Category Archives: Energy Harvesting Technology

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’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 Energy Harvesting Switch Solutions Technology

Self-Sufficient RF Transmission of Switch Signals Without Battery and Wires.

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.

The wireless RF switch system from ZF based on an energy harvester transforms the mechanical input energy of the actuation into electrical energy, which then transmits, for example, a switching signal to a wireless receiver via RF electronics. The advantages of the system are that the switch can be placed anywhere without the need for any wires. Over its whole life cycle it will fulfill its function completely maintenance free and without any need to replace a battery. The RF switch is fed with different input parameters and is capable of reacting to its environment.

The energy harvesting RF-switches from ZF can be used in a variety of applications such as industrial automation and building automation, smart home or medical technology. Designed for global use, the switches provide an excellent alternative to wired or battery-powered systems.

System Advantages:
Reduction of connection systems
Flexibility for inaccessible locations
No complex wire assembly
Maintenance-free – no batteries need to be changed
Network-compatible
High energy efficiency
Long mechanical life
Flexible “Pairing” allows the operation of several receivers with one switch (and vice versa)
Unique ID excludes a mutual interference between different RF-switches

 

Description
> Compact & highly efficient Energy harvesting wireless system consisting of a generator and receiver.
> Network compatible wireless data transfer via RF-technology.
> “Unique ID” excludes interference between RF-switches.
> Several frequency bands allow global use within different applications.
> Flexible “Pairing” allows the operation of several receivers with one switch (and vice versa).
> Environmentally friendly – no batteries need to be changed or disposed of.
> Long mechanical life (up to 1.000.000 operations).

Receiver
> Integrated receiver (in existing ECU) or as a separate unit (in a housing/as a plug-in receiver PCB).
> Antenna integrated or external
> Output interfaces: Low voltage relay 230V / 0.5A; RS 232 TTL Bus; RS 485 TTL Bus; Digital interface (high/low) / SPI; USB

Product Range
> The product is available in the form of a “raw” energy harvesting generator or generator with PCB and antenna system, as a rocker switch, snap switch or light switch module.
> A Wireless Switch Module fulfilling KNX-RF 2.0 is also available.

 

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