While many power generation facilities can be considered microgrids, the term microgrid is most often used to refer to home and business microgrids:
- A home microgrid usually serves a single family at their home, and may consist of photo-voltaic (PV) cells, batteries for storage, and an electric vehicle capable of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) electricity transfer.
- A business microgrid usually serves a single business or business park.
Home microgrids consist of electricity transmission, networking protocols, and the components that tie everything together.
Electricity transmission is simply the power lines from the street to your home, and the power lines running throughout your house. In North America power lines within the home are usually ~110 volts at 60 hertz.
Networking Protocols facilitate communications between devices. The most popular networking protocols are Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications (DOCSIS), Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Zigbee, and Z-Wave. DOCSIS, DSL, and Ethernet run over physical wires, while the rest of the protocols are "wireless" and transmitted over the air.
"Components" are everything else in the home that play a role in managing electricity or providing special functionality.
- (Smart) meters connect the power from the grid to your home. The meter usually feeds into a large power switch for your entire house, that then feeds into the main power panel.
- Gateway/router is usually the network bridge between the Internet and your home network. Modern gateway routers usually bundle several features including the cable modem (in the case of cable), network gateway/firewall, network router, WiFi, and switch with several Ethernet ports.
- (Smart) Power Panel connects to your power meter, and distributes power throughout your home. Panels contain circuit breakers to provide protection from overloads. Smart panels are adding computer monitoring of electricity consumption, detection of tripped circuit breakers, and even the ability to reset circuit breakers remotely.
- Smart plugs allow you to switch on an off a power plug over the network. Many also have the ability to monitor electricity consumption.
- Smart thermostats like the Google Nest provide intelligent and network control of your home heater and air conditioning.
- Home Security systems like the Eufy HomeBase connect to the main home network, and may provide their own WiFi network to connect security cameras and doorbells.
Business microgrids provide a subset of the functionality of home microgrids, but are industrialized to be more rugged, and operate at a larger scale.