A Wire-Free Smart Lighting Control System

Written by: Bipasha Basu

Standard automated lighting control systems include an input device, such as a photodetector, which communicates with a power controller, such as a switch. While these components may be combined into the same system ( e.g. wall-mounted occupancy sensor), they are mostly built separately. To communicate, the input device must send a command signal to the controller, which then controls the load. The prevailing conventional solution is to transmit a control signal along with specialised low-voltage wiring (usually referred to as “hardwired”). A more recent solution that is quickly gaining popularity is to communicate using radio waves that pass via the air, removing the need for dedicated control circuitry.

Typical manual led lighting technologies to include an input device, such as a photosensor, which communicates with a power controller, like a switch. While these components may be combined into the same system ( e.g. wall-mounted occupancy sensor), they are mostly built separately. To communicate, the embedded system should send a command signal to the controller, which then controls the load. The prevailing traditional approach is to transmit a control signal along with specialised low-voltage wiring (usually referred to as “hardwired”). A more recent solution that is quickly gaining popularity is to communicate using radio waves that pass through the air, removing the need for central monitoring wiring.

The resulting benefits allow advanced lighting control with better installation versatility, good scalability and lower infrastructure costs, suitable for several requirements but especially hard-to-wire requirements, outdoor lighting, non-accessible ceilings, hard ceilings and asbestos abasement.

Advantages

Wireless lighting controls provide the basic features of hardwired automated control systems, offering advantages such as energy efficiency and versatility. Otherwise, the removal of hardwiring control systems provides a distinct benefit.

  • Versatility- Versatility will be the first. Wireless control devices may be mounted where they are required without the restrictions imposed by wires, including places that are difficult to wire. More versatility is offered for specific uses. Electrical preparation can be shortened. After installation, the machines can be relocated, and the system can be extended with relative ease.
  • Labour and equipment savings- Remote control removes the need for central monitoring wiring and related switch legs, traveller cables, pipes and other raw materials, speeding up and streamlining installation. With no harm to walls or ceilings with little to no interruption to business activities, wireless control is well suited for the implementation of even complex control systems in residential structures and techniques such as street lighting.

 

  • Connectivity- Wireless electric lighting system is easily scaled as the room needs to adjust. The benefits of wireless control make these solutions especially ideal for applications where operating control wires are too expensive or just not feasible, such as outdoor lighting, parking garages, warehouses and renovations.

The Wireless System

Wireless lighting systems consist of solar cell controllers (also known as relay devices, power packs or dimming subsystems), usually mounted in or on a lamp or in a wall socket; input devices ( e.g. detectors and routers); and monitoring systems, namely gateways (similar to wireless networks) and databases.

Detectors feature a signal generator that sends signals via the air to receptors installed in gateways or repeater units, which sends a signal to the server and then forwards them back to the controller to update the position of the lamp. Switches typically transmit signals directly to the luminaire device.

During configuration, all systems are discovered and connected to a configurable network where tasks are clustered and allocated. Device setup methods differ by manufacturer, including push-button programming, barcode scanners, mobile app setup, graphic database creation.

Luminaire Controllers

The power controller is a signal-based system that allows ON / OFF turning and darkening circuitry. The controller features an integrated wireless transmitter in a wireless network. Any of the latest lighting control systems provide controls built to be built into single luminaires.

Many devices also provide controllers capable of handling a much larger load. It can be more comfortable and more affordable to define integrated luminaires. This maximises the specificity of the control zone, enabling for any necessary zoning.

Sensors 

Motion detectors and light sensors (photosensors) are electronic systems needed by the bulk of residential energy generation codes in most indoor and some outdoor spaces. The main difference with the communication networks is that it includes a wireless transmitter that communicates with the system using radio signals.

Sensors can be defined as part of a complete luminaire or as a separate portion. Some of the individual (standalone) sensors combine presence and light detection in a single unit. Standalone detectors can be battery-driven or driven by harvested energy.

Switches and other devices

Switches are needed to provide a safety switch off planning or occupation sensing in the vast majority of spaces. They could be battery-powered or local energy harvesting.

Many management systems include manual touchscreen control points as an alternative. Devices from 3rd party can be integrated into the network. Some nodes transmit with wireless plug-in controllers.

Servers and Gateways

If the wireless controller is networked, it will have a central server and/or portal. The central server usually resides in an IT or electrical cabinet.

Many networked lighting control systems use gateways to relay network connexions from the server to the client. If the connexion between the server/gateway and the control devices is disrupted, the capacitive sensors will continue to function as the last configuration.

Cloud-based servers 

Some suppliers encourage the holder to use a cloud service, which implies there is no on-site server. Some illumination computer control vendors sell this service. Some networks provide a reliable way to make this communication, e.g. using a 3 G cell router.

If you use a remote lighting control device that has a database in the cloud, the supplier can generally handle some / all of the commissioning and/or maintenance operations. This could include zoning, rezoning, software upgrades, firmware updates, etc. Usually, the customer pays for this in an existing contract for a certain amount of time.

Protocols

A protocol is a set of guidelines for the layout of a device such that it communicates with other devices built in compliance with the same standard. Notice that 0-10V is a control system, not a protocol, while DALI or another protocol may be used for luminosity. Popular protocols involve ZigBee, DALI ‘s wireless extension, Xbee, EnOcean, Bluetooth, Bluetooth LE and the Synapse System Appliance Protocol (SNAP). Bluetooth revealed Bluetooth Mesh in July 2017. A variety of applications are also provided to use protocols, many of which are identical to ZigBee. Wireless controls can be combined with wired illumination and construction automation systems using either gateways or shared protocols.