LonWorks is a networking platform specifically created to address the unique performance, reliability, installation, and maintenance needs of control applications. The platform is built on a low bandwidth protocol created by Echelon Corporation for networking devices over media such as twisted pair, powerlines, fiber optics, and RF. It is popular for the automation of various functions within buildings such as lighting and HVAC; see Intelligent building.
Manufacturers in a variety of industries including building, home, transportation, utility, and industrial automation have adopted the platform as the basis for their product and service offerings. To date, thousands of companies have built products and applications on top of the platform, performing such diverse functions as embedded machine control, municipal and highway street lighting, heating and air conditioning systems, intelligent electricity metering, subway train control, stadium lighting and speaker control, security systems, fire detection and suppression, and newborn location monitoring and alarming.
The platform has its origins with chip designs, power line and twisted pair signalling technology, routers, network management software, and other products from Echelon Corporation NASDAQ: ELON. In 1999 the communications protocol (then known as LonTalk) was submitted to ANSI and accepted as a standard for control networking (ANSI/EIA709.1-B). Echelon's power line and twisted pair signalling technology was also submitted to ANSI for standardization and accepted. Since then, ANSI/EIA709.1 has been accepted as the basis for IEEE 1473-L (in-train controls), AAR Electro-pneumatic braking systems for freight trains, IFSF (European petrol station control), SEMI (semiconductor equipment manufacturing), and in January 2005 as prEN14908 (European building automation, preliminary standard). The protocol is also one of data link/physical layers of the BACnet ASHRAE/ANSI standard for building automation.
The LonWorks platform also has an affiliated IP tunnelling standard, EIA-852, in use by a number of manufacturers to connect the devices on previously deployed and new LonWorks based networks to IP aware applications or remote network management tools.
The ANSI/EIA709.1 standard document is available from ANSI and reference implementations are available online for porting the protocol to a variety of processors. Alternatively, the protocol is available in silicon from a number of suppliers either as stand-alone ICs or as a combined IC/transceiver.