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EnOcean or LoRaWAN: Which IoT protocol is right for your smart building project?

From communication range and type of sensor, to data transmission, and energy consumption, there’s a lot to consider when choosing your Internet of Things (IoT) protocol. In this article, we set out the key considerations to help you understand the main differences between low-power wireless IoT protocols, EnOcean and LoRaWAN.

 

What is an IoT protocol?

When you install wireless sensors, they need to send their data to the network. An IoT protocol is a communication system to transmit information from sensors to a network. A protocol allows the sensors and receivers to ‘talk’ to each other in the same language. And when multiple devices are connected via the protocol, this forms an ‘IoT network’.

 

Top three differences:

EnOceanLoRaWAN
Energy consumption
Ultra-low power wireless and energy harvesting.Ultra-low power wireless battery.
Communication range
Short range with 30-100 foot indoor range in line of sight. (Use of strategically placed gateways could maximise this.)Long range (2-3km).
Data rates and transmission
With a data rate of 124kbps, data goes to a gateway which can send it directly to a cloud.With a data rate of 50kbps, data goes to a LoRaWAN network server (often The Things Network) then to an application server/cloud.

EnOcean: short-range, energy-harvesting and maintenance free

In a nutshell: EnOcean is revolutionising IoT by creating the world’s first wireless protocol, which is capable of running off small amounts of energy, based on natural energy-harvesting principles, so that even a battery becomes obsolete.

EnOcean is a very popular option for IoT device manufacturers, like Pressac. It provides all of the key features (connectivity, range, security) that we look for and, as an open-industry standard, it allows high interoperability.

Energy consumption: With energy consumption a big factor in decision making, EnOcean leads the way here, as it is geared to wireless sensors with ultra-low power consumption. These are energy harvesting, drawing energy from their surroundings, such as motion, light or temperature differences.

The EnOcean protocol only requires about 0.12 μWs to securely transmit one bit of information over a distance of 30-100 feet indoors. A conventional wireless radio, powered by an electrodynamic generator, would need 100 times the actuating force of an EnOcean switch, and a conventional wireless sensor in a living room would need a solar cell 100 times the size. This principle enables maintenance-free electronic control systems.

Communication range: The EnOcean Wireless Standard in sub 1GHz is optimised for use in buildings, as a radio range of 30m indoors is possible. It is especially suited for office applications, where devices are located in a smaller area.
Some of the best protocols for many installations are in the sub-1 GHz band. This means the protocol transmits data using radio waves with a frequency of less than one GHz. These waves will penetrate further, reflecting less in a building than 2.4 GHz signals.

This is particularly useful for IoT devices. The 868 MHz band, one of the bands used by EnOcean, falls into this category and generally provides more reliable signal transmission as a result.

Data transmission: Data goes to a gateway which can send it directly to a cloud, relieving you of any data transmission fees and ensuring greater data governance.

 

LoRaWAN: proprietary, long range, and low powered

In a nutshell: LoRaWAN (short for ‘Long Range’) is a proprietary technology, open global standard, defined and controlled by the LoRa Alliance, a non-profit organisation. One of the main differences is that, while EnOcean is a short-range IoT protocol aimed at connecting a number of devices in close proximity, LoRaWAN focuses on wide-area networks.

Ultra-low powered: While LoRaWAN is ultra-low powered, it does require your sensors to have a battery installed and isn’t energy harvesting like EnOcean, so incurs maintenance at some point.

Communication range: While LoRaWAN has an exceptionally long range, LoRaWAN sends data to a network server, which could impose a subscription cost in order for you to access it. Although this tends to be low, your data is going to someone else’s cloud first.

Due to its long range, LoRaWAN is the preferred choice for deploying a large number of sensors at long distances in smart cities. Its use of unlicensed radio makes it the perfect choice for city-wide environmental sensors, streetlamp control and monitoring, basic control units for agricultural farms and monitoring of small objects.

Data transmission: Data is sent to a the LoRaWAN network server first, which could impose a subscription cost in order for you to access it. Although this tends to be low, your data is going to someone else’s cloud first – which could mean a potential data governance issue.

 

Pressac and EnOcean

At Pressac, we currently use EnOcean, mainly due to its ultra-low power consumption and energy-harvesting technology which allows for long battery life or battery-free connected products. Plus, it offers the ability to send data straight to the cloud using our smart gateway, removing additional costs to the end user.

You can find out more about Pressac’s sensors here.

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