EnOcean Emerges As Lighting Control Wireless Standard

September 03, 2009 by Jeff Shepard

Just over one year ago, a prominent group of building controls manufacturers formed the EnOcean Alliance to promote interoperable wireless sensor networks based on the EnOcean wireless standard. Currently 113 companies, including Leviton, Masco, Distech Controls, Philips Ledalite and Osram Sylvania, have engineered products that simplify BAS (Building Automation System) installations using wireless and energy harvesting sensors, switches and controls. The Alliance states that the widespread adoption of its standard within the building lighting controls segment was manifested this year at Lightfair 2009. The Alliance states that 80% of the companies demonstrating wireless lighting controls at Lightfair were based on the EnOcean Standard.

"EnOcean’s showing at Lightfair 2009 clearly illustrates the separation between the EnOcean wireless standard and standards that are dependent upon batteries or line-power," said Jim O’Callaghan, President of EnOcean Operations in North America. "Lighting professionals welcome the simplicity and flexibility that comes standard with EnOcean-based controls. The combination of energy harvesting and radio technologies is creating an equally compelling story in the HVAC market."

Today, more than 100,000 buildings worldwide are automated using EnOcean-based controls – said to be more than any other wireless standard. EnOcean’s emergence as the wireless lighting leader is attributed to the unique behaviors of the controls - they operate without wires and without batteries. This is said to free integrators from the confines and invasiveness that has stalled widespread BAS integration. In addition to overcoming installation barriers, notorious maintenance issues are averted. Batteries are cheap but replacing them is not. The controls regenerate power for radio communications using ambient sources of energy such as light, temperature and motion.

The EnOcean standard is anchored upon interoperability. According to the Alliance, this is in contrast to some alternative standards that allow proprietary solutions to be marketed as ’compliant,’ which leads to some nasty surprises when devices are discovered not to work together. EnOcean-based controls are interoperable, regardless of the manufacturer. Another important hallmark is the ability to self-power sensors and switches, based upon patented technology from EnOcean. It is stated that no other standard has the energy-efficiency required by energy harvesting. All other standards require a battery or line power.