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Linux-based home energy gateway supports ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0

Jan 31, 2012 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 118 views

Digi International announced a ZigBee-based home energy gateway that runs Linux on a Freescale i.MX28 processor. Compliant with the upcoming Smart Energy 2.0 standard, the “ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy” enables ZigBee devices on a Home Area Network (HAN) to communicate with an energy service provider, says the company.

The ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy is a low-cost, yet "enhanced" version of Digi's ZigBee Smart Energy Gateways, says the company. The device is compliant with Digi's own X-Grid Solutions standard, enabling connections to "numerous types of devices to enable a wide range of services," says the company. These are said to include utility meters, programmable communicating thermostats (PCTs), and in-home displays.

ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy

The user-installable ConnectPort X2e supports applications including demand response, energy efficiency, and consumer engagement, says Digi. The gateway can be controlled via utility-hosted websites designed for customer engagement, as well as directly by the customer via Digi's Android- and iPhone-compatible Smartlee application.

ConnectPort X2e in typical deployment

The ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy supports ZigBee Alliance Smart Energy Public Application Profile 1.1, and is backwards-compatible to version 1.0. In addition, with its Freescale i.MX28 processor, increased memory (64MB RAM), and Linux operating system, it is said to be capable of supporting the impending ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 standard, enabling over-the-air updates of connected Smart Energy devices, says Digi.

Version 2.0 is intended as more of alternative to version 1.1 rather than a replacement, according to the ZigBee Alliance. The soon-to-be-ratified standard adds support for IP-based control for advanced metering infrastructure and HANs, says the industry group.

ZigBee Smart Energy 2.0 supports all version 1.1 features, and also adds support for installation, configuration, and firmware download for HAN devices. Other new features include support for plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) charging, prepay services, user information and messaging, load control, and demand response, among other features.

Like other Digi Smart Energy gateways, the ConnectPort X2e incorporates the iDigi Device Cloud, which is designed to install and manage Smart Energy devices and let them securely integrate energy consumption data into compliant applications, says Digi. The Linux-based ConnectPort X2e is also said to be programmable in the iDigi application framework.

The 454MHz, ARM9-based i.MX28 processor is one of the options in a ZigBee-ready Freescale Home Energy Gateway (HEG) "smart grid" reference platform. It's unclear whether the ConnectPort X2e is directly based on the HEG, however. (The i.MX28 also appeared in a somewhat similar, ZigBee-enabled Freescale home health hub (HHH) reference platform announced in November.)

The ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy is available in a Coordinator version intended for stand-alone Smart Energy networks that lack smart meters, or in a Router version designed to read smart metering systems, says Digi. Both appear to share the same specs.

The 3.0 x 3.0 x 1.0-inch, 0.15-pound ConnectPort X2e device is equipped with 128MB flash in addition to its 64MB RAM, says Digi. A 10/100 Ethernet port is provided, along with an XBee ZB SMT ZigBee transceiver with 6.3 mW (+8 dBm) transmit power and -102 dBm receiver sensitivity, says the company.

The device is said to run on a 5 VDC power supply and consume a typical 1.2 Watts and a maximum 2.5 Watts. Operating range is said to run from 32 to 104 deg. F.

Stated Larry Kraft, senior vice president of global sales and marketing, Digi International, "Managing the device network is a significant barrier to Smart Grid adoption. To make widespread deployment a reality, the industry needs open architecture and lower-cost solutions for connecting large Smart Energy device deployments."


The ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy is available now, and a Wi-Fi version will be released in the second quarter, says Digi International. Professional services are available through Spectrum Design Solutions, Digi's wireless consulting group, says the company.

More information on the X2e may be found on Digi's ConnectPort X2e for Smart Energy product page.

Eric Brown can be reached at [email protected].

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