Understand and use the new standard connector for indoor and outdoor LED lighting

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have revolutionized indoor and outdoor lighting. This solid-state lighting (SSL) technology has excellent efficiency, controllability, color spectrum, thermal performance, and unique appearance, and is eliminating the old Edison incandescent bulbs (as well as fluorescent, metal halide, or sodium vapor lamps). Now, most indoor and outdoor new designs and upgrades to existing designs will first consider LEDs. However, designers still have to be careful. While innovating rapidly, there will also be some hidden dangers, such as mismatches between non-standard connections and end-user solutions, which will cause a negative customer experience.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have revolutionized indoor and outdoor lighting. This solid-state lighting (SSL) technology has excellent efficiency, controllability, color spectrum, thermal performance, and unique appearance, and is eliminating the old Edison incandescent bulbs (as well as fluorescent, metal halide, or sodium vapor lamps). Now, most indoor and outdoor new designs and upgrades to existing designs will first consider LEDs. However, designers still have to be careful. While innovating rapidly, there will also be some hidden dangers, such as mismatches between non-standard connections and end-user solutions, which will cause a negative customer experience.

It’s not just the light source itself that has completely changed. For example, LED lighting is also changing the design and shape of the connectors and their fixtures (called lamps). These connectors are an essential part of any lighting system. They do not accept AC line voltages, but accept lower DC voltages. , The typical current is usually between 3 A (A) to 7 A. In addition, LED lighting systems are usually part of a control network that supports Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) and Zhaga industry standards, and provide smart, energy-saving, high-performance lighting as a key part of a smart home or office.

Therefore, before proceeding with LED lighting system design, engineers have the responsibility to be familiar with these standards and their reflection in real-world connectors, because new designs are rapidly emerging.

This article briefly reviews why LEDs are so popular, and then introduces and describes these two connection standards to ensure interoperability, rapid development, and easy deployment of smart LED designs. Finally, the connectors of Amphenol ICC are introduced, and the use of these connectors is summarized as the actual embodiment of related standards and their applications.

Why is LED so popular

There are many factors that promote the development of LED as a lighting source:

Cost reduction promotes production increase, which in turn promotes cost reduction and production increase
The basic reliability of LED as a light source and the enhancement of lifespan
Circuit improvement, mainly the improvement of the power supply to drive these LEDs
The use of intelligent control devices and even network I/O improves the convenience of LED control
Improvement of optical output quality characterized by color temperature (Kelvin) and color rendering index (CRI)
Incentives, standards and mandatory measures taken by the government to improve lighting efficiency to save energy (it is estimated that lighting accounts for 15% to 20% of total energy consumption)
The formulation of industry and government standards, these standards ensure the interoperability between LED light sources and compatibility with smart controllers.

The last point is particularly important. An important size category of traditional incandescent bulbs is the “E26” 26 millimeter (mm) diameter Edison screw bulb, which is almost universally used in residential environments in the United States and many other countries (Figure 1), and is being used by LED and fluorescent bulbs Replaced, but to a lesser extent. Of course there are other sizes, such as the E12 base, but the E26 is currently the most widely used.

Understand and use the new standard connector for indoor and outdoor LED lighting

Of course, standardization to a single base and socket can reduce costs. The same technology has also spawned a variety of bulb shapes, power levels, and other attributes built around this foundation, while reducing the worry about long-term replacement of burned bulbs. Early generations of LED bulbs used E26 bases to be compatible with existing sockets, making users accustomed to LED lighting. These E26 LED bulbs are still widely sold, because there are currently countless such sockets in use, so the replacement process will take a long time.

However, compared with incandescent lamps, LEDs are very different in current, voltage (DC) and power consumption. Incandescent bulbs usually use 120/240 volt AC power. In addition, the wires of the E26 socket often have relatively large screw terminals, which is not ideal for LED light source power supply (Figure 2). Therefore, in order for LEDs to reach their full potential from the system level to the physical connection level, new standards and connector types are needed.

Understand and use the new standard connector for indoor and outdoor LED lighting

Recognizing the need for modern lighting interface standards, the Digital Lighting Interface Alliance (DiiA) developed the DALI standard.

The DALI standard redefines the lighting connection

DALI is a dedicated protocol for digital lighting control, which can easily implement a robust, scalable and flexible lighting network installation (Figure 3). The first version, DALI-1, is more suitable for digital control, configuration and query of fluorescent lamp ballasts, with fewer considerations for LEDs. It replaces the simple, one-way, broadcast operation of the existing 0/1 to 10 volt analog control mode.

Understand and use the new standard connector for indoor and outdoor LED lighting

The standard also includes a broadcast option. Through simple reconfiguration, each DALI device can be assigned a separate address, allowing digital control of a single device. In addition, DALI devices can also be grouped by programming, so that the lighting system can be reconfigured through software, thereby avoiding changes to the wiring.

With the growth of user expectations and the improvement of LED technology, the development of the current DALI-2 standard has been promoted. DALI-2 is not only an industry standard, it is also a standard of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC 62386). DALI-2 adds many new commands and functions. DALI-1 only includes control modes, while DALI-2 covers control devices, such as application controllers and input devices (such as sensors), and bus power. The focus is on the interoperability of products from different manufacturers, and is supported by the DALI-2 certification program to confirm the compatibility of products with specifications (Figure 4).

Understand and use the new standard connector for indoor and outdoor LED lighting

Like all integrated standards, DALI-2 is also very complex. In short, with a single wire pair as the bus, each device on the DALI network can be individually addressed. The bus is used to provide signals and power at the same time, and the supported power supply can provide a current of up to 250 milliamperes (mA) under a 16 volt DC voltage (typical value). The standard supports devices powered by AC lines or DC power rails.

Although there are various standards that define ultra-low voltage (ELV), the IEC defines ELV devices or circuits as: the potential difference between the electrical conductor and the ground does not exceed 50 volts AC or 120 volts DC. The DALI control cable is classified as an ELV device, so it only needs to maintain basic insulation from the AC mains; it can be routed together with the mains line or the multi-core cable including the mains line.

Beyond DALI-2: Zhaga specifications aim at luminaires

Standards such as DALI-2 are important, but they can only stop here. Defining how to connect the standard to specific applications (such as LED lighting and lamps) is outside the scope of its definition. In order to solve this problem, the International Zhaga Alliance has formulated the interface industry specifications for the components used in LED lamps. The alliance is a member project of the IEEE industry standards and technology organization. As of 2019, there are more than 120 members.

Now is the time to clarify the difference between lighting equipment and lamps. The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) lighting manual, ANSI/NEMA standards, and IEC all use the term “luminaire”. It was added to the National Electrical Code (NEC) manual in 2002, and it is officially defined as “a complete lighting unit consisting of one or more lamps and designed to distribute light, locate and protect lamp tubes, and Components that connect the lamp to the power source”. Lamps and lanterns include lamps and all parts directly related to the distribution, positioning and protection of lighting devices, specifically excluding supporting parts such as arms, ribs or rods; fasteners used to fix lamps; control or safety devices; or power wires . Lamps come in various forms and are suitable for various occasions, from functional outdoor street lighting to indoor office lighting, and even “fashionable” retail or home lighting.

“Lighting equipment” is not defined in the NEC. It generally refers to anything in the user’s mind, which may include some or all of the following elements: lamp (bulb), perhaps with lamp shade, lamp ball, lens or diffuser, bracket, lamp Poles or lighting accessories, and other elements.

The official name of the Zhaga specification is Books (specifications), which target electrical, mechanical, optical, thermal, and communication interfaces, and allow interoperability of components. By complying with the Zhaga specification, designers can ensure that users have components that are interoperable, replaceable or repairable, and that LED lamps can be upgraded when new technologies emerge after installation.

Zhaga Book 18 and Book 20 are particularly useful for designers who use LED lamps; the former focuses on outdoor design, while the latter is aimed at indoor applications.

Zhaga Book 18: “Intelligent Interface Between Outdoor Lamps and Sensor/Communication Modules” specifies the content of power supply and communication, and also specifies the mechanical coordination and electrical pins of the connection system defined in version 1.0. It simplifies the addition of application modules, such as adding sensors and communication nodes to LED lamps, and ensures plug-and-play interoperability.

Zhaga Book 20: “Intelligent interface between indoor luminaire and sensor/communication module” defines the intelligent interface between indoor LED luminaire and sensor/communication node. This node is connected to the LED driver and control system, and can usually provide sensor input or realize communication between network components. Nodes can be installed and replaced on site.

Concluding remarks

LED lighting has greatly changed the indoor and outdoor lighting in industry, commerce, and residences. It almost perfectly combines energy efficiency, long life and flexibility of lamp configuration.

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