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MONDO ARC

Enocean Alliance

Wireless switches, sensors and controllers

Issue 44 Aug / Sep 2008


Whilst wandering the aisles of lightfair, David Morgan came across a revolutionary system that he believes will transform building control.

It is not often that one comes across a young company that has successfully integrated a number of different technologies into a system that can transform the control of lighting and other equipment in buildings.

Enocean have achieved this with their batteryless and wireless switches, sensors and controllers for lighting control and building automation.
The primary innovations are in the way that mechanical, solar or thermal energy is converted into electrical power which is then used to create wireless data signals utilising low power transmitters. Once signals are received they are processed via gateways into industry standard interfaces and lighting control software.

The pressure to reduce energy consumption for lighting is growing stronger all the time and the combination of better luminaire design with daylight harvesting and other lighting control techniques can yield considerable energy savings. Recent studies indicate that energy savings of up to 70% can be achieved in office lighting schemes with the use of occupancy detectors, daylight harvesting and more efficient luminaires.

However there have always been problems with the physical implementation of lighting control systems in buildings. How do you easily combine wall switch control of groups of luminaires with a daylight harvesting scheme, while still allowing partitions to be changed on a regular basis? Or how do you easily allow office users to control the lighting over their desk without using a PC based system?

The problem of running control wiring to wall switches is an expensive process and with the requirement for flexibility in office layout now becoming a major factor a new approach was required.

To meet the perceived market need for sophisticated, wireless building controls Enocean GmbH was founded as a spin-off from Siemens which provided patent rights and the support from Siemens Technology Accelerator, a company set up to commercialise innovations from within the Siemens group.

Enocean have tackled the practical issues of how to integrate light switches, motion sensors as well as a wide variety of other sensors and controls into a wireless network that links to individual luminaires and other equipment in a total building energy control system.

Lighting companies such as Waldmann, Spittler and Tambient have incorporated Enocean receivers into their products so that each individual luminaire can be addressed and controlled wirelessly. This allows groups of luminaires to be controlled together from a conventional looking wall switch but also for the groupings to be easily adjusted as the use of spaces change. From a product design standpoint one of the most appealing aspect of the Enocean system is the combination of miniaturised electricity generating modules with ultra-low-power wireless communication technology. There are no batteries to replace or wires to run and the switches and sensors can be placed in any position. The miniature generator at the heart of the switches is physically designed to fit into a wide variety of existing switch housings from manufacturers around the world. The Enocean business model is to work with OEM partners around the world who incorporate hardware and software modules into their existing products allowing the technology to be presented in many styles and finishes.

The wireless signal used in the Enocean system is in the 868 MHz frequency band and lasts for less than a millisecond, making it about one hundred times shorter than the signal of a conventional wireless switch. To ensure data transmission security the signal is repeated twice, randomly controlled, within about 30ms. This allows hundreds of wireless switches and sensors to be installed in very close proximity, all operating in parallel, with an extremely low probability of data clashes. Enocean wireless sensors have a range of up to 300 metres in the open or 30 metres through walls and ceilings inside buildings.

Other Enocean components include photoelectric powered motion sensors and photosensors. Since the wireless radio system is so low powered these sensors can operate for several days without light. Keycard readers for hotels powered by the insertion of the card key, window handles that generate wireless signals and even heating radiator sensors powered by the Peltier effect have been developed by Enocean OEM partners.

Enocean has also built a collaborative network of more than 70 companies worldwide that offer products ‘enabled by EnOcean’, resulting in an installed base of about 500,000 units. The Enocean Alliance was launched at Light and Building this year and is a consortium of companies working to further develop and promote self-powered wireless monitoring and control systems for sustainable buildings by formalising the interoperable wireless standard. Apparently it has the largest installed base of field-proven wireless building automation networks in the world.

Enocean have put together an interesting package of technically innovative components and products that will allow lighting designers much greater freedom to control individual luminaires, flexibly position controls and integrate sensors in lighting schemes.

www.enocean-alliance.org

 

Sensolux
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