The Actility Blog

Looking for smart energy sensors? What is essential is invisible to the eye!

NKE Watteco's smart energy sensors for connected buildings.

A significant player in IoT with its range of smart sensors, NKE Watteco manufactures products to meet every requirement of remote and complex data collection. Its recent involvement in the Smart Grid Vendée project has displayed its expertise in providing innovative solutions to optimize energy consumption and harvesting.

A 20-year leadership

NKE Watteco’s leadership is backed by over 20 years of experience in the design, development, industrialization and manufacturing of electronic products for harsh (GPS for the Dakar race) or highly secure (electronic locks for the banking industry) environments.

A couple of years back, the manufacturer pioneered by prototyping the first LoRaWAN™ sensors. Alongside with its partner Actility, NKE Watteco contributed to developing this disruptive technology. NKE’s core business is to manufacture smart sensors. Actility provides the network, use cases and business opportunities that NKE needs to promote them.

All NKE products are now LoRaWan compatible and can be deployed either in private or public networks.

  • Their very low consumption and energy harvesting capabilities are definite advantages
  • Their battery life ranges between 5 and 7 years or more for energy harvesting
  • The ability to collect and compress the highest volume of information possible makes them the only sensors to manage and use all the data available on an electrical meter

NKE produces sensors for and around buildings. Its devices measure temperature, water level, air pressure, and they will eventually also measure air quality and noise pollution. Electrical, water and gas meters remote reading are becoming routine in managing resources effectively.

Energy data harvesting

Let’s take a closer look at some of how these sophisticated sensors are implemented in smart energy use cases!

The energy harvesting temperature sensor

NKE Watteco is the only company offering a fully self-powered wireless sensor that is able to rely on the light only. In the absence of light, the device is powered by a lithium battery to maintain operation up to three months – on the basis of 24 measurements and one transmission per day. This device measures temperature, humidity, luminosity and voltage battery. Parameters can be locally stored, concatenated and compressed. Data transmission information is performed as often as every 10 minutes.

The NKE temperature sensor is used by the French social landlords, Habitat Toulouse to optimize the number of sensors necessary in energy-efficient refurbished homes. Energy Harvesting sensors also enable optimization of insulating works in a building with a sustainable development and energy efficiency purpose. In doing so, it plays an important part in designing buildings infrastructure and optimizing energy bills.

“The dynamic data rate provides the flexibility to run high-resolution sensing applications with private networks, or lower resolution monitoring applications, with the same products.” Jean-Luc Malaval, Deputy CEO, NKE Watteco

IN’O State report and output control sensor

Once NKE’s IN’O is plugged, it’s immediately ready to connect to the LoRaWAN network. It can pilot up to four different processes of the object monitored (heater or boiler for instance): on/off status, turn on/off, measure energy consumption and store energy data. The IN’O is fully configurable and among the lowest energy-consuming on the market (Class A), it was a perfect match in the Smart Grid Vendée deployment. Hundreds of them have been implemented by Actility in Western France’s public buildings such as schools, libraries, town halls…. These smart grid devices are very easy and flexible to control and command. For example, one can program the sensor to send a data frame every hour.

Smart plug

This smart plug can be connected to a mains outlet (230V/110V). It is used to control (switch on and off) a load connected to it and to measure the power consumption of this load. It allows measuring active and reactive power, voltage and mains frequency. This module can be set up directly on a power socket. Inside the smart plug is a switch allowing for remote control in order to let the power in or not.

More intelligence to consume less

The ZCL application layer intelligence from ZigBee, inside all NKE Watteco devices, means optimal flexibility and simplicity to deploy, control and manage them. Developers access to advanced standard semantics to control sensors. For example, you are able to configure a temperature sensor to advise you only when there is a 0.5°C difference instead of having the sensor communicate all the time that the temperature is stable. This software intelligence developed by NKE Watteco enables developers who are familiar with the ZigBee application layer to easily move to LoRaWAN™.

But ZCL has other very concrete benefits for end-customers: smarter sensors consume much less energy inducing huge operational cost savings. If your energy sensors communicate less and more relevantly, the need to replace them or their batteries is drastically reduced. All this while getting the relevant and granular data needed to reduce buildings energy consumption!

What is LoRa and LoRaWAN white paper techniical overview, benfits and use cases

Learn more about the LoRaWAN technology by downloading the Actility “What is LoRaWAN” white paper