In a groundbreaking development, a researcher from the University of Alberta’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering has unveiled a batteryless wireless light switch that has the potential to slash home wiring costs by up to 50 percent.
Wireless light switches have long been known to reduce material and labor costs in house wiring. However, the conventional models have a significant drawback—they rely on batteries, leading to inconvenience and increased maintenance for homeowners. Kambiz Moez, the director of electrical engineering, has addressed this challenge by introducing a batteryless wireless switch that harvests energy from ambient sources, specifically radio frequency signals.
Moez’s system is distinct because it operates without batteries, making it highly practical for widespread adoption. In contrast to the inconvenience of replacing batteries in numerous switches throughout a house, Moez’s design envisions one or two radio frequency power transmitters on each floor, efficiently powering all the switches within the home.
The cost-effectiveness of the innovation is underscored by the fact that Moez has successfully developed a prototype switch costing less than one dollar. The system’s scalability, ease of replication, and adaptability to meet the unique needs of homeowners, contractors, and regulators make it a promising solution for the current housing crisis in Canada.
The wireless switch goes beyond mere convenience, incorporating temperature, humidity, and occupancy sensors. This additional feature offers the potential to significantly reduce energy consumption by enabling more efficient control of heating and lighting in different sections of a home. Moez envisions a seamlessly automated system that turns lights on and off as occupants move from room to room, preventing unnecessary energy usage, lowering energy bills,, and reducing carbon emissions.
The system aligns with Alberta’s progressive stance on wireless electricity control in new homes, introduced in 2018. With the housing crisis intensifying in Canada, Moez’s innovation has the potential to play a pivotal role in reducing construction costs and facilitating affordable housing solutions.
Looking ahead, Moez aims to establish a spinoff company or collaborate with an established entity capable of mass production. Incubation funding from the CMHC Housing Supply Challenge has already been secured to develop a proof-of-concept prototype, with the potential for up to $3 million more if the company succeeds in the next phase of the competition.
The Housing Supply Challenge, with its $300 million commitment over five years, is a crucial catalyst for supporting and advancing innovations that address housing supply barriers.