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  5. Japan-led New International Standard Published for ECHONET Lite* Application Communication Interface (AIF) Specifications

Japan-led New International Standard Published for ECHONET Lite* Application Communication Interface (AIF) Specifications

- To improve interconnectivity between home air conditioners and HEMS controllers -

September 23, 2020

The ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 (hereinafter referred to as the “JTC1”) published a new international standard for Application Communication Interface Specifications between Home Air Conditioners and HEMS** Controllers as proposed by Japan.

The publication of this Japan-led new international standard is expected to further expand the use of home air conditioners that meet the standard and facilitate the introduction of HEMS domestically and internationally, thereby contributing to worldwide energy efficiency and strengthening the competitive advantages of Japanese products in international markets.

1. Purpose and background

In order to improve interconnectivity of equipment that is manufactured by different manufacturers, ECHONET Lite AIF specifications define the operations and behaviors that are specific to each kind of equipment, and comply with the international standards for ECHONET Lite.

In Japan, AIF specifications were stipulated as the industry standard targeting eight priority HEMS devices*** (see the Figure) and the third-party certification program began. However, efforts for making the AIF specifications into an international standard have been made**** in order to ensure global interconnectivity with the aim of further disseminating HEMS in Japan (or enabling the use of overseas devices in conformity with the AIF specifications in Japan) and expanding exports of Japanese HEMS devices.

Notes:

*1. The term “ECHONET Lite” refers to communication standards under which household communication networks allow interconnectivity of a variety of IoT home appliances, housing facilities and facilities for generating and storing energy that are manufactured by different companies; International standards have already been published for the ECHONET Lite Specification and the Detailed Requirements for ECHONET Device Objects.

**2. The term “HEMS” is an acronym for “Home Energy Management System.”

***3. These eight devices are: air conditioners, photovoltaic power generators, storage batteries, lighting equipment, water heaters, fuel cells, smart meters and chargers-dischargers for electric vehicles; Domestic shipments of air conditioners conforming to ECHONET Lite for FY2019: 6.68 million units (the percentage of those with AIF certification: 52.3%)

****4. Expenses for commissioning the Project Promoting Acquisition and Dissemination of International Standards Concerning Energy Efficiency (International Standardization of ECHONET Lite AIF Specifications) for FY2017 through FY2019, etc.

 

Among the eight priority HEMS devices, air conditioners generally account for large percentages in household energy consumption, for which energy-saving effects through energy management are conspicuous, and they are normally used also in foreign countries. Therefore, Japan made a proposal concerning the AIF specifications between home air conditioners and HEMS controllers, and the Special Working Group of the ISO/IEC JTC 1 (JTC 1/SC 25 - Interconnection of information technology equipment) commenced deliberations concerning the first standard for AIF specifications in September 2017 as proposed by Japan.

As a result, the following international standard was published on June 22, 2020: “ISO/IEC14543-4-301: 2020 Information technology - Home Electronic System (HES) architecture - Part-4-301: Application protocols for home air conditioners and controllers.”

2. Details of the standard

The international standard for AIF specifications that was published this time defines not only communications protocols but also communication-related operations and behaviors of devices in order to secure interconnectivity and reliability of such equipment in connecting home air conditioners and HEMS controllers. As a result, it has become possible for a HEMS controller to detect, identify and control home air conditioners within the same network. Even when a user operates a home air conditioner with an infrared remote control, a HEMS controller can accurately ascertain the status of the home air conditioner. (Also with regard to devices other than home air conditioners, the industry standards concerning their AIF specifications have been established respectively (planned to be made into international standards sequentially), and a HEMS controller can control those devices within the same network and can ascertain their statuses.)

3. Expected effects

The publication of this international standard is expected to further expand the use of home air conditioners that can correspond to HEMS in and outside Japan. Additionally, deliberations are underway for a proposal concerning an international standard for the AIF specifications for storage batteries or other home devices that can supply energy, with the aim of developing an environment for facilitating the dissemination of HEMS devices both from the perspective of better using electricity and the perspective of storing electricity. Such efforts are expected to facilitate diverse forms of energy use at home using HEMS (combined use of devices for conservation, storage and creation of energy), not limited to decreasing energy consumption. In Japan, nearly half of shipped air conditioners conforming to ECHONET Lite conform to this international standard (have acquired certification), and it is expected that the increased introduction of HEMS on a global scale will strengthen the competitive advantages of Japanese products, such as air conditioners, and will expand markets of related service businesses.

Division in Charge

International Electrotechnology Standardization Division, Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau