FAQ

Background & Summary of Activities

It was formally established on December 9, 1997. It started out as a voluntary organization, but was made a general incorporated association in April 2014.

The ECHONET CONSORTIUM was established to develop and promote (standardize) next-generation home network systems to address the social needs for the 21st century.

By using ECHONET Lite to connect different manufacturers’ devices, we aim for a standard that can be used for energy saving, home security and home healthcare, remote control and monitoring of household appliances, and more.

ECHONET can be installed anywhere and is an easy-to-use and inexpensive system; it helps manufacturers deliver sophisticated home appliances needed for information-oriented society as well as user-friendly systems specifically designed for aging populations. Thus, ECHONET will address the needs for global environment protection and aging society.

It is an abbreviation of “Energy Conservation & Homecare Network.” ECHONET means a network that will realize energy conservation and home healthcare. ECHO also means a reflected sound; it is intended to carry the meaning of “to answer an appeal or to respond.”

Our activities involve compiling, publicly disclosing and promoting the use of specifications and standards for interoperability between home network devices.

We make no estimates of market size.

See the list of members on our website

See the explanation of the membership system on our website.

Organization

The Forums are a program where developers and those companies that want to start a new business using home networking can deepen their communications. They are intended to accelerate the development of practical technologies.

They are also qualified to take part in general meetings. If approved, they can join working groups.

  1. The Steering Committee has four WGs – Research; Intellectual Property Rights and Legal Issues; Certification; and International Standardization. These four WGs study important matters concerning the operation of the ECHONET CONSORTIUM.
  2. The Technical Committee has three WGs. The Systems Architecture WG studies the architecture of the network as a whole, the Smart EMS Study WG is involved in defining device objects, and the Interoperability WG studies issues related to interoperability.
  3. The Promotion Committee has three WGs that work to promote the use of ECHONET – the Activity Invigoration WG, the Publicity WG and the Liaison Study WG.

Members can participate in general meetings and the Forums, and are entitled to make requests to the consortium at any time regarding home network specifications during their development. Additionally, members can gain access to the up-to-date information at the development stage, so they can start up a home networking business early.

• Members can use ECHONET trademarks.
• View drafts and state opinions during the process of developing ECHONET specifications.
• Take part in forums held from time to time.
• Take part in PlugFest.
• Access the Members’ Area of the website and view the latest version of the Specification.
• Receive the newsletter.
 See the pamphlet for more details.

Though basically an independent private-sector body, our activity contributes to policies on smart grids, HEMS and other initiatives.

As standardization bodies, we participate in IEC and ISO/IEC JTC1. We also cooperate with the ZigBee Alliance, the WiSUN Alliance and others. Besides these, we have links with IGRS in China and KASH in South Korea, mainly through exchanges of information.

Development, Specifications & Licensing

Middleware, development support tools and maintenance tools are already being provided by several companies, but the ECHONET CONSORTIUM does not give introductions. Please contact the individual member companies.

Basically, only software development is required. Devices can be controlled by following the communication rules in the Specification. To make devices ECHONET-compliant, software must be developed in line with the Specification. In any case, some member companies provide development support, so please contact them directly.

The ECHONET CONSORTIUM will provide only ECHONET Specifications. Modules, chips and source codes will be offered by manufacturers.

The ECHONET CONSORTIUM will provide only ECHONET Specifications. Modules, chips and source codes will be offered by manufacturers.

We expect to revise the specification for ECHONET Lite protocol when necessary, while detailed requirements for device objects twice a year.

The Consortium itself does not own patents. The specifications for ECHONET Lite are transport-free, and so licenses are granted for various media individually.

Are there any restrictions for using the ECHONET Specification? Is licensing required? A manufacturer code is required when developing ECHONET-compatible products. Certification of compliance with the Specification is needed in order to mark products as ECHONET-compliant. Licenses are required in order to use ECHONET word-based or graphic trademarks.

Acquisition of manufacturer codes, certification of compliance with the Specification, and trademark licensing are all conditional upon ECHONET membership.

The Consortium does not put together patents related to ECHONET or ECHONET Lite Specifications for collective management or licensing. License agreements with the individual rights owners are required in order to use a patent relevant to the Specifications, but licensing between members is governed by RAND terms.

See the ECHONET Specification APPENDIX, Detailed Requirements for ECHONET Device Objects on the ECHONET website.

ECHONET Lite can also be used abroad, as it is a transport-free Specification. Commercialization is up to the judgment of each business, and so is outside the Consortium’s remit.

We are studying methods of achieving compatibility using adapters.

Device objects and other parts of the ECHONET Specification are already subject to international standard specifications, and the International Standardization WG is currently working on doing the same for the ECHONET Lite Specification. ECHONET Lite device objects were standardized under IEC62394 in September 2013, and the ECHONET Lite Specification was completely standardized in 2015. IEC62394 is currently under maintenance for consistency with the latest ECHONET Specification.

The Consortium cannot make watertight guarantees, but we are striving to improve certainty by holding PlugFests and other events. We are currently compiling interface specifications for eight priority devices (such as smart meters), in cooperation with various industry organizations.

Transmission Media

We expect to use existing media. For the ECHONET Lite Specification, media can be chosen freely up the 4th layer.

Networking

We define interface conditions so that device adapters prescribed by ECHONET can be used universally with all devices. Our aim is to minimize the burden on devices and enable various devices to be compatible with the network. However, since the actual devices depend on the manufacturers, this question is outside the Consortium’s remit.

This depends on each company’s response, and so is outside the Consortium’s remit.

We are now focusing on home networks. Possible transmission schemes include telephone lines, dedicated lines and radio communications, but we have not decided on any of them.

Yes, ECHONET will cover both buildings and shops, too, but only small-scale ones that can be seen as an extension of ordinary homes. There are standardization bodies for building systems and building management systems; so the ECHONET CONSORTIUM is not concerned about these systems.

Applications

For example, conceivable services include HEMS and BEMS to address global environment problems; home-care services to meet the needs of aging society; healthcare services; security services, etc.

A challenge is to save energy while maintaining comfort. Simulation shows that you can reduce the energy consumption of air conditioners and lighting apparatus by 10 to 20% by checking if anyone is in a room using human sensors.

For example, monitoring and control of air conditioners and lighting apparatus, and monitoring systems for showcases.

ECHONET Lite Specification Compliance Certification

When a company makes an application to acquire ECHONET Lite certification, it must have the same manufacturer code as the product in question. In other words, companies without a manufacturer code cannot apply for certification.

A company that is not a member of the ECHONET CONSORTIUM cannot have products certified.

The eligibility of the application documents is assessed and notified by the 10th working day after receiving the application. For further details, please contact a certification body directly.

Applications may be made electronically if the applicant declares that the application documents are based on original paper.

Please contact a certification body directly.

Currently, if only requiring certification for the ECHONET Lite Specification, the certification flow is that the authorized certification body (ECHONET) only carries out documentary screening, and does not conduct certification tests. However, if certification is sought for both the ECHONET Lite Specification and SMA for the product in question, third-party certification tests must be conducted via the authorized certification body (ECHONET) for the ECHONET Lite Specification as well.

In principle, we recommend using the latest Specification version, but products can also be developed and certified using an older Specification version.

For application forms, etc., please contact a certification body directly. Certification test specifications may be obtained from the Members’ Area on the Consortium website.

Since the certification is for products to be sold to ordinary consumers, certification cannot be obtained for evaluation boards or others aimed at developers.

Software packages consisting only of software that cannot provide the user with ECHONET Lite functions on its own, such as DLL, plug-ins, libraries or middleware, are not eligible for certification. For more details, see “Outline of Application for Specification Compliance Certification of ECHONET Lite (Self-certification)”.

This refers to the range of “ECHONET Lite Middleware” specified in the “ECHONET Lite Specification” (mainly Part 2).

Eight Priority Devices

No, but connecting a HEMS controller to a smart meter makes it possible to see the same power consumption data as the power company.

It is a protocol used when connecting smart meters to domestic HEMS controllers.

The Consortium only provides certification for ECHONET Lite. Please contact individual manufacturers for the release status, and the relevant power company for the enhancement status.

Basically, yes. However, as individual devices may behave differently depending on different manufacturers, we are currently studying ways of further increasing interoperability, in cooperation with various industry organizations.

Others

Home appliances include ceiling lights, downlights and air-conditioners, while for energy devices we have solar power systems, storage batteries, fuel cells, electric vehicle chargers and dischargers, and water heaters like Ecocute. A list of certified devices can be found on the website.

The ECHONET CONSORTIUM is not involved in commercialization. Please contact individual manufacturers directly.

The ECHONET CONSORTIUM does not operate anything like a model house

Please consult individual manufacturers for warranty periods and product service life. The ECHONET Lite Specification is compiled such that devices usable until now cannot become unusable.

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