Electricity is an integral part of the modern world. While it has grown tremendously since it was first discovered, and our understanding of it has allowed us many comforts and benefits, many believe that it will continue to become a more and more integral part of our lives.
When electricity was initially introduced to the public, its use was sporadic. Gradually, as it became cheaper (and associated technologies became ubiquitous), more and more people integrated electricity into their daily lives. From lighting their houses, to protecting their food from spoiling, to doing our housework and entertaining us, the modern household consumes electricity for a variety of different tasks.
However, in recent years, the number of things requiring electricity has only grown. Even things which traditionally were powered mechanically or through other means have commonly become electrically connected or powered. For homeowners and homebuilders, this can present a dilemma. How can we be properly prepared for the electrical demands of the future? Here are a few things you can expect about our future electrical demands, and some advice on how to prepare.
The internet is a wonderful tool for all aspects of modern life. Its ability to connect, gathering and disseminating information has become a integral part of our expectations from our technology. And more and more industries are beginning to embrace the tools that connectivity provides. Smart homes are adopting technology to remotely access and control things such as lights, locks, and cameras. Every item connected to the internet though, needs electricity. Information cannot be received or transmitted without the flow of electricity. So, things which in the past would not have needed power, are needing to be connected to your homes electrical system. Things like doors, windows, cabinets, and showers all now have the ability to be connected to your home system. Now you can turn off the hot water to your teenagers shower with just the press of a button.
As noted above though, this creates demands not previously present on the electrical system of a home. All of these devices consuming power will mean more electrical circuits, and more electrical work. So, if you are renovating your electrical system or designing a home, keep in mind that homes are likely to need much more electrical availability than they have in the past. To this end, including electrical systems which are easy to upgrade, or designed to cover much more than current demand might be a long term saving.
Another area where electric technology has become more popular is in cars. The proliferation of electric vehicles and charging stations has created more demand for electrical supply. Many homeowners have installed electrical charging stations in their garage, with the capability to quickly charge an electric vehicle. Government subsidies and funding have also contributed to the trend, with homeowners in some areas eligible for decreased electrical fees if they adopt electrical vehicles.
With this in mind, garages of the future might require a robust supply of electricity, and should be designed and built to accommodate these future demands. While it may not be immediate, current trends suggest that electric vehicles will only become more common.
The storage of power has always been a challenge for the electrical grid. Increasing the rate at which power is produced can take time, and is expensive to regulate. However, demand for power can fluctuate wildly, nearly instantly. The difference between demand for power during peak hours and the middle of the night can be enormous. To deal with this, power companies often have systems in place which allow them to produce power ahead of the time, and store it until it is needed. Traditionally, this energy has been stored using mechanical methods. For example, energy might be stored using a flywheel. This is a device which uses energy to accelerate a disc to a high rate of speed, rotating around a center axle. When energy is needed, the movement of the wheel is used to generate electricity. Another method involves using energy to pump water up a hill. When electricity is needed, the water is allowed to flow downhill through a hydroelectric apparatus.
Recently, battery technology has advanced to the point where it can be a viable option for mass energy storage. While they can be expensive to produce, they can also store energy with minimal losses compared to other methods. Some businessmen believe that a diffuse network of batteries, even things stored inside of customers homes could be a long term solution to power shortages. The ability for customers to store and use their own power when they wish could be a huge benefit. However, preparing for this technology will again require extensive electrical work.
With all of this said, I would simply recommend that if you are doing any electrical work, to keep in mind that you might also want to increase the capacity of your current system while you are at it.