Open protocol on digital lighting controls

By standardizing the protocol, the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. is looking to make installation and operation of digital lighting flow more smoothly.


Digital dimming offers a number of benefits—simplified wiring, control zoning as small as one ballast, zone reconfiguration without rewiring, and two-way communication. However, complications such as vendor-specific communication and electrical technology stand in the way of convenient lighting management.

According to the Lighting Controls Assn., the National Electrical Manufacturers Assn. (NEMA) is working to make the process run more smoothly. NEMA’s Joint Sections Committee on DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) California Energy Commission to create an expanded DALI protocol that incorporates standard DALI control devices. The new draft standard—labeled the NEMA Digital Lighting Controls Open Protocol—is anticipated to receive NEMA approval this year.

The NEMA Digital Lighting Controls Open Protocol standardizes all the necessary control devices required to build a complete lighting system. With the open protocol, a designer could specify ballasts from one manufacturer, wall switches from another, and occupancy sensors from a third—all completely interoperable in the field. If a component fails, another could be purchased and installed from any manufacturer as long as the product again is designed to the protocol.

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