Wireless microcontroller technology plays key role in energy efficiency

Paul Boughton
Wireless microcontrollers from silicon designer Jennic in Sheffield are being used to dramatically reduce power consumption in real world environments.

Jennic’s JN5139 wireless microcontroller unit is being used by Gloucestershire, UK-based electronics consultancy firm MicroWatt to give its KnowWatt energy monitoring systems reliable RF data links.

A system that was recently put into operation at the Retreat wine bar in Stroud has had a huge effect on reducing the business’ heavy electricity consumption levels. It has allowed the management to do in depth analysis on the bar’s electricity consumption throughout the day. This has led to the re-education of staff, making them aware of several uneconomical working practices, as well as identifying sources of wasted energy.

By using the KnowWatt system with multiple Jennic JN5139 MCUs, it has been possible to cut the Retreat’s overall power consumption by a figure of 1kWh (with a 40 per cent reduction in the electricity needed for its cellar operations). “With a greater number of installations of these monitoring systems taking place in the future, we expect most customers to be able to see a return on their investment within six to eight months,” said Simon Clegg, MicroWatt’s managing director.

The JN5139 is optimised for low power operation with a work rate of 3MIPS per mA of current. The device has a 32-bit RISC core, 192kB of ROM and 96kB of RAM. It incorporates a 4-input 12-bit analogue-to-digital converter, two 11-bit digital-to-analogue converters, and a temperature sensor within its 8x8mm, 56-lead, QFN package. The integrated 2.4GHz transceiver is fully compliant with the IEEE 802.15.4 communications standard, with support for bi-directional data transfer at rates of up to 250kb/s over a choice of 16 different channels. 

As a result of their contribution to the KnowWatt energy monitoring system Jennic microcontrollers are set to be featured in eco-village projects of the future.  These villages aim to be the template for how communities will live, and will be able to fully conform with the government’s goal that by the year 2016 all new homes built in the UK should be carbon neutral. 

 For more information, visit Www.jennic.com or www.microwatt.co.uk