April 24, 2019 General News

How to set the foundation for specifying smart lighting

How to set the foundation for specifying smart lighting
A topic very close to my heart as I am concerned that so many projects start off on the wrong foot from the very off. There are always good intentions but realistically we are limited by time and budget. This might be a restriction of how much value you have in the project or maybe the net worth of the project.

As a result, there is often a disconnect from what the client is expecting and what is being offered in the way of smart or intelligent lighting. Don’t get me wrong often these systems are perfectly acceptable, but the technology used is dated and the capacity to upgrade is simply not there.

A firm foundation to a specification is critical to ensure the project will be delivered as smoothly as it can.

As with all construction projects firm foundations are used to support a smart infrastructure and the correct “footing” is essential to ensure a stable project through its construction and operating life.

The first rule is to avoid any proprietary operating systems. These are restricted by their technology and also by the single manufacturer who can provide that solution. Having a single source supplier is commercially restrictive and potentially risky in the event of that company’s inability to supply due to work load or through a technical issue.

The solution is an open platform based on an agreed standard and for this we have to look to IEC 62386 and its various parts 101,102, 103 & 104. This is the Industries agreed platform for Lighting and one that provides an agreed topology for both wired and wireless.

As with all standards there will be companies that enhance the basic offer, and this is acceptable providing you have true interoperability between manufacturers.

The hardware shouldn’t be a restrictive feature of the Lighting controls system, it should be part of the offer that is best suited to the application in hand.  This is only true if the hardware is tested and compliant with IEC 62386.

The key component in your Foundation for Lighting is the Application controller. Defined within IEC 62386 DALI-2 this web browsable interface allows up to 64 outputs and up to 64 inputs to operate on a single DALI-2 network.

Standalone, smart and intelligent these devices can operate independent of a network or are connected via TCP/IP to software hosted locally or within the cloud that provides global management should this be required.

Switches, sensors and other inputs from various manufacturers can coexist within the DALI-2 network and as such gives you the freedom to use multiple vendors in the event of a delay in supply or should you wish to upgrade the system over time.

In practice a DALI-2 system can be upgraded and managed by any of the DiiA member companies that fully support the DALI-2 platform and will maintain backwards compatibility.

I stress fully support as some still hang on to the belief that open systems are commercially limiting so will create a hybrid of sorts. As previously mentioned, adding additional features to DALI-2 is acceptable but simply adding DALI-2 output to a system based on a proprietary protocol is still a proprietary system.

A strong Foundation is key to any lighting control system and certainly anyone that is specifying and or installing a system today must ensure the infrastructure is designed in such a way that allows the Designer and Installer the opportunity to scale the project to suit the budget whilst at the same time maintaining flexibility so the client can add features and functionality at a later date without incurring huge rework costs.

Build it right and build it strong.

Stewart B Langdown FSLL


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