Z-Wave establishes the bridge between utilities and consumers


By Ron Goldberg, Convey Technologies

Residential energy demand management is a collaborative process between consumer and supplier. Throughout the EU, both sides of this collaboration are increasingly turning to technological solutions that can easily facilitate the end goals that both sides have in common – maximum efficiency and accountability.

In this maturing smart energy landscape, the Z-Wave wireless control protocol is emerging as the global standard for communications between energy suppliers and residential energy consumers. The technology has now been adopted by industry leaders in smart metering and home systems throughout the EU and North America, and has even gained governmental recommendation through the Danish Electricity Saving Trust (DEST).

With the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) scheduled for Copenhagen this year, the DEST recommendations will put the world spotlight on Z-Wave technology as the established solution for intelligent energy monitoring, control and management.

Z-Wave is a low-power RF-based wireless communication protocol designed for control applications in residential and light commercial environments. The technology creates a wireless “ecosystem” throughout the home that allows devices, appliances and HVAC systems to be monitored and intelligently controlled by any number of automatic or manually-controlled conditions, from either inside or outside the home.

Thanks to this two-way capability, power utilities and their advanced metering solutions can communicate directly with the home via Z-Wave. This enables energy utilities to interface with their customers in productive ways that reach far beyond simple usage metering. Utilities working with Z-Wave can inform consumers of any changes in energy delivery and status, and even make home-specific suggestions on how to tailor energy consumption.

Because Z-Wave is already widely deployed in the home through hundreds of consumer electronics products ranging from lights through thermostats, security systems and home entertainment systems, power utilities have come to see that Z-Wave offers a simple communications medium that is already in place and market tested, and most importantly – brand agnostic and interoperable.

Horstmann energy

Home energy monitors such
as this Horstmann model are
increasingly in demand

As a result of Z-Wave’s emergence as a viable standard for energy monitoring and control both inside and outside of the home, major players in the field have been announcing new products and services based on the standard.

For example, Danish manufacturer Kamstrup AG is now a member of the Z-Wave Alliance trade consortium, which represents over 160 companies worldwide in the development and promotion of Z-Wave. Kamstrup serves energy suppliers in 50 countries throughout Europe, Africa and Asia with technologies that automatically collect and administer data regarding energy consumption in electricity, cooling, heating, water and gas units.

UK manufacturer Horstmann is also a member of the ZWave Alliance, and offers both consumers and power utilities a proven end-to-end solution that incorporates the technology. The company’s S series smart programmable multi-rate meter provides simple, integrated and cost effective control of seasonal time of day (STOD) electricity tariffs and associated heating loads. At the same time, the consumer’s home can be equipped with a Horstmann home energy monitor, which offers multiple programming modes that afford homeowners the opportunity to easily customize and monitor home energy consumption.

The Danish energy supplier Modstrøm has been using Z-Wave based tools since 2008 to display energy usage and actively assist its customers in their efforts to reduce energy consumption. The savings made can be either credited to the household or invested in so called CO2 certificates, which Modstrøm acquires and destroys.

Horstmann, Modstrøm and Kamstrup join such market leaders as Danfoss, Leviton, Merten and Schlage, among many others, in developing intelligent home devices and systems that can communicate via Z-Wave.

At the heart of the Z-Wave solution is the Z-Wave Advanced Energy Control (AEC) Framework, which allows energy suppliers and smart metering manufacturers to develop an intelligent and advanced domestic energy management system that is also environmentally friendly. Z-Wave AEC is the largest international Energy Control Operation (ECO)-system and encompasses a combination of smart metering and home control solutions with guaranteed interoperability. This allows a sustainable reduction in energy consumption and CO2 emissions.

As the COP15 UN Conference commences later this year, the Danish Electricity Saving Trust will present its Z-Wave recommendations in a much broader context and to a worldwide audience. The future looks especially bright for this key enabling technology for energy demand management.