Spanish scientists are concentrating on revolutionizing the smart meters’ market using wireless sensors that have software and hardware integrated within it. These newly developed sensors can take measures of relative humidity and temperature at every 60 seconds, and offer a guaranteed energy supply through photovoltaic microelements. The device is expected to reduce the cost barriers involved in the utilization of advanced sensors in buildings for the optimization of energy usage.
The newly developed wireless sensor consumes less power, can be programmed using software and is accurate and reliable in the long run besides having cost-effective procurement and installation. Additionally, the wireless sensor is scalable and networked, capable of fast data acquisition and does not require extensive maintenance.
A PV micro cell is the main source of energy and provides electricity along with a microprocessor [B1] to the wireless device. Data is transferred without any cables and battery, and the mean intensity offered by the microprocessor [B2] is 0.06mA.
Furthermore, upgradation of the embedded firmware is made possible in the field through the wireless network.
The PV microcell comprises of a monolithic photovoltaic solar cell chain, and when working in an environment of bright artificial light or in sunlight, the optical energy activates specific cells to produce a voltage at the output. Solar cells possess the ability to generate a floating current source that can activate logic gates and voltage integrated circuits. These cells can also provide maintenance charge [B3] for various power applications.
Smart meters are considered as digital electric meters that can gather data on energy use and safely send the data to the operations center and the control form. These smart meters can mainly be installed in zero energy buildings, i.e. ECC buildings that have net energy consumption almost close to zero in a year. However, the cost efficiency potential of these buildings is yet to be widely studied.
Actually, the zero energy buildings’ market does not have a cost-effective and dependable device that can measure and data log the various energy parameters in buildings.
The main challenge confronted by these devices is that they should be able to transfer data every minute without being affected by the absence of the sun. Since the device is constantly provided with tension, it can transfer regular data over the years.
Need of Sensors
Integration of sensors into machinery, structures, and the environment, together with the effective delivery of sensed information can provide remarkable benefits to society.
Controls and sensors have described the potential to decrease energy consumption in buildings by almost 20% to 30%. Incase of wire bundles, they are prone to connector failures and breakage, and long wire bundles represent a vital installation and long term maintenance cost. These limitations restrict the number of sensors that can be deployed in a building, and as a result decreases the overall quality of the data reported.
However, wireless sensing networks can eliminate this expenditure, and can also facilitate easy installation by eliminating the need of connectors. Cost-effective and non-invasive temperature and relative humidity sensors using wireless technology have been manufactured.
Obtaining accurate data demands the ability to integrate radio communications, sensors, and digital electronics into one integrated circuit package. This capability enables networks of extremely low cost sensors that can communicate with each other with the help of low power wireless data routing protocols.
An important feature of every single wireless sensing node is to reduce the need of energy storage and the power used by the system. If batteries are to be constantly changed, then widespread adoption of these devices will not take place.
By integrating PV microcells and smart sensors, maintenance free, long term, batteries and wires can be eliminated, which is what scientists from the School of Engineering Aeronautics and Space of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, member of the Computer Simulation Center, have managed.