Smart Solutions

Why DALI and only DALI when it comes to smart connected lighting?

The latest paradigms in the building management dictate varied new terms for selection of the utility strategies. One of the relevant amongst them states, “A system is profitable, only and only, when it stands the test of future compatibility right in the present” The same is true for the state-of-the-art lighting systems too, of course, along with other significant benefits. So, let us analyze the what’s, why’s and how’s of DALI based lighting systems and understand the typical nuances therein.

What is DALI?

DALI is the IEC – 62386 (International Electrotechnical Commission) standard defining the communication rules for the ballasts, so as to enable the lighting systems in different ways. DALI is generally explained as a two-wire control system, which allows you to creatively manipulate the lighting systems in a building facility. If we evaluate it against the conservative methodologies, we find that it is better organized, innovative and future-compatible system fit for the current technology-savvy era.

On the face of it, an analog 0-10V dimming driver may seem to be an easy choice, given the familiarity and the ‘no-extra-costs-involved’ adage. However, one seriously needs to consider other truly relevant factors before concluding the technology choice. The most relevant being performance; whether your choice will suffice your performance needs? Secondly, would the technology stand the test of time in terms of the new codes and standards?

Why DALI and only DALI?

In 0-10 V analog control, a low-voltage control element provides a control input to the driver by changing the voltage between 1 VDC, minimum and 10 VDC maximum output. The driver coordinates these control levels to respective dimmed levels of the LED light. But, the long wires delivering these small voltage levels often interfere in the signal levels giving rise to fluctuating light levels. This could be okay in certain applications, like parking spaces where consistency of light is not a requisite. However, for other applications like offices, conference rooms, utility spaces or residential applications analog control is now an outdated choice as it could lead to anything from current compliance issues to power-line noise, performance breaks and so on. Also, re-organizing lighting in such a space would mean excess costs for re-furbish task.

Contrary to this, DALI systems are a digital interconnect between the LED-drivers and the controllers. Thus, separation in the power and control interfaces is inherent in the design, doing away with the common analog noise and performance issues. At the same time, re-configuration is easy, where the specific fixtures are instructed through software to alter their conformation rather than re-structuring the total hardware.

How does DALI accomplish what it does?

  • With DALI in place, lighting is entirely customized to the needs of the occupants accommodating the highest demands while balancing the available daylight along with other constraints like energy rates and all. DALI simply enables the user to control each light fixture discretely.
  • As DALI is an open protocol, various brands of devices can co-exist allowing for the most desired-for interoperability feature in the lighting systems
  • Considering the level of control expected in office spaces nowadays the DALI-enabled control network leads to lesser and simpler control wiring. It’s a simple two-wire control assembly that goes to each fitting and formulates the control network.
  • Pre-programming through DALI ensures minimum management instructions for different lighting needs of a space for different times and occasions. Thus, the systems are user-friendly without giving away any of the energy-conserving or flexibility benefits.  

While DALI allows for innovative planning of the lighting systems with lower costs as well as good interoperability, it also presents a fair degree of flexibility along with high reliability, right in its basic implementation. Above all, it gives us the independence of forward compatibility, an indispensable quality in the present scenario.

Sudhir Patil
CEO – Leap Info Systems Pvt. Ltd.

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