Case Study: ConnectDER

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ConnectDER: Help solar homes exchange energy with utility companies

ConnectDER develops technology solutions for the distributed generation industry, including photovoltaic and energy storage systems. ConnectDER’s smart energy meters allow homeowners with solar systems to sell their excess power back to the electric company. They needed an application and API that helped utility companies commission these meters remotely and collect analytics without sending a technician to each house.

Here was our challenge:

Solar energy generation works best when utility companies can control how much power they absorb from small generation sources, like home devices. ConnectDER came to Promptworks because they needed a multi-tenant website to manage these small generation devices over a cellular IoT network. Additionally, they required an API that would adapt solar inverters’ binary protocols to a RESTful interface, which varied by endpoint. Together, these tools would allow utility companies to control solar energy metering hardware installed on residential systems.

These goals needed to be balanced with a short timeframe and the stringent technical standards required by the Department of Energy and utility companies.

Here's how we solved it:

We developed lean so we could get to market faster. Promptworks engineers helped the ConnectDER team prioritize key features and build prototypes with open-source libraries to speed up development work. As we approached roll-out to larger utility companies, we were able to replace the open source tools with more secure, enterprise alternatives.

We migrated to a more appropriate data model. ConnectDER’s power meters relayed energy data via traditional cell phone networks, which are frequently interrupted, thus creating data anomalies. Although Promptworks had no control over the hardware, we were able to help their team restructure the data model so it could handle such interruptions.

See the results:

Within four months of inception, Promptworks had helped deliver a go-to-market prototype API and admin platform. Our work with the ConnectDER team also yielded three open source projects that have proven valuable to both the energy and tech industries.