Best Practice: The Lighting Control Revolution Has Already Begun

By Peter Aylett, Archimedia Middle East. The past 100 years has seen lighting technology evolve through to today’s current rush to energy efficiency and LEDs. Through all these years, the evolution has been slow to the point that despite the technology available, many people still have hard switches with incandescent lights—not that much different than 100 years ago. The next five years are going to see advances in lighting that will force us to re-think both how we cable for the physical infrastructure, as well as integrate lighting into the biological beings that are our customers. Connected Luminaires lu·mi·naire, noun, a complete electric light unit [caption id="attachment_9005" align="alignleft" width="320"] Connected luminaire ecosystems are growing.[/caption] The IoT (Internet of Things) is now a reality, describing the trend of the smallest and most mundane things being connected to The Internet. The light bulb was an obvious candidate for this, and products such as Philips’ Hue and LIFX are the first wave of autonomously network-connected luminaires. Currently these are more proof of concept’ than they are mature, installable products but they show us the way to a radically different future. The RGB (versions that have a red, green and blue LED contained within a single luminaire) allow us to ask the question; what is white? Whilst traditional incandescent and LED bulbs require us to choose a colour temperature such as warm’ or cool’ white, an RGB array allows us to make any colour temperature of white we choose. These luminaires connect over a variety of wireless standards: Wi-Fi, Zigbee, Z-Wave and Bluetooth are all used by manufacturers. We will soon see many of the lighting control manufacturers in our space embrace this inevitability and introduce bridges to allow connected luminaires to be used within whole-building control. PoE (Power over Ethernet) Lighting Modern LEDs have now broken through the 300 Lumens/Watt barrier. This efficiency means that we can now use DC over twisted pair cables to supply lighting with enough power to easily light a space. Power over Ethernet (PoE) is an IEEE standard technology that provides electrical power along with data on Ethernet cabling. The initial PoE standard, released in 2003, delivers a maximum of 12.95W per port. A 2009 standard, called PoE+, delivers up to 25.5W. Cisco is now promoting a proprietary solution, Universal PoE, which delivers up to 60W per port using all four of the twisted pairs in a Category 5e/6 cable (versus a maximum of two pairs for PoE and PoE+). PoE lighting will be incredibly disruptive as the 48V DC power provided over PoE fits within the SELV (Separated Extra Low Voltage) rules of most countries’ electrical regulations meaning that a licensed electrician may not be required to install a complete lighting system. [caption id="attachment_9008" align="aligncenter" width="636"] Tesla's new household batteries will make micro-generation much more useful.[/caption] The IET (Institution of Engineering and Technology) has recently published a Code of Practice for Low and Extra Low Voltage Direct Current Power Distribution in Buildings. With technologies such as Quantum dot displays and Class D amplifiers making entertainment systems ever more efficient, the future of power distribution in buildings is heading towards more efficient DC. This will be accelerated by more adoption of micro generation, made useful by a new wave of in-home storage batteries. Bio Adaptive Lighting Circadian Rhythms are physical, mental and behavioural changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants and many tiny microbes. [caption id="attachment_9010" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] UK company amBX is at the forefront of Bio-adaptive lighting.[/caption] As humans, it is only recently in our evolution that we spend more time indoors than out. This affects our Circadian Rhythm because the indoor colour temperature of white, and its brightness, rarely matches what our bodies are expecting at any given time of day. A really exciting development that will be made far easier to implement by the above technologies is Bio-Adaptive lighting. Now we have lights that can create any colour of white, at almost any brightness, changing over a 24-hour cycle, the lighting system can be programmed to deliver lighting that reinforces rather than contradicts our Circadian Rhythms. When considering this, don’t forget that these solutions will also need to manage the most powerful light source in our lives: the sun. To do this we will need to both integrate window dressings into the system as well as sense the brightness and quality of the light outside of the building. Now, lighting control has focussed on convenience and aesthetics. For the first time, we now have the technology to add wellbeing to the mix and the opportunity to make our customers’ buildings truly better places to be. Conclusion In my December 2013 column I discussed how dimming LEDs needs to move beyond phase dimming a 12V MR16 or 230V GU10 retrofit LED bulb to using much more efficient LED drivers controlled by protocols such as DALI. The future goes way beyond this made possible by the potential of every build being controllable across a full RGB spectrum via simple twisted pair cabling that also delivers power. Whilst the products for this still need to reach maturity there is no doubt that we are on the threshold of a revolution in building lighting control. Peter Aylett is a world-renowned speaker and lecturer in residential technology, and the Technical Director at Archimedia, a multinational high-end residential integrator in The Middle East. He is also currently Chair of CEDIA’s International Technology Council Applied Content Action Team, and a regular contributor to HiddenWires.

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