Canadian smart home energy tech startup dcbel has developed an intelligent home charger that both fast charges electric vehicles (EVs) and allows customers to power their homes using solar collectors or to provide backup power during blackouts from their EV’s battery.
Dubbed r16, the product was over five years in the making. It uses electricity generated by solar collectors to allow consumers in markets like the U.S. and Canada to reduce their electricity bills by up to 25 per cent. In addition, EV batteries capable of bidirectional charging (and where it’s permitted under the warranty) can be used through r16 to power the home using r16’s Blackout Power feature. The company also offers standalone batteries to provide this functionality.
The r16 uses artificial intelligence to perform real-time energy allocation in the home, Marc-André Forget, chief executive officer of dcbel, told IT World Canada. Using it, one electric vehicle can power a home for two days if necessary.
The company recently announced a new investment of $7.5M USD (in addition to the $40M announced last April) from Silicon Valley Bank to commercialize the technology in the U.S.
“We are excited to work with a financial partner like Silicon Valley Bank who understands the needs of a fast-growing company,” says Matthieu Vidricaire, head of operations at dcbel. “This will help us introduce our first manufactured product under challenging conditions in the global supply chain.’’
As a result of the additional financing, manufacturing of r16 will start in Québec, Canada with additional U.S. and EU manufacturing capabilities to be announced in 2022. New dcbel r16 units will be available for sale and installation in California, New York, and Texas this fall. The company aims to be in a million homes by 2025, said Forget.
“With their launch of innovative products like the r16, dcbel aims to provide homeowners with exceptional solutions for the management of their home, car and solar energy systems,” says Graeme Millen, director of technology banking at Silicon Valley Bank. “We’re excited to provide this credit facility in support of dcbel’s continued growth and to help meet increasing customer demand.”
California a prime market…Canada is also on the list
Forget says they have already started taking orders in California and the demand for product is higher than their manufacturing capability. But they plan to expand to Canada as soon as they have the capacity to do so.
“We want to scale just right. So, California, and probably Texas have spoken for all the units we can manufacture from at least now to next summer. They are big markets not only because they have massive solar energy markets and visibility but also because they have a lot of blackouts. So they are our prime markets,” he says. “We think that starting next summer, we’re going to scale up our manufacturing capability or installation ability, then we’re going to revisit when we will be able to enter the Canadian market.”