Lighting control systems have evolved considerably in recent years, with the introduction of new technologies that allow greater accuracy and flexibility in lighting control. One of the most interesting of these technologies is DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface), which allows sophisticated dimming control of individual lights or groups of lights. In this article we take a closer look at DALI dimming, its benefits and how it can improve the functionality and energy efficiency of a lighting system. This article is a continuation of the one where we went through dimming techniques
What is DALI dimming?
DALI dimming is a lighting control system that uses a digital protocol to communicate between the lighting controller and the lights themselves. This allows precise control of the brightness and colour of individual lights or groups of lights, as well as the storage and recall of pre-programmed lighting situations. DALI dimming systems typically consist of a DALI controller that sends commands and DALI-compatible lights that can receive and respond to these commands.
DALI works best when it is designed and built from the ground up. This is because two control wires are needed to run between the devices.
Dali system for dummies like me
Alright, let’s say you have a whole bunch of lamps in your room, and you want to control how bright they all get at once. That’s where the DALI system comes in!
The DALI system is like a big boss that tells all the lamps what to do. It uses special signals, like the boss shouting orders to the lamps. These signals tell the lamps how much electricity to use and how bright to be.
Each lamp has a special computer inside it, called a DALI controller, that listens to the signals from the DALI system. When the DALI system sends a signal to a lamp, the lamp’s DALI controller gets the message and makes the lamp brighten or dim accordingly.
So, when you turn the DALI dimming switch, it sends a signal to the DALI system. The DALI system then sends signals to all the lamps in the room, telling them how bright to be. And that’s how a DALI system works!
Key features of DALI
- It’s a free protocol! Anyone can use it.
- DALI2 certification requires devices made by different companies to work together.
- It is fairly easy to set up. You can install the power and control cables side by side, as they do not need to be protected. So there are 5 wires running everywhere: L, N, ground and 2 control wires. (5×1.5 MMJ)
- The wiring can be installed in any way, as long as the wiring is within 100 metres of the DALI BUS controller. Even more if repeaters are used.
- Because DALI uses digital signals for communication instead of analogue signals, the devices receive the same dimming values. In this way, the steering groups are very efficient and precise.
- The system’s addressing system (DALI address) ensures that each device or group can be controlled individually.
Advantages of DALI dimming
DALI dimming is a popular lighting control technology that offers many advantages over traditional analogue dimming systems, such as accuracy, energy efficiency, scalability and easy integration with other building automation systems. Here are the benefits of DALI dimming:
- Accuracy: DALI dimming allows precise control of the brightness and colour of individual lights or groups of lights, which can be particularly useful in commercial, industrial and residential buildings. This allows for greater control and flexibility in lighting design.
- Energy efficiency:DALI dimming can help reduce energy consumption and lower running costs, as the brightness and colour of the lights can be precisely controlled.
- Scalability: DALI dimming systems can be easily extended to control a large number of lights, making them well suited for large commercial or industrial projects.
- Integration: DALI dimming systems can be easily integrated with other building automation systems, such as HVAC and security systems, allowing better control and automation of building lighting.
- Flexibility: DALI dimming allows a wide range of options for controlling lights, from simple on/off switching to more advanced control options such as setting and resetting pre-programmed lighting conditions.
- Open standard: it ensures that devices from different manufacturers always work in the same way when they are connected to each other. You can also replace existing parts with newer and better ones as they become available.
- Easy to install: with DALI fibre optic technology, you don’t need to split lights into zones or keep track of wiring. Two wires are connected to the DALI system. These wires control all the devices. Installers don’t have to keep track of everything, because they don’t need to know how the lights will eventually be installed.
- Easy to change: you can make changes to the settings quickly. After a while, you might want to change the lights and get something nicer. Centralised software allows you to easily change lighting profiles.
DALI dimming is an efficient and flexible lighting control technology that offers many advantages over traditional analogue dimming systems. Its accuracy, energy efficiency, scalability and ability to integrate with other building automation systems make it well suited for a wide range of applications in commercial, industrial and residential buildings.
Why should you NOT use DALI dimming?
However, like all technologies, DALI dimming has its pros and cons. Not everything is always as easy as advertised. Here are some of the downsides of DALI dimming:
- Cost: DALI dimming systems can be more expensive than traditional analogue dimming systems because they require DALI-compatible luminaires and a DALI controller.
- Installation: DALI dimming systems can be more complex to install and fit than traditional analogue dimming systems, and may require special training and expertise.
- May not be easy to replace: after a while you may want to change the lights and get something nicer. Depending on the size of the system, a software engineer may be needed for programming.
- Compatibility: not all luminaires are compatible with DALI dimming systems, so you may need to replace existing luminaires to use DALI dimming.
- Limited availability: DALI dimming systems are not widely available.
- Keep up to date: For a DALI system to work, you need to create a database that links LED addresses to the right controllers. For these systems to work optimally, they need to be monitored.
- Not for retrofitting: it is best to leave DALI in new buildings, as it is very difficult to retrofit two extra cables.
DALI can therefore be more expensive and complex to install and requires specialist training and expertise. In addition, not all luminaires are compatible with DALI dimming systems and may not be widely available from all retailers. Carefully consider your needs and budget before deciding whether DALI dimming is right for you.
History of DALI
DALI has its roots in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when a group of lighting manufacturers, scientists and engineers came together to develop a standardised digital communication protocol for lighting control.
DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) dimming is a relatively new technology in the field of lighting control systems, but its development history goes back several decades. It was started by European ballast manufacturers. The idea was to make a better version of the 0/1-10V dimming by having the control system signal each LED driver and device group in both directions. 0-10V controls allow communication in one direction only.
In 1998, the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) published the first version of the DALI standard, known as DALI 1.0. This standard defined the protocols and electrical characteristics of DALI systems, enabling the development of interoperable products between different manufacturers.
In the following years, the DALI standard was updated and refined to include new features such as support for multiple control devices, improved security and greater scalability. In 2012, the IEC published the latest version of the DALI1 standard, known as IEC 62386, which is now widely used in the lighting industry.
Since the first DALI standard was published, the technology has grown rapidly in popularity and is now widely used in commercial and public spaces. DALI dimming is particularly popular in energy-efficient buildings, where precise control of lighting levels can help reduce energy consumption and costs.
DALI2 (2020) is the latest version of the DALI protocol, which builds on and improves the original DALI protocol.
One of the main differences between DALI and DALI2 is the number of devices that can be connected to one system. The original DALI protocol allows up to 64 devices, while the DALI2 protocol allows up to 512 devices. This means that DALI2 can control a larger number of lights and other devices in a single system.
The second difference is functionality. DALI2 offers additional features such as lighting scenes, CCT lighting and RGB lighting. DALI2 also provides better support for sensors and other devices, enabling more advanced control and automation.
In terms of security, DALI2 also offers enhanced security features such as secure firmware updates, secure key exchange and communication encryption. This makes DALI2 more resistant to hacking and other security threats.
Overall, DALI2 is an improvement over the original DALI protocol, offering more advanced features, greater scalability and improved safety. It is also backwards compatible with DALI, so devices using the original DALI protocol can still be used in a DALI2 system.
What are the main differences between DT6 and DT8?
The DT6-led transformer needs one DALI address to adjust the brightness of one colour of the LEDs.
The DT8 commands and features are intended for colour control only, but the DT6 functions can be used with any DALI LED driver.
You can use part 207, part 209 or both for a colour-changing LED driver.
One DALI address can control any number of DT8 LED controllers. This allows both the colour temperature and brightness of the light to be controlled from a single address. DT6 would need separate addresses for each colour.
The most commonly used DT numbers are:
DT6 LED controllers Part 207
DT8 colour control devices Part 209
Compatibility between products
The first version of DALI did not work well with other systems. It didn’t work because the protocol was too narrow and many different companies tried to improve it by adding features that didn’t work well together.
With DALI2, this problem was solved. DALI2 is much more comprehensive and has many more features than its predecessor. This means that certain manufacturers can no longer make changes to DALIii and all DALI2 devices must meet all IEC62386 standards.
Remember that although DALI2 also allows you to use older DALI components, you cannot do everything you can do with DALI2 because older DALI devices have limited commands.
How is a DALI device controlled?
DALI installations use standard LED lights. They use DALI receiver modules and DALI transformers. These components are connected by DALI bi-directional digital communication lines. The control centre can be anything from a laptop to a high-tech lighting control desk.
By focusing and adjusting the push-button commands, you can control a single light, a group of luminaires or a lighting zone. When you flip the switch, you can program all the lights in the same “group” to turn on or change colour at the same time.
What are the components of DALI?
DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) dimming is a type of lighting control system that allows precise control of the intensity of individual lights or groups of lights. The system consists of several key components, including:
DALI-master: these devices act as the hub of the system and are responsible for sending commands to the lights. They are usually linked to an interface, such as a wall-mounted touchscreen panel or a smartphone app, that allows users to adjust lighting levels.
DALI transformers or controllers: these devices are responsible for controlling the power to the lights, and are usually installed in the luminaires themselves. They receive commands from the DALI controller and adjust the light output accordingly.
DALI sensors: these devices are used to measure the ambient lighting level in a room and can be used to automatically adjust lighting levels for optimal visibility and energy efficiency. They can be integrated into a DALI controller or installed as separate devices.
DALI power supply: a DALI power supply is a device that supplies power to a DALI system. It is a separate component that connects to the DALI controller and the lights.
DALI communication cables: these pairs of cables connect the different components of a DALI system.
What is a DALI bus (DALI BUS)?
In a DALI system, ALL devices and the bus power supply are connected to a two-wire bus and share information. This 2-wire system is the nervous system of the lighting system. It sends and receives all signals from the controller to the lamps and back. So you always know the status of your device from the device driver or software.
The DALI bus must be powered to send data between devices. It uses about 16V. These devices are called DALI power supplies or in many cases the DALI master also acts as a power supply for the signal cables.
How are DALI lighting systems wired?
As mentioned earlier, you can send digital signals over the bus with only two wires. Cables can be either positively or negatively polarised. Most control devices work on both. DALI systems can be wired using standard five-wire cabling, so no special protection is required.
Since no wiring groups are required in a DALI system, you can connect all the wires in parallel with the bus. This is a significant change from traditional lighting systems, as the commands sent from the controller contain all the information needed to switch on, dim and change the colour of the lights.
Once everything is connected, the Dali software can be set up to work with the system. Because the system is flexible, you can build and use different lighting scenarios and programs without changing the physical wiring. Depending on the software and applications, this setting can be easy or difficult.
Where are DALI lighting systems used?
DALI is a lighting technology that can be changed and is cheap. This type of centralised lighting system is most often found in large commercial premises. DALI is mainly used in companies and large installations. However, people are increasingly using it in their most prestigious homes.
DALI dimming is an efficient and flexible lighting control technology that offers many advantages over traditional analogue dimming systems. However, it can be more expensive and complex to install and deploy, and requires special training and expertise. In addition, not all luminaires are compatible with DALI dimming systems and they may not be widely available in all countries and regions. Carefully consider your needs and budget before deciding whether DALI dimming is right for you.
Why DALI dimming?
DALI can help designers, building owners and electricians to control lighting. DALI is a standard, so you can be sure that it will work with different lighting companies.
You only need two wires from one device to another, in addition to electricity.
What is DALI dimming?
DALI stands for “Digital Addressable Lighting Interface”. DALI dimming is a lighting control technology that allows precise control of the brightness and colour of individual lights or groups of lights. It uses digital communication instead of analogue signals to control lights.
What are the benefits of DALI dimming?
DALI dimming offers many advantages over traditional analogue dimming systems, such as accuracy, energy efficiency, scalability and easy integration with other building automation systems. It also allows a wide range of options for controlling lights, from simple on/off switching to more advanced control options, such as the control of pre-programmed lighting situations.
What are the disadvantages of DALI dimming?
DALI dimming systems can be more expensive than traditional analogue dimming systems because they require DALI-compatible luminaires and a DALI controller. They can also be more complex to install and deploy, and may require specific training and expertise. In addition, not all luminaires are compatible with DALI dimming systems, and they may not be widely available everywhere.
Is DALI dimming compatible with my existing lights?
Not all luminaires are compatible with DALI dimming systems, so you may need to replace existing luminaires to use DALI dimming. It is important to check the compatibility of existing lights with the DALI dimming system before making a decision.
Can I control DALI dimming remotely?
Yes, DALI dimming systems can be easily integrated with other building automation systems, such as HVAC and security systems, allowing better control and automation of building lighting, including remote control.
How does DALI dimming save energy?
DALI dimming can help reduce energy consumption and lower running costs by allowing precise control of the brightness and colour of lights. This can lead to lower energy consumption and cost savings.
Do I need special training for DALI dimming?
DALI dimming systems can be more complex to install and commission than traditional analogue dimming systems, and may require specific training and expertise. It may be necessary to hire a professional to install and fit a DALI dimming system, but it is easy to use it yourself.
Is DALI dimming widely available?
DALI dimming systems are not widely available from all vendors. It is important to check the availability of DALI dimming systems in your area before making a decision and that support is also available after purchase.
What is a DALI receiver?
DALI receivers give you control over your LED lights. You need a receiver for your luminaire to make it a DALI luminaire.
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