A consortium of companies known as the EnOcean Alliance works together to develop and promote self-powered wireless monitoring and control solutions for sustainable buildings. To Date, the alliance and the standard that it promotes are apparently much more prominent in Europe and Asia than in the U.S.
One alliance member that recently introduced a new EnOcean compatible LED driver is Chinese company Inventronics. (Ref: article).
The organization, which attempts to formalize an interoperable wireless standard, boasts that it has the “largest installed base of field-proven wireless building automation networks in the world.”
The EnOcean Alliance has three member classes. Promoters are “innovative and key players who will lead, define and drive the Alliance.” Participants are the “companies and suppliers providing product and services using the Alliance technology.” The third member class, Associates are “building professionals, academics, smaller distribution partners etc interested in the technology, advancements, examples or training.”
EnOcean compatible devices include self-powered switches and sensors. These switches and sensors get their power without batteries or AC connections using energy harvesting technology.
Energy harvesting can convert certain RF signals into the small amount of power needed for such sensors and switches. For sensors and switches that require slightly more power, small indoor-based solar panels can suffice.
Wireless Protocols that EnOcean Supports
The devices can be set to act as repeaters to increase the range of the wireless transmission using wireless lighting control protocols such Zigbee, Bluetooth as well as the EnOcean protocol.
Another, less frequently used technique uses energy from a temperature differential to power the switches or sensors such as those from industrial pipes running hot water.
These sensors and switches can be used to automatically control and monitor lighting and energy usage in residential, commercial, or industrial environments.
Energy Harvesting for Self-powered Sensors and Switches
Unlike more conventional sensors and switches for control and monitoring, EnOcean compatible devices do not need to connect to AC or battery power. Energy harvesting allows these devices to be installed quickly without the time-consuming process of opening up a wall and connecting to an AC power source. Such self-powered devices also save on maintenance because they don’t require battery replacement.
The sensors and control devices have nothing that regularly requires service.
Energy harvesting, therefore, translates to both installation savings and additional maintenance savings on an entire building automation system. Ultimately, EnOcean devices make the economic justification for IoT-based monitoring and control of lighting stronger. The EnOcean Alliance will also help make wireless switches and sensor interoperable by creating an international standard.
Potential applications include not just lighting, and occupancy sensing but also temperature, air quality, and others.
Overall, EnOcean makes control and monitoring and automation systems less expensive to install and operate, which will lead to accelerated adoption among businesses and consumers.