LED lighting – meshed Bluetooth transforms lighting controls networks

July 27, 2017 //By Matthias Kassner and Saara Guastella
LED lighting has revolutionised the lighting industry and creates completely new market conditions. Bluetooth Low Energy is a protocol optimised for controlling smart lighting. Due to its unique combination of low power communication with wide-spread support in smartphones, it provides an interesting alternative to other communication protocols such as zigbee and Wi-Fi and can be combined with other technologies to make smart lighting even smarter.

From lighting control to the Internet of Things

The transition from existing lighting solutions towards LED lighting is occurring in three distinct phases, each with its own unique characteristics.

The first phase is characterised by replacing traditional light sources such as incandescent light bulbs or fluorescent light tubes with LED-based solutions. The key goal was to reduce the operational cost by means of lower power consumption and longer life time of LED light sources compared to their traditional counterparts.

LED-based lighting uses approximately 75 percent less energy and lasts 25 times longer than traditional incandescent lighting. The US Department of Energy estimated that the full transition to LED lighting could save about 348 TWh of electricity in the United States alone. This is the equivalent of the annual electrical output of 44 electric power plants (1000 MW each) and represents cost savings of more than 30 billion US Dollars at today’s electricity prices. [1]

The second phase of this transition focuses on the combination of LED lighting with sensors and controls to further optimise energy efficiency and user convenience. Three main control mechanisms are used for that:

  • Occupancy sensors allows turning off the light automatically if it is not needed. This is especially beneficial for larger office spaces where individual areas might not be used all the time;
  • Ambient light level sensors can adjust the brightness of the indoor lighting based on the amount of available ambient light (so-called daylighting). This is especially beneficial for buildings with large glass fronts where lots of ambient light is available;
  • Defining maximum brightness settings for dimmable lights (so-called task tuning) avoids overly lit areas and optimises the light level for individual areas.
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