Category Archives: ZF News

ZF Develops Energy Harvesting Light Switch with EnOcean3.0 Protocol

Intelligent lighting systems are key drivers for the rapidly growing global smart home sector. These not only have to be energy-efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective, but also connected for increased flexibility. Therefore, ZF decided to join the EnOcean Alliance in spring 2021 to join this growing market. This enables the expansion of ZF’s energy self-sufficient product portfolio with a wireless and battery-free light switch module with EnOcean3.0 protocol.

With its energy harvesting product range, ZF offers a sustainable alternative to traditional systems – based on radio and completely free of batteries and cables. ZF aims to promote this sustainable trend with new products especially for smart homes and the lighting sector. An essential step is to expand the light switch portfolio with commercially available protocols, to enable the switch to be integrated in commercial buildings. Beyond the unique energy harvesting KNX light switch module, ZF offers now a light switch module that can be fully integrated into existing EnOcean3.0 wireless systems. The EnOcean3.0 radio protocol is designed for a frequency band of 868MHz (EU, Asia) and 915MHz (USA). Within buildings, low frequencies are particularly suitable for penetrating walls or ceilings and ensure reliable radio transmission. In addition, the radio range is up to 30 meters inside the building. The wireless light switch modules from ZF are compatible with standard frames available on the market and can also be combined with customer-specific control and design panels.

In addition to light switch modules, customer-specific solutions can also be developed based on the EnOcean3.0 protocol for Smart Home applications. One example is connected doors and windows which transmit signals for ambient condition monitoring. Another application is for smart industrial switches and stop request buttons in buses which can transmit specific commands via RF to factory workers and bus drivers. The core component of these energy harvesting radio modules is a small generator (20.1 x 7.3 x 14.3 mm), which creates enough energy by means of induction and by pressing a button, so that a radio signal can be transmitted to a receiver. As a wireless solution, these radio modules offer flexibility and design freedom in order to accomplish individual requirements. As a battery-free solution and with a lifetime of up to 1,000,000 switching cycles, costly maintenance and disposal of replaced batteries can be avoided.


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ZF E-bike Speed Sensor

ZF E-bike Speed Sensor Enriches the New Trend of ABS Applications

The ABS system has become indispensable in passenger and commercial vehicles. This safety function is also becoming increasingly popular for e-bikes. Bicycle accidents are often caused by uncontrolled braking, especially during emergency stops or braking on gravel and wet roads. The anti-lock braking system ensures a safe slowdown by evenly deaccelerating the front and rear wheels. To do this, the speed on both wheels must be measured constantly and precisely. The Hall-based speed sensor from ZF promotes this solution.

The ZF e-bike speed sensor GS82-AA02 was specially developed for use in Pedelecs and S-Pedelecs. Based on Hall technology, the sensor in combination with an external, ferromagnetic speed disk achieves a high-resolution speed measurement. The sensor targets the slot structure of the speed disc and, depending on the number of slots, it transmits up to 50 or more speed signals per wheel revolution. In practice, this leads to a finer and quicker response from the e-bike drive. The ABS system also benefits from the high resolution in speed. With the precise speed values of both wheels, the ABS control unit can adjust the wheels to each other and brake them in a controlled manner.

The extremely compact design (21.75mm long x 9.35mm in diameter) of the sensor fulfills the necessary requirements for the use in e-bikes. The speed sensor is based on the principle of the Hall effect and therefore it is contactless and wear-free. The differential measurement of the magnetic flux also increases the robustness of the sensor against vibrations. Depending on the customer’s requirements the contact via connector, as well as the cable length, can be preselected individually. The sensor requires a constant voltage supply of 6.5 – 20 VDC and measures frequencies between 1 and 2,500 Hz. They are designed for a temperature range from -25 °C to + 85 °C to fulfill the declaration of conformity in the e-bike industry.

• Hall based non-contact and solid-state sensor
• Virtually unlimited life, no wear and tear from friction
• Immune to vibration, shock, dirt or water for an improved functional safety especially for Pedelecs, S-Pedelecs and E-Scooter
• Available standard product with Higo connector. Flexibility in terms of cable length and connector assemblies.
• High resolution in combination with speed and brake disk especially for slow speeds (e.g. hill starts)
• Hall sensor with speed disk for improved manipulation resistance and robustness
• Best suitable also for ABS-Systems


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ZF Energy Harvesting Technology – Bus Stop Buttons Application

Bus Stop Buttons Are Now Wireless & Battery-Free Using Energy Harvesting Technology from ZF

Thanks to the wireless and battery-free switch technology from ZF, there are various possible application fields to increase connectivity, flexibility, and convenience. Bus stop buttons are another smart application integrating the inductive RF generator module. The target is to avoid cabling (up to 100m) and expensive maintenance work caused by cable breaks in buses. The energy harvesting switch guarantees design freedom and reduces maintenance work to a minimum as it has a lifetime of over 1,000,000 switching cycles.

The energy harvesting switch can be integrated directly into the plastic housing of the stop request buttons in buses. The compact design (20.1 x 7.3 x 14.3 mm) makes it easy to integrate. In addition, the ZF radio switch generates a voltage pulse by mechanical actuation as it relies on the inductive principle. Therefore, RF commands can be reliably sent via commercially available radio protocols such as EnOcean3.0 at a frequency band of 868MHz. In this case there is no risk of RF interference with Bluetooth devices which operate at a 2.4 GHz frequency range. Altogether, the radio switch is completely free of batteries or cabling, allows a reliable RF transmission and offers a high degree of flexibility when it comes to mounting in buses.

Each RF switch has a unique ID and can be programmed individually. This means that each stop request button can be assigned to a specific command group, such as opening doors at the front, back, or initiating measures for wheelchair users. The buttons are paired to the central receiver unit, which is again connected to the electrical bus system. Depending on the received command, the receiver triggers a visual or acoustic signal to give the bus driver appropriate instructions.


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ZF Energy Harvesting Technology

Energy Harvesting can be described as an ‘operation without any auxiliary energy’, as the energy is generated from the surrounding environment and then converted.

Energy Harvesting Switch Solutions Technology is an energy harvesting switch which reacts to its environment without a need for energy. This solution developed by ZF is based on the principle of Energy Harvesting and does not require any wires. Energy Harvesting can be described as an ‘operation without any auxiliary energy’. Instead of generating auxiliary energy through an integrated energy source or adding it via an external energy supply, energy that is available in the surrounding environment or that is acting on the system is converted. Therefore an Energy Harvester generally speaking is an energy converter.


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ZF Energy Harvesting Light Switch Module Installed at China´s Largest Airports

The topics of sustainability, flexibility and energy efficiency in the lighting sector are the largest airports in China. Thanks to the wireless and battery-free light switch module from ZF, lights are controlled by using the KNX-RF radio protocol at Beijing and Xinjiang airports.

The first KNX light switch modules from ZF were installed and used in July 2016 at Hetian Airport in the city of Xinjiang. Due to the positive results, Beijing International Airport also expressed interest in the innovative modules. In September 2020 the time came – the energy harvesting light switches from ZF now control the lighting of the VIP rooms at the airport of the Chinese capital.

The reasons for using these innovative ZF light switch modules are varied, but simple. Based on RF and completely free of batteries and cables, the modules can be integrated into a KNX network. After short training, lights can be controlled via the ZF light switch in the same way as traditionally wired light switches. KNX-RF commands transmitted by the switches can be easily transformed into KNX-TP by means of a media coupler. As a wireless solution, however, the ZF light switch offers great flexibility and the option of redesigning the room division in the airport according to individual requirements. This avoids not only maintenance work in the future but also time-consuming measures for battery replacement and disposal. The technical core component of the ZF light switch module is located inside. A small, compact generator (20.1 x 7.3 x 14.3 mm) generates enough energy by mechanical actuation due to the inductive principle. This ensures a reliable radio transmission of commands. With a lifetime of over 1,000,000 switching cycles, it can be operated for many years without any problems.

The wireless light switch module from ZF is uniquely available for the KNX-RF wireless standard without an additional gateway. Due to the KNX protocol structure, the generator requires a high energy yield. With up to 330µWs, the generator from ZF is ideally suited for this application. In addition to KNX-RF, the ZF light switch module also supports the EnOcean3.0 wireless standard and the Bluetooth5.0 Low Energy. It is compatible with commercially available standard frames and can also be combined with customer-specific operating and design panels.


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ZF Hall-Based Position Sensors

Marine engine controls benefit from ZF Hall-based position sensors

Hall-based position sensors are becoming widely used in a wide variety of applications due to their contactless and wear-free measurement method. These sensors are used in outboard marine engines to control the trim level. Marine drive manufacturers rely on the Hall-based position sensors from ZF as reliable and robust components for their overall drive system.

The Hall-based position sensors from ZF have been established as a reliable sensor solution for marine applications, especially for the inclination and trim measurement of outboard motors. To ensure optimal performance of a boat depending on the speed, the outboard motor must have a certain inclination. Both angle and linear position sensors are used with an associated external magnet carrier to monitor and realign the current inclination of the motor. The sensors are completely contactless and have an almost unlimited lifetime, as no wear and tear occur caused by abrasion. For position measurement, the external magnet is attached a few millimeters above the sensor. If the magnet rotates, the magnetic field changes, which again leads to a change in voltage within the sensor electronics. Each voltage value can be assigned to a specific angle value.

Depending on the requirements and customers’ requests, ZF offers a range of different angle sensor variants with associated magnets for triggering signals. These vary in terms of the angular range (0-360°), signal redundancy (non-, semi- or fully redundant), connection interface (cable, connector), operating temperature range and form factor. Attributed to long lasting experiences and know how in hall-based sensor technology, also customized solutions can be fulfilled.


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ZF’s New Compact Magnet Carrier Ideal For Harsh Environments

“New compact Magnet Carrier 709-21995 for use with existing Hall-based angle sensors for precise and wear-free angle measurement”.

ZF presents its new compact Magnet Carrier 709-21995 for use with existing Hall-based angle sensors for precise and wear-free angle measurement. These are ideal for harsh environments such as in the steering system of forklifts and other off-road vehicles. The combination of the new magnet carrier with the ANG angle sensor offers enormous advantages in limited space due to its small dimensions.

ZF offers several angle sensor variants that differ between the redundancy of the output signal: non-, semi or full redundancy, (primarily for safety requirements), the measuring angle and the cable connection and connector type. These variants support flexible use in individual application areas of angle detection. The ANG sensor is the newest in the ZF angle position sensing portfolio. With its length of 3.2 cm and width of 4.5 cm, it fulfills strict requirements in respect of limited space in customer applications and has an extended temperature range (-40 to 140°C), high accuracy (+/- 2% to +/- 2.5%) and is rated IP68. Depending on the desired security, the ANG angle sensor is available in a simple version with three cable outputs but without a redundant output signal, or with four cables and a semi-redundant output signal.

The brand new and extremely compact magnetic carrier from ZF is ideally suited for combination with angle sensors over a measuring range of up to 360°. It works perfectly in conjunction with the ZF Hall sensors. The plastic carrier housing contains a rare earth magnet consisting of a samarium-cobalt compound. It is equipped with two brass bushings to attach the magnet carrier to the target object reliably. The magnet carrier has primarily been designed to serve applications with limited space. It is only 2.4 cm long and 1.8 cm high.

An application example is electric steering (steer by wire) in forklifts, one that ZF sensors and magnet carriers are already well established. The target is for the precise implementation of the desired steering angle from the driver to be communicated to the vehicle. The small magnet carrier is mechanically attached to the steering axle with M3 screws and rotates without contact. It is therefore wear-free over the Hall element of the sensor.


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ZF’s DG Sub-Miniature Switch

DG Sub-Miniature Switch


 Extremely small dimensions – only 12.8 x 5.8 x 6.5 mm
 Breaking capacity ranges from small switching currents and voltages to low-voltage applications up to 3 A 125 VAC
 Available with or without auxiliary actuator
 Use on circuit boards with connections to the left or right and standing
 Operating temperature -25 to +85 °C
 High mechanical operating life > 1,000.000 operations (model dependant)
 Degree of protection IP40




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ZF’s RF Energy Harvesting Switches Integrate Windows and Doors into Smart Home Systems

Energy Harvesting Switches

Is the window open or closed? For smart homes this is a simple question but when it comes to energy efficiency and safety, it is a critical one. Thanks to the battery-free and wireless RF technology from ZF this question can be answered reliably.

With an integrated energy harvesting switch, there is the possibility to record each locking and unlocking actuation of a window. A leading company in the window system industry has revolutionized the connectivity between windows and smart home control systems with an innovative concept.

The window specialist Schüco International KG based in Germany has designed a solution for integrating the ZF RF switch in a locking latch, the so called “SensTrack wireless”. This RF locking latch is attached to the window frame. When opening or closing the window, the fitting will be moved. This leads to the extension and retraction of the locking roller which actuates the ZF radio switch in the locking latch. The mechanical activation is enough to generate a small voltage based on induction which leads to the transmission of several telegrams of the EnOcean3.0 protocol. The signal is processed in a smart home control unit which then triggers customised functions such as climate control. In large buildings this can be especially helpful to monitor the window state and therefore save on energy costs.

The concept benefits from the compact design with high energy output of the ZF energy harvesting switch. With its size of 20.1 x 7.3 x 14.3 mm, it is ideal for applications with limited space requirements. In addition, due to its durable use with a lifetime of one million switching cycles, there is no maintenance work required to frequently change the components within the window frame.

The RF Switch is battery-free and the wireless technology provides flexibility in use. It can be utilized with different RF protocols – BLE5.0, EnOcean3.0 or ZigBee. The system can also be implemented for diverse applications in the smart home, building and industrial automation sectors, for applications such as lighting, shutters, and doors. With the help of these ZF products, comfort, safety and energy efficiency can be increased and improved in a smart way.


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ZF’s GS82-AA02 Sensor Increases E-Bike Speed Sensor Portfolio

GS82-AA02 E-Bike Sensor

With the increasing popularity and growing trend of e-bikes, bicycle system suppliers have set goals to optimize power and performance of their drive systems. In order to support the driver in the best possible way, sensors are needed to deliver the required data and therefore adapt the engine’s power support. An essential component is the ZF e-bike sensor for measuring the current speed. The ZF e-bike sensor is based on Hall technology with significant advantages over conventional reed switches.

Especially for high-quality e-bikes, all components need to be functional, from the drive to the battery and cabling. This is also the case with the ZF e-bike sensor. Speed sensors of the GS series have been specially developed for use in Pedelecs and S-Pedelecs. The extremely compact design meets the necessary requirements for the use in e-bikes. The sensors are based on the principle of Hall-effect and therefore they are non-contact and durable. In combination with ferromagnetic target wheels, a high-resolution speed measurement with over 50 pulses per revolution can be implemented without any problems. In practice, this leads to a finer and quicker response from the e-bike drive – especially at lower speeds (e.g. when starting up a hill). The differential measurement of the magnetic flux also increases the robustness of the sensor against vibrations. In addition, there is no need for an external magnet, which is used with conventional reed switches. These are frail against even slight shifts on the spoke, which leads to functional failures and shut down of the drive unit.

The GS82-AA02 is the latest addition to the ZF e-bike sensor portfolio. This sensor is significantly more compact than its’ predecessor (21.75mm length, 9.35mm diameter) and optimized for use in e-bikes. As an interface to the drive system, the Higo connector has a cross-section of only 0.14mm² and due to its small size is prevalent in the e-bike industry. Depending on the customer’s requirements the contact via connector, as well as the cable length, can be preselected individually. The sensor requires a constant voltage supply of 6.5 – 20 VDC and measures frequencies between 1 and 2,500 Hz. They are designed for a temperature range from -25 ° C to + 85°C to fulfill the declaration of conformity in the e-bike industry.

The ZF sensor was originally developed for ABS applications. In addition to e-bikes, other target markets include e-scooters and various sports equipment for this small and efficient sensor.


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