Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
EMAIL INTERVIEW – Yuval Barnea and Ken Sinclair
Yuval Barnea serves as the VP Business Management and Sales of Virtual Extension, leading the company’s efforts to develop and promote the use of Wireless in Smart Lighting for BMS around the globe.
Yuval has more than two decades of experience in Sales, Business Development and Management in global hi-tech and start-up companies, including seArendipity - an energy-saving entrepreneurship for the Marine Vessel industry (Founder), PowerDsine - the Power-over-Ethernet pioneers - where he was instrumental in company's reaching IPO (NASDAQ: PDSN) and later leading its worldwide IC Sales, and Microsemi (NASDAQ: MSCC) as its VP Systems business. Prior to that Yuval has worked in SGI-Cray - a leader in Visualization and High-Performance Computing, and in the IDF at various multi-disciplinary project management positions.
Yuval holds a B.Sc. in Physics and Computer Sciences from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.
Building Management Systems can
usually control the lighting directly, so why add the complication of a
system dedicated to lighting?
Barnea: For a building
that needs a constant level of light 24 hours a day, or a constant
level of light that is manually switched on / off, then there is no
good reason to invest in a dedicated management system for lighting.
However, most of the buildings can make use of different levels of lighting during variable conditions. I am talking about systems that can and need to vary the level and sometimes even the shade of the lighting (slightly reddish or blueish), depending on the hour of the day, on the specific part of the building, or to the type of activity at the certain instant. In other systems, such as for large deployments, an automatic report of malfunctioning lamps might be cost-effective or otherwise important, or systems that turn on the light automatically in case of emergency, or save energy by turning off the light automatically when there is no person or no other need of light in the room. Talking about energy savings, I know estimates of the energy associated with lighting in managed buildings to be somewhere between 20% and 40% - this is an amount worth investing the initial extra resources for saving long term, in particular in large buildings or clusters of buildings. Such systems can make use of a management system that specializes in lighting management – control and monitoring.
In most cases, a classic building management system serves only or mostly for HVAC management, and when the initiative of saving energy by controlling the lighting control rises, some might be tempted to choose a separate lighting management system. However, such separation precludes useful types of smart management, such as the integration between external ambiance lighting, shutters control, and internal lighting control. Or the shared use of sensors for various controls according to rooms’ occupancy.
In my experience, an integrated system enables to make the most benefits of the two components, by maximizing the potential savings from energy consumption, simplifying and minimizing the maintenance cost, as well as increasing the well-being and productivity of the buildings’ occupants.
Many building managers or owners smartly
take advantage of the retrofit to LED by complementing it with such a
lighting management system - integrated with the BMS, for example by
adding DALI to a KNX system. A growing number of manufacturers and
solution providers on the market offer such integrated components
today, with names such as Siemens, ABB, Schneider Electric and Hager
leading the list.
I understand why adding a
dedicated lighting management system, but which such systems are out
there and how to choose amongst them?
Barnea: A basic choice of a lighting management system is between analogue and digital. Most of the lighting systems installed during the previous century were analogue, such as using a 1-10V type of control. During the last century, the trend has changed, with digital systems prevailing. It’s not only about the LEDs being naturally controllable by digital signals but also about the easier way of individually controlling each lamp fixture and the more cost efficient way of deploying and maintaining the wiring.
During the selection of a digital system, another choice is a standard type of system or a proprietary one. Both systems are possible, with a standard one being typically more expensive, but bringing the advantages of standardization, such as interchangeability and decreased dependence on a particular supplier.
Amongst the standard systems, the most prevalent in general, and in Europe in particular, is DALI. I’ll list here the main advantages of a DALI digital standard system, as compared to a 1-10V analogue system:
I read the research, conducted by DALI
organization a couple of years ago, specifying more than 60% of the new
deployments of the controllable (smart) lighting of being DALI. Since
then, DALI standard has been continuously developing, and DALI
organization is growing.
You mentioned wires to control the lighting, but what about wireless – is this not an option?
Barnea: Indeed, when it
comes to lighting in buildings, many are still clinging to a
20th-century wiring technology. From the humble TV remote control,
through the ubiquitous wireless phone and cellular telephone and all
the way to satellite communication, the world around us “discovers” and
enjoys the benefits of wireless communication. Maybe that the reason
that lighting in buildings is done mostly with wires has to do with the
perception of fixed walls asking for fixed wiring?
Even if it does, in the meantime we’ve experienced the LED revolution. The majority of LED deployments in managed buildings are retrofit and requiring additional wiring to be laid for management and control of the luminaires. Such wires’ deployment might be very expensive - such as in tall warehouses, or time-consuming, such as in the industrial environment, waiting for all the machines to stop. And in historical listed buildings, the municipality would absolutely not allow for cutting or drilling into walls for new cables.
Fortunately, I know of, and we can all
feel a change going on, with the market demanding wireless control and
its flexibility in lighting control deployments, and with the industry
responding with some excellent products, such as EnOcean wireless
switches and very good system solutions, such as VEmesh wireless extension to DALI.
If I understand correctly, there aren’t many wireless solutions there – is this due to technical difficulties?
Barnea: In the less demanding residential environment, you’ll find plenty of solutions, most of them using ZigBee, such those endorsed by the Connected Lighting Alliance. Other solutions use the more expensive Wi-Fi, which is more ubiquitous but less technically appropriate and also more expensive, or Bluetooth, which is available in each cellular but suffers from much lower operation range and from using the crowded 2.4GHz frequency range.
However, in the commercial (or
professional) environment the requirements are much more stringent. In
addition to the large number of luminaires that a system might need to
control – sometimes in the range of thousands, there are requirements
of range, which might be needed for large halls, which sometimes might
be huge. There is an important need for robustness and resiliency, as
commercial or professional deployments cannot afford periods of lack of
connectivity, as for example sometimes happens in the over-abused
frequency range of 2.4GHz, unlike the industrial wireless networks that
operate in other frequency ranges (here I apologize for the use of
technical jargon, but that’s important).
Another requirement has to do with the need of lamps to go on or off together when commanded in groups or broadcast, as we don’t want to see their lamps remaining on (or off) long after the others have changed, or switching disparately (in the technical jargon this is called determinism of latency).
Last, the ultimate technical solution
would allow for immediate or at least easy replacement of existing
wires by wireless in an existing deployment, without the added cost of
purchasing, storing, educating, etc. to replace “wired units” with
“wireless units.” Most of these requirements do not exist or are less
stringent in the residential environment; hence the number of existing
solutions in the commercial environment is much lower.
Summarizing all these, how do you envision a modern and efficient BMS that is integrated with a dedicated lighting control?
Barnea: First, we are
talking about those buildings in need of a dedicated lighting
management system, as opposed to buildings that use the existing BMS
for managing the lighting, and in most cases of a modern building, such
an addition is justified, though not in all. It depends on the
importance of the lighting to the purpose of the building.
And you are right in mentioning in the
question the integration between the general BMS and the dedicated
lighting management. This is the only way to do it professionally, as
opposed to making separate systems connected at the application level.
As I’ve mentioned in one of the previous answers, there is a fairly
large choice of such integrated systems, either based on KNX (I’ve
mentioned the examples of Siemens, ABB, Schneider Electric, etc.), or
on BACnet, such as Loytec and Intesis, or for Tridium Niagara-based,
such as CNS and Tyrrell, etc.
For the lighting control, the two options are a standard based system or a proprietary system, with each system designer to make his choice, as I’ve explained before. The choice of standard today should be clearly DALI. If the system is proprietary, I recommend the use of DALI type of luminaires, thus enabling a certain degree of interchangeability.
An additional important point to remember and perhaps less known is the current availability of good wireless solutions, fit to operate in integrated BMS - DALI systems (I’ve mentioned the example of EnOcean switches and VEmesh wireless extension to DALI). The use of wireless (instead of or in addition to wires) can be a real enabler in certain situations, or for lowering the costs of deployment and maintenance.
About Virtual Extension
Operating since 2000 and with a team of experts with a total wireless experience of hundreds of years, Virtual Extension has become one of the world leaders in Wireless Lighting Control. Its VEmesh wireless mesh technology enables it to address practically unlimited number of luminaires and input devices per network, with unmatched throughput of bi-directional communication for most robust, resilient and ultimately cost effective lighting control solutions. VEmesh is the wireless underlying technology that enables Virtual Extension to be a front-runner in seamlessly replace wires by wireless. Focusing on high-performance solutions for lighting control in the outdoor, professional and industrial markets, and following the recent trend of retrofit to LED, Virtual Extension has managed to become the renowned world leader in wireless extension to DALI and IoT interoperability.
For more information, please visit www.virtual-extension.com
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