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The Internet of Things, or IoT, is an emerging phenomenon where physical devices can be connected to the internet or communicate through simple wireless protocols to collect and share data. Tridonic, as a global IoT company, is right in the thick of all the activity, and we are seeing exciting things happening in the marketplace for lighting control systems. For example, over the past three years, we have been working on creating modular systems that are similar to building blocks, allowing sensors or devices under control to be stacked, as needed.
And today, as the market rapidly matures, the industry is moving toward a more integrated solution. The type of integration we are seeing involves the two components of an IoT luminaire, which area driver and some sort of system. The system can be as simple as an occupancy sensor or as complex as multiple sensors with two or more radios for an all-in-one device that you can snap into a luminaire. As our efforts shift to meet the global industry demand for integrated solutions, it is important to have a clear understanding of lighting control protocols and which are more effective in different countries around the world.
Two Lighting Control Standards Gaining Momentum
Two standard lighting control methods currently dominate in the commercial lighting space – zero-to-10v (0-10v) analog dimming in the U.S., and Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) in Europe, as shown in Figure 1. Two new standards are now gaining momentum in the marketplace as successors to the 0-10v and DALI legacies.
DALI-2 is set to smoothly transition from existing DALI solutions with backward compatibility to standard DALI including several enhancements, example, the option of a driver-integrated DALI power supply. This option allows current luminaire manufacturers to use DALI-2 with existing DALI networks, or to use DALI as a power and communication interface from a sensor and/or wireless communication module.
In the U.S./North America, the new IoT-Ready™ standard is set to provide a similar option for 0-10V dimming, bridging the gap from legacy to the future by allowing backward compatibility with legacy 0-10v installations while optionally allowing a pre- or post-install upgrade option to add sensor and/or wireless communication devices of any type.
“Once it gets into the field, the installer or system integrator can decide to go with a smart system or with a stand-alone sensor, or simply nothing”
Europe and DALI-2 Standard
The DALI protocol has been used in Europe for many years. Its primary focus has always been to simplify the installation and use of ballasts and relay switches that enable dimmable, customizable lighting solutions. The first version of DALI helped meet this goal by pushing for standardization of system components and control gear. If you want to add sensors and communication devices to the system, you can now power a radio system or IoT system directly from the DALI bus without having an exterior power supply. These setups are often called mushrooms because they resemble mushrooms when plugged in. The industry is going in this direction, and Tridonic is embracing DALI, as well.
IoT-ReadyTM Standard for the U.S.
In the U.S., DALI has not appeared much in the news, as this approach doesn’t apply well in the U.S. marketplace. IoT-ReadyTM adds new features and introduces standardization of control devices, including the recent addition of input devices, while maintaining backward compatibility. The concept is very similar to DALI-2, except that for very little added cost, luminaire manufacturers can now add a 0-10V driver that we’ve always used. To make a smart luminaire, they can simply cut the 0-10V wire and plug in a sensor or system. And this can be done in the field; it doesn’t have to be done onsite at the manufacturer’s location. The big benefit, then, is that a very low-cost addition can make your luminaire IoT ready. Once it gets into the field, the installer or system integrator can decide to go with a smart system or with a stand-alone sensor, or simply nothing. Furthermore, both DALI-2 and IoT-ReadyTM drivers can be installed with any system of sensors and communication modules including ZigBee, Thread and BLE Mesh. This will reduce the risk for adopters since smart modules can easily be exchanged as technology evolves without having to replace the entire luminaire.
Figure 1. Estimated market breakdown for leading lighting control methods [Internal Sources]
Tridonic played a key role in enabling the development of the DALI protocol. In 1991, Tridonic developed the Digital Serial Interface (DSI) protocol—the first digital communication standard in the lighting industry and the predecessor of the DALI protocol. Today, Tridonic is an active participant in the Digital Illumination Interface Alliance (DIIA), which is further evolving DALI. Tridonic also co-founded with Enlighted the IoT-Ready AllianceTM, open for anyone to join. The IoT-Ready Alliance™ is an industry organization working to make it easy for all LED lighting fixtures and the buildings they are installed to be made “smart” by simply plugging in a compatible IoT sensor. Enlighted and Tridonic are working together with industry-leading organizations such as Contributor members Lutron Electronics, Bridgelux, ARM, Focal Point and others to establish the IoT-ReadyTM standard (all members are listed on the IoT-Ready homepage).
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