Zigbee during the year of the smart grid


The energy industry reached a turning point in 2009 as the US government allocated significant funds from the economic stimulus package to expedite key energy mandates and hasten creation of the smart grid. With that move, utilities and other smart grid stakeholders began researching technology standards that would accelerate the pace of progress. As one might expect, key technology players in the field hurried to promote their own solutions.

One of those players stood out this year: ZigBee Smart Energy, the global low power, low cost wireless standard for home area networks (HAN). ZigBee Smart Energy is used in more than 20 certified ZigBee Smart Energy products, offering energy service providers, utilities and consumers a variety of devices needed to implement a HAN that allows consumers to better control their energy use.

This has been a banner year for the ZigBee standard. Since it was first launched in 2002, ZigBee has laid the groundwork to establish itself as a standard delivering new ways to monitor and manage myriad applications left out of the earlier internet boom. The momentum reached a crucial point this year, when the Department of Energy and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identified ZigBee Smart Energy as one of the key standards for interoperability and security to support the smart grid. There are now more than 36 million ZigBee smart meters planned worldwide.

The US is not the only country that has embraced ZigBee. ZigBee Smart Energy is the first open standard endorsed by the European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG) for smart metering across Europe, and the Alliance is working with the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to establish ZigBee Smart Energy as a basis for an IEC Home Area Network (HAN) and Smart Metering standard. Meter deployments are picking up speed, with Gothenburg, Sweden designated as Europe’s first “ZigBee City” with more than 290,000 equipped homes. In Australia, the state of Victoria stipulated ZigBee for its smart meter rollout, with thousands of ZigBee smart meters installed in home and businesses each day.

But ZigBee is more than energy management. New profiles and interoperable products now reach a growing list of markets, making ZigBee an accessible and important technology in consumer electronics, health care, home automation and more. In particular:

  • Certification of 17 devices from 10 manufacturers with the ZigBee Home Automation public application profile with more products on the way
  • The first ZigBee RFCE consumer electronic products offering innovative and interactive two-way RF remotes are closer to market than ever before
  • Development of the ZigBee Green Power profile enabling batteryless devices to operate on any ZigBee network for maintenance free control and monitoring.

ZigBee is proving to be an integral part of the smart grid and this connection to energy management is spurring strong expansion of ZigBee’s presence in the home. Ultimately, ZigBee will give consumers control over their energy, entertainment and homes, and open new doors allowing for the monitoring of their own health and extend seniors’ abilities to live longer, independent lives in their own homes.