The Role of the Energy Integrator

Welcome to our latest podcast episode, where Bobby Brill sits down with Joe Piccirilli, CEO and managing director of RoseWater Energy, to delve into the fascinating world of power and electricity in homes.

In this enlightening conversation, Bobby and Joe explore the ever-increasing demand for power within our homes and the hurdles posed by aging infrastructure. They shed light on a crucial figure in this scenario: the energy integrator.

Discover why having an energy integrator is essential to coordinate and design a comprehensive power plan for your home. In the discussion, Bobby and Joe emphasize the significance of power conditioning and a consistent power supply, especially with the growing number of automated devices in modern homes.

Tune in as Joe and Bobby underscore the importance of clients asking the right questions and collaborating with integrators who truly understand their objectives. It’s all about tailoring a power plan that aligns perfectly with your clients needs and goals.

And don’t miss the final segment, where Bobby and Joe speculate on the future of power integration and the pivotal role energy integrators will play in shaping the industry.

Bobby Brill and Joe Piccirilli

The Role of the Energy Integrator Transcript

Bobby Brill:
Welcome again everyone to another episode of the podcast. Of course, we are going to have a great time today learning about the role of Rosewater in the world of power and electricity in your home. And of course our guest today is Joe Piccirilli. How are you, sir?

Joe Piccirilli:
Fine, Bobby. I hope you’re doing well.

Bobby Brill:
Excellent. It’s always fun to talk to you because we always learn so much about this world that is near and dear to our hearts, our home.

Joe Piccirilli:
Energy in the home, has become a hot, hot topic these days. And it’s fun to do the podcast. And it’s also interesting because it is such a relatively new field. I learn something constantly and it’s great.

Bobby Brill:
And that’s kind of really what we’re talking about today because everybody thinks “Electrical in my home? We’re going to talk to an electrician, we’re going to talk about wires and receptacles and interesting, cool plugs.” But that’s barely what’s on store for today. We’re going to get a little bit more into tying it all together. The term you use is integrator, is that correct?

Joe Piccirilli:
Correct. Just as a little background, 20 plus years ago really the entire electrical role in the house was handled by the electrician because it was really the internal wiring. Where would you want your cool light switches? Where do you want your receptacles? Do you have enough power to power all of the appliances and everything you have in your house? And that was pretty much the role and the provider, the utility, just provided power. Here it is. And everybody goes, “Oh, the utility’s always good.”

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
“Every once in a while we have a power outage, but-“

Bobby Brill:
“The last thing I’ll ever worry about is my utilities.”

Joe Piccirilli:
And it’s never the utility’s fault. Just ask them. It’s never their fault.
But the world has changed a lot in the last few decades.

Bobby Brill:
Sure.

Joe Piccirilli:
And not only has the population increased, but the size of homes have increased dramatically. There’s a lot of vertical living, especially near the coasts or in desirable cities. So the demand on the grid has increased dramatically.

Bobby Brill:
Sure.

Joe Piccirilli:
So we have that. And then we have an aging infrastructure, which without getting hyper political, but neither party can figure out how to allocate money to something that seems to be critical to me and everybody else who lives.

Bobby Brill:
Well, especially as we have these mandates for electrical everything.

Joe Piccirilli:
Exactly.

Bobby Brill:
And we’re cramming 95 electrical devices into one thing, and like, “Ah it’s a USB cable, so I can get 75 USB cable devices onto one plug. Everything’s fine, right?” “Sure. Great.”

Joe Piccirilli:
It should be perfect. What could possibly go wrong?

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
Again, so in today’s world, we are automating our homes. We’re filling them with microprocessors. Microprocessors really demand consistent power. So that’s on one side. And then of course, if you try to build a power plant these days, you could be 30 years in permitting.
So we’re increasing demand. And to your point, “Oh yeah, let’s plug in an electric car. That’s no problem, right? It doesn’t draw much power.”

Bobby Brill:
Sure.

Joe Piccirilli:
So we have, “Yes, go electrical.”

Bobby Brill:
Yes.

Joe Piccirilli:
That’s the government mandate. And now in order to harden your house so that it can deal with all of the new demands, and not only are these demands great, but the demand for consistent power preventing micro outages, preventing voltage fluctuations, become critical. Because as we’ve mentioned in prior podcasts, if you have an automated lighting system and the processor goes, you can’t turn on your lights. There are no manual overrides.

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
And that could get irritating. I could see where that would make people angry. If your network goes down, you are now closed off from the world.

Bobby Brill:
Exactly.

Joe Piccirilli:
And that’s another. Can’t stream your television programs. You can’t do anything. And again, these are truly, without sounding too first world-ish, these are lifestyle critical problems in the first world.

Bobby Brill:
Well, but at the same time, we talk about this stuff, and this is really where Rosewater and your expertise comes in, where you have people who have been thinking about this half-heartedly or gone down way too many rabbit holes on, “All right. I’ve got my power from the city. I’ve got some generators I have in my garage that I’ll turn on eventually when things go bad. I’m going to put solar on there because I’ve got a deal to put solar on there. And that seems like the bandaid to fix everything. Where have I gone wrong?”

Joe Piccirilli:
Yes. And that to me is the crux of it. We were talking before we came on air a little earlier, I have been in the last few months all of the sudden I have been in a position where there is a generator person, then there is a renewables or solar person on the same job, and then there is a person whose expertise is only large scale battery backup. And I’m sitting there as the, because a Rosewater device can control each of those, and I’m sitting there going, “Wow, everybody is so siloed and has blinders on that we forget to ask the client, ‘What are you trying to accomplish?'”
And everybody, “Oh yeah, my device will do all of that.” Well, no, it won’t. And so now it struck me that someone has to take on the role of a term I coined, the energy integrator. Somebody who can take all of these siloed technologies and coordinate the design, a power plan, for someone’s house. And that way you get the appropriate amount of solar based on your needs. You get the appropriate size generator to do what you would like to do in case of a power outage. The same is true of battery backup and the same is true of power quality. And without going too deep in that, power quality makes sure that regardless of what any of those other things do, at your outlets you get 120 volts all the time.

Bobby Brill:
Right. A big deal.

Joe Piccirilli:
It’s a really big deal. So it is interesting to me as we go along, “Okay, how do we present to our clients, to the end users, this integration?” And I think it was the last podcast where we talked about a power plan for a house.

Bobby Brill:
Correct, yeah. We walked through these ideas and all the ones we all forget about and you’re like, “No, and this and that too.”

Joe Piccirilli:
Right. Exactly right. And from my point of view now, it is the role of what are currently called system integrators. These people started out in the low voltage world and then they became experts in networking and from networking, they became experts in lighting and lighting control, shades and shades control. And they had the ability to take what were once all siloed technologies and integrate them so they work seamlessly in a home. And now it is important that we have those people take on a very similar role in the world of energy so that all of the inputs, and the inputs are the generator, the solar, all of those things, work seamlessly together in a synergistic fashion.

Bobby Brill:
Well, walk me through that a little bit. We don’t want to go too deep because we can go really deep on this.

Joe Piccirilli:
Yes.

Bobby Brill:
But when somebody sits down with that energy integrator.

Joe Piccirilli:
Yes.

Bobby Brill:
That consultant, and I don’t want to say consultant because it makes it sound like it’s a salesman in disguise, but somebody who’s really taking the time to handhold the client and get those questions, what are those questions and those scenarios that someone like you is looking for in an energy integrator when it comes to bringing all those different types of power together?

Joe Piccirilli:
What a terrific question. And it is very similar to what a doctor does. When you come in, a doctor is going to ask you a series of questions. Or your personal trainer, if he’s a good one or she’s a good one, is going to ask you a series of questions based around your individual goals. And then once we have an overall goal in mind, “This is what’s going into my home. This is what I’d like for my home in terms of how it functions and how it works,” then we can sit down and break those systems down and say, “Okay, for these products that you’re going to have in your home, these products don’t require power conditioning, but they do require, because they’re heavy loads, either a generator or a large scale battery backup.” And we’re going to make a list of those products. And then we’re going to make a list of products that require power conditioning. We’re going to make a list of products that should there be a long-term power outage, you may want to have a generator on property to take care of those things.
And we list those out and we begin to calculate, “Okay, how much draw, how much power do those things need? And from there, appropriate sizing of the generator, the renewable, the power conditioning system, can be calculated so that the house is appropriately cared for. And that’s what it is. It is a diagnostic technique.

Bobby Brill:
Okay.

Joe Piccirilli:
Everybody’s going to sit down. And it really is, and I preach this all the time, anytime you’re in front of a client and they have a home that they are remodeling or they’re building from scratch, they have to be interviewed about a power plan. “What is the power plan for this house?” Because as we mentioned earlier, it used to be, “Yeah, the utility’s going to give me power. That’s my power plan.”

Bobby Brill:
Right. “There’s a plug in the wall. Where do we need to plan? I plug it in. End of discussion, right?”

Joe Piccirilli:
Right, we’re done. But that is not the world today.

Bobby Brill:
No. Not at all.

Joe Piccirilli:
And the utilities, they tell you straight out they can’t do it.

Bobby Brill:
Right, yeah.

Joe Piccirilli:
If you bother to ask the question. They just go, “No, we cannot give you that kind of power. We cannot make those guarantees.” So now we have to plan around. I mean, there are some people who just say, “Look, I want my power to never be interrupted. I want every product in my house to never be interrupted.” Well, it’s a lofty goal. It’s not a goal that is impossible. But it requires power conditioning on virtually every product in your house.

Bobby Brill:
Sure. So this is beyond triple backup, I’m assuming?

Joe Piccirilli:
Exactly.

Bobby Brill:
This is you’ve created your own ecosystem.

Joe Piccirilli:
Because when you look at power conditioning as the factor, unlike a generator or a renewable or a battery backup, power conditioning works 100% of the time. It is never disengaged. Whereas a generator only works when power’s off.

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
So it might work on a yearly basis 4% of the time or 5% of the time. Renewables work every day, but day being the operative. And how much they generate varies with is it cloudy? Is it a clear day as opposed to a day that is somewhat foggy or somewhat smoggy in some cases?

Bobby Brill:
Sure.

Joe Piccirilli:
That power varies and it certainly varies by time of day and angle to the sun. So all of those things have to be calculated to provide those goals or to accomplish those customer goals. And certainly, without sounding incredibly self-serving, the design of the Rosewater product from its very inception was to take in all of those inputs, all of the energy inputs, coordinate their usage, and provide power conditioning to them as much of the house as the client desires.

Bobby Brill:
I mean, it’s not self-serving because this is something that is, so I think anybody that owns a home and has gone through a remodel, and once you see what’s behind the drywall, so to speak, you start learning and forcing yourself to learn very quickly what’s going on.
I mean, you just said something that I think so many people don’t realize, that a generator is only going to maybe work four to 5% of the time. That’s not a lot of time for an investment that you never look at. And if you have something in your home that you only use four to 5% of the time, you’ve probably never maintained it. You’ve probably never thought about it. You’ve walked past it and set your Coke on it and never thought about it again. You need something like, not to be selly at all, but you do need something like a Rosewater hub that is going, “Hey, let’s make sure everything’s working every single day.”

Joe Piccirilli:
Every day. And that is extremely critical because a generator may only works four or 5% of the time, but what people remember is long-term power outages. I mean, I have people in Florida talking about a hurricane that happened five years ago.

Bobby Brill:
Sure. Hey, in California, it’s like, “You remember that earthquake?” “Yeah. I was seven years old. I don’t remember any of it, but I was there.”

Joe Piccirilli:
Exactly. So those are the things that stand out. “It was in July. I sweated for an entire week.”

Bobby Brill:
Exactly. Exactly. “I had to go to the bathroom outside. I’m never forgetting it. I am a survivor.”

Joe Piccirilli:
But that’s just human nature. And that’s why the role of the energy integrator is to be able to point those things out and to design a healthcare system for your house.

Bobby Brill:
Yeah, that’s a great analogy you’ve used because talk about that relationship with the person who’s providing this healthcare of your home. All this is, and not to be too maudlin, but we are talking about healthcare. Everyone’s got home devices. There are these things that we all are connected to that we do live on where I don’t need Netflix every day and I don’t need my pool to be heated every day, but there’s a lot of things in my house that have to be plugged in. How does that relationship develop and what are the things that you as a client need to talk to your integrator about and want them to understand?

Joe Piccirilli:
I think that the best way a client approaches this is really when they’re talking to their system integrators or to their electricians. Some electricians are very capable of doing this, is to say, “Wait, this is what I want to accomplish in this home. And we need to have a long discussion about what I need to accomplish these goals.” That’s what an energy integrator is there to do. And you have to prompt that as the client. You have to prompt it. I am trying to develop all Rosewater dealers to become energy integrators. I’m preaching this. Sometimes I’m Sisyphus pushing a rock up a hill, but I’m working on it. But that is, it’s almost, I was sitting through an AI lecture and they were talking about how AI works best if you prompt it with the right questions.

Bobby Brill:
Correct. Yes.

Joe Piccirilli:
And that’s how energy integration is going to work best. The client has to prompt people with the right questions.

Bobby Brill:
Well, let’s go through some of those, because I know that’s something that we like to have fun when we have these conversations, but you mentioned some products that I don’t have them, and to me they seem almost silly, because I don’t have them and I wish I did was things like the electronic blinds, electronic things which in a home that has them, you’re going to have more things. But I can imagine the question is, if I never think about asking that question will my blinds open up when the power goes out or are they connected to this system? Then my blinds don’t open up and I’m still living in the dark.

Joe Piccirilli:
That is correct.

Bobby Brill:
And that seems like a horror movie.

Joe Piccirilli:
Well, imagine, you walk into houses with these keypads that control everything in the house.

Bobby Brill:
True.

Joe Piccirilli:
What happens if that system goes down?

Bobby Brill:
Yeah.

Joe Piccirilli:
What happens if one of those microprocessors in that system goes down and now you can control nothing in your house?

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
So the question is, how do I ensure, in my everyday living based on what’s going on with power, if in California brownouts are the bane of all microprocessors,

Bobby Brill:
Sure, yeah.

Joe Piccirilli:
Because they drop voltage and microprocessors hate voltage sags. And the same is true in New York. In Florida, we have different problems because our population has virtually quadrupled in the last 40 years and we have not built a power plant in this state in 40 years, so our power’s a little on the weak side, to say the least. So it really is the question of, “I have this. I’ve invested a lot of money in making my house reflect the lifestyle that I want. How do I ensure this is going to work? How do I ensure that the power quality coming in will not interfere with the performance?” And that’s the key issue. “How do I ensure that the power quality coming in will not interfere with the performance?” Because it’s not about the gear anymore, it’s about the gasoline, what’s coming in.?

Bobby Brill:
Right. Interesting. Yeah. Yeah, that’s another great analogy. The gear is low voltage or simplistic.

Joe Piccirilli:
Well, you’re buying good gear.

Bobby Brill:
Yeah.

Joe Piccirilli:
I mean, most of the products, with few exceptions are very well built. They’re very good products, and they are not failing or glitchy because they’re bad products. It’s because they’re being fed bad fuel.

Bobby Brill:
Interesting.

Joe Piccirilli:
Because in the past, and because it’s not a knock on anybody or not a knock on the clients, we just assumed for many, many years in this country that power’s perfect.

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
And it doesn’t interfere. I mean, we’ve talked about it in other shows that 30 years ago or 40 years ago, the consequences of bad power was the clock on your VCR blinked.

Bobby Brill:
Right, right.

Joe Piccirilli:
Half the people who listen to this don’t know what a VCR is.

Bobby Brill:
Exactly. Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
But that’s what happened. Your digital clocks blinked.

Bobby Brill:
Yes.

Joe Piccirilli:
“Oh God. The world is coming to an end.”

Bobby Brill:
Exactly.

Joe Piccirilli:
But the consequences today are far greater. And we use the health analogies, but if you start talking to some electronics contract manufacturers, the next big push is home diagnostics, health diagnostics.

Bobby Brill:
Sure.

Joe Piccirilli:
Because it is the only way, or one of the surest ways, to bend the healthcare cost curve.

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
You will be able to do blood tests in your house, your own blood tests. You can do your own EKGs, and all of this stuff will be home testing equipment. Well, now, if that stuff goes down or your network goes down, now you have health risk.

Bobby Brill:
Right. Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
And the home is going to be the center of your health for a long time. Because everybody, in order to really accomplish telemedicine, you have to have tele-diagnostics. Otherwise, you’re going to be going to a lab and labs are expensive and all of that, and it doesn’t bend the cost curve.

Bobby Brill:
Right.

Joe Piccirilli:
Now, you can’t do it at the risk of the accuracy, but God forbid something is wrong. I run all these tests, and now my network’s down, and I can’t talk to my doc? Well, that certainly will lower my stress level,

Bobby Brill:
Right. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah, the days of pigeons and messages are long gone. Everything is going to be, I mean, you brought up something very simple that we all are all taking for granted. I’m in California, you’re in Florida, and we’re talking over this magic wire.

Joe Piccirilli:
Exactly.

Bobby Brill:
As silly as that sounds, it’s like, “Yeah, but when you’re a doctor and I’m a patient and I’ve got a diabetes issue, I want to make sure we’re talking really, really clear and really, really simply.”

Joe Piccirilli:
And quickly. I don’t want to sit down and go, “Oh, my network’s down. I have to wait.” And of course, thanks to our ability to do what we’re doing, we have become a very impatient society. So we’re used to, “Hey, wait, I can look this up now. I want it.” So it is that role, and it is that question that clients have to ask. And I am hoping now that more and more system integrators will come in and actually ask the client, “Hey, do you have a power plan for this project?” And if somebody comes in and asks you, deal with them because they’re already on it. So it’s a strong, strong field that will be coming up.

Bobby Brill:
Okay, fabulous. Yeah, that was going to be my question for you. Just walk us through just briefly when they ask that question or some other key things to look for, as the client, as the person who’s got the home, that they should be asking to make sure they’re working with the right team.

Joe Piccirilli:
Right. Well, it really is, when you talk about a power plan, if you as a homeowner bring that up, “Hey, I want a power plan.” And the integrator eyes roll back, starts looking in the sky going, “What is he or she talking about?” I would suggest moving on. Because this is the future. This is the next generation of energy. This is really where we are going is we are going to need, in every residence, every commercial establishment, is going to need a power plan. It is the only way all of this works. And, again, if you are lucky enough to have somebody come in on your project and say, “Whoa, do you have a power plan?” And unfortunately, most consumers are going to go, “What’s a power plan?” And then if the energy integrator is good, he will or she will go over, “Let’s talk about what’s in your house. Let’s talk about how critical those systems are. What is worth protecting for you?” For instance, your outdoor television may not be worth protecting because today 15 inch TVs are 200 bucks, right?

Bobby Brill:
Right. Exactly. Exactly.

Joe Piccirilli:
They’re throwaways. I hate to say that. But that’s what they are.

Bobby Brill:
No, it’s very true. Absolutely. Yeah.

Joe Piccirilli:
So if something happens to one of them, good, I’ll just send another.

Bobby Brill:
I’ll get another. But my outdoor security cameras, I’d like them to be on all the time.

Joe Piccirilli:
Yeah. Particularly when there is a blackout, I would like my security system to be working. So all of those questions should be asked and it really is an interview technique. And one of the things we do, I mean, it doesn’t have to be this document, but I prefer you write it all down so everybody has a record of what the power plan for the project looks like. That way when you go to the electrical designer because he or she will be involved in the prints. This is what we want in the electrical design. This is what we are looking for.
I was involved in a project this past week where it’s a new build and they’re going, and the clients, they are really automating the daylights out of this house. And all of a sudden somebody, the builder, I think, goes, “Oh my God, how do we make sure that all of this works?” And he was at least aware enough to question. And then we got into this long discussion about, “Okay, here’s the power plan. Here’s what a power plan looks like. I need to meet with the client representative or the client, I don’t care, and we’ll design the power plan. That’s how this is going to work. But I can’t do this in a vacuum. I need to interview the client.” And I think that will become more commonplace.

Bobby Brill:
Perfect. Joe, again, always a massive amount of knowledge that all of us who are homeowners, commercial owners, and property managers, and people just interested in what is next in this world of automation and power and just building our homes into real castles, a tremendous wealth of information. Thank you so much.

Joe Piccirilli:
Well, thank you for letting me do this. It was great. Thank you for being my guest host, not my guest, you are my moderator. You are the person who runs this thing. I’m merely a guest on my podcast.

Bobby Brill:
No, no, no. Everything you tell me, I’m going, “Ooh, okay. I get to talk to Joe.” So now I got questions because I know I’m going to have to do this and every time I talk to you, “Okay, we’re eight months away from a rebuild and a remodel. Okay. Let me get some free advice while I can.”

Joe Piccirilli:
But it’s always fun, Bobby. I hope the audience got something out of it. I really appreciate doing it. I really appreciate having you as moderating and keeping me from going down those very deep rabbit holes that I am prone to do.

Bobby Brill:
And thank you everyone for joining us and learning more about your home automation, the power grid, and how you can integrate Rosewater into that solution. Thank you for listening, everybody.

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