November 15, 2019 | Denise Rael
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In high-density IoT applications that require peer to peer interactions and real-time control, OEMs often struggle with the tradeoff between cost, I/O point count and the number of controllers needed. This is especially true for indoor lighting, where it’s important to have individual addressability to each light, but the application simply does not justify the cost of one sophisticated controller for every light.
As LEDs have replaced traditional light sources, drivers are used to convert the AC mains voltage to the current needed by the LED lights. For lighting and energy optimization, driver manufacturers have provided a control input which is an analog 0-10V signal. Set that signal to 5V, and you get about half the light and half the power. This is OK, because any OEM can develop a device that connects IoT or controls protocols on one side to 0-10V output on the other thus controlling the light output. The downside is that solution requires two modules: a controller and a dimming driver. This tends to blow up any reasonable ROI model and forces the designer to dumb down the controls and addressability.
Along comes a company called BlueOcean IoT. They have developed a great solution – the XLV3 IoT LED Controller/Driver, which both powers and controls the LED lights. In only one module, the product contains 12 independently controlled 75 Watt constant current dimming drivers. Each channel is controlled not by a separate 0-10V dimming signal, but simply a uniquely addressed value (network variable) on a FT-10 or BACnet channel. The system architecture is shown below.
Consider the applications: if you want dimming and monitoring of a dozen individual lights, you only need one controller. The Controller/Driver also comes ready for color tuning, which is the next wave in lighting controls. The product can address six color temperature (CCT) controlled lights or four RGB lights, or three RGBW lights using one controller. Some LED applications are more compelling than others.
The alternative to this approach that has been proposed by the industry is POE (power over ethernet). POE typically can only carry 30W of power (roughly the amount of power of one LED fixture) requiring complex ‘homerun’ wiring back to an expensive ethernet switch or router. The BlueOcean solution can power 75W x 12 LED fixtures (900 Watts!) which can be wired as free topology (i.e. any way you like) to the LED fixture, thus reducing installation cost and complexity.
BlueOcean chose the Adesto FT6050 Smart Transceiver for the embedded connectivity and application processor in its solution. This means that an integrator can install the device as a BACnet FT node, a BACnet MS/TP node or a LON FT node, and serve data to any LON or BACnet client. In this way they can unify lighting control with the rest of the BMS (building management system). Another problem solved for single pane of glass management for facility managers.
BlueOcean’s new lighting controller is highly flexible and cost effective, and a good demonstration of Adesto’s technology in action.