DALI Lighting Lab Debuts at Penn State


Penn State's Department of Architectural Engineering has installed the first Internet-controllable lighting laboratory in the world, based on the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI). The DALI interface allows users from any PC and any location to control any lamp in this laboratory with a web browser; observe the effects with a web camera; and remotely monitor energy use and time-of-day use. Most recently, the control system was on display at Lightfair 2004 in Las Vegas. Visitors to the German company Tridonic's booth were able to operate the lighting within the lab.

With an area of approximately 1,300 sq. ft., the DALI lab is managed by Dr. Martin Moeck, assistant professor of architectural engineering at Penn State, and includes a combination of downlights with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), wallwashers, spotlights and direct/indirect pendants. Manufacturers providing lamps and fixtures for the lab include Erco, Zumtobel, Peerless and OSRAM Sylvania. In addition, Moeck and his students built six color-changing fixtures equipped with four lamps each.

One of the lab's major goals is to sell engineers on some lesser-known advantages of DALI. The potential of DALI is known, and much has been written about its flexibility. However, four major lighting design advantages that have not yet been discussed are:

Internet Control. The system can be controlled and monitored via any PC with a web browser. Users in Great Britain, Austria and Germany have controlled the Penn State DALI lighting laboratory from their desktops. Also, system performance and energy consumption can be monitored from anywhere on earth. The lab has a web camera with zoom, pan and rotate options and a separate website that allows remote users to observe the changing lighting effects.

Green Building Points. The U.S. Green Building Council's LEED certification program (www.usgbc.org) gives a maximum of three credits directly related to lighting. Because the DALI software performs automatic light energy monitoring and automatic ballast monitoring, four or more additional LEED credits can be obtained for in the Indoor Air Quality and Energy and Atmosphere categories.

Luminaires with Changing Color and Intensity Distributions. Many color combinations and different intensity distributions become possible. Moeck installed two lamps with an orange and a blue filter for the downward component and blue filters for the two lamps in the wings. The colors mix to white on the workplane.

Facility Management. Remote control enables facility managers to reduce maintenance staff significantly. Every lamp and ballast can be checked online. Therefore, all lighting systems in all branch offices of agencies, companies and government institution can be checked every day. Facility managers can find out precisely when and where a lamp or ballast failed, and they can schedule maintenance crews accordingly on the spot and only if necessary, instead of sending them out every week to every facility and do a costly manual check.

Advancing lighting education
The lab at Penn State is meant to educate and clear up misconceptions about DALI in the lighting community. The misunderstandings are understandable. It's a new system.

"Unreliable," "expensive," "too complicated" and "only for small applications," are some of the arguments. Penn State students add lights to the system and address problems in a matter of minutes. The software is easy to use. One problem is that standard electronic dimming ballasts are somewhat smaller than DALI dimming ballasts, which can be a minor issue in CFL downlights.

Finally, DALI is poised to change office lighting design. Office lighting does not have to be static, and light sources do not have to be white. The future office achieves many lighting patterns according to time of day, occupancy patterns, rebates, energy and demand charges, daylight levels, daylight colors and varying functions and desired moods. The future light source achieves many intensity distributions and colors that are variable. The key is to assign a dimming ballast with an individual address for each lamp. In this way, many color and luminance patterns can be achieved. Current developments include controls for blinds and dimming controls for incandescent and tungsten halogen loads. Future developments will include software that performs purpose-driven lighting control based on load shedding, time of day, temperature, occupancy, user preferences and input from the Internet. DALI is a convenient tool for lighting designers to make dynamic and individual controllable lighting happen, and for facility managers to control and monitor lighting systems from anywhere in the world.

To learn more about the Penn State DALI laboratory in particular, and DALI systems in general, visit the following online resources:

Penn State DALI Lab

Proof-of-Concept: DALI for Intelligent Lighting Control (PDF)

DALI-AG





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