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DALI+ ditches the wires for true wireless or IP-based smart lighting

Jordan O'Brien

Jordan O'Brien

Contributing Editor
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DALI+ DALI Alliance

Manufacturers using the DALI protocol over a wireless or an IP-based network can now set themselves apart using the DALI+ branding. 

This new branding should help both manufacturers, suppliers, installers and customers alike, as it separates these products from those that cannot communicate wirelessly or over an IP-based network. 

Not much has changed with DALI+ when compared to the standard protocol, which allows lighting control features in wired (DALI-2 and D4i) options. In fact, users still have the same access to the rich set of data from control gear, luminaires and sensors. 

What sets these devices apart are the fact that DALI+ devices communicate using existing DALI commands, but over a wireless or IP-based medium, rather than a dedicated pair of wires. 

That will make installation much easier for contractors who are used to working with data cables, or for those products that would otherwise be difficult to get DALI wires to. 

To make the new DALI+ brand a reality, however, the DALI Alliance has published a new DiiA Specification, which supports DALI+ across different carriers and will lead to certification of interoperable DALI+ devices. The first certification program will be DALI+ with Thread, a low-power, IP-based, wireless-mesh networking protocol.

In combination with a wireless carrier, DALI+ enables true wireless DALI, without any need to translate between protocols. Where access to DALI wired subnets or luminaires is required from the DALI+ wireless network, the new specification also supports bridges.

“Following the publication of our Wireless to DALI Gateway specifications last month, the introduction of DALI+ ushers in a new era of seamless, industry-standardized lighting control,” said Paul Drosihn, general manager of the DALI Alliance. 

“DALI+ extends choice, flexibility and creative freedom for lighting designers and specifiers by supporting the development of wired, wireless and IP-based systems, using DALI throughout.”

DALI+ enables lighting solutions that can easily scale to building-wide networks, or even across multiple buildings, by using new addressing features. The implementation of IP-based networks in commercial buildings allows IT systems and building automation services, including lighting control, to operate on a common platform, with features such as end-to-end security, unlimited scalability, and easy connectivity to other applications.

Leveraging the existing features of the DALI protocol, DALI+ networks connect sensors, controllers and luminaires in a data-rich environment. This enables real-time monitoring of energy and power usage, and access to diagnostics information for predictive luminaire maintenance, among many other examples.

DALI+ is supported by a new DiiA Specification entitled ‘Part 104 Changes and Additions’. Available from the DALI Alliance website, the specification provides updates to the published Part 104 of the international IEC 62386 standard. The first version of this new specification supports IP-based protocols such as Thread, Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

Initially, the DALI Alliance is developing tests that will enable a new ‘DALI+ with Thread’ certification program. Further DALI+ certification programs utilising other carriers will follow.

This latest update to DALI comes as the smart home doubles down on wireless communication. That’s largely thanks to the proliferation of smart speakers from Amazon, Apple and Google, which has supercharged the smart home ecosystem. 

Those big tech companies are once again looking to upend the smart home market, with proposals to create a dedicated protocol for all smart home devices to speak to each other. That system will be wireless, meaning DALI needs to always stay one step ahead.

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