Home networks have been around for years now, and most of them use Wi-Fi for PC and laptop connectivity to a broadband cable TV or DSL line. Some use of Wi-Fi is also present to stream video to TV sets. A new home network is now emerging, the home-area network (HAN), for power monitoring and control, energy management, remote control, HVAC, and appliance and lighting control.
With multiple possible radios in a home mesh network, low power and minimal battery replacement expense are essential. Wireless is clearly the network of choice as it requires no wire connections, but battery replacement could create a massive maintenance problem and cost. GreenPeak Technologies has the answer with wireless chips and modules that offer ultra-low power consumption and even battery-free operation if energy harvesting means are available.
GreenPeak’s Emerald GP500C is a system-on-a-chip (SoC) based on the IEEE 802.15.4 wireless standard. It operates in the 2.4-GHz unlicensed band and supports a wide variety of ultra-low-power networking protocols. The data rate is 250 kbits/s, and the range is up to 100 to 150 feet.
The GP500C is a communications controller (see the figure) that incorporates a radio transceiver with a fully integrated communications layer and on-chip energy manager. The autonomous transceiver can drive and control the data communications, which are typically driven by an external microcontroller in other devices.
Also, the PG500C greatly reduces energy consumption and enables end nodes to run on energy harvesting. Active energy consumption is only 150 µJ per packet, compared to 500 µJ of other systems. Sleep current is a low 100 nA compared to the usual 1 µA typical. The GP500C uses only about 10% to 15% of the energy of comparable products, meaning six to 10 times longer battery life.
GreenPeak is targeting the Smart Grid, energy management, and the remote control market. The GP500C also seems ideal for use with the ZigBee RF4CE consumer RF remote control movement, which is sure to cover energy management and control as well as the usual TV set and other consumer electronics equipment.