How About A Smart House In A Shade Of ‘Green’?

It is well known that batteries cause one of the most toxic waste streams on earth; but they are used virtually everywhere, including in Internet of Things products and solutions. Some estimates suggest that about 78 million batteries powering IoT devices could be thrown away every day by 2025*, which would have a dramatic, negative impact on the environment. Fortunately, technology is attacking the problem in the form of green energy solutions, like Zigbee Green Power.

Zigbee Green Power is an open, standards-based technology that enables ultra-low power or batteryless IoT communications. This technology compresses and secures IoT message data and reliably sends messages to destinations in a Zigbee mesh network that may be well beyond the range of the ultra-low power/batteryless device itself.

Often the question is, how can a communications network operate this way, without an energy source or battery? The answer lies in how Zigbee Green Power is designed. It only needs a miniscule amount of energy to support the message transmission. That energy can come from a battery; but can also be through alternative ways, like energy harvesting. Just the energy created from a needle dropping to the ground or a single LED flash is sufficient to transmit several radio messages using Green Power. This has the benefit of dramatically extending battery life for battery powered devices; but even better, allows for the elimination of batteries completely in Green Power devices. Even the kinetic energy harvested by pushing a button can create the power necessary to drive radio transmissions.

The specification for the Zigbee Green Power standard was completed in June of 2018 and since that time, about 1,200 devices have been certified, including more than 120 last year. While they initially skewed toward commercial uses, especially in the energy sector, more and more Green Power devices are being approved to extend the environmental benefits and reach into the smart home.

A quick search of Zigbee Green Power devices reveals a variety of light switches, smart plugs, door sensors and automated window shades that can be used in the home and yard, with more appearing daily.

As we move forward, we expect to see our members designing new Green Power devices and solutions that are inherently ultra-low power, and which have the ability to harvest energy from their environment – from sources of heat, light and kinetic energy.

For the past decade, the average household around the world has steadily become ‘smarter’ with the introduction of smart speakers, lighting and locks that are part of a home network automated for convenience, safety and security.

The goal for the next decade is to make homes not just smart, but increasingly ‘green,’ too, taking batteries and even mains power increasingly out of the equation. With the start and momentum achieved to date and solutions like Zigbee Green Power, there is no reason to believe it cannot be done.

* European Commission’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) article on EnABLES Research and Position Paper