As organizations weigh the many variables around retrofitting for lighting and building control automation, now is the time to understand the value of open standards. For many organizations, the push for open standards will start with wireless lighting controls. The initial ROI calculations show lighting as the low-hanging fruit for initial entry into wireless control. By choosing open standard-based lighting control systems, organizations provide themselves with an easy upgrade to other related controls, such as thermostats, plug-loads, CO2 sensors, and more.
The flexibility of open standards allows the ability to tie into existing lighting control frameworks without needing to buy a separate system to manage each additional device or system. As a result, wireless lighting controls are a catalyst ushering building controls into the Enterprise Internet of Things (E-IoT).
Looking back to move ahead
In the early days of networking (pre-Ethernet protocol) proprietary protocols hurt adoption rates and held up networking innovation in the process. It wasn’t until Ethernet came onto the scene that the other interconnected technologies could proliferate. For example, in the case of notebook computers with Wi-Fi capabilities, while there are several notebook and router vendors, connectivity is not an issue because customers know that all laptops communicate with all routers. Just as open standards drove rapid advancements in other industries such as computers, the same approach is expected to drive the smart lighting and building automation industry. Innovators use standards to advance technology with the knowledge that their products will work the same every time.
By 2020, the growth of the smart lighting market is expected to reach $56 billion at an estimated CAGR of 16 percent, while the total global market for networked lighting controls will be over $5 billion. In an industry currently dominated by proprietary systems, it’s believed that open standards-based wireless technologies will be the catalyst for this amazing growth.
For designers and end-users alike, it is important to understand the definition of ‘open standards’. Standards are considered open when they are developed in an open, collaborative, and transparent process, are freely available, and can be implemented within any business model. Because global reach is key to wide implementation, open standards should be developed in a transparent process that is open to all interested parties worldwide.
It is critical that open standards are supported and maintained over time by an independent, trusted organization that is made up of a diverse group of stakeholders. In addition, open standards must be subject to full public evaluation and use without constraints in a manner equally available to all interested parties. Open standards are platform independent and vendor-neutral. Some of the current standards for wireless controls include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, EnOcean, and Zigbee. There are more, but let’s look at the Zigbee standard as it is the most widely-used open standard for wireless control technology on the market today.
ZigBee is the only open, global wireless standard to provide the foundation for the Internet of Things by enabling simple and smart objects to work together. It is an open standard that supports low data-rates, low-power consumption, security, and reliability. A critical difference between ZigBee and other technologies is the standardization of application-level functionality, among other key differences around power and bandwidth requirements. As a result, ZigBee enables embedded wireless communications for lighting and other building control devices. In addition, the standard is supported by The ZigBee Alliance [www.ZigBee.org], a non-profit association of more than 400 members driving development of ZigBee wireless technology. The alliance promotes global adoption of ZigBee as the leading wirelessly networked, sensing, and control standard for use in commercial, industrial, energy, home, and consumer electronic markets.
- Open and freely available specification based on international standards
- Global operation in the 2.4GHz frequency band according to IEEE 802.15.4
- Brings together ZigBee PRO and the Building Automation and Networking (BACnet) protocol, the standard for building automation communication
- Wireless range up to 70m indoors and 400m outdoors with full control of transmitted output power
- Secures Building Automation networks by the use of AES 128 encryption, keys, and device authentication
- Can be installed “on top of” or in place of hard-wired networks or outdated systems
- Uses “mesh” technology that provides redundant paths of communication
- Supports thousands of devices in a single network
- Interoperability between a variety of building automation devices with building management systems regardless of manufacturer
- New services can be introduced in a controlled manner to scale as requirements grow