May 2013

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Lighting Control and Convergence,

is it good for business?
Mike Welch
Mike Welch,
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Control Network Solutions Ltd

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Lighting Control – What is it?

A quick overview -

In the 21st century in the US, less than 7% of all commercial and public buildings have any kind of lighting control.

In most of the buildings represented in that 7%, lighting control means mechanical time clocks and relays.

The equivalent of this situation is something like buying the latest family automobile with a braking system which comprises  a large rock attached to the vehicle with strong rope - this is thrown out the back in order to slow you down.

However, clearly such a braking solution would be considered completely unacceptable in a modern 21st century automobile, thankfully.

So let us define this century’s smart lighting control system.

Each lamp fixture is intelligent, 100% dimmable and is controlled, monitored and maintained using a two wire global IEC 62386 open standards communication protocol known as DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface). They are manufactured globally by large and small manufacturers and are available for LED, Fluorescent, HID, Halogen, Incandescent and Emergency lighting fixtures.

Result = Wide choice of DALI light fixture products providing competitive, performance and style choice for your building

Networks of these lamp fixtures are connected directly to web convergent technology BMS/BAS platforms. Examples being Tridium’s VykonŽ JACE, Honeywell’s WEBs AX and HAWK, Lynxspring Jensys, etc.  Globally there are more than 40 OEM’s producing such platforms and more than 12,000 certified SI engineers capable of delivering such.

Result = Less components, less installation, less to go wrong, less power consumption, less CO2 generated, more sustainability

All the lamp fixture addressing, commissioning, control, maintenance, management and analytics is done by the BMS/BAS System Integrator using their existing BMS/BAS tools, products and experience.

Result = Easier contract negotiations, vendor independent solution, highly open standards based solution,  delivery based upon sustained high levels of service, and the provider can be changed at anytime without have to alter the installation.

As all lamp fixture data according to the DALI standard is available in the BMS/BAS system this can be shared with, or data shared from, any other  connected building control subsystem, such as HVAC, Access, Fire, Emergency, ADR & DRM, Smart Grid, Vertical Transportation.

Result = More efficient operation of systems to meet the operational and business requirements of the building owner, manager and user.

Such solutions are being delivered and maintained by the modern breed of Super Integrator as described by IHS, see their “Can you see the light” report.

So hopefully you can now see the difference between what actually should be the acceptable minimum and what most commercial and public building owners, managers and users still experience today.

So why is this?  Here are some of the myths and historically based experiences assumed still to apply to today’s modern smart lighting solution:

I suspect the reader can add a few more and in fact I would love to hear other reasons not to invest in lighting control.

So let’s clear up these myths and historically based experiences:

The cost of today’s modern lighting solutions from the new breed of BMS/BAS Super System Integrators are simply not as expensive as you might imagine. The modern smart lighting solution requires less hardware, less installation, less commissioning reducing costs by between 50% & 80%, see comparison results here.  Modern intelligent 100% dimming DALI ballast unit pricing in the last three years has fallen from $160 to under $30 according to US and RoW Certified elitedali Partners, click here to contact.

Today’s modern smart lighting solutions leverage existing de-facto standard web based BMS/BAS controls platforms which are directly connected  in addition to the smart lighting circuits using the IEC published global communication standard for light fixtures from LEDs to Fluorescents. Open standards deliver vendor independence and choice about what parts are used, who delivers and who maintains at any time. This delivers a strong competitive market at point of delivery and throughout the lifetime of the solution.

With today’s smart lighting solutions all information about each individual light fixture is available to the End Client according to the published DALI standard for the purpose of control, maintenance, management, visualisation and analytics. All available via existing BMS/BAS web based platforms using the same knowledge and experience that already exists for the BMS/BAS.

Adds, moves and changes are now all accomplished via existing web based tools in the web BMS/BAS environments again using same skills and knowledge.

If the original provider fails to perform or no longer exist,  just find another SI with the same BMS/BAS platform skills and knowledge to take over.

The BMS/BAS platform providers are many as are the light fixture suppliers so if one goes bust you just use another supplier offering products that meet the same open or de-facto standards.

LEDs are great products with the best yet to come.  However, other light source technologies are also advancing and the latest fluorescent technologies are technically the equal of today’s best LED devices at lower cost both at point of delivery and in operation. For a comparison of performance from a world leading manufacturer of LED and other light fixtures, click here.

Further, even the traditional light controls industry has hard evidence to show that if you use constant light control or daylight harvesting on any light source, overall energy will be dramatically reduced, by as much as 75%!

Convergence - what’s that got to do with lighting control?

What is Convergence?

An everyday example - Simply think of your smart phone and consider how many things it connects to, and how many devices it replaces that you once would have needed, i.e. camera, media player.

An everyday example

Building controls example –

Building controls example –

These videos may also help to further explain concept and benefits convergence in building controls;

Intelligent Buildings, DDAI Integrated Buildings video - featuring DDAI, Land Securities & Westfield

Convergence has everything to do with extracting maximum efficiency from lighting whilst maintaining operationally efficient environments in which businesses need to operate.

The vast majority of lighting solutions today are still standalone with all the value information contained within them and are not freely available to the end client.
At best most of the latest intelligent lighting solutions from the traditional lighting controls industry simply interface to (often incorrectly referred to as “integrates with”, click here to learn more) BMS/BAS platforms providing less than ideal access to enable all commissioning, control, maintenance, management and analytics from within the BMS/BAS environment.

Modern lighting solutions delivered by modern system integrators are completely integrated into the BMS/BAS solution for commissioning, engineering, controls, maintenance, management and analytics.

This saves equipment, installation, commissioning, controls, maintenance, management and analytics costs both at point of delivery and over the operational lifetime of the installation.

Convergent solutions cost less to deliver and are less risk. The hard facts; see what CISCO and Dimension Data have to say.

Properly specified convergent system solutions are based upon open standards thus providing widest possible choice of suppliers both equipment and service, thus maintaining competitive market, flexibility and choice over the lifetime of the installation.

So is Convergence, in particular, with lighting control good for business?

The growing project based evidence from some of the world’s largest and most successful companies including building owners, developers, managers and users is YES IT IS! Review “Convergence, is it good for business?” Niagara Forum 2013 presentation

It improves the profit lines of the delivering and maintaining suppliers, reduces the cost of ownership and maintenance by the end client whilst delivering the ever changing needs of the businesses that use these buildings now and into the future. Simply it delivers a WIN, WIN, WIN option and who can argue with that!

There is much evidence supporting the fact that convergent smart building solutions inclusive of lighting control has shifted the old traditional view of smart lighting control value, costs and benefits. If,  as a building controls supplier, you are not offering such and as an End Client not specifying such you will very soon find your businesses being overtaken by those who have seen the light!

See Evolution in Intelligent Building Systems, IHS Research, click here and understand how smart lighting and traditional BMS/BAS is converging now and into the future.

Finally no traditional lighting controls supplier was mentioned in the making of this article, which should tell you something quite revolutionary is quietly happening all around you.

To learn more visit

About the Author

Mike Welch, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Control Network Solutions Ltd (CNS).

Mike Welch and CNS deliver control network, M2M products and solutions based upon global open standards. Mike is a fierce supporter of vendor independent open standards solutions.

CNS created the world’s first web based open standard DALI lighting solution deliverable by System Integrators using their existing knowledge and experience based around Tridium’s web convergent Niagara AX technology and has now repeated this for EnOcean wireless/batteryless device networks. This was launched at the Niagara Forum 2013. See for more details.


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