ZF Electronic Systems (formerly known as CHERRY) is introducing a new line of switches that don’t need wired connections and do work wirelessly without batteries. Their power source is ultimately the physical actuation of the switch; in a very nice implementation of energy harvesting, that pit of motion translates into power through an innovative penny-size micro-dynamo within the body of the switch.
One benefit to designers is a much simplified ability to implement remote switches without the need to run connecting wires, which can simplify both product design and certifications. Compared to other wireless solutions, the ZF Electronic Systems energy-harvesting switches do not require periodic battery changes or even more frequent battery status checking, and there are none of the usual battery-related switch failure mode.
Inside the familiarly sized switch housing the micro-dynamo magneto-electric generator is joined by a controller, a digital modulator and a radio; the radio can be configured for many frequencies, including those common to home, office and plant automation systems.
The first of these switches are available in snap-action or rocker configurations and others can be produced to meet customer requirements. ZF Electronic Systems is also making its tiny generator available separately from these switched. They rate its mechanical life at 1,000,000 actuations and the energy it generates at a measured 0.33 mw (actuating and releasing). The RF transmission distance is rated up to 300 meters in open space, and up to 30 meters indoors with any type of obstruction.