The message is beginning to stick: Building-automation systems (BAS) offer a cure for facilities that do not use energy efficiently. While increased demand for energy and its diminishing supply have combined to force the word green into managers’ vocabularies, BAS have stepped in as a reliable remedy for reducing energy use and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Maintenance and engineering managers can significantly reduce the challenge of improving the energy efficiency of their facilities by using battery-free and wireless building-automation controls. A wireless standard from the EnOcean Alliance gives managers a simple, unparalleled means of spreading information throughout buildings, an essential element in reducing energy. The EnOcean Alliance, with 100 automation manufacturers, aims to promote sustainable buildings via battery-free, wireless controls.
Since these peel-and-stick automation controls — sensors, switches, and controllers — are wireless and battery-free, they free integrators from the installation and maintenance hurdles that historically have stalled or prohibited widespread adaptation of BAS in institutional and commercial facilities.
Battery-free and wireless controls typify the technology the EnOcean wireless standard addresses. The controls technology stems from a simple observation: Sensors capturing measured values reveal the energy state constantly changes. For example, when a user presses a switch, the temperature changes, or the luminance level varies.
This rudimentary operation also generates enough energy to send radio signals, which can help automate buildings. Instead of batteries, the controls technology uses miniature energy converters and capacitors that supply power to building sensors and switches. The bottomless power generation comes from linear motion converters, solar cells and thermal converters. These wireless sensors and switches house energy-harvesting and wireless technologies, which enable building energy management.
Energy harvesting helps generate radio signals from very small amounts of energy. Using just 50 microwatts of harvested power, an EnOcean-based control can transmit a radio signal 1,000 feet — 150 feet is typical indoors — through walls and ceilings. Part of the patented secret is using short signal durations. The entire radio-transmission process starts, executes, and completes in less than one one-thousandth of a second.
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