SSL Controls: Luxera takes DC approach to dimmable LED retrofit projects

Dimmer installs in existing junction boxes and enables wireless control via smartphones or tablets of Luxera's DC-powered LED lamps; Crestron offers switching panel for small commercial SSL systems.

Content Dam Leds En Articles 2014 01 Ssl Controls Luxera Takes Dc Approach To Dimmable Led Retrofit Projects Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Luxera has announced the availability of its SmartSwitch family of solid-state lighting (SSL) products, which includes a dimmer unit that mounts in existing junction boxes, and proprietary LED-based lamps that operate from a low-voltage DC supply. Once installed, the dimmer unit enables control via a rotary dial or over a Bluetooth connection to smartphones and tablets. Crestron, meanwhile, has launched a switching panel designed primarily for on-off controls in small commercial spaces such as retail, offices, and parking garages.

SmartSwitch LED dimmer

With the SmartSwitch product, Luxera is removing the legacy phase-controlled dimmer from the picture in residential and commercial applications. While many LED retrofit lamps with integral AC/DC drivers are designed to work with triac and electronic phase-controlled dimmers, the performance is still inconsistent with some products having flicker problems and others not dimming smoothly over the full range. We covered the issues a number of times including in a recent feature on matching controls and light sources.

Conversely, LED-based products designed to work with interconnects such as DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) or with 0–10V controls dim very uniformly. That realization led Luxera to a different concept for retrofitting lamp sockets and wall-based dimmers.

"LEDs provide the best energy efficiency in lighting, but there is a well-known mismatch between the traditional switches and dimmers and LEDs," said Leonard Livschitz, founder and president of Luxera. "The Luxera SmartSwitch solves all these problems. It has perfect dimming, no flicker, low voltage safety, longevity, and remote connectivity with smart devices such as iPhone and iPad via low-energy Bluetooth without any router or gateway. It's a simple yet perfect solution with a unique and fresh design."

The SmartSwitch is designed to fit into existing junction boxes. The module includes a microcontroller-based system to both interface with Bluetooth-enabled devices and control the integrated AC-DC power electronics. The module accepts an 110V AC input, and outputs a nominal 48V low-voltage DC signal.

Limitations

The SmartSwitch will not work with the broad range of LED-based retrofit lamps on the market. For now the product only works with Luxera's proprietary DC-input lamps. Those lamps include a DC-DC driver that accepts the DC voltage input that actually is varied by the dimmer around the 48V nominal level. The DC-DC driver determines the desired dim level based on the exact input level and provides the appropriate constant-current output.

Moreover, the SmartSwitch can only be installed in 3-wire scenarios where both the hot and neutral wires are available in the junction box. Some older homes only have the hot wire run to switch boxes, and in that scenario the SmartSwitch electronics can't be powered without the neutral current-return wire.

The advantage of the Luxera approach is what the company says is a 1000:1 dimming granularity range along with the wireless capability. For now however, Luxera only offers 3000K, 80-CRI, 14W, PAR30 lamps that are designed to replace 75W incandescent bulbs. The company says that it will offer PAR38, BR30, PAR20, GU10, and MR16 lamps, along with troffer fixtures.

The company is introducing the product family in a kit being sold at warehouse retailer Costco for $199.95. The kit includes one SmartSwitch dimmer module, four of the PAR30 lamps, and the Luxera Control mobile app. You can also buy the products at the Luxera website. The company got its start designing and manufacturing drivers for LED retrofit lamps in a modular form factor, which led the company to realize the extent of the issues with controlling LED lamps via legacy dimmers.

Crestron switch panel

Crestron also has a new SSL controls product designed to simplify on-off-based control scenarios in small commercial spaces, and that can also be integrated in larger installations with the company's enterprise-level products. The GL-IPAC-SW8 Green Light Integrated Switching panel can control up to eight circuits of lighting loads with a maximum of 64 total loads.

The panel includes inputs for as many as 24 occupancy sensors and 24 photo sensors that can trigger on-off cycles. Moreover, the panels support local and remote keypads for control. For more information on the product, see the longer article on the Green Light panel on our Illumination in Focus website.

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