In the last blog we shared the different wireless technologies that exist and how some are more suited than others for the connected lighting space. In this blog, we'll talk about what the different components are in a connected lighting design and how to dive a bit deeper on the “connected” side.
There are three major components to a connected lighting design:
Light engine and power electronics are similar in a wireless light design from a traditional light design. The potential difference between manufacturers is how the PWMs are driven and what the timings are. There can be up to 4 PWM channels in a typical RGB color light design (R, G, B, W). These channels are used to control the RGB color, color temperature, and intensity of the light.
The wireless design piece is a new and exciting addition to a traditional light. Looking at a ZigBee lighting design, the radio in a light bulb communicates with a gateway delivering pre-set commands such as discover, join, and leave. For control, a switch or the gateway can send commands like on/off, level (brightness), color XY (RGB color), hue, and saturation. Within the ZigBee protocol, there is also diagnostic capability to monitor network health and connection status. All of these commands are written using a standardized protocol that can be found in the ZigBee cluster library. There is also the ability to upgrade the driver in the bulb to support new features or even another protocol over the air. This provides flexibility and upgradability to a design.
On the hardware, it is important to consider antenna placement of the RF radio. Size is a very important consideration in wireless lighting design. The light socket sizes are standardized. In order to fit the wireless piece in the bulb, the wireless module needs to be as small as possible. The antenna needs to be placed in a location where the signals are unobstructed. To fit inside a light bulb, there are some creative options for the antenna placement insdie the bulb such as having the antenna stick out of the base, or around the casing.
There are many benefits to a connected lighting system. In our next blog, we'll dive into some very practical and differentiating use cases. So stay tuned…