Lighting control technology has seen some interesting advances in the last couple of years. This interview takes a look at what those changes are, and what is driving the sector as a whole.
Manjul Trehan, country head & director sales, Lutron Electronics India & SAARC, speaks to Dilin Anand from EFY.
What is the overall trend when we look at lighting sources?
Everything is changing in terms of light sources. We had multiple varieties of light sources before, and as new innovative changes show up in the market we see ourselves moving towards a single light source which is going to take over everything else – Light-emitting Diodes (LED). It is dynamic because it is based on solid state electronics, and therefore the infrastructure manufacturing is made much easier.
Why can’t convetional dimming systems be used for LED lighting?
When moving from an incandescent light source to an LED based one, the way in which you control the light source changes completely. An LED can be even a single watt source, while the others require a mnimum of 36 watt as their basic requirement. Since all conventional dimming systems were based on that condition, this inherently makes them obsolete when the lighitng source is converted to an LED based one.
How would you compare your RF technology to more commonly used wireless communication technology like BLE, Zigbee, Zwave or WiFi?
The radiio frequency (RF) technology that we use enables us to provide an ultra-reliable system that is free of in-band interference. This band has proven to be great for high density installations like multi-dwelling units, urban areas and dense single-family developments. The proliferation of wireless devices in the global market has had minimal impact on this band.
What benefits do lighting systems connected to this variant of RF technology gain?
The systems are designed to allow you to isolate and troubleshoot them on a stand-alone basis, which make a lot of sense when your entire home or office lighting solutions is connected together. The ability to handle troubleshooting piecemeal makes a lot of sense in the real world. If there becomes a real market need, a company could make an interface that directly ties say Lutron RF systems to other systems using various RF standards.
There is minimal inefficiency in mixing different subsystems together so you can still build good lighting control systems (LCS).
What’s exciting in dimming technology advances over the past few years?
The dimming technology has undergone massive metamorphosis since last few years. Some of the key developments include the total light control concept where dimming is not just limited to electric light. Instead, it enables one to dim daylight with automated shades. Through total light control solutions, one can optimally utilise the daylight to complete electric light (daylight harvesting), save energy and live in a healthy and eco-friendly lighting environment. The second is wireless solutions for the dimming modules which can communicate wirelessly with controllers, keypads, occupancy sensors and daylight sensors. Not just this, automated shades can be wireless too.
Today, you can find battery operated honeycomb and roller shades that are completely free of wires, thus allowing them to be installed anywhere in the existing space without any hassles.
What are the various challenges that were previously faced in LED dimming?
Earlier LED dimming used to have various problems like pop-on, dead travel, visible steps, flicker or drop-out. Pop-on is where after dimming it to a low level or switching it off, the LED bulb doesn’t turn on until the slider is moved significanlty high. Dead travel is seen when adjusting the control does not result in a corresponding change in light level. Visible steps are where the light level increases in steps rather than in a smooth fashion while adjusting the slider. Flickers are small changes in light intensity and drop-outs are when the light turns off only when the switch is turned completely off instead of completely following the slider.
What are the top 3 elements that have driven the advance of lighting control solutions over the past years?
The improving economic condition of the country, increasing demand for home automation and the need of total light control in homes are the three main factors that have steered the development of advanced lighting control solutions over the past five years. All these elements are interrelated to each other.
What are people looking for in lighting solutions being designed today?
With the country’s economy booming, the annual income of people has increased significantly.
The well-travelled section of the society is looking out for enhanced automation that can help stay connected with their homes regardless of where they are and what they are doing.