EnOcean has long been on our radar thanks to its inexpensive light switches and thermostats, which harvest energy from solar cells and thermal differentials and boast peel-and-stick backs for easy installation. Now, they're getting hooked up for TCP/IP communication, which means in addition to talking to each other, homeowners will be able to control them using any garden-variety web-connected device. The setup will require a small gateway, at which point you can monitor rooms using desktop widgets and mobile apps such as Can2Go that are compatible with EnOcean's radio protocol (ERP). So far, the company's mostly made headway in retail stores and office buildings, but if it has its way, it could be coming to hospitals, college dorms, and (duh) your home.
EnOcean Alliance Advances Support for IP-Based Wireless Energy Harvesting Sensor and Control Technologies
SAN RAMON, CA – May 2, 2011
The EnOcean Alliance, a consortium of companies working to standardize and internationalize energy harvesting wireless technology for green intelligent buildings, announced today that its wireless, battery-less energy harvesting sensors and associated control systems are now fully interoperable with TCP/IP. With escalating customer demand to manage and monitor building automation controls over IP networks, the EnOcean Alliance has responded, enabling building owners to fully leverage the flexibility of IP technologies that offer interoperability and convergence advantages to more effectively manage their facilities' energy consumption.
By establishing TCP/IP interoperability with its wireless, battery-less enabled end-devices and their associated IP-based control systems, the EnOcean Alliance offers a complete building management solution for maximum energy and operational efficiency. Building owners and facility managers can now monitor, manage, and control these systems centrally and from any web-enabled device, from anywhere in the world.
"This trend to centralize and converge building energy management is key, given the fact that only five percent of small and medium sized buildings (100,000 square feet or less) are equipped with a building management system," said Kirsten West, principal analyst at West Technology Research. "Small and medium-sized facilities account for 98 percent of all buildings and 65 percent of floor space, making this segment the largest underserved market in the industry by far. That's why the ability to populate a facility with sensors that can communicate over TCP/IP to a centralized building automation system is key to this Greenfield market segment."
Small-to-medium sized buildings are seldom equipped with building automation systems because of the relatively high upfront costs and longer payback periods. Up front, fixed costs, such as software and dedicated servers, are proportionally more burdensome for smaller installations. In contrast, IP and web-based solutions offer an alternative to these hurdles either through more cost-effective building management systems or more mobile and accessible interfaces.
Variable costs incurred by labor have also limited the penetration rate of building automation systems (BAS), making IP-based sensor and control technologies more attractive. EnOcean Alliance-based wireless technologies can greatly reduce labor costs related to wiring, including opening and closing walls to connect and network devices together.
EnOcean Alliance member companies such as BSC Software and SCL Elements are leading providers of EnOcean over IP, offering turnkey solutions that are poised to revolutionize the industry. SCL Elements' CAN2GO brand, offers a complete line of wired and wireless building automation controllers that are also BACnet/IP (and BACnet/Ethernet) compliant web servers. Each unit (controller) is an autonomous server, hosting a complete building management system (BMS). When connected to the same network, they "merge" to provide customers with a single, centralized management interface either locally or remotely.
Illustrating the cost advantages of IP-based building automation, the CAN2GO BMS is included with controllers so customers do not have to pay for software, licensing, external servers, or backup services.
"These savings are precisely what is opening the small and medium building market to building automation," said EnOcean Alliance Chairman & CEO Graham Martin. "By reducing the fixed costs of software with embedded web servers, and overall cost of ownership with wireless technologies, solutions like CAN2GO can provide a shorter payback for smaller projects. And for larger projects, CAN2GO wired and wireless controllers can be used with third-party BACnet IP building automation systems.
BSC, now an EnOcean Alliance Promoter member, has also developed its own bi-directional EnOcean-to-LAN gateway, capable of buffering 3,000 EnOcean sensor signals. BSC software can support EnOcean devices with switching and visualization services and provides for door, window and HVAC control. It also supports security camera capabilities as well as real-time monitoring of a facility's actual power consumption. In addition, the versatility of the BSC system makes it suitable for smart metering and smart grid purposes in both private households and public, commercial or industrial buildings.
DimOnOff, also an early North American adopter of the EnOcean principle, offers smart phone, tablet and desktop based widgets (switches, thermostats and displays) enabling bidirectional control of EnOcean products over TCP/IP (wired, WiFi or cellular) as well as integration with third-party BACnet/IP systems.
Advancing EnOcean-over-IP has many benefits, including applications such as industrial control, process automation, and commercial building control, all of which are moving away from closed proprietary protocols to embrace open international standards such as the Internet Protocol (IP). With the U.S. Smart Grid adopting IP to interconnect smart energy components such as smart meters and thermostats, which could amount to 300–500 million devices, the potential market expansion opportunities for companies like BSC and SCL Elements are considerable.