Demystifying the smart grid

The smart grid is often difficult to understand, but simplifying its definition can erase many misconceptions.

By Donna Donnawitz
July 29, 2013

There's a great deal of confusion out there about smart grid technologies, how they work, how they improve electricity distribution and what their long-term impact will be from sustainability, reliability, privacy and cost perspectives. This has created a somewhat sticky situation in which many people know just enough about the smart grid to form an educated opinion on a few issues, but they can also fall easy prey to misconceptions about the technology. The smart grid itself is at the core of this problem, as it is an incredibly difficult concept to define.

Defining smart grid architectures
The internet is the central element of intelligent architectures. Web-connected mobile devices are smartphones. Appliances that can use the internet for apps and services are smart appliances. A utility grid that connects to a network to share data and information between various endpoints is a smart grid. At its core, the smart grid really is that simple, it's the electric grid as we know it with the added bonus of a private network. This functionality is combined with smart meters that feed the network data about how much power is being consumed at end-user locations.

Things start to get confusing, however, when you start talking about the meat of what the smart grid does, which is enable new and more advanced technological setups within the utility grid. For example, the ability to transmit data in real time between various sources makes it much easier to anticipate energy demand, allowing utility providers to become more dependent on intermittent renewable power and other alternative energy resources. The web functionality offered by the smart grid can also be used to establish microgrids, track power usage down to individual appliances in homes and support increased electrical vehicle use.

Smart grid unlocks so many advanced technological capabilities that those functions tend to go hand-in-hand with projects, making it seem like they are part of the actual smart grid. In the end, smart grid advances are all about the network, and building a good connectivity architecture is central to finding success with the technology.

Establishing an effective smart grid network
Terminal servers offering serial to Ethernet connectivity are central to the viability of smart grid systems. Interoperability is a major problem in the setup because specialized serial equipment in transformer stations and other locations in the grid need to interact with Ethernet architectures that put everything together. The end result is a situation in which terminal servers are central to the functionality that is unlocked by smart grid solutions.

Perle offers a range of cost effective serial-to-Ethernet converters to help meet NERC-CIP compliance for the protection of critical cyberassets in substations. The IOLAN SDS HV/LDC Terminal Server is designed to meet harsh environments associated with Power Substations with attributes such as support for substation AC and DC voltage ranges, extended operating temperatures and meeting emission, immunity and safety approvals associated with substation IT equipment.


Have a Question? Chat with a live Product Specialist!

Have a Question?

We can provide more information about our products or arrange for a price quotation.

email-icon Send an Email
contactus-icon Send an Email callus-icon Call Us

Send us an Email