Wireless Sensors that Don’t Require Batteries: Generating Energy from Almost Nothing

March 30, 2007 - 12:00pm
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Architects, engineers, building operators and owners have long searched for better ways to control wired electrical devices within the built environment. The ideal solution could be retrofitted into existing buildings without requiring expensive re-wiring. Emerging wireless sensor networks solve part of this problem, but the need for batteries for remote control devices and re-locatable switches remains a problem. Batteries are expensive and are a major maintenance headache in commercial applications. In this Building Energy Seminar, Jim O’Callaghan, Principal of EnOcean will present working demonstrations of energy-harvesting sensors that self-power by converting power from environmental sources such as light, temperature or movement. A wireless transmitter, for example, harvests the mechanical energy of pushing on the button to power up a radio and send out radio “telegrams” to turn on/off and dim ceiling lights, fans, motors and other loads. Another example is a “peel-and-stick” occupancy detector that has no wires and uses small solar cells to harvest available light and thus power the sensor. This allows the occupancy sensor to be located at the optimum location in the space after installation without need for rewiring. The implications of this technology for better managing lighting, HVAC and many other electrical loads in commercial and residential applications are enormous. The speaker will present examples of applications and present case studies of buildings operating lighting and HVAC controls with battery-free wireless sensors. For more information about this seminar, please contact: JoAnne Lambert 510.486.4835, or send e-mail to JMLambert@lbl.gov

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