The new frontier in lighting continues to expand well beyond the ever-hyped solid-state lighting (SSL) market, as communications/control systems of all stripes were evident at the Lightfair International show, held May 3-7 in New York's Jacob Javitz Convention Center.

Energy matters

Because the first rule in the energy efficiency game is to reduce electric lighting power usage when it's not needed, sensing and control systems are increasingly using Cat. 5e UTP cabling to conveniently interconnect components and sophisticated software to monitor the installations. Not surprisingly, one of the educational sessions at this year's event was titled “The Integration of Lighting and IT.”

Given the fact that solid-state lighting is an important product segment in this era of limited natural resources — and because the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is committed to transforming lighting technology through educational activities, industry alliances, standards development, and certification programs — the DOE had a noticeable presence at the show with a large booth. To help the more than 23,000 attendees learn in a vendor-neutral environment, half-hour sessions were available, covering subjects from the CALiPER testing program to the Next Generation Luminaires competition to the two new standards (LM-79 and LM-80) for LED sources.

High brightness (HB) light-emitting diodes (LEDs), offering high efficiency and stable white color for a variety of applications, were evident almost everywhere. Some of the advancements in HBLED technology can be attributed to the efforts of the DOE in recent years. However, a critical fact that limits the intensity of HBLEDs is extraction efficiency: the percentage of useful photons able to escape from the surface of the die, instead of remaining trapped inside by internal reflection.

To address this problem, an MIT spinoff, Luminus Devices, designed a die with an array of sub-wavelength microstructures known as photonic lattices, which send out photons in a highly directional manner. The dies, called PhlatLights, are available in a broad array of color temperatures, allowing, for example, a single CSM-360 M LED package to deliver over 6,000 lumens. The single Chip-on-Board package consists of four separate monolithic chips, each with a light-emitting surface of 9 mm (square). Applications include general, architectural, and portable lighting markets.

Several LED fixtures on display did something a little different, including Everbrite Lighting Technologies' MedLux XLS-2 downlight for use in MRI spaces, which replaces the commonly used incandescent downlight that can suffer premature lamp failure caused by a strong magnetic field. In addition, an incandescent filament nearing its point of failure can resonate and degrade the radiology image. Rated at less than 60W, the LED fixture delivers 50 fc at task level. Lightolier's Calculite LED downlight uses remote phosphor technology to redirect back-reflected light out of the 4-in round and square models. Rated at 20W, with a 50° cutoff, the unit provides 11,000 lumens at 4,000K. Cooper Lighting's 2×2 ft recessed troffer mounts the LEDs within a stylized heatsink suspended below the reflector, allowing the fixture to operate in high ambient temperatures.

Look for Genera Electric, Osram Sylvania, and Philips to have true LED replacements lamps for A-line, B10, and PAR 38 incandescent sources in the near future. Philips, which purchased Genlyte, the No. 2 U.S. maker of lighting fixtures in 2007, had 24 separate booths for all of its product lines, which employ many of its high-performance LEDs. Osram Sylvania has business strategies with fixture makers such as Acuity Brands for its top-performing LEDs, and General Electric is investing in evolving technologies and pursuing a strategy of building highly reliable LED systems that meet the demands of major customers like Wal-Mart.

Outdoor endeavors

Several manufacturers introduced products at this year's event that turn an outdoor lighting system into a communications network, making it easier to monitor, control, and maintain not just roadway lighting but also call boxes, dynamic message signs, cameras, inductive loops, and the entire related power distribution system.

The development of the Electrical and Lighting Management Systems (ELMS) network stems from the efforts of three associations, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). The ELMS network incorporates a standard from the National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transportation System Protocol (NTCIP), which provides remote monitoring of electrical-based equipment.

The NTCIP123, “Electrical Lighting and Management Systems,” allows for standards-based, 2-way communications between a central monitoring station and street lighting equipment. Typically, the communicating device containing a microprocessor and a wireless transceiver plugs into the standard NEMA twist-lock receptacle atop the luminaire. Four of the five communications protocols supported by the ELMS equipment are BACnet, LonTalk, DALI, and DMX.

With both the wide acceptance of LED roadway lighting and the expansion of solid-state HID ballasts, the use of bilevel switching to achieve a uniform 50% reduction in light output while maintaining uniformity levels during late night hours is also gaining popularity. In the future, energy costs will likely vary with the time of night, as unnecessary street illumination is curtailed.

At the show, Echelon teamed with Beta Lighting and LED Roadway (LED streetlights), ROMLight (electronic ballasts for HPS and MH streetlights) and Streetlight. Vision (streetlight and high-bay lighting system management software) to demonstrate the ability to individually dim and monitor a fixture. Echelon's control technology also can be integrated into warehouses, retail spaces, hangers, and other large structures.

Partnering for success

Also at this year's event, a trade association called LONMARK International announced the formation of an advisory committee to promote open networks in lighting systems. Founding members include: the California Energy Commission, the California Lighting Technology Center, Echelon Corp., Philips Lighting, and ROMlight International.

Leviton Manufacturing Co. entered the arena of digital communications/controls, energy monitoring, and LED illumination on a large scale with three strategic partnerships. Using wireless products from EnOcean GmbH, Leviton introduced a lineup of self-powered occupancy sensors that require no new wiring in a retrofit application. The system includes occupancy sensors, remote switches, wall switches, and integrated wireless receivers that automatically turn lights on when occupancy is detected and off when the space is unoccupied. The receiver switches are rated 10A, 120-277V.

The second partnership is with ADMMicro, a firm that offers real-time monitoring to create an energy profile for a facility and then implement a plan for increasing energy efficiency. Investment payback can be achieved in two years or less. Revenue grade accuracy is provided for electricity, natural gas, propane, or water consumption.

The third partnership aligns Molex's Transcend Lighting Series of LED products with Leviton's extensive distribution system, promoting the adoption of LED technology by fixture manufacturers. Transcend is a line of self-contained, pluggable LED light modules; the RM2 (reflector model) uses an AC line voltage LED with a GU24 base for integration into new and existing directional and decorative fixtures. The PM (surface puck module) is for general service and decorative fixtures. Molex's partner is Seoul Semiconductor, maker of the Acriche 4W AC LED. DC solutions will be offered in the future.

The growing acceptance of LED lighting (which generally is served by a 12VDC or 24VDC power supply) for general interior office applications is a key factor in the development of the Emerge Alliance, another new open industry association, promoting low-voltage, DC power distribution from an enclosure installed in the above-ceiling space.

The founding members are Armstrong World Industries, Johnson Controls, Nextek Power Systems, Osram Sylvania, and WAVE. The first liaison members include BACnet International, the EnOcean Alliance, and the ZigBee Alliance. Acuity Brands Lighting, Lighting Science Group, Sensor Switch, Tyco Electronics, WattStopper/Legrand, and Crestron Electronics are among the more than 30 companies in the alliance.

A prototype model, with the new power distribution system supporting solid-state ballasts, LED fixtures, and wireless switching, was shown at the Osram Sylvania booth. To reduce resistive power losses in such a DC system, run lengths are likely to be relatively sort and wire gauges sufficiently large.

Because Class 2 power-limited circuits can carry a maximum of 100VA, the DC circuits likely would use spider or hub-and-spoke wiring topologies. Additionally, DC power coming from renewable sources at the site, such as solar or wind, would likely use Class 1 wiring, eliminating the need for DC-to-AC inverters, filters, and isolation switches.

This system would complement the AC power system in a building, serving as an economical way to power “native” DC equipment, such as cell phone chargers and other personal use devices, as well as basic building controls, sensors, VAV actuators, security systems, and A/V systems.

While looking at the outdoor market, it's worth commenting on viable street and roadway LED light options that include designs from Phillip's Hadco, McGraw Edison's Generation, and Osram Sylvania's post top street light retrofit kit. General Electric showed the Evolve LED Garage Light fixture, available in 80,110W and 125W rating, and in three optical designs. The Evolve LED Series Area Light is rated from 97W to 214W, depending on the light distribution pattern.

In control

Electronic controls help lighting loads sip power, a trend that was highlighted by many vendors at the show. For example, Watt Stopper offers Digital Lighting Management (DLM), a series of plug-together lighting controls with automated self-configuring sensors, switches, and other components. DLM uses Cat. 5e RJ45 cables to connect the room components. This eliminates most of the contractor labor associated with interpreting wiring diagrams, setting DIP switches, and terminating low-voltage connections, thus eliminating the potential for wiring errors.

Hubbell Building Automation's LX Networked Light Controls distribution panel has a touchscreen GUI at the top of the enclosure. The IntellADAPT occupancy sensor analyzes occupancy and adjusts the time and sensitivity settings. The Light BAT GZ dual-level controller and PIR sensor serves 175 to 1,650 CWA-type HID ballasts in high-bay applications.

Cooper Controls introduced the ControlKeeper EM Lighting Control System, which offers full network control from a single color touchscreen, true power metering, and a complete energy conservation system. The DemandKeeper is an automated wireless demand response lighting control system that can cut usage at critical times or in response to market prices.

Acuity Brand's nLight digital communications network consists of occupancy/photo sensors, power packs, and wall switches, which can be supervised via Web-based management software called SensorView.

Lutron showed its GRAFIK Eye QS control panel, which has wireless capabilities. The Radio Powr Savr occupancy/vacancy sensor features wireless setup and contains front-accessible buttons/an illuminating lens to verify ideal locations.