GE Lighting talks controls and networks at Lightfair International 2013

April 24, 2013
At a Lightfair press conference, GE Lighting reveals wireless network for outdoor lighting and Los Angeles LED street-light pilot, and discusses consumer retrofit lamps.

GE Lighting was one of several companies to address lighting controls and networks on the first day of Lightfair International (LFI) which again looked more like an LED event more than a general lighting show. GE announced that it was working with the city of Los Angeles to install new 6LoWPAN (IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area network) network nodes on the city's growing inventory of LED-based street lights. Moreover the company provided and update on its consume solid-state lighting (SSL) business.

GE LightGrid

During an LFI press conference at LFI, GE Lighting made bold claims about it work with the City of Los Angeles and the GE LightGird technology that presumably will place network connectivity and a GPS receiver on every street light fixture. While energy efficiency is part of the story, GE insisted that automated maintenance that will eliminate outages is the key reason that Los Angeles may install the system on a broad basis.

Full details of the system aren’t available and GE won’t formally announce it until later this year. But Los Angeles has already conducted a trial and is moving to implement and extended pilot program. The wireless nodes will be installed in the NEMA socket where photocells are typically installed. Networked lights will communicate to gateways that serve many lights.

Previously Los Angeles had installed the Acuity Roam network system in at least pilot projects. GE Lighting executives wouldn't explicitly say whether their technology was displacing Roam. But Jaime Irick, GE general manager of North America professional solutions, said that commissioning lights on the GE system takes less than a minute whereas other technologies that Los Angeles had tested could take 45 minutes.

A quote attributed to Ed Ebrahimian, director of the Bureau of Street Lighting for Los Angeles, seemingly confirmed the win for GE. "The City of Los Angeles has led the nation in the installation of energy-efficient LED light fixtures and remote monitoring units," said Ed Ebrahimian, director, Bureau of Street Lighting, City of Los Angeles. "Based on our latest evaluation of remote monitoring and control technologies, we are proceeding with a large scale pilot installation and evaluation of the GE system."

GE did not reveal the physical layer that it is using in LightGrid. Irick did say, however, that the company was relying on open standards and that the system would be open to interoperate with products from many vendors. Los Angeles, in fact, has installed LED lighting from a number of different vendors.

Retrofit lamps

The other major topic at the GE press conference was consumer lighting and specifically LED retrofit lamps. We expected that the company might reveal availability of the 100W-equivalent lamp that was introduced at LFI last year with the company saying it would deliver the lamps in the first half of 2013. Alas John Strainic, general manager for North America consumer lighting, said the lamps was still a few months away.

The company did say that it will offer new A19 LED lamps for 40W and 60W replacement in its Reveal-branded family. The premium reveal brands has a reputation for color fidelity. And GE said the Reveal LED lamps will look even more like incandescent lamps.