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Dartmouth College Selects Spinwave Wireless Mesh Network for Campus-wide Energy Management
Unique Spinwave technology avoids signal interference
on crowded 2.4 GHz radio band
Westford, MA--Spinwave™ Systems (www.spinwavesystems.com), a leading provider of wireless information technology to measure, monitor, and improve the efficiency of energy consumption, announced the installation at Dartmouth College (www.dartmouth.edu) of a Spinwave Systems mesh network, based on Spinwave sensors, to monitor and manage heating, cooling, and electrical systems across the campus. The Spinwave system comprises more than 200 pulse counters to transmit data every 15 minutes from meters in 125 college buildings spread out over 250 acres on the Dartmouth campus in Hanover, New Hampshire. The wireless network, financed in part by a grant from the State of New Hampshire Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Fund, represents part of the college’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the next 20 years.
Spinwave uses a patent-pending implementation of IEEE 802.15.4, a very low-power-consumption data communication protocol. Spinwave’s version adds a crucial self-adapting frequency agility that shifts the signal from channel to channel within the 2.4 GHz radio band (used by WiFi, many cordless phones, and Bluetooth) to avoid the interference common to other approaches.
The college expects to reduce fuel requirements by five to 15 percent a year and to recoup its expenditures on the new system in a year at the five percent reduction rate, according to Stephen R. Shadford, Dartmouth’s energy engineer in charge of the project. After operating a pilot installation since March 2009, Dartmouth began full implementation in January 2010, and expects to complete the project by July.
“We’re very pleased that Dartmouth selected Spinwave
as its partner in this challenging implementation, and that the college will
recoup its investment so quickly through the energy savings,” said Rainer
Wischinski, Vice President of Marketing for Spinwave Systems.
“Now, we can analyze equipment use, factor in weather forecasts, and adjust the system appropriately, while also locating problems like faulty meters and leaking pipes,” Dartmouth’s Mr. Shadford said. “We can fix, optimize, and really use the system.
“Spinwave has the full range of products we need and they are purpose-built for this application. This is a very wide area network,” Shadford continued. “It’s not a generic mesh network. It’s elegantly simple to install. You just connect two wires and [the pulse counter] starts sending to the gateway.”
Dartmouth uses a central steam plant to heat campus buildings. The Spinwave solution replaces dozens of freestanding, almost entirely non-networked, meters in each building that measure electricity consumption and steam condensation. Once a month, four people walked around campus, recording readings by hand. The Dartmouth-Spinwave project is unusual among colleges, Shandford said, because most institutions either use a wired network or a manual recording system like Dartmouth’s to monitor energy use.
Because data collection and data entry occur only monthly, engineers found it impossible to develop a load profile (a snapshot of current usage) or to adjust system operation in response to current requirements. For the college, it was, Mr. Shadford said, “like getting your bill from the fuel company once a month.” In addition, if a meter failed, weeks might pass before engineers discovered the malfunction, with valuable data lost in the meantime.
“We’ve gone from one data point a month [per meter] to 3,000 a month,” Mr. Shadford said.
Many 802.15.4-based products are designed to operate in the 2.4 GHz RF band, which is used by many other wireless devices, such as WiFi, cordless telephones, microwaves, and Bluetooth communications. This can cause interference problems for other systems using 802.15.4. Spinwave’s patent-pending implementation of the protocol gives the Spinwave system a reliability other implementations of 802.15.4 cannot deliver.
About Spinwave Systems
Spinwave Systems' wireless mesh networks provide a reliable, non-intrusive, flexible, and cost-effective solution to monitor, analyze, and control building efficiency. Spinwave's wireless building intelligence networks easily integrate with virtually any automation system or business application. Applications include energy management, Smart Grid solutions, and performance monitoring. The company is privately held and based in Westford, MA.
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