Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

New Sensor Suitcase Slashes Power Bills for Commercial Buildings

July 13, 2017

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Two national labs just packed an energy assessor into one, high-tech package.

The Sensor Suitcase is an easy-to-use, portable energy auditing system that can save small building owners up to 10% on their energy bills. The all-in-one product costs a third of the price of traditional energy savings assessments and eliminates the need for building owners to hire engineers to manually plot, inspect, and interpret their data.

The system was developed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory with support from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. It addresses a major problem for small building owners, who currently struggle to find cost-effective ways to identify building efficiency improvements.

Sensor Suitcase: Portable System for Increasing Building Energy Efficiency
Watch and learn about the benefits of the Sensor Suitcase

How it works

The Sensor Suitcase focuses on eight of the most common and cost-effective areas to improve efficiency in small buildings. It contains 16 battery-powered sensors that measure three things: temperature, whether the lights are on or off, and how a heating and cooling system is operating. Using the software provided, users then place the sensors on the equipment to monitor energy use and building activity. About a month later, the sensors are then collected and the system’s software automatically analyzes the data to deliver a report with low-cost and no-cost recommendations to fix problems and the estimated cost-savings for each problem listed.

The whole process takes 4-6 weeks and costs about a third of traditional assessments which can take up to 6 months or longer to complete. If every small commercial building in the United States used the Sensor Suitcase, it could reduce national energy costs by more than $5 billion.

A man places a sensor on an HVAC system outside of an office building.
The Sensor Suitcase comes with 16 sensors that can be used to collect data on building equipment.
Andrea Starr| Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

What’s next?

The Sensor Suitcase is licensed by two companies to make energy efficiency even more accessible. Greenpath Energy Solutions and Cultural Quotient plan to provide products or services based on the technology. Small building owners have the option of buying the suitcase or hiring an outside company to provide services based on the system. Utilities could also lend them out to commercial building owners or encourage its use.

Download the Sensor Suitcase Fact Sheet