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How to choose the right LED lighting controls for commercial projects

How to choose the right LED lighting controls for commercial projects

By BizLED Bureau

Feb 12, 2016: In this age of technology, choosing the right lighting solution is becoming the customized need for business survival. To attain flexibility for indoor commercial lighting applications, open standard lighting controls can address lighting OEMs’ concerns regarding complexity and scalability of systems. It further involves interoperability of fixtures and control components.

Staying ahead of the competition is what business planners aspire for and they continuously look for that opportunity window.

Commercial projects include a major share in lighting and compatible lighting control systems ever increasing. However, due to a dearth of any existing standard for such controls, many players keep themselves at bay before making implementations in such commercial projects.

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Smart bulbs have already forayed their way in domestic lighting as it has many takers. Few factors which contribute to its growth are ease of use and limited units required. With commercial projects, the numbers are directly proportional to higher cost. Also, the absence of any existing lighting standard discourage lighting manufacturers to opt  for lighting controls which may appear outdated after some time.

Current challenges for manufacturers

We have zeroed in to three major reasons for lack of a global standard for lighting control for commercial applications. First being, dominant lighting control technologies and/or dominant LED driver dimming signals vary by region.

For example, while DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) and Pulsewidth modulation (PWM) are dominant in Europe and Japan and 0-10V is the dominant LED driver dimming signal in North America.  BACnet is a dominant global protocol while KNX is very popular in Europe from building automation system standpoint.

Second, some installations are complex on basis of lighting control installations. Few require just an occupancy sensor to provide a signal to an LED driver to turn on/off depending on whether someone is in the room. These systems can act independently if there are multiple instances in different rooms throughout a building with no gateway to link them to a centralized control system. Then there are complex centralized lighting control systems that manage and control lighting throughout the entire building or even multiple buildings within a city or around the world. These variations in technology style pose another challenge for a lighting manufacturer to rely on a single lighting control technology.

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The third and the final reason being the responsibility of an architect, building owner, or building manager to mention the lighting control technology for any given project.

This situation has led manufacturers to wait for a global or proper standard to come up.  Current production is based on criteria like flexibility, interoperability, simplicity, scalability, and proven technology.

 Current technology categories

Currently, the light manufacturing is divided into proprietary technology or open technology.  Proprietary technologies are developed and applied for specific lighting control projects where there is a good technological fit or if the proprietary technology has been directly approved as lighting control solution.

Open technologies are based on open or public standards that allow multiple companies to develop products using the same protocol which interoperable and work as a system.

Due to this flexibility feature, open technologies provide flexibility to choose between a number of vendors in order to mix and match various solutions based on features, form factor, and pricing to meet an end customer’s lighting control requirements.

Major ‘open’ technologies

EnOcean and ZigBee are two major technologies for lighting controls in indoor commercial and office environment.

EnOcean technology offers wireless switches and sensors that require no power and no batteries, since the kinetic energy from pressing on the switch or the solar cells from the sensor are sufficient to power the EnOcean radio. It is the first and only ISO/IEC wireless standard (14543-3-10) optimized for lighting solutions with ultralow power consumption and energy harvesting.

ZigBee is based on the IEEE 802.15.4 standard where 802.15.4 defines the physical and MAC layers, while ZigBee defines the network and application layers.

The gist of the situation is, emerging technologies will evolve with time and with no benchmarking method in sight, installation of lighting control is a risky business in terms of implementation. As a result, lighting manufacturers prefer tried, tested, and approved lighting technology to be used.

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