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  • Zach Cook

Emergency Light Testing: Do you choose DALI or a modern alternative?

Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) was introduced over 30 years ago as a standard for lighting systems.

DALI uses a two-wire bus connection to communicate with each light, sensor, switch, or control panel; all of which need to be DALI compatible. The two-wire interface allows each device on the network to have bi-directional communication with the application controller.

Additionally, a DALI certified engineer must be present when commissioning or decommissioning a device to assign the new devices IDs and reconfigure the system.

So why is this an issue and what needs to be considered for any new system or upgrades?

For new installations, most buildings do not already have the necessary two-wire bus pre-installed, which will increase the costs of the implementation. Additionally, with the Carbon Net Zero 50 goal looming; the extra materials and emissions of installing the two-wire bus is going in the wrong direction.

For companies considering upgrading their DALI systems, they will need to purchase DALI compatible lights, sensors, etc. These devices are more expensive than their non-DALI alternatives.

Finally, for both new installations and upgrades, the cost of a DALI engineer to commission the system needs to be factored in, as well as maintenance of the system. Also, if the emergency test add-on has not already been purchased, this will need to be added to the costs.

The costs of DALI keep mounting up…

What alternatives are out there?

In 2006, the ZigBee wireless communication standards were brought in. ZigBee, similar to your Wi-Fi network, allows for communication between devices and the gateway device. You may have seen this concept in the Phillips Hue lighting system. Phillips adopted the ZigBee wireless protocol and has since used it in both their domestic and commercial lighting control devices.

ZigBee utilises mesh networks, which create an invisible spider’s web of connectivity over a building, with each device connecting to multiple other devices. This creates a self-healing network, where if one device is removed or goes offline, the network will re-route connections to ensure all other devices stay online.

Although ZigBee networks also require compatible sensors, switches etc., these devices are much more common and therefore, the prices are kept low by the number of manufacturers producing devices.

Emergency light testing through ZigBee is extremely futureproof, scalable, and inexpensive. There are ZigBee emergency light test devices, such as Vericon Systems’ EmeRed, that can be retrofitted into your existing light fittings in under 10 minutes. This gives you the opportunity to use any manufacturer, or any light type.

EmeRed employs user friendly interfaces to enable users to self-manage a complete portfolio, and a commissioning engineer is not required.

With flexible connectivity options, an EmeRed installation can be connected via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or GSM, and will fit with your current infrastructure, managing all your compliance testing across multiple sites for years to come.

It is not a surprise comparative that return on Investment and ongoing costs are considerably shorter with the ZigBee wireless solution.

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