BTL Mark: Resolve interoperability issues & increase buyer confidence
The Wireless Way
Relying on the principles of energy harvesting, 250 EnOcean Alliance members worldwide are proving that wireless, self-powered building controls are the future.
Business Development Director North America
EnOcean Alliance Inc.
There is no doubt that wireless has a bright future for making
buildings greener and more sustainable. The day is fast approaching
when we can reduce our reliance on hardwired building systems and
instead adopt wireless to improve the information about, and increase
control over, the energy we use in our structures.
Although wireless building systems are becoming commonplace, no
wireless system alone can satisfy all the different, and often
changing, requirements. The landscape of offerings includes
wireless systems from groups like EnOcean, Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth
and WLAN. Each of these standards plays a role in the building
automation marketplace, but the majority of these players have seen
limited success. Factors such as frequency, interference risk, range,
interoperability and life cycle costs are all important considerations
and will help determine which standard ultimately “wins” the wireless
When it comes to wireless, traditional solutions include batteries to
provide devices with power, but batteries are of particular concern to
facility managers since they are time consuming to replace and costly
to dispose of properly. Utilizing batteries is ultimately not a “green”
solution. Today, wireless systems can instead make use of energy
harvesting technology, as they aren’t required to route messages for
other sensors, allowing devices to operate on significantly less power.
Creating the EnOcean Standard
The EnOcean wireless, open standard for sustainable buildings functions
without the use of batteries. Formed in 2008 by leading companies from
the building sector, the EnOcean Alliance aims to standardize and
internationalize EnOcean wireless technology and is dedicated to
creating interoperability between the products of OEM partners. Relying
on the principles of energy harvesting, 250 EnOcean Alliance members
worldwide are proving that wireless, self-powered building controls are
Wireless sensor modules from EnOcean harvest their power from energy
sources in their surroundings, from motion, light or differences in
temperature, for example. The amount of energy obtained in this way is
enough to send a wireless signal, and turn on a light, for instance.
The signal used is transmitted in the 868 MHz or 315 MHz band. Each
EnOcean module utilizes a unique 32-bit identification number to
prevent any possibility of overlap with other wireless switches. To
mitigate transmission errors, the telegram sent is randomly repeated
twice in the space of about 30 milliseconds.
In January 2009, EnOcean Alliance published the first global, open
specification for energy harvesting wireless sensors, a major milestone
in ensuring the interoperability between products from different
manufacturers. This published specification, v2.0, contains some 50
EnOcean equipment profiles (EEPs) that enable and support the
development of various building automation solutions such as switches
and sensors. The publication of this EEP specification was the first
step towards creating a new international open wireless standard, which
the Alliance hopes will be ratified and released by the IEC/ISO this
spring. EEP v2.1 was released January 2011 and offered new
telegrams and other minor enhancements, while the latest EnOcean
interoperable standard EEP v2.5 is planned for release by the Alliance
in April of this year.
Interoperability, an essential function of EnOcean Alliance, is a
prerequisite for enabling equipment from different manufacturers to
communicate and work together in a building automation system. The
specification, devised by the technical working group (TWG) of EnOcean
Alliance, now involves over 100 active contributors. It calls for
adherence to clearly defined rules and standards, ensuring that all
components use the same data formats or protocols, therefore allowing
the combination of a receiver from Manufacturer “A” to be paired with a
sensor from Manufacturer “B”, as well as a sensor from Manufacturer
“C”. In this way, you can implement non-proprietary, cross facility
smart solutions for energy efficient building automation.
EnOcean over IP
Products and systems incorporating EnOcean technology are also easily
integrated into common building automation systems, including LON,
BACnet, KNX, TCP/IP or Ethernet. Many buildings, particularly larger
ones, have the ability to leverage the large bandwidth and range of an
existing wired building automation system backbone, whereby the
flexibility of wireless can be ideally combined, extending the physical
reach of the data they share.
Small and medium sized buildings, on the other hand, are seldom
equipped with building automation systems because of the relatively
high upfront costs and longer payback periods. IP and web based
solutions offer an alternative to these hurdles, either through more
cost effective building management systems or more mobile and
BSC Software and SCL Elements are leading providers of EnOcean over IP,
offering turnkey solutions that are poised to revolutionize the
industry. SCL Elements developed a complete line of controllers that
are BACnet/IP compliant web servers. Each controller is an autonomous
server and when connected to the same network, they merge to provide
customers with a single, centralized management interface either
locally or remotely.
BSC Software developed a bi-directional EnOcean-to-LAN gateway, capable
of buffering 3,000 EnOcean sensor signals. They have partnered with
Magnum Energy Solutions, also an Alliance member company, to develop a
solution that supports EnOcean devices with switching and visualization
services that include lighting, HVAC and security camera integration.
This system, ideal for smart metering, allows a building operator real
time monitoring of a facility’s actual power consumption. Furthermore,
all control functions can be made mobile by using a smart phone, with
their BoSeMobile app available for both iPhone and Android devices.
Driving Market Adoption of Wireless
The need to reduce energy consumption in buildings has given way to an
exponential increase in the interest for wireless technology,
particularly energy harvesting. The Alliance is continuing to prove,
through an installed base of over 250,000 buildings and documented case
studies in various types of buildings across the world, that wireless
solutions provide better payback than traditional wired solutions.
Although wired devices tend to be more economical based solely on first
costs, the reality is that wired solutions involve considerably more
time and labor and can disrupt daily operations, driving up total and
lifecycle costs. Further market penetration, product innovation and
strategic partnerships with suppliers are helping to bring down the
costs of wireless.
To help meet the growing demand for EnOcean enabled products,
Alpscontrols.com has launched enoceanparts.com as a streamlined
approach to getting products out into the marketplace. An online only
distributor of HVAC and building automation products, Alpscontrols.com
provides customers with state of the art product search, convenient and
time saving project and accounting tools. Contractors and system
integrators can select from a wide variety of competitively priced,
interoperable products in one convenient location.
About the Author
Cory Vanderpool joined EnOcean
Alliance as the Business Development Director for North America. Prior
to this role, she was Executive Director of GreenLink Alliance, a non
profit organization dedicated to promoting energy conservation in
buildings and tax incentives for building owners. Before establishing
GreenLink, Cory worked in business development supporting a government
contracting firm focused on civilian and defense markets. In addition
to her work at the EnOcean Alliance, Cory is also pursuing her PhD in
Environmental Policy at George Mason University and is a part-time
contributing writer at Triple Pundit.
About EnOcean Alliance
companies worldwide from the building sector collected to form the
EnOcean Alliance, with the aim of promoting and establishing innovative
automation solutions for sustainable buildings. The core technology of
the Alliance is the energy harvesting wireless technology for flexibly
positioned and service-free sensor solutions. The EnOcean Alliance aims
to standardize and internationalize energy harvesting wireless
technology, and is dedicated to creating interoperability between the
products of OEM partners. More than 250 companies currently belong to
the EnOcean Alliance. The headquarters of the non-profit organization
is located in San Ramon, CA.
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