Brownouts are a common problem in micro-hydro mini-grid systems due to the limited supply of power and the difficulty of restricting usage. The GridShare is a device designed to alleviate brownouts by limiting peak power and encouraging load-shifting to off-peak times. The device is installed at each household’s electrical service entrance and measures voltage and current consumption. Indicator lights inform the customer whether a brownout is occurring; if the customer attempts to use large appliances, such as rice cookers, during a brownout, the GridShare disconnects power to the house until the appliance is turned off. The objective of this master’s degree project was to advance the design of the GridShare device from a prototype to a production design ready for small-scale manufacturing and to manufacture, assemble, and test enough GridShare devices to perform an installation in the village of Rukubji, Bhutan. Based on our testing and a field visit by the GridShare team in June 2010, several changes were made to the circuit design, and several prototype devices were built. To enable the production of 120 GridShare devices, a printed circuit board was designed, allowing automated fabrication and assembly. A comprehensive testing protocol was developed to evaluate the device’s ability to withstand the electrical and environmental conditions at the installation site, including exposure to low voltage and frequency and low and high ambient temperatures. The final version of the GridShare passed all tests; 120 devices were manufactured, shipped to Bhutan, and installed in Rukubji in June 2011. Further work will be needed to assess effectiveness and user satisfaction.
Project (M.S.)--Humboldt State University, Environmental Systems: Environmental Resources Engineering Option, 2011