One of the most significant technological advances of the past decade is the proliferation of smart, wireless communication. From internet modems to speaker systems, the ability to connect over longer distances, and throughout multiple rooms, has allowed us to enter a new era of ease and efficiency. While some might feel a sense of nostalgia for ethernet and AUX cables, most people have quickly embraced the lifestyle improvements brought about by wireless technology. However, doubts on security and reliability still linger when they consider using it for a lighting application. As the growth in wireless devices shows no signs of abating, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the benefits and limitations of wireless lighting control.
One of the most obvious advantages is that wireless lighting control requires less wiring and despite many misconceptions, it is in fact quick and easy to install. Fortunately, the process results in fewer labour hours, less materials and significantly reduces installation time – especially in awkward and hard-to-reach spaces. Wireless lighting control devices are also easy to set up. All you need is electricity and a device, such as a mobile app or wireless switches and you’re able to control what you desire from one source for added convenience. When you have an app, it means there’s no need to visit a fixed place within a building to alter the settings, you can simply change things by reaching into your pocket and unlocking your phone.
Although this is not a word you would typically associate with any kind of technology, the reason why wireless lighting control can be considered ‘respectful’ is due to the fact it is less intrusive than traditional wired systems. There are certain situations that call for a gentle touch. For example, a listed building means strict rules are in place which determine what you can and cannot do and the ways in which you can go about installation. When you go wireless, there’s a lot less to worry about, especially when it comes to dealing with sensitive or brittle buildings – it’s a much smoother journey than the alternative.
With the unparalleled flexibility wireless lighting offers, you can add, remove, and even replace devices as you wish. In the wireless mesh BLE solution, there is no single point of failure. Wireless controls allow you to place luminaires freely whilst ensuring stable connectivity within different building types. Adding to the adaptable nature of wireless lighting technology, buildings are always susceptible to change especially with the popular, trendy open floorplan. Luckily, wireless lighting control systems can be scaled to meet the demands of a modern and dynamic office space. This flexibility enables you to rearrange your lighting sequence without the need for expensive and weighty recommissioning.
Network management is effortless with a high degree of interoperable types of devices. All this results in secure data transmission, easy maintenance, data recovery and makes the wireless lighting infrastructure futureproof! Many relatively new services (such as air quality monitoring) can be introduced into the same network and collect data – some of these devices can even control the lighting if you wish. If a particular type of digital service isn’t yet available or your client isn’t ready to adopt it, wireless lighting control affords the option to integrate that service at a later point in time.
A worry that is constantly raised with wireless lighting contractors is – ‘can my lighting system get hacked?’ Wireless lighting control uses very safe, encrypted communication protocols. Only trusted and compatible devices can join and communicate within a wireless lighting network. Strict security configuration means the only individuals that can make changes to the system are those that you assign as administrators – you can even decide which functions they have control over and exclude those that you want to remain fixed in place.
Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is used for communication between a mobile phone or the control device and the host platform. BLE is used since it is the most popular, thoroughly tested and reliable low power radio technology found in all modern smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches today. It’s a wireless personal area network, which means that it can function without being connected to the internet! No additional network connectivity is needed (i.e. LAN or WAN) during normal operation, meaning if your Wi-Fi goes out, that doesn’t mean lights do too.
So, why wireless? Perhaps, the most significant advantage to opting for wireless technology is the ease of install and control it offers. This is especially true when contending with older buildings that are in need of refurbishment and where a retrofit solution is required. As the nature of buildings change with the times, like the role of the office for example, wireless controls can continuously adapt to meet the new demands of the workplace with ease – changing to an open-plan layout, no problem! This is analogous to the point that new services can be added and removed as you see fit. As we’ve already covered, security should no longer be a concern as most of the objections revolve around common misconceptions and Bluetooth is widely considered the most reliable wireless technology available on the market today. With the advent of IoT technology, inter-device communication is quickly becoming the norm and will soon be an expectation.
Perhaps you’re considering going wireless for your next project but you have some questions that aren’t covered in this blog or perhaps there are technical complexities and you just want to discuss if the project is suitable. If so, we’d love to hear from you – please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org