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Understanding the control systems of smart LED lighting

15/11/2016

By BizLED Bureau

Over the recent years, controllable systems have emerged as an ultimate energy saver across the LED lighting industry, and it also provides numerous benefits to the consumers.

Controllable systems form an integral part of a goodLED lighting design. Now, since there are several types of controls, it is important to understand the methods and physical components of control. Such undertaking will help to make a smart LED lighting decision.

It is extremely essential to understand the three main parts of a lighting control system—the user interface, the light source, and the connection medium. The user interface is the element of the control system that the users can see. If the interface is poorly inplemented, it would be difficult to make changesin the future, making it a costly affair. On the other hand, a well-implemented interface facilitates intuitive and sophisticated occupant control.

Light source, the second component, is in fact, the most important element. LEDs, we all know, win hands down as the light source as they are control-friendly. However, LEDs require a driver or a ballast.

Connection medium, the third element of control system, comprises of the physical connection between system components and communication process between user interface and the light source. When choosing connection medium, it is vital to understand the restrictions and abilities of various technologies.

Communication technology

More than these components, the technology used by the control system is more important and vital. The technology controls the process to communicate with each of the components. The communication technology should be able to be modified easily, and should be able to “talk” to other devices in a simple manner. These methods of communication range from line voltage switching to advanced digital communication techniques like DALI.

Line voltage wiring is the easiest method of communication between elements of a controllable system. It uses the actual AC line voltage to carry out signalling. Using switches and relays to control loads is easy and special knowledge is needed to do the installation.However, the main drawback is that connecting light sources to particular circuits limits flexibility and requires an electrician to change the lights.

Phase controlled dimming functions by altering the time that the line is powering the lighting load. Some of its disadvantages include the same flexibility shortages found in line voltage systems.

Control systems combining multiple switches or phase controlled dimmers become increasingly bulky and complex.

Controlling the drawbacks

 In order to prevent the drawbacks of simple switching and phase controlled dimming, an altogether different communication method can be used. 0-10V signaling method allows full power to always be available to the light source and facilitates more flexible and low level dimming.

However, 0-10V also has certain drawbacks. Disparity in user interface devices and light sources means that mixing products from varied vendors can give inconsistent light levels. Further, any alternations to the mapping between user interfaces and light source will require physically altering the wiring.

 DALI system

The highlight of Digital Addressable Lighting Interface or DALI is that it allows information to flow in both directions. This offers great advantages in system capability, facilitating the modern intelligent light sources to communicate with system by offering environmental sensing data and overall performance.

DALI system offers several benefits over other communication methods. Since DALI uses digital signal, it is loaded with a number of benefits.

DALI system allows the light sources to have a unique address, and the presence of unique addresses allows changes to zones without moving any wiring.

Bidirectional communication makes it possible to make fixtures smarter. For instance, they can report status, make maintenance less costly and reduce occupant irritation with lamp failures.

The standardized communication protocol is particular to lighting, improving consistency and making advanced computer control a reality.

By breaking free from circuit level solutions, complex scenes can easily achieved. Changes are made through software, without physical rewiring, future proofing the lighting set up.

When it comes to control methods, DALI offers the most flexible and advanced communication method. DALI systems are scalable, easy-to-use and very energy-efficient. They facilitate lighting designers to get the most out of continuously changing technologies and stay on the progressive front of a quickly advancing market.