Future Electronics – System optimisation: the new challenge in lighting equipment design

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François Mirand
EMEA Technical Director, Future Lighting Solutions

For the past ten years or so, engineers working on new luminaire and lighting equipment designs have been able to make easy gains in performance and efficiency by exploiting the regular advances in technology introduced by manufacturers of LEDs.

Now, it is no longer so simple: a new day has dawned, in which optimisation of efficacy, cost and performance is going to take place at the system level rather than at the component level.

It’s a new challenge, but fortunately support and guidance from the experts at Future Lighting Solutions, a division of Future Electronics, are readily available to lighting OEMs.

The change that the lighting industry is facing has come about because LED technology is maturing. At times in the past, it felt as though hardly a day went by without an announcement from one LED manufacturer or another that a new LED had set a world record for flux or efficacy.

This period of continual performance breakthroughs has now passed. The LED as a technology is nearing its limits in efficacy. LED manufacturers continue to engage in marketing battles, but the differences in performance between rival manufacturers’ products are smaller than before.

So if the LED is no longer an important source of improvement in luminaire performance, what should the OEM designer’s strategy be? In my view, it is time to work on optimising the whole lighting system. We only have to look with our own eyes to see the vast waste of light in today’s environment. A luminaire can use the most efficient LEDs in the world, but if it is illuminating a space that no- one is using, then it is completely inefficient.

The solution is to ensure that the right amount of efficient lighting is delivered when and where it is needed. For instance, sensors can read and react to the environment – the presence of people, the intensity and CCT of daylight and so on – and control the artificial light output accordingly.

This is the promise, for instance, of the ams AS7225, a smart light manager featured on page 11. It can not only provide a closed loop control of chromaticity in tunable white systems, but also adjust the CCT to match with the natural light in daylight harvesting installations.

Energy savings can be further improved by wirelessly connecting lights to a control centre, now through the internet. In fact, some OEMs are starting to conceive of lights as intelligent connected hubs which can be remotely programmed and controlled to sense the environment and dim or even switch on or off at the right time. Today, technology such as the LoRaWANTM networking protocol makes long- range wireless communication easy to deploy.

And through a comprehensive range of suppliers, Future Electronics can help lighting OEMs to implement wireless connectivity; including end nodes, gateways, network and data servers, sensing and intelligent controls to bring a new level of system efficiency and smart operation to their next-generation products.

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