Secure, Scalable and Interoperable Wireless Connectivity for Commercial Lighting
Adding wireless connectivity to commercial luminaries, sensors and controls can introduce multiple benefits over traditional wired devices. From simplified installation and reduced cost through the use of fewer cables between luminaires to the introduction of new sensors, automation and control.
Wireless commercial lighting can serve as a platform for additional services and value creation through the addition of Bluetooth beaconing into the luminaires and comes at virtually no additional hardware cost.
Wireless connectivity can also offer benefits to facility managers looking to make use of preventative maintenance capabilities to avoid ill-timed bulb failure. Such systems can also be extended to monitor additional environmental conditions including temperature, humidity and indoor air quality reporting such data to the cloud for use by other services.
Building energy efficiency standards, such as the California Title 24, require commercial lighting deployments to implement occupancy and ambient light level-based lighting control. With wireless connectivity, occupancy and ambient light sensors do not need to be hard wired to the luminaires and can even be battery-powered, which allows for easier and more flexible installation.
Things to know when designing wireless lighting
Network topology and size:
Lighting networks typically require tens or hundreds of nodes in a single network and cover large areas, requiring mesh networking such as Bluetooth mesh or 15.4 based technologies like Zigbee, in most cases. Mesh networking has the benefit of providing a single network with many devices and multi-hop connectivity to cover large areas. Mesh networks are also more resilient than point-to-point connectivity, as messages can travel through multiple routes from the source to the destination, and a single node being dropped or removed from the network usually does not lead to the whole network breaking down.
Mains or battery-powered devices:
Mesh networking nodes need to constantly listen and repeat messages from other nodes. In most cases, this means relaying/routing nodes need to be mains powered, as the power consumption is dominated by constant radio RX and occasional radio TX. However, it is possible to have some nodes in the network use batteries or energy harvesting to operate. Devices such as sensors, light switches and dimmers usually only transmit when an action is performed, such as user pressing an on/off switch or sensor reading being updated. Mesh networking technologies support these types of devices and are called Low Power Nodes (Bluetooth mesh) or Green Power devices (Zigbee).
The type of device being built can also impact the type of radio IC used in the node. The mains powered routing/relaying nodes usually do not need low power sleep modes, but it is more important to have a good radio link budget that provides long range and robust communication between the nodes and enough RAM and Flash memory to handle relaying/routing functionality and low power node support. EFR32BG21 and EFR32MG21 SoCs are optimized for mains power nodes and provide up to +20 dBm TX power (depending on version), excellent RX sensitivity, up to 96 kB RAM and 1024 kB flash, which is ideal for the mains power nodes.
For battery powered devices, sleep power consumption and fast wake up times are important, as these devices spend most of their life in a sleep mode, only waking when a transmit operation is required. Battery powered nodes also typically do not perform relaying or routing operations as doing so would negatively impact battery life. The removal of these relay & routing operations also mean lower RAM and flash versions of a radio device can be selected.
EFR32BG22 and EFR32MG22 are ideal for the lowest power devices because of their extremely low radio TX and RX currents and integrated DC-DC converter to keep the sleep current minimal in low power modes.
Whether you are developing commercial lighting or other IoT applications, security is paramount and mission critical for many industries. Security vulnerabilities are not just threats to individual products, they also threaten entire networks or business applications and public security exploits can cause significantly brand damage and business disruption. Today, wireless mesh technologies inherently provide secure ways of provisioning and configuring devices, encrypting and authenticating network traffic and protection mechanisms against message replay, trashcan attacks, etc.. IoT devices must also be protected from tampering, malware injection or advanced exploits and Differential Power Analysis (DPA). Our latest series 2 EFR32 devices integrate both the wireless protocol security and protection against many physical attacks such as DPA. Learn more about how we enhance IoT security.