A smart thermal buffer is a thermal buffer equipped with advanced measurements and control. This provides a detailed view on the energy stored and fine control of the thermal storage system. The most tangible application of the smart thermal buffer technology – and for which it was originally developed – is a smart electrical domestic hot water buffer. A domestic hot water system equipped with the smart thermal buffer technology becomes a demand response ready energy storage device. The smart thermal buffer is charged at the moment that suits the smart grid the best, while always preserving sufficient hot water for whenever the consumer needs it. This smart-grid-ready appliance acts autonomously, without interaction from the user and the comfort impact is zero. On the contrary, the smart thermal buffer technology can be used to improve comfort protection and to improve the energy efficiency of the hot water system. It can also be used to provide the user with advanced data on his/her hot water consumption.


The smart boiler gives detailed information on its actual energy content.

  • generic interface
  • applicable on existing systems
  • can be applied on any thermal buffer system
  • no extra handling required from consumer


  • Thermal buffering for space heating / water
  • Both in residential and non-residential situations
  • Any kind of thermal buffer system


  • Manufacturers of hot water buffer systems/appliances
  • Balancing responsible parties
  • Electricity suppliers
  • Aggregators
  • Designers of energy management systems

Today’s state of the art electrical domestic hot water systems are stratified thermal buffers. They have a single temperature sensor and a very limited view on the energy contents of the buffer. There are no possibilities for remote monitoring or control. Control is typically based on simple hysteresis logic. The only method to control it is to pull the plug. Moreover, other thermal buffers, e.g. for space
heating, typically have very limited monitoring possibilities. Technically, the smart buffer can be seen as a ‘standard’ thermal buffer/heater, upgraded with:

  • temperature sensors along the height of the buffer.
  • a communication interface, to which the active demand control system connects. This generic interface presents several energy indicators, such as state-of-charge, for the active-demand system to consult.
  • a controller that offers information to the smart grid via the interface, and that accepts on/off commands from the smart grid, while guarding the comfort settings of the boiler.

This technology has been field-tested by close to 10 families in the ‘Linear residential demand response project’ (http://www.linear-smartgrid.be(link is external)).

Smart Thermal Buffer EnergyVille
Erik De Schutter


Erik De Schutter

Business Developer Thermal Energy Systems at EnergyVille/VITO