Battery-less: A better way forward

The challenges associated with battery-dependent wireless devices, discussed in “Powering the Internet of Wireless Things – Part 1”, threaten the growth of wireless sensor networks and open the door to EnOcean energy harvesting wireless technology. Designed to harness their power from their surrounding environment, energy harvesting devices are self-powered and therefore function without batteries. These devices harvest energy from a variety of sources; for example, an electrodynamic energy converter uses mechanical motion, a small solar cell efficiently generates energy from indoor light, and the combining of a thermoelectric converter with a DC/DC converter taps heat as an energy source.

Energy harvesting offers significant advantages over batteries when it comes to ecobalance and maintenance-free operation. Implemented with EnOcean’s battery-less technology, a wide range of self-powered applications are already available today, including switches, intelligent window handles, temperature sensors, humidity and particle sensors, light sensors, occupancy sensors, relay receivers, heating valves, control centers, and smart home systems. All together, the EnOcean ecosystem is made up of more than 1,500 battery-less devices from nearly 400 companies.

Conclusion: Battery < Battery-less

Batteries will not disappear anytime soon, and for certain applications they will remain a necessity. But from a design, environmental, and reliability standpoint, energy harvesting is the technology of the future. In the years to come, energy harvesting will increase its lead over batteries further – especially as energy converters and storage elements continue to improve their performance and costs.


About The Author

Graham Martin is Chairman and CEO of the EnOcean Alliance. He is a veteran of the electronics industry with over 30 years of experience in RF solutions, engineering and marketing. Being an expert for sustainable buildings, he also looks at the future role of standardized wireless automation systems including the Internet of Things. His personal enthusiasm for the EnOcean world is the fact that batteryless sensors will play an ever increasing role in smart buildings and in the Internet of Things, and that the EnOcean standard working together with other standards creates an end-to-end solution for improved comfort, security and energy efficiency.

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