Why Your Commercial Lighting Infrastructure Needs to be Smart and Connected.
Read this article to learn how Silicon Labs is the platform of choice for flexible, wireless lighting infrastructure applications with topics covering sensors, energy consumption, and government regulations.
Lighting is one of the biggest consumers of energy in buildings. It can take up to 25% of a building’s energy budget. Smart lighting can also significantly reduce energy costs for enterprises and contribute to the sustainability of commercial buildings. The migration from incandescent lighting to LEDs is a major trend in the lighting industry and new deployments.
However, energy friendly LEDs are only one component in the total savings equation. Controlling commercial lighting automatically with occupancy and daylight sensors can further drive down costs. Occupancy sensors autonomously control the luminaires based on demand, while daylighting sensors dim the lights when enough ambient light is detected. These smart and effective solutions help enterprises and building owners drive down energy consumption, save costs, and reduce carbon footprint.
Adding wireless mesh networking such as Bluetooth mesh to luminaires, LED drivers, sensors and wall controls can have multiple benefits. Wireless technology can simplify and speed up installation because less cables are needed, and the sensors and controls are easier to mount. Retrofitting wireless devices on an existing system allow faster building and reduced costs.
Sensors and wall controls powered by batteries, or even an energy harvesting solution open new possibilities for reducing the installation time and costs.
Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth allow an effortless lighting setup and maintenance via smart phone applications, while fully automated applications can simplify setup and maintenance further.
In commercial buildings, lighting is everywhere - and the density of luminaires is typically high. If the luminaires are equipped with wireless technology such as Bluetooth for connecting to sensors and controls, the same technology can also be used for location services.
The luminaires can be turned into virtual Bluetooth beacons sending out infrequent Bluetooth beacon packets to smart phones and other portable devices. Bluetooth beacon deployments can enable various value such as adding services - including indoor positioning and wayfinding.
Enabling commercial lighting with IoT and smart technologies makes it future-proof, so you can add new applications and use-cases on the lighting system as the technologies evolve. The wireless radios are typically software upgradable and new features such as circadian lighting, predictive maintenance and enhanced location services can be rolled out via software upgrades.
Commerical lighting systems are typically dense networks of tens, or even thousands of nodes, covering large areas. Wireless mesh technologies such as Bluetooth mesh or Zigbee are optimal choices for these applications as they meet all requirements: scale for large networks, provide multi-hop communication, and support mains and low-power nodes.
Silicon Labs is a leading provider of wireless mesh networking with more than 100 million nodes deployed for wireless lighting applications. Several of our wireless SoC offerings includes all the major mesh networking technologies - including Bluetooth mesh, Zigbee, Thread and Z-wave and are ideally suited for the unique requirements of lighting.
The luminaires in a mesh connected network for the backbone of the network and relay the messages between the nodes. These devices are usually mains powered and do not need to be optimized for battery powered operation, however.
The Silicon Labs EFR32xG21 is optimized for these core devices in a mesh network and have the industry’s best RF performance when it comes to transmit power and receiver sensitivity. These devices are also equipped with 96kB of RAM and 1024kB of flash ensuring they are capable of running the core networking activity and for example Bluetooth beaconing while participating in a mesh network. EFR32xG21 also operates up to +125C which can be useful in some applications.
The mesh nodes such as sensors, light switches, and dimmers can operate on batteries or energy harvesting because they transmit data only when an action is performed, such as switching lights on or off. Silicon Labs solutions support the technologies developed for battery-powered lighting devices - these include Bluetooth mesh Low Power Nodes and Zigbee Green Power devices.
For battery-powered lighting devices, low sleep power consumption and fast wake-up time are essential, as they are mostly in a sleep mode and only wake up to transmit data. Our BG22 and MG22 SoCs feature extremely low radio TX and RX currents and an integrated DC-DC converter to minimize the energy consumption on your battery-powered commercial lighting devices.
IoT Security is paramount in commercial lighting applications. Security vulnerabilities on an enterprise lighting system can threaten the entire network, business applications, and public security and cause material damage to a brand and business.
The Silicon Labs wireless solutions are secured at all levels to safeguard your lighting product against the most sophisticated attacks. Our Secure Vault firmware enabled the world’s first wireless SoCs to achieve PSA Certified Level 2 certification.
Silicon Labs can supply wireless mesh networking nodes to provide a single network with multiple devices and multi-hop connectivity, as seen in the diagram above.