenská a.s used newer technology to make it more efficient.

Applications:

  • Remote control of high-voltage sectional switches
  • Measurement and control of devices in transformer stations
  • Remote readouts of electric meters, smart metering
  • Monitoring of small power plants – water, wind, photovoltaic power plants
  • Monitoring of cogeneration units, biogas stations
  • Monitoring and supervision of boiler rooms and heat distribution systems
  • Heat transfer station management and control
  • Heat transfer station management and control
  • Data collection from heat measuring instruments

 

Smart Energy Management