Time goes forward, smart networks are developing, and automation systems are gradually coming to all segments of the energy industry. Lighting has become, perhaps, the last segment, where only recently began to appear automated control systems. In the electric power industry SCADA has been developing for a long time, in the stage lighting – knx, and in general lighting the DALI protocols dominate. But is this really so, and is this protocol really suitable for general application in lighting systems?

We know automated lighting control systems can be wired and wireless. The first is usually designed in advance, knowing the requirements of the client. Wireless is more often used when the lighting is already mounted and the automation needs to be added to the existing system. A wireless system is more expensive than a wired one, but it makes it easy to scale the entire network and add new fixtures to the system at no additional cost, but the luminaire with a wireless protocol costs more.

The protocol 1…10 V is inexpensive and simple, and therefore more reliable. It controls the power of the luminaire from 0 to 100% of power by simply changing the voltage applied to the control terminals. More advantages he does not have, as well as shortcomings. DALI and knx give more possibilities for controlling the luminaires. They allow you to assign each address to your lighting fixture and manage them separately. Accordingly, the automation adjusts the mode individually for each light.

We are developing a

management system

for each customer

This solution is more expensive, it requires the laying of additional control cables for control and special drivers or controllers to them with DALI or knx protocol support. If you want to control each luminaire and you can not lay additional cables, use wireless control protocols for ZigBee lighting systems. In this case, each luminaire receives its controller, which is also a transmitter, and with their help, the luminaires are connected to a single network.

Let’s take a look at the PLC protocol developed by the Belarusian company Nero Electronics. It allows to transmit control signals via existing 230/400 V wires, therefore it is more advantageous than DALI and KNX. However, according to the German experts of Vossloh-Schwabe, PLC does not work well in our networks, because the old unshielded wires are “walked” by various interferences that drown out signals to the controller, because of which the lights work with deceleration or do not react at all to signals.

This problem can be solved by updating the existing power network with the transition to new wires or cables with shielding or installation of filtering devices that will remove harmful interference from the network. Both solutions with cable routing and filter installation are expensive, so the cost of the final system from the PLC will be comparable to the ZigBee protocol. The PLC system will successfully fit into new construction or reconstruction, when networks are created from the ground up.

I note that we use various communication technologies for the production of our luminaires, depending on the client’s tasks, but in practice we tend more towards PWM, 1…10 V and ZigBee. We see great prospects in working with the PLC protocol, but due to the above problems we can offer it only to customers with new shielded electrical networks. It remains only to wait until the developers of this protocol eliminate these shortcomings and confirm the words with positive results in field trials.

Using the ZigBee protocol, you can bind up to 256 luminaires with transmitters to one router, and up to 65536 luminaires can be connected to a single network. This protocol is by far the most expensive, as its developer company requires a round sum from each company for the right to use the patented ZigBee technology. On average, one ZigBee module costs from $40 to $80 on the market, so it is advantageous to integrate them only in powerful lighting fixtures.

The principle of organizing a network of LED luminaires using the ZigBee communication protocol is based on a mesh structure. This means that the luminaires are connected to each other, and not directly to the dispatcher. The signal contains the address of the luminaire and the instruction for execution (switch off or on, dimmage or other action), it is transmitted from the controller to the nearest luminaire, from this luminaire to the next one and so on until the signal enters the luminaire with the given address.

This principle is very convenient, because even with the failure of any light, the remaining network continues to operate and execute commands. However, there is one limitation – the luminaires should be located no further than the range of the ZigBee transmitters, so that the signals are transmitted over the network. At the moment this distance is about 86 meters, but in fact it can decrease due to weather conditions, poor antenna condition and other interference that may occur along the path of signal propagation.

We recommend our potential customers not to save on a good automation system, but the most expensive solution does not always solve all your problems at once. Here it is better to keep the balance between frankly cheap lamps with not always correctly working controllers and a clearly adjusted system with durable street lights. The ledz luminaires in this respect are somewhere just above the middle segment, since our price is lower than many competitors, and the components used are German, Belarusian and Russian.

Specialists of the group of companies can solve any your problem, because we have been working on the market of lighting products for a long time. We realized many objects in various segments, and always the result pleased our customers. We will perform an audit of your lighting system for free and prepare 3D visualization of your facility with the necessary lighting calculations. If you are interested in a pre-programmed street lights without any control systems and protocols, read next article!