Apart from illuminating dark spaces there is much more to LED lighting than otherwise thought of. LEDs can be connected in an intelligent network with a low-voltage IP-based infrastructure, and they become a part of a powerful network of systems. Such a system can cooperatively collect, analyze, manage, control, and respond to specific objectives based on real-time sensor feedback.
The building lit up by these LEDs now behaves as a smart building, offering better operational performance. It responds dynamically to operating issues related to power consumption and cost, increasing efficiency and efficacy. Moreover, such integrated intelligent lighting works smoothly with the other systems in the building.
The major issue confronting LED networks is decoupling from the relatively universal approach of a centralized lighting control. It makes more sense to change over to a solution that caters to the specific requirements of smaller segments across a large area within the building. Moreover, as lighting is a part of the intelligent network, it can integrate with and respond to other components on the network. Such an approach works very well for commercial office buildings, warehouses, healthcare facilities, manufacturing and industrial facilities, and other similar large or multipurpose areas, where a centralized approach will be inefficient and ineffective.
As an example, buildings are very commonly controlled through automated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning−also called the HVAC system. The HVAC has the task of monitoring and adjusting the temperature to make the building suitable for human comfort and machine performance. Moreover, it does this at optimal efficiency and cost. An intelligent LED lighting network connected to the system would allow lighting to synchronize into the same set of objectives. Now, the lighting couples actively and responds to environmental climate control.
This gives the lighting network the intelligence to increase the ability of users to adjust the light within the building to increase human productivity, concentration, positive mood, and well-being. Moreover, by adjusting light synchronized to the natural circadian cycle and adjusting the amount of light required depending on the amount of sunlight filtering through external windows, additional potential advantages can be achieved.
All intelligent LED lighting networks need power, and the key technology behind this is Power over Ethernet (PoE). This brings the equipment and low-voltage cabling necessary to connect the assets of Internet of Things (IoT) to LED fixtures. The success of IP-based infrastructure platforms makes PoE simple and available. Therefore, by using PoE as the arteries of the LED lighting systems for power and control, lighting also becomes a part of the building’s IoT asset.
PoE provides an infrastructure that is less expensive compared to copper cables, while offering a single layer for transferring power and data. Typically, the PoE system architecture consists of the PoE gateways, LED light fixtures, LED lights, smart drivers for LEDs, cable harnesses, sensors, wireless switches and dimmers. In general, PoE gateways are configured to use any one source from unregulated 48 VDC, constant voltage 24 VDC/48 VDC, or constant current.
There may be wireless PoE gateways as well, conforming to IEEE 802 standards. Usually, they run at standard frequencies such as 902 MHz in the North Americas, and at 868 MHz in Europe.