EnOcean Wireless Controls Tested For Smart Grid Potential

EnOcean-based wireless lighting controls, manufactured by Echoflex Solutions, demonstrated significant energy savings in independent testing done by utility Pacific Gas & Electric and met the task of shedding peak loads during demand response (DR) events.

Wireless dimming controls were installed an office building in Oakland, CA occupied by Energy Solutions, a company that designs and executes energy efficiency programs. The goal was to assess the Smart Grid potential of EnOcean wireless automation controls.

Within seconds of receiving PG&E utility DR signals, the Echoflex system reduced lighting levels in scale with utility-prescribed DR levels. On-site verification and monitoring showed that the EnOcean-based wireless sensor network provided reliable means of propagating DR signals throughout buildings in response to such events.

Echoflex’s energy harvesting wireless system earned additional accolades when the contractor found it “easy-to-install even though they had no experience with system”. The energy harvesting and wireless technologies embedded in EnOcean-based controls are designed to overcome installation barriers associated with hard wired solutions. With EnOcean’s wireless tools, DR signals are carried over the air, through walls and ceilings to shed lighting energy loads in the office building. The study showed that the price of batteryless and wireless solutions is more cost-effective for retrofit applications than traditional wired controls.

EnOcean-based wireless controls fit into the demand side of the overall DR scheme. The test DR signal was scheduled and initiated by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Via the internet, the DR signal went from the utility to a DRAS (Demand Response Automation Server); then entered the host building site’s CLIR (Client and Logic with Integrated Relay). Once inside the building, the Echoflex solution wirelessly propagated the DR signal throughout the building. For DR purposes, the Echoflex controllers can be commissioned to turn on or off a single ballast, group of ballasts, or entire circuit; or dim one or multiple ballasts in response to a DR signal broadcast. The Echoflex solution can facilitate energy reductions via bi-level lighting and/or dimming.

After testing concluded, Echoflex reacted to the independent assessment and improved its “Complete Room Controller” model (EDRC – C) by reducing the customization required to receive and interpret DR signals. The company has also simplified on-site commissioning.

About Echoflex Solutions
Echoflex offers solutions for retrofit and energy conservation challenges by allowing building owners, managers, and tenants the option to retrofit incrementally. Areas of fastest payback can be addressed first; then further advances can be done easily because each space thinks for itself. Echoflex switches and sensors are easily moved if the use of the building space changes. The technology is also interoperable with building automation systems providing wireless extensions through interfaces and gateways.

About EnOcean
EnOcean, the inventor of energy harvesting wireless sensor networks, manufactures self-powered radio modules and energy harvesters that enable OEMs to develop wireless sensors & switches for new and retrofit BAS (Building Automation Systems). The batteryless radio modules convert ambient solar, thermal and motion energy into useable electrical energy that powers building network communications. These “peel-n-stick” devices reduce the time, cost, and occupant disruption of energy conservation retrofits; and provide flexibility in new construction. The company is a spin-off of Siemens AG and U.S. operations are based in Boston, MA.