You are on page 1of 5

2012 IEEE International Symposium on Power Line Communications and Its Applications

Applications of RFID Over Power Line for Smart Grid

Takanori Washiro
Technical Development Group, Sony Corporation, Tokyo, JAPAN
AbstractEasily installable and highly reliable data communications over power line is a requirement to make Smart Grid more convenient and useful than fixed grid systems. Therefore RFID (Radio-Frequency IDentification) over Power Line technology was developed. Unlike conventional RFID carrying data wirelessly by antenna, radio-frequency signals for identification and payment runs through the power line in Smart Grid. The appliances embedded with IC card chips are detected and identified when their electrical plug connectors are inserted into the outlets in the electrical grid equipped with reader/writers. This system has the potential to revolutionize the usage of Power Line Communications with applications such as automatic identification, power control, and payment/ticketing through the power lines. Keywords-RFID; PLC; NFC; Smart Grid; EV; Automatic identification; Automatic payment

An RFID tag chip or contactless IC card chip is embedded in an appliance and is connected to the power line. It holds written data and thus holds identity information. The RFID tag chip or contactless IC card chip is read by a reader/writer connected to the power line in Smart Grid. The reader/writer transmits scanned signals into the power line, and scans an area of Smart Grid continuously. When the plug (connector) of the appliance is inserted to the electrical outlet (i.e. when the appliance joins Smart Grid), the IC chip is activated by electromagnetic waves transferred from the reader/writer, and the high-speed data transmission is induced. The typical RFID over Power Line system is shown in Figure 2.
Suppliers Identification Demand response support Dynamic pricing Scheduling and control of loads Smart strip Communications equipment Reader / writer Power meter Relay switch Coupling circuit RFID IC chip Consumers Monitoring Control Payment



RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) or contactless IC card technology is widely used throughout the world. With its high-security system, it is used in a wide variety of ways such as cashless payments [1], ticketing systems for public transportation [2], and residential door keys. Today, whether at train stations or in convenience stores, we can see people enjoying the ease of making payments simply by holding an IC card over a reader/writer. RFID over Power Line is the applied technology of conventional RFID, NFC (Near Field Communication), or contactless IC card. It is also Power Line Communication transferring high frequency signals of RFID over power line to detect appliances which are connected to the electrical grid and to pick up their encrypted data as shown in Figure 1.
Electrical grid Appliance


Figure 2. Typical RFID over Power Line system

RF signal Coupling circuit Coupling circuit

RFID reader

RFID IC chip

The radio frequency signal runs through the power line; therefore, it is not necessary to "show" or bring close the appliance with the IC chip to the reader/writer in Smart Strip. Smart Strip sends a polling signal to the power line periodically. Once the plug of the appliance is inserted, identification transaction is completed in approximately 0.1 sec. Identification data of appliances can be read from several 10s of meters away only if it is connected to the Smart Strip via the power line. Therefore, even if there is an extension cable between Smart Strip and appliances, IC card data is accessible. Some anti-collision protocols and algorithms for RFID have been proposed in [3], [4], and [5]. The application of bulk reading enables an almost-concurrent reading of ID data of some appliances in Smart Grid by one reader/writer. In order to build RFID over Power Line system, RFID IC chips or contactless IC card chips need to be embedded in each appliance. Three methods to add IC chips are proposed in Figure 3.

Identification server

Figure 1. Principle of RFID over Power Line

978-1-4673-0361-3/12/$31.00 2012 IEEE


The diagram (A) in Figure 3 shows the ideal way of embedding RFID IC chips into appliances. The size of the coupling circuit and contactless IC card chip is small enough to be placed into many kinds of appliances, and the cost is low. But it is not easy to add this IC chip to all existing appliances on the market. So a second way is proposed: Contactless IC card is in the adapter; users can connect the adapter to their appliances, and they can write the users ID or appliances ID information in it as shown in diagram (B). The third way is a method to make good use of existing contactless IC cards, as suggested in diagram (C). The antenna is connected to the power line via a coupling circuit, and when users insert their IC card in it, the reader/writer behind the electrical grid communicates with the users card.

As with these standards, RFID over Power Line system is able to handle e-money (electronic money) and realize automatic payment through the power line. For example, the FeliCa system has achieved ISO/IEC 15408 EAL4/EAL4+ security level, conforming to the international criteria to measure the security level of a system. Important data such as the remaining balance of the card, information for e-money or personal authentication are protected from malicious attacks. Its highly reliable security is taken over by adopting FeliCa chip in RFID over Power Line system, II. ARCHITECTURE OF RFID OVER POWER LINE

RFID over Power Line system consists of at least one Smart Strip with reader/writer and one or more appliances with ID data in their IC chips. A. Smart Strip A diagram of our prototype of Smart Strip is shown in Figure 2. The reader/writer module (UF-S956S (WS)) is adopted in it. Specifications of the reader/writer are shown in Table I. The antenna is removed, and RF output/input port is connected to the power line via coupling circuit.
TABLE I. SPECIFICATIONS OF READER/WRITER UF-S956S(WS) ISO / IEC 18092 NFC IP-1, ISO14443 Type-A / Type-B 13.56 MHz ASK Manchester encoding system FeliCa: 212 kbps / 424 kbps ISO / IEC 14443: 106 kbps

Coupling circuit Contactless IC card chip Adapter Appliance

Coupling circuit Contactless IC card chip

Communication standard Carrier frequency Modulation method Bit coding Communication speed


Coupling circuit

Contactless IC card chip

Figure 3. Three ways of embedding IC chip in an appliance

Smart Strip contains a power meter, relay, and a communications unit. Smart Strip makes a real-time measurement of power consumption and records the data with ID information of the connected apparatus. As the result, even if the connection status of apparatus changes, Smart Strip recognizes it automatically, and can acquire the data about which device consumed how much power, when, and where for each connected apparatus. Smart Strip communicates with users GUI (Graphic User Interface) devices and suppliers data server by ZigBee, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or PLC. So users can monitor and control the apparatus, and suppliers can manage the demand responses, dynamic pricing, and scheduling of loads, according to the data collected by Smart Strip. GUI Software displays data of all objects scanned within a designated area. RFID over Power Line system can inform users of all the connected appliances in/out status as well as locations and conditions. B. Integration of RFID chips in appliances RFID inside appliances contains two parts: one is an integrated circuit (IC) for storing and processing information, modulating and demodulating radio-frequency (RF) signals; the other is a coupling circuit to receive and transfer RF signals over power line and avoid IC damage from high voltages. The coupling circuits for Smart Strip and appliances are shown in

RFID tag chips or contactless IC card chips can be read passively through the power line, i.e. authentication can be done regardless of whether electricity is supplied to the power line network or not. Therefore, RFID over Power Line realizes a security gate of the electricity, which supply electricity only after confirming the connected apparatus has the right to use it, and does not supply electricity when it does not. Conventional IC chips, reader/writers, and the backbone identification/payment server network can be used in RFID over Power Line system. RFID in HF 13.56MHz band is the leading candidate for this application, because the majority of applications around ticketing with smart cards have been developed in this frequency band. For example, ISO/IEC 18092 NFC, ISO14443 Type-A/Type-B, and Sonys FeliCa [6] are implementations applicable for this system.


Figure 4. They consist of a primary resonance circuit, a secondary resonance circuit, and a band-pass filter. Each resonance circuit is designed to meet the following resonance condition (1) and (2). The resonance frequency is 13.56MHz. is the inductance of the first coil, and is the inductance of the second coil of the coupled inductors. The capacitance can be omitted when RFID tag chip or contactless IC card chip includes it. In order to avoid the IC from being damaged by low frequency / high voltage power supplies, the band-pass filter is needed, and it is designed to meet (3). (1) (2) (3)

C. Operation Smart Strip turns off the relay, does not output power and sends polling signal in the power line in standby state. Once the plug of the appliance is inserted into the outlet, Smart Strip identifies it, turns on the relay inside, and begins to measure the power consumption. Smart Energy Gateway collects the data from Smart Strip and shows current and historical energy consumption on GUI display. When the appliance is taken away from Smart Strip, i.e. when the reader/writer cannot recognize the ID data anymore, Smart Strip turns off the relay and stops the power measurement. The services using the consumers data stored on SE can be realized as follows. It can provide secure and convenient prepayment of electricity and other utilities. It is possible that some memory space for SE is leased to other suppliers such as credit card companies, electric companies, and electric appliance retail stores. In such case, the appliance makers will receive the rent. Various added services built on SE may generate substantial profits. Analysis of the usage history and cooperation with the life log may bring meaningful information for advertisers and retail stores, and increase their sales. Establishing revenue sharing from these types of schemes will be a new business model. D. Structural advantages for wider adoption Low cost and short development time are needed to build RFID over Power Line system in order to use the existing RFID IC chips, reader/writer, and authentication/payment network. RFID systems have already been widely adopted. ICs have become small and low cost enough to be installed into any electrical device. The RFID over Power Line System can be used with previous infrastructures such as the FeliCa Ports and software development products. Any effect on other wireless systems is limited because the RFID over Power Line system only uses a single carrier of 13.56MHz. In addition, appliances are passive devices just like contactless IC cards, therefore, they do not emit microwave signal on their own. No preset is needed for installation, i.e. Plug and Play is accomplished. III. APPLICATIONS OF RFID OVER POWER LINE

FeliCa Lite (RC-S965) IC chip is used in the prototype as RFID tag chip. The RC-S965 supports Type 3 tag operation, as defined by the NFC Forum [7]. Specifications of RC-S965 are shown in Table II. FeliCa IC chip can handle the data called SE (Secure Element) which is the core information of mobile payments. The data includes a credit card number, history of the electricity usage (and payment), the appliances (or personal) identification ID, coupons, and the rewarded card information, in other words, all the data of consumers. Using an embedded SE in the appliances increase customer privacy, at the same time providing the necessary level of accessibility for installation and technical services.


Contactless IC card chip

C1 L1b


Primary resonance circuit

C1 L1b


L2b L2a C2 C3 L3 C3 Band pass filter L3 Secondary resonance circuit

L2b L2a C2 C3 L3 C3 L3

Smart Strip


There are three distinctive features of RFID over Power Line. The first is passive communication. The data in the IC chip embedded in the appliances can be read regardless of whether electricity is supplied to them or not by the electrical grid. The second is quick reaction. Once the power lines are physically connected, identification transaction can be done within 0.1 second. The third is Plug and Play. No preset is needed to join Smart Grid for appliances. These features allow RFID over Power Line system to be easily deployed to work with a wide variety of applications.

Figure 4. Coupling circuit TABLE II. Communication standard Operation frequency Modulation method Bit coding Communication speed User memory SPECIFICATIONS OF RFID CHIP FeliCa Lite Chip (RC-S965) ISO / IEC 18092 (212 kbps passive mode) 13.56 MHz ASK Manchester encoding system 212 kbps 14 blocks (1 block is equal to 16 bytes)


A. Security gate of Smart Grid The electrical outlets with the security gate only allow membership appliances to use the electricity. If RFID over Power Line technology is adopted in the outlet for EV (Electric Vehicle) charging, the outlet authenticates the car via charging cable, and then the internal relay turns on and starts charging the battery of the pre-registered EV. If the car is not authenticated, the relay remains being off, and the EV cannot charge its battery. Car theft is a major problem in many countries. RFID over Power Line system is also useful for vehicle registration and law enforcement. ID information read through the charging cable can help detect and retrieve stolen cars. B. Automatic output power control of electrical outlet Appliances or EV can hold specification information about their power supply (frequency, voltage, availability for fast charge system, and so on) in their IC chips. At first, Smart Strip turns off an internal relay and does not output electricity. When appliances are connected to Smart Strip, it consults their specification by RFID over Power Line technology. According to the information, Smart Strips automatically arranges the output power by voltage and frequency transformer, then turns on the internal switch and begins to supply the power. Through the charging cable, the history of the EV battery charging can be written in the IC embedded in the EV. When the charging cable is connected to the charging stand, it reads the records and estimates the current state of the battery, and then controls the output power from the charger to be able to charge under optimal conditions. C. Payment and ticketing for EV IC chip in an EV holds e-money. When the car is parked at the parking lot, the only one thing the owner of the car should do is to connect a cable to the charging stand and charge the battery. A measurement of the parking time begins when the connection is detected; the electric bill and parking fee are paid through a charging cable from e-money automatically depending on the amount of the electricity consumed and parking time. At a membership charging stand, only the EV which has eticket in their IC chip can use the electricity. The e-ticket is distributed in offices, hospitals, and stores for their parking lot. IV. MEASUREMENT

sharing. There is a relay and a power meter for each slave stand in master charging stand, and that is commanded by the controller. An antenna is connected to the power line in slave stand. RF signal is transferred to both of the antenna and the electrical outlet, therefore not only embedded IC chip can be accessed via charging cable but also contactless IC cards can be read at the slave stand. The slave charging stand is activated and begins to supply electricity by authentication via a contactless IC card or IC chip embedded in EV. The cable/wireless hybrid authentication system is thought to be particularly useful during the transition period for spreading RFID over Power Line system.
Payment Server Communication Unit Controller Reader / Writer RF Switch Electrical Grid Power meter (1) Relay switch (1) (1)

Power meter (2)

Relay switch (2)


Power meter (3)

Relay switch (3)


Power meter (4)

Relay switch (4) Master Charging Stand



Contactless IC card

Slave Charging Stand (1)

Contactless IC card chip Antenna

Slave Charging Stand (4)


Figure 5. Diagram of EV Charging Stand Prototype

RFID low-frequency (LF: 125134.2 kHz and 140148.5 kHz) tags and high-frequency (HF: 13.56 MHz) tags can be used globally without a license. These frequencies are known as the ISM bands (Industrial Scientific and Medical bands). The prototype of the charging stand for EV was made by adopting 13.56MHz contactless IC card system. The diagram of the prototype is shown in Figure 5. One reader/writer and controller is in a master charging stand, which will command up to four slave stands. The RF switch changes connection in turn among the four lines; one reader/writer watches the status of four terminals by time

The system consists of an RFID part and a PLC part. By employing this prototype, parameters related to the Japanese regulation of RFID and PLC were measured as follows. A. Carrier Frequency Measured Carrier Frequency was 13.559883MHz. The target is 13.56MHz. The gap from the target is -117Hz, and the deviation -8.66ppm is lower than the limit as shown in Table III. B. Spectrum of output signal Spectrum of output signal during the standard encoding examination signal (a binary PN signal according ITU-T O.150) is transmitted consecutively, is shown in Figure 6.


C. Spurious Output Power Measured spurious output power is 0.1uW at 27MHz as shown in Table III. D. Electric field Strength Electric field Strength was measured at 10m apart from the antenna of the prototype. During the measurement, the reader was set to output maximum power at the highest rate. The measurement results are shown in Table III. E. Conductive Noise Operating frequency of the prototype is 13.56MHz. The sizes of the PLC devices are shorter than the wavelength at the frequency. Therefore, the common-mode current at the indoor power line is the major source of the electromagnetic interference wave. The conductive noise current through the indoor power line was measured in the neighborhood of the main body of the charging stand. The prototype is connected to ISN (Impedance Stabilization Network) when it is in communication state; connected to AMN (Artificial Mains Network) when it is in non-communication state. The LCL (Longitudinal Conversion Loss) of the ISN is 16dB. Measured common-mode current is shown in Table III. QP means quasipeak detection, Av is average. The measurement value of the common-mode current is under the noise floor in noncommunication state as shown in Table III.
TABLE III. MEASUREMENT RESULT RFID Deviation of the Carrier Frequency 13.553MHz 13.567MHz 13.41MHz 13.553MHz, 13.567MHz Electric 13.71MHz Field Intensity 13.11MHz (at 10m) 13.41MHz, 13.71MHz 14.01MHz Others Spurious Output Power Measurement -8.66ppm (13.559883 MHz) 22.85dBuV/m (13.559883MHz) 16.70dBuV/m (13.567001MHz) Limit 50ppm 93.54dBuV/m

electrical outlet; payment and ticketing for EV, have been shown and discussed. Finally, test measurement data has been introduced from the regulatory point of view of RFID and PLC in Japan.
20 10 0 11 11.5 12 12.5 13 13.5 14 14.5 RBW=3kHz Peak Detector 15 15.5 16

Output Power [dBm]

-10 -20 -30 -40 -50 -60 -70 -80 -90

Frequency [MHz]

Figure 6. Spectrum of output signal

The difference between conventional RFID and RFID over Power Line consists of the way to transfer the RF signal. Conventional RFID sends data wirelessly by means of an antenna, whereas RFID over Power Line transfers data via power line without an antenna. Both of them can use the same IC, reader/writer module, an identification/payment network. By using existing RFID technology on power line, easily installable and highly reliable communications are realized in Smart Grid. The system will enable secure bi-directional communications between appliances and consumers, as well as between appliances and utilities. Cost-effective RFID over Power Line solutions tailored specifically for electricity market needs can also be implemented enabling secure pre-payment via power line for personal energy management.


15.59dBuV/m (13.348230MHz) 13.16dBuV/m (12.92411MHz) 0.10839uW (27.12MHz) Measurement QP: 16.5dBuA Av: 14.8dBuA (13.560MHz) QP: < 5dBuV Av: < 5dBuV


43.52dBuV/m 50uW PLC Limit QP: 30dBuA Av: 20dBuA QP: 60dBuV Av: 50dBuV

[1] L. Izabela, R. Biljana, L. Dejan, Contactless payment systems based on RFID technology MIPRO, 2010 Proceedings of the 33rd International Convention, 2010, pp. 11141119. Y. Shirakawa, JR East contactless IC card automatic fare collection system "Suica" Proceedings. 7th IEEE International Symposium on High Assurance System Engineering, 2002, pp. 3-10. J. Vales-Alonso, V. Bueno-Delgado, E. Egea-Lopez, F. J. GonzalezCastano, J. Alcaraz, Multiframe Maximum-Likelihood Tag Estimation for RFID Anticollision Protocols, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics, vol. 7, 2011, pp. 487-496. Wen-Tzu Chen, An Accurate Tag Estimate Method for Improving the Performance of an RFID Anticollision Algorithm Based on Dynamic Frame Length ALOHA, IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering, vol. 6, 2009, pp. 9-15. N. Karmakar, RFID AntiCollision Algorithms with MultiPacket Reception, Handbook of Smart Antennas for RFID Systems, 2010, pp.571-585


Conductive Noise (Communication) 2MHz-15MHz Conductive Noise (Non-communication) 5MHz-15MHz





This paper presents a new way of automatic identification, power control, and payments over power line in Smart Grid. Concepts of RFID over Power Line technology have been introduced, which opens up new possibilities for Smart Grid featuring small cost and short development time. Examples of applications of RFID over Power Line technology; security gate of Smart Grid; automatic output power control of

[6] [7]