Get to Know Our Industry Terms, Part 2

A Handy List of In-Room Energy Management Industry Terms, Part 2

Based on the numerous questions we receive and conversations we have with customers, we’ve compiled a handy list of industry terms. In this post, we present communication protocol terms.

API Technology

An API (Application Programming Interface) enables an application from one company to “talk” to an application from another company. 

As an analogy, imagine you’re in a restaurant and a waiter takes your order. That waiter is like an API. He gives your order to the chef in the kitchen. That chef prepares your food. Then your API waiter serves you the meal you ordered. The API is the intermediary between you and the chef. 


How about a real-world example? Have you ever booked a vacation on a travel website? That website is using an API. It aggregates data from many other websites, like airlines, hotels, and restaurants, and presents it to you. You make your reservations and behind the scenes, the API is communicating with the airline, the hotel, and/or the restaurant.

How We Use API Technology

Telkonet uses our new Melody API as the interface between our cloud-based energy management system, Rhapsody, and building management systems, as an alternative to BACnet. We also use an API for our thermostats to talk to residents’ mobile devices.


Acronym for “Home Automation”. Telkonet’s ZigBee devices are certified “HA Compliant”, meaning they can communicate with other third-party ZigBee HA Compliant devices.

Mesh Network

There are lots of network topologies out there, and a mesh network is one type. In a mesh network, each device can transmit its own data, plus it can act as a relay for other devices in the network. There’s no central hub that manages the communication routes, which makes mesh networks highly efficient. They’re also easily scalable.

How We Use Mesh Networks

Most of Telkonet’s smart devices communicate using the Zigbee mesh networks. Zigbee is so ubiquitous that our devices integrate with many, many third-party devices like door locks and speakers.

Other Network Topologies

In addition to the mesh network, other network topologies include 

  • Bus, in which a single cable connects all the included nodes
  • Ring, in which every device has exactly two neighboring devices for in order to communicate
  • Star, in which all the computers in a site are connected with the help of a hub
  • Tree, in which there is a root node and all other nodes are connected, forming a hierarchy

RFID Technology

Chances are, you are familiar with barcodes. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a similar technology in that you scan a tag in order to retrieve data. RFID consists of two components, a tag, and a reader. The reader emits radio waves and receives signals back from the tag. 


RFID has tons of uses. Your passport has an RFID tag containing all of the same information your passport itself has. Does your family pet have a microchip? That microchip uses RFID technology. RFID is used in inventory control, equipment tracking, medical record systems, and a whole lot more.

RFID vs. Barcode Technology 

RFID technology is more expensive than barcode scanners and may require more setup effort. However, RFID can read multiple scanners at the same time; plus, it doesn’t require a direct line of sight as a barcode scanner does.

Bluetooth and BLE


The Internet of Things was essentially built on Bluetooth technology. An important short-range communication technology, Bluetooth is everywhere. Bluetooth is scalable and flexible and features low power consumption. It allows for precise location and feature tracking without reduced battery life.


Bluetooth technology is used in healthcare, homes, cars, consumer electronics…a vast spectrum. It enables wireless control and communication between smartphones and smart locks, mobile devices, hands-free headsets, PCs, and mice/keyboards/printers. 

How We Use Bluetooth

Thermostats like our new Touch Combo can integrate with other devices like door locks using Bluetooth technology.


BLE (“Bluetooth Low Energy”) is not the same as Bluetooth. It was designed to transmit and receive smaller amounts of data on a less frequent basis than Bluetooth. It consumes very low amounts of power and remains in “sleep” mode when not in use. 


BLE applications include mobile phones, wearables, heart rate monitors, fitness trackers, and other health monitors.


A term used to describe a system’s ability to share information and services with another system, ideally based upon common standards. IoT success relies in great part on the ability of connected devices to operate seamlessly and effectively together.


A common wireless communication protocol; EcoSmart devices communicate using Zigbee.

Take a look at Part 1-Industry Terms, where we presented a list of:

  • Networking Terms
  • Technology Terms
  • Industry Integration Terms
  • The EMS Proposal Process Terms
  • HVAC Terms

If you’re ready to discuss your next EMS project, we’d love to talk with you. Get in touch with us. Email  or call us at 800-703-9398.