Cooper adds DC grid options for wirelessly connected SSL platform

May 21, 2021
The WaveLinx wireless technology from Cooper has been broadly deployed in commercial spaces and now a DC-power option for LED fixtures will add flexibility and efficiency.

Cooper Lighting Solutions has announced a WaveLinx Low-Voltage Power Module as a complement to its WaveLinx Wireless platform. The DC grid will simplify power wiring to WaveLinx-enabled LED luminaires via low-voltage cable and ultimately minimize the number of AC/DC power conversions in an installation, thereby reducing energy usage. The new DC power technology for solid-state lighting (SSL) systems marks the third different low-voltage DC option in the Cooper portfolio.

For nearly a decade, we have championed the advantages of DC power distribution for LED-based lighting. LED luminaires are generally DC-powered devices and converting AC to DC at each fixture is inherently wasteful due to the power lost in the conversion characterized by driver efficiency. An early feature article on the topic focused on the DC work of the EMerge Alliance back in 2014. And EMerge is still around but focused more on building microgrids today, yet still with a DC emphasis.

With the advent of LED lighting, a DC distribution scheme is a big winner on two fronts. The low-voltage Class 2 wiring does not require the services of an electrician for installation, and lighting in drop ceilings can be easily changed as required without moving electrical boxes and conduit. And the additional energy savings beyond what inherently-efficient LEDs offer can be significant.

“With wages in the construction industry outpacing the inflation rate and the increase of wiring costs, electrical contractors are looking for solutions to get the job done faster and at a lower cost,” said Eric Jerger, vice president of indoor lighting and connected systems at Cooper. “The module simplifies the design and installation of lighting systems by combining the benefits of click-n-go Class 2 wiring for luminaires and wireless communication for controls. This combination can significantly reduce installation time and installed project cost in applications like schools, offices, and healthcare facilities.”

As mentioned earlier, the new Low-Voltage Power Module is Cooper’s third approach to DC power, with each bringing some unique benefits. And realistically, the same basic luminaire designs could be used with any of the systems with the exception of possibly needing different connectors.

Back in 2016 at LightFair International (LFI), Cooper (then called Eaton Lighting) introduced what it called Distributed Low Voltage Power (DLVP) technology. That proprietary system used a single low-voltage cable to both connect luminaires from a data perspective and power the LED luminaires. We ran a feature article about an early DLVP installation in an office setting. That DLVP product remains in Cooper’s portfolio today.

Not long after the DLVP introduction, Cooper also brought Power over Ethernet (PoE) technology into its portfolio. We have written quite a lot about the advantages PoE can offer, especially in new-build installations or in the case of full-floor retrofits of buildings.

Meanwhile, Cooper launched the WaveLinx platform at LFI in 2017. WaveLinx is Zigbee based and was touted as a simple-to-commission option for creating connected-SSL islands. Those islands could be operated independently or could in turn be connected to a building-wide network and IoT (Internet of Things) platforms such as Cooper’s Trellix. Cooper said that WaveLinx installations today cover 40 million square feet of space.

Cooper clearly applied learnings from its DLVP and PoE portfolios in developing the 1200W Low-Voltage Power Module. A single unit will cover all of the luminaires required in 2400 ft2 of commercial space. The unit has 90W channels that can be connected to a series of fixtures in a daisy-chain fashion. There are also two circuits for emergency lighting. Cooper said that, when combined, the WaveLinx and low-voltage technology will lower the price of an installed connected system relative to PoE, AC-connected, or other SSL configurations.

LEDs Magazine chief editor MAURY WRIGHT is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade.

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