Indoor PV powered wireless touch-switch to control home, office equipment

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U.K. indoor PV specialist Lightricity has integrated its energy harvesting modules with a rechargeable lithium titanate (LTO) battery provided by Japan's Nichicon and ultra-low power components in a new touch-switch that can be used to control home and office equipment, such as turning on lights, opening and closing electronic doors, or activating appliances.

The two companies intend to bring to market a product based on the switch hardware platform in the next 12 months. “One significant advantage is the device is completely wireless and self-powering, but without the need for batteries offering the user easy installation, enhanced sustainability and reduced lifetime costs,” the spokesperson told pv magazine.

The platform, dubbed 4EverSwitch, measures 30 mm x 30 mm x 7 mm and looks like a conventional on/off switch, but it has low-power Bluetooth connectivity (BLE), a rechargeable LTO battery, and a tiny energy-harvesting PV panel that measures less than 5 mm x 5 mm.

A tap on the touchpad triggers a BLE signal which in turn triggers a remotely connected device, such as a lighting system, a door, or industrial machinery.

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Designers can choose a 4EverSwitch equipped with one of two Lightricity PV modules, either the 4 mm x 4 mm EXL4040 model or the 5 mm x 5 mm EXL5050 model. They operate in low to bright ambient lighting conditions, from 100 lux to 1000 lux.

The battery choices are either a Nichicon SLB03070LR35 0.35mAh unit or a medium capacity SLB03090LR80 0.8mAh. The Nichicon battery used in the device was specially developed for Internet of Things (IoT) applications, according to the manufacturers. It has “high power output required for wireless communications” and long lifetime features. It is meant to extend the operation of the device in cases where there is no light reaching the switch's PV panel. It reportedly can be charged even if the current from the PV unit is weak.

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