Archive for the ‘ZigBee’ Category

New ZigBee device delivers advanced control of human interface devices

Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

Smart-home technology connects systems such as security, lighting, sensors, heating and air-conditioning, and audio-video – enabling automatic or remote control of these features. The technology improves comfort and safety in the home, and offers convenience to the homeowner. Even more importantly, this technology offers a way to better manage energy consumption. Yahoo! Finance (12/14)

ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

As the industry leader, only ZigBee offers an established, competitive marketplace providing the core technology for monitoring, controlling, and automating the delivery and use of energy and water. ZigBee Smart Energy is the affordable and easy way to improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact.

The following ZigBee Smart Energy Certified Products were tested to ensure they meet all of the Alliance’s strict specifications and perform as promised. These products represent solutions across the entire efficiency ecosystem – energy services portals, meters, displays, thermostats and load controllers. Each product may wear the ZigBee Certified logo and the green ZigBee Smart Energy icon so that they may be easily identified in the marketplace.

Alektrona offers embedded communications engineering design services. Our specialization is in systems that leverage IP network and wireless ZigBee\ISM band connectivity. As a core member of the ZigBee Gateway group, Alektrona is an active participant in the design and specifications within the Alliance. Our team focuses on engineering high reliability solutions emphasizing system level design with a business level approach. Alektrona Engineering Expertise Includes: ” ZigBee networking and Gateway product design ” ISM band wireless ” Embedded Systems and Microcontroller Hardware ” Firmware and software design ” Sensor and control networks. ” NMS, SCADA and BMS integration ” Internet appliance design ” End to end embedded product design and manufacturing Please contact us at: solutions@alektrona.com 401-228-2962
Z-Aperture ZA07-200-ESP
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Alektrona’s Z-Aperture™ ZA07-200-ESP is the first broadband Energy Service Portal and Internet Gateway to receive ZigBee Smart Energy Golden Unit certification.
Aztech Associates, Inc.
In-Home Display
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Aztech’s In-Home Display communicates directly with smart meters.
Computime International Limited
CTW200
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CTW200 is a thermostat which monitors, controls and displays energy consumption and rate information for ZigBee-enabled residences.
CTW300
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CTW300 is an In Home Display with a large dot matrix screen for users to monitor energy rate and consumption information in residences supporting the ZigBee Smart Energy profile.
Comverge is a leading provider of clean energy solutions that improve grid reliability and supply electric capacity on a more cost effective basis than conventional alternatives by reducing base load and peak load energy consumption
DCU
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Comverge DCU offers a wide range of functionality – from individual addressing to adaptive algorithms
PowerPortal
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Comverge PowerPortal® IHD is an easy to use, AMI ready display that allows consumers to closely track their electricity consumption and receive messages or alerts from their utility provider.
SuperStat Pro
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Comverge’s SuperStat™ Pro is a state-of-the-art “smart” thermostat.
Control4
EC-100
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The EC-100 is an easy to use energy controller that empowers consumers and utilities to better manage energy use and costs.
Cooper Power Systems, Inc., with revenues of approximately $1 billion, is a division of Cooper Industries, Ltd. (NYSE: CBE). Cooper Power Systems is a global manufacturer of world-class power delivery and reliability solutions for the electrical and industrial markets. Cooper Power Systems manufactures distribution transformers, distribution switchgear, reclosers, capacitors, protective relays, voltage regulators, automated switches, cable accessories, surge arrestors, transformer components and dielectric fluids, fuses and tools and it provides engineering services for the electrical and industrial markets. Through its Energy Automations Solutions group, it is also a leading provider of software, communications and integration solutions that enable customers to increase productivity, improve system reliability, and reduce costs. For more information visit www.cooperpower.com or www.cooperpowereas.com.
UtilityPro ZigBee
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Cooper Power Systems – The ZigBee®-enabled UtilityPRO™ is a Honeywell touchscreen programmable thermostat designed for utility-sponsored demand response programs and is equipped with a Cooper demand response module.
Digi International is the leader in device networking for business. Drop-in Networking solutions include ZigBee/802.15.4 embedded modules, stand-alone adapters, extenders and environmental sensors, plus wireless mesh gateways that collect and transport data from the ZigBee network to an IP network via cellular, Wi-Fi or Ethernet. Reliably network-enable devices and sensors where no wired networking infrastructure exists, where network access is prohibited, or when laying cable is impractical or cost-prohibitive.
ConnectPort X2 ESP
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Digi’s ConnectPort X2 ESP enables energy service providers to deploy HAN devices that are completely managed by the Digi gateway over a broadband or cellular connection, allowing Smart Grid services to be deployed in areas not covered by Smart Metering networks.
Smart Energy Range Extender
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Digi’s XBee Range Extender is a certified ZigBee Smart Energy device.
ecobee�s mission is to help homeowners conserve energy, save money and reduce their environmental impact. Our green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics. Our products automate energy conservation, making it easier to save on energy costs without sacrificing comfort. ecobee targets the large markets of heating, cooling and ventilation, utility demand response and green automation.
Ecobee Smart Thermostat
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ecobee’s green automation platform sits at the convergence of energy conservation, green technology, the networked home and consumer electronics.
Energate Connecting Conservation with Comfort Energate lets you take your smart grid strategy beyond smart meters, to where demand is rooted — in the home. Energate’s home energy management solutions let consumers and utilities manage energy use and reduce peak demand without sacrificing comfort and convenience. Building upon over 25 years of HVAC industry experience, Energate smart thermostats offer industry-leading equipment interface technology and comfort control algorithms.
Pioneer Z100
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Energate Pioneer Z100 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile.
Pioneer Z107
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Energate Pioneer Z107 – Energate has expanded its Pioneer series of smart thermostats to support the Smart Energy Profile. Incorporating next generation technology beyond the features found on today’s most sophisticated thermostats, Energate’s Pioneer Series of smart thermostats provide unparalleled performance with an exceptional user interface to meet your current and future needs.
Founded in 2005, Energy Aware Technology is a Canadian company focused on demand side management products that increase awareness of resource consumption and help people save money. Energy Aware’s first product, the PowerTab, is an in-home energy display designed for deployment with smart metering infrastructure.
PowerTab / PowerPortal
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Energy Aware’s PowerTab is an in-home display that uses the Zigbee Smart Energy profile to allow consumers to closely track electricity consumption and costs. The PowerTab’s attractive design and user-friendly interface encourage energy conservation and facilitate increased data flow to end users. The PowerTab’s features include a 100 mW radio, a magnetic backing, and three colour LEDs to indicate tariff rates.
Itron Inc. is a leading technology provider to the global energy and water industries. Itron Inc. consists of Itron in North America and Actaris outside of North America. Our company is the world’s leading provider of metering, data collection and utility software solutions, with nearly 8,000 utilities worldwide relying on our technology to optimize the delivery and use of energy and water. Our products include electricity, gas and water meters, data collection and communication systems, including automated meter reading (AMR) and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI); meter data management and related software applications; as well as project management, installation, and consulting services. To know more, start here: www.itron.com.
Open Way Gas Module
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Itron – OpenWay Gas Module accurately measures natural gas consumption and supports two-way communication with the Itron
OpenWay
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Itron® OpenWay™ is an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) solution built around OpenWay
In Chinese, Jetlun means literally “save energy”. Jetlun is building the last mile to the Smart Grid and providing an integrated energy network management solution for residential and commercial markets using standard-based network technologies that maximizes the use of a building’s existing wires and wireless networks for total coverage and connectivity. The Jetlun Intelligent Management solution (“JIM”) is a family of energy network management products that provides granular energy usage information– by whole-home, by phase, by circuit, and by appliance– enabling a homeowner or property manager to pinpoint areas that are consuming the most power.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75606
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The JetLun Gateway SE (model RD75606) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75607
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The JetLun Gateway (model RD75607) is the world’s first integrated ZigBee and HomePlug® enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption information and helps you manage and control- both onsite and remotely- your energy usage through a simple user interface on any web browser or any web-enabled phone, such as the Blackberry® or iPhone®.
JIM Gateway Pro RD75609
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The JetLun Gateway Lite SE (model RD75609) is an ZigBee® to IP enabled gateway that collects, stores and displays real-time energy consumption
KDN is providing high-tech total electric power IT service in entire processes of electric power system, such as from power generation to transmission, distribution and sale. As such, KDN is largely contributing to achieving efficiency and advancement in electric power business by establishing IT system. Furthermore, KDN, by securing international competitiveness in international power IT market, will grow into a global specialist in power IT.
KDN Smart Meter
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KDN Smart Meter Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Smart Meters produced by Korea Electric Power Data Network Co.[KDN] are highly accurate, intelligent, and fully featured electricity meters with integrated communication modules. The Smart Meters have special features such as two-way communication via standard-based ZigBee and PLC(Power Line Communication) technologies, two-way measurement, Power Quality measurement(Sag and Swell), Tamper detection and Remote connect/disconnect. IEC standards (IEC 62052, IEC 62053, and IEC 62056) are applied to Smart Meter.
Landis+Gyr is the leading provider of advanced metering, energy efficiency, and infrastructure communication systems to electric, gas, and water utilities worldwide. Landis+Gyr’s proven record of customer satisfaction and value creation is supported by over 20 million customer advanced metering end points in production or under contract worldwide. Landis+Gyr supports its 500+ customers with a staff of over 700 professionals located in offices across the United States.
Landis + Gyr E35C-A
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Landis + Gyr E35C-A is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver that is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy firmware. The unit is fully certified and works with Landis + Gyr E350 U-Series meters.
The EcoMeter Energy Monitor
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The ecoMeter energy monitor is a critical component in the final delivery of the benefits of the smart grid to its energy end-users; and an integral component in Landis Gyr’s Smart Grid solution – Gridstream. The ecoMeter P250 is the means for energy consumers to become fully informed and directly engaged to their energy consumption; and is the tool of choice to empower consumers to manage energy better.
The Landis Gyr Focus AX
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The Landis Gyr Focus AX endpoint is a ZigBee-enabled advanced metering endpoint that provides two-way communication with the utility, meter and home-area networks.
LS Industrial Systems has been leading the industrial electric controls and automation field in Korea with the advanced technology for decades. Providing top quality products, LS Industrial Systems set the long term goal as “Superiority over quality and product development”. To set the standard of digitalization which will drive the future of the industry, LS Industrial Systems provides Total Solution found on abundant industrial knowledge and technology in electric control, automation, tube & pipe and the new business area.
LK Meter
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The LK Series Single-Phase and Poly-Phase Electric Meters are intelligent, fully featured revenue-grade energy meters with integrated communication function. These solid-state meters feature two-way communication via plug-in type communication modules using standard-based ZigBee® and PLC (Power Line Communication) technology. Each meter complies with IEC 62052, 62053, and 62056 standards.
LS Research is a leading design firm specializing in providing turnkey RF and wireless design services. A perfect match for OEM customers looking to develop high performances low cost short range wireless solutions based on 802.15.4 radio and the Zigbee stack. A sister company, LS Compliance, is an FCC-certified and A2LA-approved EMC testing laboratory offering comprehensive EMC testing and consulting services. L.S. Research and L.S. Compliance W66 N220 Commerce Court Cedarburg, Wisconsin 53012 USA Phone: (262) 375-4400 Fax: (262) 375-4248 E-mail: sales@lsr.com www.lsr.com
RS-SE-24-01
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RS-SE-24-01 – The RATE$AVER is an In-Home-Display device capable of communicating with ZigBee Smart Energy Profile Compliant Energy Service Portals (ESP) withn Utility Meters displaying energy usage data.
OpenPeak Inc. creates, designs, and develops innovative systems and devices that enable simple control of home energy usage, VoIP telephony, digital media, Internet content, and consumer electronics on a single touch screen device. OpenPeak allows utilities to deliver service updates to users on demand today, and provides a platform for the deployment of future energy applications as they are developed. Through the OpenPeak App Shop, the same device can deliver a complete communications package including news, sports, weather, social networking, and instant messaging and is compatible with a variety of communication standards, including ZigBee and Wi-Fi. For more visit www.openpeak.com.
OpenFrame 7EZ
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OpenPeak’s OpenFrame 7E – touch screen device provides an engaging way for consumers to take an active role in managing their energy consumption. By integrating home energy management with on-board multi-media functions, the same device can deliver a complete information and communication experience including news, sports, weather, social networking, music, and family photos.
PRI Limited
Customer Information Panel
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Home Energy Controller (HEC) monitors and displays electricity and gas consumption and cost information on a customer friendly display. Using the ZigBee Smart Energy Profile, it can read any meter that meets the standard and display the data in tabular and/or graphical format to encourage consumers to reduce their energy consumption through better information.
Horstmann S23 Meter Interface
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Single and Poly Phase Multi Rate Meters – ZigBee Smart Energy Certified meter interface can be fitted to PRI and Horstmann electricity meters to provide consumption data to other Smart Energy devices on a network. The meters conform to IEC 62052-11 and are available with optional load control switches, as well as a variety of power ratings to suit any market.
Rainforest Automation makes products that enable residential energy management, and allow utilities to rapidly deploy Smart Grids that are less expensive and more reliable. Our products include EMU™, a utility targeted in-home display (IHD) designed with simplicity and high-volume deployments in mind, and Orchid™, an energy services platform that serves as a low-cost gateway between the utility and the consumer.
Energy Monitoring Unit
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Rainforest Automation’s EMU™ – Energy Monitoring Unit is an In-Home Display designed specifically to meet the technical and budget requirements of utility deployments. The EMU™ has a simple user interface, runs on standard AA batteries, and displays real-time usage, accumulated statistics and provides a peak pricing “traffic-light”. With its 2-way link to the smart meter, EMU can support custom features such as pre-payment, opt-out, and messaging response.
Silver Spring Networks, the leader in IP networking, connects utilities with their customers over a two-way, IP based network, enabling innovation and change. Utilities can enhance the way they interact with customers. Customers are empowered to manage their energy more efficiently. Using this IP-based network, utilities can deploy a scalable, reliable infrastructure from the substation to the customer premise and implement advanced metering, demand response and other applications at a fraction of comparable costs. An open, IP -based network lowers not just capital costs, but total cost of ownership. When planning the network of tomorrow, it helps to partner with a company that makes it available today
Interactive Energy Management
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The Silver Spring CustomerIQ web portal by Greenbox delivers near real-time data on their energy efficiency programs, including consumption and pricing
Telegesis develops and manufactures advanced wireless products to provide low cost, high performance solutions. Telegesis ZigBee ready Module and Development Kit is based upon Ember Corporation’s meshing technology and is the first in a family of products, others of which are already at prototype testing stage. Our low cost Development Kit enables an out-of-the-box mesh network in less than half an hour. Telegesis range of ZigBee products will aid rapid development and integration into OEM products through the provision of complete ‘plug-in’ modules. Telegesis AT-style command line interface software further speeds and facilitates the building of total solutions.
ETRX2USB & ETRX2USB-PA ZSE IHD
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ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD In Home Display – The Telegesis ETRX2USB ZSE-IHD is a high performance 2.4GHz ZigBee transceiver in USB stick form which is supplied loaded with ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) IHD firmware. The unit is a fully certified In Home Display and can be supplied with Certicom test or full certificates. An AT command layer on top of the ZSE IHD firmware allows a host application to easily control the stick.
Range Extender & Range Extender-PA
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Telegesis Smart Energy Range extender – The Telegesis Range Extender and Range Extender-PA are fully certified ZigBee Smart Energy (ZSE) units which enable increased distance between nodes in a ZigBee Smart Energy network. If the distance between nodes is too great for communication to be established. By adding one or more Routers in-between an extended ZSE mesh network can be formed.
Tendril focuses on network operations and deployment – the next big stage of the Wireless Sensor and Control Network industry. Our software allows companies to access, deploy, monitor, manage, and integrate networks into the real world. This approach allows Tendril to address the macro trends of energy efficiency, security and life expectancy.
Tendril Insight
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Tendril Insight is an in-home display that communicates with networked smart devices, such as thermostats, electricity meters and outlets, and displays information about consumption levels and energy rates. Empowered with real-time information, energy customers can potentially save money, while utilities can reduce customer service incidents and improve overall load balancing and demand response capabilities.
Tendril Relay
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Tendril Relay is a ZigBee device router that plugs into a standard household outlet. The Tendril Relay extends the range of a smart energy network, making it easier to access and connect devices in large homes and hard-to-reach places, like garages and sheds.
Tendril Transport
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Tendril Transport is an IP gateway that opens a new channel of interaction and collaboration between consumers and their utilities. The Tendril Transport delivers two-way information to consumers and utilities, providing insight into household energy footprints. With the Tendril Transport, customers gain more access to energy-related information and more control over energy consumption decisions. Utilities can better manage supply, demand response and load control scenarios, and costs.
Volt
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Tendril Outlet is a 3-prong, ZigBee Smart Energy electrical outlet that can be plugged into a standard home outlet to monitor and control the energy consumption of any electrical appliance or device. Multiple Tendril Outlets in the same home can be tracked individually or as a group over the Internet or from a local Tendril Display device. The Tendril Outlet gives the consumer unprecedented insight into and control over their household energy footprint, improving their overall energy efficiency.
Volt
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Tendril Volt is a three-prong, standards-based smart electrical outlet that can be plugged into a 110Volt/15A AC standard wall power outlet to turn off or on any connected electrical appliance or device. When used in conjunction with the Tendril Insight or the Tendril Vantage web portal, multiple outlets in the same home can be managed individually or as a group over the Internet, giving consumers unprecedented insight into and control over wasted energy and their household energy footprint.
Trilliant Networks, Inc. is the industry leader in open solutions for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), demand response, and grid management. The company is focused on delivering ANSI and IEEE standards-based AMI, without vendor lock-in, enabling choice of meter, network and IT infrastructures. Trilliant brings over 20 years’ experience solving AMI needs for utility customers through the legacy of its Nertec brand founded in 1985. Additionally Trilliant is the originator of the first ANSI tools for development, simulation and compliance now used by most meter manufacturers and AMI companies to develop and test ANSI meters as well as meter communication products. Trilliant has more than 100 utility customers including Baltimore Gas & Electric, Duke Energy, Hydro One, Hydro Quebec, Milton Hydro, Northeast Utilities, OneOK, Public Service Electric & Gas and San Diego Gas & Electric.
SecureMesh Micro Access Portal
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Trilliant SecureMesh™ Micro Access Portal is independent from the meter and can be embedded in any end-point device including thermostats, in-home displays, appliance controllers or meters. Trilliant’s SecureMesh AMI Network is based on the same IEEE 802.15.4 standard as ZigBee providing an end-to-end fully standards-based solution for energy applications.

ZigBee gets Emerson heavy-weight on board

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

The ZigBee Alliance received a major vote of confidence when manufacturing and technology giant Emerson announced, at Infocomm09, it is now a Promoter level member.

Emerson, a global company offering a range of products and services that help deliver productivity and energy efficiency to industrial, commercial and consumer markets, is also the newest member of the ZigBee Alliance Board of Directors.“Emerson is pleased to become a part of the Alliance’s strong network of corporate members and to collaborate with our suppliers, partners and customers who are using ZigBee’s open global standards for wireless technology,” said Tom Fredricks, division vice president of Emerson. “ZigBee Smart Energy and ZigBee Home Automation profiles will help Emerson achieve its goals of providing innovative and energy-efficient solutions to numerous worldwide markets.”

Emerson joins Ember Corporation, Freescale Semiconductor, Inc., Huawei Technologies, Itron Inc., Landis+Gyr, Philips Electronics, Reliant Energy, Samsung, Schneider Electric, STMicroelectronics, Tendril, Inc. and Texas Instruments on the ZigBee Alliance Board of Directors.

“The ZigBee Alliance welcomes the active support of Emerson and its expertise in the development and manufacture of a wide range of technologies used in industrial, commercial and consumer markets,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “The ZigBee Alliance continues to achieve success in energy, building management and health care because of the strength of our ecosystem and the support of our members. Emerson is a leading manufacturer of a variety of global products and will provide valuable support to advance ZigBee further.”

WiGig Tempts With High-Speed Wireless Data Transfer

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

Cables

A new standard aims to offer gigabit-speed connectivity without the clutter of cables.

“What we are talking about here is the ability to download a 25 GB Blu-ray disc in under a minute,” says Mark Grodzinsky, chairman of the marketing workgroup at the Wireless Gigabit Alliance. “It’s not something you can do with Wi-Fi or any other standard right now.”

The Wireless Gigabit Alliance, a consortium of electronics companies, has established a specification for 60 gigahertz wireless technology that can offer users data transfer speeds ranging from 1 Gigabits per second to 6 Gbps. To put it simply, WiGig could be at least ten times faster than today’s Wi-Fi and it could be available to consumers by the end of next year.

The need for fast wireless data transfer plays into two big trends: the proliferation of multimedia and the increasing cable clutter than users have to deal with.

Users are increasingly getting hooked on Hulu, browsing through Flickr and clicking on YouTube shorts. But for all their new streaming media players or cameras, consumers haven’t been able to cut the cord.

Take the set-top box in today’s home that has to be connected to the TV through an HDMI cable. “This is one of those technologies that almost 100 percent uses a wire because the speeds required to stream a high-def 1080p video is at least 3 Gbps,” says Grodzinsky, “and no wireless technology today can do that across multiple applications.”

That’s where WiGig could step in. The standard will allow for extremely fast file transfers, wireless displays, streaming media, and wireless connections for devices such as cameras, laptops and set-top boxes among other things, says the Alliance. It won’t have the same range as a Wi-Fi network but it is ideal for devices that want to communicate without wires at gigabit speeds within a room or adjacent rooms, says Grodzinksy.

“Today’s wireless networks will top out at a few hundred Mbps but what we are talking about here is multiple gigabits of data transfer speed,” says Craig Mathias, principal with research firm Farpoint Group. “That plays into the ever-increasing demand for throughput.”

WiGig joins a fray of wireless standards that are fighting to free consumers from being tethered to their devices.  In most homes, Wi-Fi has emerged as the standard technology for wireless access. But it is too slow to handle high-definition video or transfer pictures from the camera to the laptop.

Wireless Standards & Data Speeds

802.11g Wi-Fi: The basic and most widely used Wi-Fi connectivity offers speeds of up to 54 Mbps.

802.11n Wi-Fi: The faster W-Fi standard it offers data transfer at up to 300 Mbps.

Standard Bluetooth: Most widely used between cellphones and headsets, it offers top transfer rate of about 3 Mbps.

Bluetooth 3.0: The ‘high-speed’ successor to standard Bluetooth, its top transfer rate hover around 24 Mbps.

Wireless USB: It can offer speeds of up to 110 Mbps  at a range of 10 meters and 480 Mbps over a range of 3 meters.

Wireless HD: Aimed at HD video transfer it can offer speeds of up to 4 Gbps (for 10 meters). Theoretical speed can go up to 25 Gbps.

WiGig: The newest kid on the block tantalizes with promise of speeds ranging from 1 Gbps to 6 Gbps.

Zigbee: This low-power wireless standard is for applications that require low data transfer but quicker response time such as remote controls.

Meanwhile, other standards such as wireless HD and Zigbee have sprung up offering to solve these problems. But they just aren’t broad enough to be used across multiple applications. Take wireless HD. Despite its promises of high speed connectivity, it is largely seen as a vehicle for high-def video transfer.

WiGig has a bigger umbrella, says Grodzinsky. “We want to be more than simple cable replacement,” he says. “We want complete interoperability and be on a number of platforms from TVs to notebooks.”

WiGig also benefit from the use of the unlicensed 60 GHz spectrum, says Mathias. The availability of greater bandwidth in that spectrum allows for faster transmission.

For now, the specification isn’t final. The Wireless Gigabit Alliance hopes to complete it by the end of the year.  From there it is up to companies to bring the technology to market.  WiGig will also have to battle other technologies to become the de facto standard.

“Ultimately, the question is how many different kind of radios do you really need?” says Mathias. “There’s not just competition from Wi-Fi and wireless HD but also cellular technologies such as 3G, LTE or WiMax.”

WiGig is likely to  bump up against IEEE’s attempts to introduce follow-ups to the 802.11g and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards. The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers), a non-profit organization, has been working on proposals to introduce the extremely high throughput 802.11ac and 802.11ad standards. The 802.11ad standard will also be based on the 60GHz spectrum but is not expected to be available before 2012.

“There are competing technologies to WiGig that are looking for standardization,” says Mathias. “The WiGig Alliance hopes to get a head start now and they might submit their standard to the 802.11ad group to be included in the specification.”

Either way this battle of the standards plays out, it is clear for consumers truly high-speed wireless data transfer is zipping into their living room.

10 Key Features in a Home Automation System

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

The ability to manage your home’s electronic systems from one main control system can make your household run smoother, feel better and save energy.

The trick is to find a system that will meet all the demands of your household, now and in the future. Most systems can be tailored by a custom electronics professional to provide all the benefits you desire, but there are some key features that will make his job easier and your interaction with your system more enjoyable.

In no order of importance, here’s our top 10 key features:-

1. Interoperability
The beauty of an automation system is its ability to tie diverse electronic devices together so they can perform as one unified system. Getting these devices to work cohesively can be simple or complex, depending on the “openness” of the automation system. The more open a system is, the easier it will be for the lights, thermostats, audio/video equipment, security devices, motorized shades and other electronics to communicate with each other. A good example of interoperability is having the lights turn off, the thermostats set back when you press a “goodbye” button on a keypad or when a motion sensor notices that you have exited a room.

To support interoperability between multiple electronic devices, manufacturers of home automation systems often form connectivity partnerships with other manufacturers. Automation products should be able to communicate seamlessly with a wide variety of other systems—from architectural lighting and irrigation, to multiroom audio.

Another way automation manufacturers are fostering interoperability is through adherence to technology standards. For example embedded Zigbee wireless control technology into automation products so those products can network easily with other Zigbee-enabled products.

The more connectivity of different devices that occurs between different partners and manufacturer components linking different communication standards has to be adopted, with more choices that need to be made.  “It allows designers/installers to select the best suite products for their clients.”

2. Remote Access
Automation is all about being able to control things in your home, and part of that is being able to change the settings quickly and easily if your plans change. More often than not, plans change when you’re not at home, so being able to communicate those changes with your home automation system remotely is one of the most revered features of an automation system. Remote access capabilities allow you to monitor your home’s environment and alter the settings of the lights, thermostats and other gear if necessary all from your laptop, mobile phone or iTouch. David Slade of Davmark believes that remote monitoring facility should be incorporated as part of the core offering and be provide free of charge from any service caharge. “Why should you pay to access your automation system when you’re already paying for broadband access?” Proive a gateway to link uo to the outside world!

Remote access also allows your installer to tweak your system without having to make a house call, which is always cheaper and more convenient.

3. Expandability
The way you live in your home five years from now will probably be much different than the way you live in your home today. Moreover, technology will continue to evolve, introducing a completely new generation of products to the marketplace. In the future, you may also want to add new rooms—like a recently finished basement or an addition off the back—to your automation network. Or, you may simply want to start out with just a few features when you first put in your system then add new capabilities later as you have the money. For these reasons, it’s important that a home automation system can be easily expanded both vertically to incorporate additional products and horizontally to support additional rooms.

Manufacturers can support vertical and horizontal expandability by designing their systems to speak a common network language, like IP (Internet Protocol), and by offering wireless retrofittable products that can communicate with a home’s existing network of wired products.

4. Upgradeability
Those touchscreens and black boxes may look impressive, but it’s what you don’t see that holds the true power of an automation system. Software is the driving force of an automation system. The more sophisticated that software is, the more the system can do. As technology changes, so must the software. Before you buy any system, be sure the manufacturer (or your installer) will be able to unlock and download software updates automatically.

5. Variety of Interfaces
There are a number of different ways you can control the electronic systems in your home: by pressing the buttons of a handheld remote or wall-mounted keypad, by touching colorful icons on a portable touchpanel or by sliding your finger across your iTouch. Depending on your family dynamic, budget and preferences, you might like to utilize a variety of different controllers (most people do, says David Slade), so make sure the automation manufacturer offers a wide selection of interfaces.

6. Time-Tested
No one, except for serious early-adopters, likes to be the guinea pig, so choose an automation system with a proven track record. Same goes for the person who installs the system into your home. Look for an installer who’s been installing the same systems for a number of years,” suggests David Slade. You should be able to gather some historical background about manufacturers and installers from their company websites.

7. Strong Dealer Network
“You can have great equipment, but you’ll need a highly trained and certified installer in order to get your money’s worth. It’s a no brainier real” says David Slade. Good home automation manufacturers go above and beyond to create a strong brand and support network, by offering continual education and training and by supporting multiple dealers in a single geographic area. For consumers, having more than one dealer to choose from is important. When more than one dealer carries a particular product in your area, pricing is more competitive and should one dealer go out of business, there’s someone else you can call to pick up the pieces.

8. Commitment to Energy-Savings
One of the hottest topics in the consumer media is energy conservation. Automation systems can help save energy by turning off electronics devices automatically, and some do this better than others. Be sure to check out the energy-saving features of a system before you buy.

9. Layer of Protection
Everyone always wonders what happens to an automated house when the power goes out. Does the system forget how to operate the lights when power is restored? If an automation system has the appropriate back-up protection, you won’t have to worry about that.

10. Can-do Attitude
This goes both for the designer, installer and the manufacturer. Automation is only beneficial and practical if it fits your lifestyle. Since everyone’s lifestyle is different, the manufacturer should provide its installers with the tools to customize the system to your specific needs. If there’s something that you want your system to do and your installer says it’s impossible, either he or the manufacturer has failed you. Keep looking.

ZigBee unveils comprehensive new features

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Zigbee Logo

 

The ZigBee Alliance has approved comprehensive new features for the ZigBee specification, significantly expanding the capabilities of ZigBee and giving more choices to manufacturers as they design ZigBee products.The original set of features published in 2006 is now known as the ZigBee Feature Set. The expanded set of features, known as ZigBee PRO, maximises all the capabilities of ZigBee and facilitates ease-of-use and advanced support for larger networks. These newly released feature sets are designed to interoperate with each other, ensuring long-term use and stability. Highlights of the expanded ZigBee PRO Feature Set include:

  • Network scalability – improved support for larger networks offering more management, flexibility, performance choices
  • Fragmentation – new ability to divide longer messages and enable interaction with other protocols and systems
  • Frequency agility – networks dynamically change channels should interference occur
  • Automated device address management – optimised for large networks with added network management and configuration tools
  • Group addressing – offers additional traffic optimisation needed for large networks
  • Wireless commissioning – enhanced with secure wireless commissioning capabilities
  • Centralised data collection – tuned specifically to optimise information flow in large networks.

Access to the updated ZigBee specification is available immediately for all members. Free public availability of the new features is scheduled for early 2008.

With the addition of these additional features to the ZigBee specification, the Alliance is shifting its attention to development efforts facilitating the deployment of the technology for energy management and efficiency, specifically in areas like public application profiles for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI). Public application profiles enable end-to-end, multi-vendor interoperable solutions in markets such as AMI, home automation, commercial building automation and telecommunications.

ZigBee uses self organising and self healing mesh networking to enable robust communications over the globally available 2.4 GHz frequency, with 868/915 MHz technology available in select countries. ZigBee networks offer superb interference immunity and capabilities to host thousands of devices. With ultra low power requirements, ZigBee devices run on regular batteries for years, eliminating the need for wiring to a power source and offering unparalleled maintenance convenience and installation flexibility.

The ZigBee Alliance membership comprises technology providers and manufacturers worldwide. Additional information can be found at www.zigbee.org

ZigBee wireless networking powers advanced metering

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

 

One crucial aspect that sets advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) apart from automated meter reading (AMR) is two-way communications between the utility and residences. That level of communication is intended, in part, to help all consumers participate in energy management and efficiency programs. But how does that two-way communication reach beyond the electricity meter and into a consumer’s home?

Several standard technologies exist that consumers are familiar with in their home. Two that consumers are most familiar with over the last decade are Wi-Fi and broadband over cable. These technologies are well suited to carry huge amounts of audio and visual data, but are far more powerful and expensive than what is needed for utility communications at any individual residence – regardless of home size.

Another technology reaching consumers in their home and finding great acceptance in the energy industry is ZigBee® wireless networking. ZigBee is a global wireless language that connects different, often everyday devices to work together. It is built on top of the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless networking standard, in much the same way that Wi-Fi is built on the IEEE 802.11 standard. The core benefit of ZigBee is that it is designed for situations that need to communicate small amounts of data while using less energy to transmit that data.

ZigBee supports energy management and efficiency mainly by connecting a utility to an in-home network typically comprised of ZigBee-enabled devices, including appliances, thermostats, water heaters, pool pumps, and more. This network of ZigBee devices is easy to connect and allows users to customize and monitor their energy consumption in an environment where devices communicate to each other and can connect to the outside world to enable remote access and control either by the utility, a third-party service provider or the customer.

As a global, open standard, ZigBee enables interoperability between numerous devices. Open standards like ZigBee provide everyone in a market a common point of reference to build upon. This way, utilities and consumers gain a competitive marketplace for products and services. Vendors like meter and thermostat manufacturers benefit, because open standards create a competitive semiconductor marketplace in which they can purchase wireless networking ZigBee chips, also known as ZigBee Compliant Platforms.

The ZigBee Alliance is a global ecosystem of technology companies creating wireless solutions for use in energy, home, commercial and industrial applications. ZigBee Alliance members work together to develop public application profiles for various applications to foster device interoperability, regardless of manufacturer. ZigBee certification and compliance tests ensure ZigBee solutions offer reliable and robust wireless networking.
Only ZigBee has multiple suppliers providing the core technology used in wireless solutions for home, commercial and industrial applications. Companies join the ZigBee alliance for access to the best intellectual property for their products. The ZigBee Alliance is five years old and has 250 member companies.

The Alliance and its members continue to deliver energy management and efficiency solutions. In November, the alliance released its ZigBee Home Automation public application profile. Completion of ZigBee Home Automation paved the way for a rapid completion of a planned profile for advanced metering and energy management. Last month, an array of vendors gathered in San Diego to test the interoperability of their devices running this new profile, to be known as the ZigBee Smart Energy profile.

New smart energy profile delivers efficiency and savings

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Zigbee Logo

 

The ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile has been completed, offering utility companies a global open standard for implementing secure, easy-to-use wireless home area networks for managing energy.

ZigBee Smart Energy enables wireless communication and control between utility companies and common household devices such as smart thermostats and appliances. It improves energy efficiency by allowing consumers to choose interoperable products from different manufacturers, giving them the means to manage their energy consumption more precisely using automation and near real time information. It also helps utilities implement and support advanced metering, demand response, load control, pricing, and customer messaging programmes.

With the global energy crisis, many countries are facing energy supply and demand imbalances that will require alternative energy management and efficiency solutions like ZigBee Smart Energy. For example, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reported that electricity demand in the United States is expected to increase by 135,000 MW in the next decade yet only 77,000 MW of new resources have been identified, creating a shortfall of 58,000 MW – an amount equivalent to 110 large power plants. Energy management and efficiency solutions can bridge the gap. For example, the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently released the results of a year-long study showing that households with digital tools controlling temperature and price preferences saved on average 10 percent on utility bills. The study also showed that if households have digital tools to control temperature and price preferences, peak loads on utility grids can be cut by up to 15 percent.

A number of Alliance members are currently building products that will be certified by the Alliance to support ZigBee Smart Energy. These companies include: Cellnet+Hunt, Ember, Freescale Semiconductor, Itron, Tendril and Texas Instruments, who are ZigBee Alliance Promoter member companies and members of the Board of Directors which is responsible for setting the Alliance’s direction in the energy sector. Some of the other members building ZigBee Smart Energy products include: Alektrona, Computime, Comverge, Control4, Corporate Systems Engineering, Daintree Networks, Digi International, Elster, Energate, Frontline Test Equipment, Golden Power, Greenbox Technology, LS Research, PRI Limited, Radio Thermostat Company of America, Riga Development, Trilliant Networks and Wireless Glue Networks.

Why ZigBee, and why now?

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

 

Over the next ten years in the United States, the nation needs to build one large power plant every month in order to meet its projected energy needs.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) reports that electricity demand in the United States is expected to increase by 135,000 MW in the next decade. And yet, only 77,000 MW of new resources have been identified, creating a shortfall of 58,000 MW – an amount equivalent to 110 large power plants. Clearly we all want to keep our iPods and big screen TVs running, not to mention our offices, factories, and hospitals.

Completing a major power plant every month for years on end is a daunting task. Communities can spend years debating where to locate a power plant and the necessary transmission lines to attach it to the grid. About half of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by burning coal; with large domestic reserves and the current infrastructure, coal is likely to remain the dominant fuel source for electricity. Natural gas contributes a sizable portion of power as well. Burning more coal and gas to supply the additional power that is needed will contribute to carbon dioxide emissions at a time when there is a desire to decrease those emissions, not increase them.

How will we make up this energy gap in the coming years given the constraints the energy market faces?

While it is not the only solution, energy management and efficiency can play a role in reducing energy consumption, thereby helping to close the supply and demand gap. While solar, wind and other alternative sources of energy generation get much attention, energy efficiency should also be considered as a source of energy. The Edison Electric Institute calls energy efficiency the “fifth fuel.” It represents an alternative to coal, natural gas, hydropower and nuclear fuel. Supporting this fact, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently released the results of a yearlong study showing that households with digital tools controlling temperature and price preferences saved on average 10 percent on utility bills. The study also showed that if households have digital tools to control temperature and price preferences, peak loads on utility grids can be cut by up to 15 percent, translating into $70 billion dollars saved over a 20-year period on new power plants and infrastructure expenditures.

To achieve this level of savings, energy efficiency and management must become much more ubiquitous. The technology to support ubiquitous energy efficiency and management needs to be affordable, easy to install and use, secure and able to scale into systems with millions of devices.

ZigBee® is one such technology. It is the leading wireless technology that can bring widely diverse devices into a single home area network for energy management. ZigBee is an open global standard based on the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless networking specification for low power consumption and medium range data bandwidth and transmission distances.

ZigBee makes communication possible between the devices inside the home and the utility from outside the home. That connection allows full two-way communication between utility operations and individual consumers. Through this communication, consumers can now learn more about their energy usage and how to reduce it. Feedback programs, such as Internet-based or in-home usage displays, have been found to reduce total consumption by an average of 11 percent. Two-way communication also allows the utility to automate energy efficiency for the customer according to whether customers have opted into energy management programs offered by the utilities and what parameters the consumers established for their own energy and comfort levels.

Two-third’s of the energy consumption in a typical U.S. household comes from lighting, heating, and cooling. Making these uses of energy more efficient can go a long way towards closing the energy supply and demand gap. A megawatt of energy gained through efficiency is much cleaner than a megawatt generated since the energy derived from efficiency is energy that does not have to be generated in the first place. Installing energy efficiency devices and programs that give consumers the tools to make intelligence energy use decisions will be exponentially faster than building major power plants. So just maybe we can have our energy and continue to enjoy our rising standard of living along with the latest electronic gadgets and not need to feel guilty.

ZigBee and ESMIG to work towards interoperable smart metering in Europe

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

<em>Bob Heile,<br></br>Chairman,<br></br>ZigBee Alliance</em>
Bob Heile,
Chairman,
ZigBee Allianc

The ZigBee® Alliance and the European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG) are working together to define interoperable communications standards for smart metering technology across the European Union (EU).

The ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile is the first open standard to be endorsed by ESMIG.

The ZigBee Alliance and ESMIG will collaborate and identify where ZigBee Smart Energy can be rolled out across the 27 member states of the EU. The two organizations will evaluate ways to maximize the benefits of a standardized smart metering program for consumers, utility service providers and the environment.

“ESMIG believes that a handful of proven and open standards, like ZigBee Smart Energy, will play a key role in EU smart metering projects because they deliver the most value for all parties, and allow utility service providers with flexibility in choosing standards that fit their specific requirements,” said Howard Porter, managing director at ESMIG. “The ZigBee Alliance is both a valuable and experienced partner who can provide ESMIG with expertise and solutions for smart metering in Europe.”

There are an estimated 2,000 electric, water and gas utility service providers in the EU. Each has unique needs that will require standardized approaches to deliver the numerous efficiency, cost savings and environmental benefits expected from smart metering.

“ZigBee Smart Energy was designed to work in any country,” said Bob Heile, chairman of the ZigBee Alliance. “It can play a strong role in helping Europe achieve its smart metering goals today.”

ZigBee Smart Energy enables wireless communication between utility companies and common household devices such as smart thermostats and appliances.

ESMIG is an alliance of companies supplying utility metering products or services within Europe and covers the entire value chain from meter manufacturing, software, installation, consulting, to communications and system integration.

New low power RF solution for ZigBee/IEEE 802.15.4, ZigBee RF4CE and smart energy

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

 

A complete 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) system-on-chip solution supporting the IEEE 802.15.4 standard and an extensive set of applications, including ZigBee PRO networks, ZigBee RF4CE remote controls, smart energy, home and building automation, has been introduced by Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI).

The CC2530 provides up to 256 KB of Flash memory to enable development of multiple network protocols, which are supported with free, downloadable software and tools to ensure that customers have everything needed for complete system development.

“The CC2530 solution is specifically tailored for emerging low power RF applications that will enhance consumer’s day-to-day lives, such as RF remote controls and audio/visual consumer electronics, efficient smart energy networks, advanced home automation and personal wireless medical devices,” said Art George, senior vice president of TI’s High-Performance Analog business unit. “The combination of best-in-class IEEE 802.15.4 system-on-chip with an unmatched suite of software and tools provides unlimited possibilities for next generation low power wireless networking systems.”

Key features and benefits of the solution include a variety of free protocol software stacks that are supported by the CC2530 to enable cost optimized selection of network protocol based on system requirements. These include the Z-StackTM software for ZigBee-compliant applications (ZigBee PRO), the RemoTITM network protocol for ZigBee RF4CE remote control applications, and the SimpliciTITM network protocol for proprietary networking applications.

The device integrates a leading RF transceiver with an industry standard enhanced 8051 MCU, in-system programmable flash memory, 8 KB RAM and many other powerful features.

Compatible devices include TI’s CC2590 and CC2591 2.4 GHz analog front ends (range extenders) and MSP430 ultra-low power microcontroller.

ZigBee® in 2009

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

Perspectives and retrospectives are clichéd at this time of year, but there are real reasons to assess the state and direction of ZigBee in the coming year.  The reasons why 2009 will be a pivotal year for ZigBee and residential energy management.Looking Back A Year
To get a grasp on the potential of what might happen in 2009, we need to understand how much can change in 12 months. A year ago, at the end of 2007, the ZigBee Smart Energy public application profile did not officially exist.  Hence, no Smart Energy certified products existed.  In the United States, only two large utilities had announced contracts for large, next-generation advanced metering systems featuring ZigBee: Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. Outside the U.S., ZigBee had a toehold in a few other places such as Toronto, Canada and Gothenburg, Sweden.

Looking Around at Year’s End
A year later, the ZigBee Alliance now offers the ratified ZigBee Smart Energy profile.  Over twenty certified products interoperate with ZigBee Smart Energy. Those products represent the range of devices needed to manage home energy consumption: electricity meters, thermostats, in-home displays, gateways, load control switches, smart plugs.  To provide further standardization, the ZigBee Alliance and the HomePlug PowerLine Alliance are collaborating to create a Smart Energy profile that runs on both wireless and wired networks.

In the U.S., more large utilities have announced advanced metering plans that include ZigBee, including major utilities such as San Diego Gas & Electric, CenterPoint Energy, DTE Energy, and Reliant Energy. America has elected a new president and Congress, which promises positive changes in energy and climate policy. In particular, there is growing support for regulation to monetize greenhouse gas emissions, such as a cap-and-trade policy.  Regional efforts have already begun in this area. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in New England is the most developed, but other efforts like that of the Western Governor’s Association continue to develop.

Around the world, oil prices continue to ride a rollercoaster of barrel price swings. Global recession dominates the financial news. The concept of a Smart Grid dominates discussions of energy policy, climate change, and national infrastructure plans—and few debate whether home-area networks like those enabled by ZigBee are part of a smarter grid.

Looking Ahead To Next Year
In surveying progress over the preceding 12 months and the current situation, it seems clear that a fundamental change in energy infrastructure is underway, with enough momentum to weather the current economic turmoil. Without divulging specific utility or company plans that are currently in the works, it is safe to say that:

  • additional companies are building home-area network devices for ZigBee Smart Energy certification, and hope to have those devices on the market next year
  • additional utilities, both large and small, are developing or adopting plans for mass deploying of Smart Grid and advanced metering projects that include home-area networking supported by ZigBee
  • more policies will be advanced in 2009 to address energy supply and security, climate change, and grid modernization, and those policies will provide support to the ZigBee Smart Energy market

By the end of 2009, a few million US homes will be equipped by their utilities to support home-area networks built around ZigBee networking. A good percentage of those will have smart thermostats or in-home displays wrapped up under their 2009 Christmas tree. That would be a good end to a productive 2009, and great start on 2010.

Home automation network (HAN)

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

A basic overview of HAN architecture for AMI

The push for more consumer involvement in smart grid initiatives is slowly becoming more evident as companies and utilities attempt to grasp the overall impact of government mandated deployments of the smart meter. Understanding what the consumer needs and wants is quickly rising in importance with the goals and objectives of the energy industry.

There are various views and opinions as to how the US federal and state mandate translates to practical solutions. Primary as a viable solution is the deployment of smart meter technology. But not all smart meters are the same, hence the need for a more encompassing option. The complicated field of metering with its canopy of applicable hardware and software results in making intelligent decisions a difficult and rocky road for AMI proponents. Some have focused instead on defining what a smart meter is or isn’t. The resulting business models may or may not be implementable as technology changes the landscape or costly if human behavior fails to adjust to and embrace the deployed solution.

One thing is certain, that a smart meter without interaction from the occupants would diminish the gain in energy use reduction and jeopardize the utilities’ attempts at conservation and global warming compliance.

If the solution isn’t found through meter deployments, then it stands to reason that involving the consumer via technology and education makes sound business and good social sense.

This brings us to the need for a home automation network (HAN) – either a simple system or a complex one. Many envision the HAN with the smart meter as the center or focal point for data gathering and exchanging. The smart meter is the gateway through which the rest of the world garners information about the occupant’s electricity consumption. Others would rather have an independent gateway within the premise that is more controlled by the occupants with privileges allocated to the utilities or an AMI service company. The meter then would be just another peripheral device in the network that links the local network with the outside utilities. The internal home gateway would restrict and determine what information is available to external sources. The former is more in line with what the utilities are implementing while the latter favors the telecom, cable, and IT industry approach, which focuses on broadband home networks and less on low power mesh.

Planning a HAN in an uncertain market that is constantly changing and evolving can be daunting to any individual or company considering AMI deployments. Most seek simple solutions that require very little capital or are constrained to limited HAN implementation. Deploying programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs) is one way of semi-automating the home environment for demand response. Using in-home displays that link the external meter to a remote handheld or tabletop unit is another. Whatever the technology used, these early approaches to consumer involvement demonstrate a growing awareness for HAN planning and consideration.

Critical to planning any future HAN system is the communications architecture being considered. The current emphasis on mesh radio technology and the availability of completely different mesh protocols (ZigBee, Z-Wave, OpenRF, and so on) within each of these radio systems creates both opportunity and potential disaster when considering HAN development and deployment. Other networked communications architectures include power line modems, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and RS485 – all which add layers of complexity to deploying HAN technology. Coupled to this melee of competing options is the dearth of home networked products that provide meaningful and practical demand response solutions.

Making the right choice of communications backbone may well be defined in the legacy system requirements, the data requirements, the environment in which the HAN is located and how the HAN is to be used by the occupants. Cost and ease of deployment/implementation along with the level of after sales support required are considerations that impact a successful planned launch. Whatever choice is made, the decision to go with one or the other could also limit the availability of peripheral devices that can operate within that chosen communications architecture and by default the functions and features available to the consumer. So choosing wisely is paramount.

The correct solution to determining a HAN configuration is the “backwards” approach. Simply put, deciding what end result the network must accomplish and then determining which technology is best suited to do this. In most instances, a cost analysis report or a business case based on reliable information would suffice in evaluating the technology being considered. In other situations where the technology is not proven or the decision makers are not knowledgeable, a trial or test site may be necessary to familiarize everyone with the option.

As mentioned earlier, the market forces driving HAN development and deployment are directly related to the industry and its perspective of market need. Other drivers such as political and global issues also impact consumer anxiety and perception within the market. Hence developing a strategy for HAN architecture must take into consideration those drivers.

A typical HAN may consist of the following basic functional components:

  1. Node controller/gateway/central controller. A node controller is common within mesh networks for maintaining the communications link and exchanges necessary within the protocol. It may or may not be the gateway. The gateway, on the other hand, is the portal through which multiple conflicting protocols link and talk seamlessly. A central controller can be all three plus a data manger/data logger. It manages the network from a user perspective (such as a home computer or a home media server which can act as the controller).
  2. Peripheral devices. The fingers and hands of the HAN are seen in the sensor devices that gather information or provide levels of control. Such devices, such as a PCT, provide a measure of remote command and control to the premise HVAC system. Internal to these devices is the communications backbone which links the devices to the central element of the network.
  3. Software. There are myriad functions that must be accomplished for a HAN to successfully fulfill its intended design. For example, the mesh protocol software manages the mesh network communications within a low power radio configuration. At the gateway, the different protocols must be translated correctly and the data sent to the correct recipient. Throughout the network, some form of security must be employed – whether through software encryption or access denial methodologies. There is a large amount of embedded code within the peripherals that program the tasks associated with those devices. These command and control codes must be incorporated into a central controller which provides remote interaction with the sensing devices.

External to the HAN is the smart meter which may be the gateway to the utility. The smart meter may also just be a peripheral if the HAN has its own dedicated gateway. A smart meter that is very basic or uses wired access may need a HAN that incorporates a gateway. Shifting the gateway away from the meter may be a better cost solution or a strategic decision based on any number of factors. When deciding on the HAN to meter interfacing, these type decisions need to be considered.

HAN basic

A basic HAN (wired and/or wireless)