Reference design For Smart Lightning and Control Solutions

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The light-emitting diode (LED) and fluorescent technologies are currently at the forefront of delivering the most efficient alternatives to incandescent lighting.

Although both pose technical challenges, they also offer significant advantages beyond simple incandescent light bulb replacement, including improved efficacy (lumens/watt), reduced energy consumption and the ability to add intelligence.

The light quality of alternate lighting technologies is perceived to be similar to that of incandescent lighting, the benefits of longer life and increased energy savings may not always be considered significant enough to motivate changes in the market. Microchip’s advanced lighting solutions offer you the opportunity to incorporate non-traditional capabilities into your lighting designs.

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Features such as predictive failure and maintenance, energy monitoring, colour and temperature maintenance and remote communications and control are just some of the advanced capabilities that can make intelligent lighting solutions more attractive. These advanced capabilities—along with reduced operating, maintenance and energy costs—can quickly translate to significant savings, particularly for corporate and commercial facilities.

The article is a reference guide for all the parameters which are required for designing an efficient Lightning System. The main components of designing a lighting system can be described as –

  • Lighting Technology Basics
  • Efficient Power Conversion for Ballasts and Drivers
  • Intelligent Lighting Controls
  • Intelligent Lighting Controls
  • Application areas

Lighting Technology Basics

There are two types of lighting technologies which are currently used in a large number of applications.

Smart lightning
Smart lightning

Incandescent light sources are good at creating large amounts of visible light and even greater amounts of heat. As a result, a typical light bulb is not very efficient—only about 10% of the input energy is output as light with the remaining 90% being wasted as radiated heat. The typical light bulb has a relatively short lifetime—ranging from several hundred to a couple of thousand hours. They are cheap in cost as no electronics are required in the working of the bulb.

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High Brightness Light Emitting Diode (HB LED) produces light when forward biased, enabling the electron-hole recombination that releases light photons. LED light output is a direct function of the current flow—too little current and the light will dim, too much current and lifetimes will be shortened. A typical LED driver is a DC power supply providing converted AC or DC power to directly control the LED via constant current, Pulse Width Modulation (PWM), or other variations.

Efficient Power Conversion for Drivers

The flexibility of this solution allows for simplified attachment to existing designs or the development of full Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS) based intelligent solutions which reduce the overall wire harnesses and regulator losses being persistent in Power losses. It is a combination of SMPS sources being integrated with a powerful microcontroller which can regulate the power conversion factors such as Gain and Output Power factors etc. This includes Smart and Solar based charging methods to power and charge the devices directly through Energy harvesting techniques.

Intelligent Lighting Controls

The ability to dim any light source is the most common requirement of a light controller, but it is also a potential design obstacle. Most legacy dimmers are simple TRIAC dimmers that can vary the light output of an incandescent light source from 0–100%. These vary the brightness by “chopping” the AC line voltage and controlling the effective power to the lamp.

In order to effectively dim LED and fluorescent light, specialized methods such as varying PWM frequency or variable current is required. This is easily implemented with electronic dimming controllers. Functions such as dimming and timers are becoming commonplace, but intelligent control provides opportunities to enrich the user experience and increase value.

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Incremental energy savings can be provided by integrating elements such as energy management and harvesting (ie. solar), ambient light compensation and occupancy or motion sensing. Intelligent control enables the creation of lighting networks that communicate locally as well as to remote locations to increase energy savings.

Communications and Networking

In terms of providing communication, there are many protocols and methods available for Smart controlling and automation of Devices such as-

  • 0–10V is the simplest and most prevalent lighting communication protocol. Scaling from 0 to 10V, communication is based on varying voltage levels.
  • DALI is a standard lighting control protocol for large networked lighting systems. DALI provides bi-directional communications with uniquely addressed light sources.
  • DMX512A is another successor to 0–10V which provides dimming communication. It is used heavily within the stage and theatrical lighting applications, DMX512A provides unidirectional lighting communication and control of various stage effects.
  • CAN and LIN protocols were originally created for the automotive market. CAN be designed as a high-reliability and high-speed protocol (up to 1 Mbit/s) for the harsh environment of the car electrical bus.
  • ZigBee is an industry-standard protocol for wireless networking. Specifically designed for low-cost and relatively low-bandwidth automation applications.
  • Wi-Fi is the most common of all wireless protocols. Wi-Fi modules have been architected to ease integration at minimum system cost.

Areas of Application

The lighting solution has a very vast area of applications such as Industrial and home automation, automotive and consumer appliances etc. The technical support provided is Communication and networking, Lumen and colour control, Environmental sensing, Thermal management, Predictive failure and maintenance, Daylight harvesting Smooth dimming control, Color mixing, Closed-loop lighting control, Remote fault detection and User interface and control.

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