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Lighting Control is a Key Enabler for Enterprise IoT
but needs Open Standards
The Internet of Things
(IoT) is ushering in a whole new era of connected devices; from
wireless thermostats, security systems to smart phones and smart
watches, monitoring and control of remote devices has reached the
mainstream consumer market. However, enterprise IoT applications are
more complex. Smart building control solutions, one of the core
applications for enterprise IoT, need robust design, high availability,
redundancy and architecture designed to scale in order to satisfy high
Moreover, many facilities have proprietary building management systems and many systems rely on different communication protocols (BACnet, Modbus, LonWorks) to exchange information. Integrating disparate systems, getting them to communicate using a standard protocol and providing interoperability across devices is the biggest roadblock preventing the IoT from reaching its true potential for the Enterprise market.
permeates almost every urban space and is seen as the perfect network
on which to roll out value in the Internet of Things. In a Memoori webinar earlier this year, wireless expert
Nick Hunn described “lighting as the “Trojan Horse” for connectivity
and IoT in Buildings”, simultaneously the relatively stagnant lighting
industry has blossomed under the IoT movement as explored in our new report.
Advances in wireless communications and energy-efficient lighting equipment have made it possible to use mesh networking for the control of light, creating reliable, large-scale wireless lighting. This can provide enhanced control and reductions of lighting energy consumption for commercial and industrial buildings.
Technology evangelists, the hi-tech start-up world and large technology firms are evaluating the wireless opportunities at the intersection of the digital light sources and the IoT. However, market and technical requirements are in flux without universal standards and the direction remains unclear.
residential lighting control, the dominant protocol is clear, many
major lighting OEMs are supporting the ZigBee protocol. However, for
indoor commercial and office lighting controls, the technology options
remain varied and expanding. Several lighting OEMs are choosing to wait
until there is a dominant or de facto standard in order to avoid an
improper technology selection at this early stage in the lighting
There are three major reasons for the lack of a dominant global standard. The first is that dominant lighting control technologies and/or dominant LED driver dimming signals vary by region. For instance, 0-10V is the dominant LED driver dimming signal in North America, while DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) and PWM (pulse-width modulation) are dominant in Europe and Japan, respectively. From a building automation system standpoint, although BACnet appears to be a dominant global protocol, KNX remains very popular in Europe. Therefore, in order for lighting OEMs to cater to end customers in various regions, it becomes difficult to rely on a single technology.
The second reason is that lighting control installations vary by complexity. At one end of the spectrum, simple installations may just require an occupancy sensor, turning on/off when someone is in the room. These simple systems act independently with no gateway to link them to a centralised control system. At the other end of the spectrum, there are centralised lighting control systems that manage, monitor, and control lighting throughout the entire building or buildings. Different types of technology are leveraged to create systems at each end of the spectrum, posing another challenge to the OEM decision.
The third and most impactful reason why there may never be a single dominant lighting control technology for indoor commercial and office lighting is due to the fact that the lighting OEM does not mandate the lighting control technology for any given project. This is often the responsibility of the consultant, architect, building owner, or building manager.
work best when large communities of innovators use them to build their
technology. Open systems with vendor interoperability provide lower
initial costs to end users and more innovation on the part of vendors
trying to differentiate themselves, benefiting the industry as a whole.
When a single lighting vendor controls the specifications and
deployment of its own standard, innovation is suppressed.
Organisations that start their lighting control investment with technology based on open standards allow themselves flexibility in what products they can buy. They also future-proof their infrastructure for coming advancements, regardless of which vendor sells them.
many organisations that felt lighting control was out of reach are now
in the market for upgrades. In addition to lighting, other high
energy-consuming devices like thermostats, plug-loads, and fans are
becoming more critical, requiring energy control due to changing energy
regulations and mandates. The open standards discussion is extremely
important because facilities managers have the opportunity to shape the
future of lighting and building control for their business and the
industry as a whole from the start.
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