With the Power-over-Ethernet 802.3at standard, utilizing all four pairs, a single ELL-i node may provide up to 50 Watts of electrical power over standard Ethernet cabling parallel to data communication for distributed processing applications. Given the electrical capabilities of typical Ethernet cables, we believe that in the near future it will be possible to deliver up to 100 Watts of power. Our long term goal is to extend the ELL-i platform to support also other types of existing cabling, and even higher amounts of electrical power.
The Power-over-Ethernet is based on 48V direct current (DC) electricity, which is ideal for powering modern electrical devices, such as smartphones, tablets, laptops, or DC current light fixtures, all of which would normally require a separate AC/DC mains adapter to provide power for the device. With ELL-i, a central, efficient AC/DC converter is used at a PoE switch or hub, converting the mains power to a 48V direct current. Close to the actual point of use, an ELL-i node adapts the 48V to the desired lower voltage; for example, the 5V used by the USB standard.
The used 48V system is ideal for the maker community, as its installation does not require any license and at 48V volts one can provide much more power over existing cables than, for example, at 5V. The modern DC/DC SMPS power supplies are typically very efficient (e.g. up to 96-98% with a fixed load); their power losses are very small. Overall, an ELL-i system may save up to 30% energy and quite lot of materials due to the much smaller material consumption of the DC/DC converters compared to the typical AC/DC adaptors.
In ELL-i, a single cable is used for transmitting both power and data, at a very affordable price, providing large savings in cabling costs. Each device on the ELL-i network is automatically equipped with an IP address and access to the Ethernet network, with all of its usual benefits, including up to 1 Gbps data transmission speeds. However, we expect that a large majority of the ELL-i applications will work just fine with the old 10 Mbps Ethernet standard, allowing us to use readily available inexpensive components. Compared to the currently available Ethernet-over-Powerline solutions, the ELL-i nodes are much smaller and use much less energy.
Each ELL-i node is equipped with a powerful (48 Mhz) 32-bit microcontroller. The microcontroller is available for building intelligent applications that communicate in real-time with other nodes, transmit data such as audio or video, and manage autonomously electrical devices that are coupled with the node. These applications are written in C-language and have direct access to intranet and internet communication services over the same cable that provides electricity to the microcontroller.
Overall, the goal of ELL-i is to create an affordable open platform that provides 100 Watts of electrical power, 100 Mbps of communication capacity, up to 100 meters. The initial CPU provides 48 ARM MIPS, but we expect this figure to grow to 100 MIPS soon.