The Lonworks Protocol

Lonworks is another communications protocol useful in building automation applications. The protocol was developed by the Echelon Corporation in the late 1990s. Lonworks originally transformed from Echelon’s earlier “Lontalk”, and was submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) for acceptance. Lonworks was designed on a low bandwidth platform for networking devices through powerlines, fiber optics, and other media.

The entire Lonworks package consists of the following components by the Echelon Corporation:

  • Lonworks – communications protocol (ANSI/EIA 709.1, and others).
  • Echelon’s “Neuron” chip (Three 8-bit inline processor). Two are used by Lonworks, and one as a general application processor.
  • Twisted-pair and/or powerline transceivers to transmit Lonworks protocol.
  • LNS Network Operating System is the required software.
  • Internet connectivity through Standard Network Variable Types (SNVTs) or with LonMark profiles.
  • LonMaker allows interoperability among devices.

Lonworks has various advantages and disadvantages. The advantages include:

  • Less architecture at the device level.
  • Numerous developers of Lonworks products in the market.
  • Lonworks devices are close to “plug & play” ability, but still far from achieving interconnectivity in today’s computers using Microsoft Windows.

The disadvantages of Lonworks are presented in the following list:

  • Less architecture causes controlled devices and variables to be connected to a separate control device. Most designers do not recommend this type of architecture because network interruptions could eventually produce system failures.
  • The protocol is proprietary, and not truly open to the public. Only actual members, mostly manufacturers are included in standard development(s).
  • Extensions within Lonworks are allowable only through the LonMark Consortium.
  • Hardware specific, and requires the Neuron chip for network movement of the protocol.

The Lonworks Protocol has been used in various products and major building projects such as the Boeing Assembly Facility at Long Beach, California.

  • The Boeing facility consists of an integrated system that handles numerous applications including security, lighting, safety, and many other systems using the LonWorks protocol. By doing this, the Boeing Company has saved tens of thousands of dollars annually. The lighting related products offered by Douglas Lighting Controls are an example of a specific product based on the Lonworks protocol.
  • The WPS-5921/5941 Outdoor Photo Sensors are compatible with Lonworks through a W-2000 network maintained by a WNP-2150 Network Manager. The difference between the two models is related to the number of wires and power connections. The WPS-5921/5941 models are used in building areas that need precise light level switching. The two models are considered durable, and resistant to harsh environments.

For more information on Lonworks

Written by: Scott Cosby

If you have any questions about Lonworks, or connecting Lonworks to your other devices feel free to contact us.
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© Chipkin Automation Systems 2007