Self-powered wireless sensor technology for digitised buildings

26th April 2019
Alex Lynn

At Elfack 2019 (May 7th to 10th, Swedish Exhibition & Congress Centre, Gothenburg), the electricity and power industry discusses new opportunities of innovative technology and digitisation. At booth G00:44, EnOcean, will be demonstrating the possibilities of self-powered wireless switch and sensor solutions for digitised buildings, modular smart homes and lighting control.

Visitors can experience EnOcean’s comprehensive energy harvesting platform of modular hardware, software and wireless communications based on open standards. This platform lays the foundation for highly flexible, self-powered and maintenance-free applications that deliver reliable sensor data for intelligent control at lowest installation costs.

EnOcean products use the energy harvesting principle, in which energy is obtained from the surroundings (motion, light and temperature differences), to power wireless switches and sensors. As a result, they are both self-powered and maintenance-free and can be placed flexibly as well as adjusted or expanded at any time.

Depending on the application, the products use the international EnOcean (ISO/IEC 14543-3-1X), Zigbee or Bluetooth standards for wireless communication. EnOcean’s modular platform consists of energy harvesters, ultra-low power electronics, energy management and ultra-low power radio. Along with several tools, it allows manufacturers (OEM) to easily integrate this self-powered technology into a reliable product design.

Platform for easy product integration
“EnOcean is an experienced partner for more than 350 leading product manufacturers worldwide which rely on our established energy harvesting technology for over 15 years now,” said Matthias Kassner, Vice President Product Marketing at EnOcean. “From the very beginning, all of our components were designed to enable easy product integration without the necessity of having a deep knowledge in energy harvesting. In addition, we meet our different partners’ specific requirements of sensor development.”

At the show, EnOcean will be presenting its module portfolio for energy harvesting wireless switches and sensors. Beside energy converters for harvesting energy from motion, light and temperature differences, the EnOcean platform offers a wide range of flexible and integrated modules for several sensor applications. These include temperature and humidity sensors, light sensors, motion detectors as well as room operating panels or heating valve actuators. Transceiver modules for gateway solutions add to the offering.

With the PTM 210 switch module, EnOcean hopes to establish an industry standard for battery-free switches. The PTM fits into common switch frames, thanks to standardised interfaces and a unified form factor. Inside, it combines the electromechanical ECO 200 energy converter with an efficient wireless module for optimum energy yield each time the pushbutton is pressed, while also maximising the transmission power.

The future generation will integrate an NFC (near field communication) interface for easy and fast commissioning. 

EnOcean will also present first samples of a new generation of solar-powered, maintenance-free sensor modules. They have the same form factor as the PTM switch module, including the standardised mounting interfaces. Manufacturers only have to develop front plates adapted to the particular frame design. The sensors can be used in many different ways for typical building automation tasks, for example temperature and moisture detection or status messages from doors and windows or as activity tracker.

Maintenance-free wireless sensor solutions based on the EnOcean wireless standard (ISO/IEC 14543-3-1X) introduced by the EnOcean Alliance in the sub 1GHz band have been successfully established for use in intelligent building automation and smart home solutions. The self-powered wireless standard provides a maintenance-free system for controlling all building areas including heating, air conditioning, lighting or security.

Due to its high reliability and a radio range of up to 30m it is ideally suited for stable wireless communication within a building. Standardised sensor profiles help ensure the interoperability of more than 1,500 products from over 400 members of the EnOcean Alliance, which makes it possible to develop interoperable system solutions. Installers can quickly and flexibly implement and expand the self-powered EnOcean-based solutions, which make those the ideal fit for retrofit projects as well as new constructions.

Self-powered solutions for Bluetooth systems
With its energy harvesting technology, EnOcean also enables batteryless control solutions for Bluetooth lighting systems in 2.4GHz. The Easyfit portfolio for Bluetooth consists of batteryless EWSSB/EWSDB switches and the solar-powered EMDCB motion detector. The switches are based on the PTM 215B switch module and allow flexible control and intuitive operation of LED lights via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE).

The sensor uses a passive infrared (PIR) sensor and delivers data on room occupancy and light intensity. The switches and the sensor allow easy commissioning via the NFC interface of smartphones and tablets or via dedicated NFC readers. A sensor module with multiple functionalities will also be added to EnOcean’s self-powered Bluetooth portfolio soon.

Battery-free switches for Zigbee 
Moreover, visitors to Elfack can catch up on the abilities of battery-free switches based on the PTM 216Z switch module (according to Zigbee switch standard) for Zigbee lighting control solutions in 2.4 GHz.

Existing self-powered Zigbee solutions based on the EnOcean energy harvesting technology include the Philips Hue Tap as well as the smart switches of Signify’s Friends of Hue Switch partners Busch-Jaeger (ABB), Feller, Illumra, Niko, Vimar and TCS. Consumers can use the smart switches to comfortably control their Philips Hue lighting system.

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