Zhaga gets smart - Section 4 - Preventing arbitrary variation: Versatile interface for outdoor luminaires

Posted on Wednesday November 16 2016, by Zhaga

This article was published in the Proceedings of the 2016 LED Professional Symposium+Expo (September 2016).

Author: Dee Denteneer, Secretary General, Zhaga Consortium

Introduction and index

Download the full paper

In the outdoor lighting market, the industry is seeing a transition to LED-based light sources in parallel with a demand for control functions that enable smart lighting. Sensor modules of different types can significantly improve the efficiency, maintenance and running cost of outdoor luminaires. These developments present a unique opportunity to the lighting industry to become a key player in the emerging “smart city” industry.

However, there are also lots of unknowns. These concern the killer application, the best connectivity technology, and the required sensing technologies. These unknowns are aggravated by the fact that we are installing LED luminaires right now, and these have to be in place for 20-30 years.

Zhaga has recognized the need for adaptability, and its latest specification will define the interface between a sensor/communication module and an outdoor LED luminaire. The specification is based on a careful analysis of the established and generally recognized requirements, and is flexible and open towards future developments and areas where the requirements are not yet known.

As is characteristic for Zhaga, the initial focus is on mechanical and electrical parameters of the interface in order to accommodate such agreed requirements as support for low-power applications, miniaturization of luminaires, mechanical strength, easy upgradeability, and low cost. The specification will thus detail the interface between the receptacle and the module, and will comprise parameters that define dimensions, number of pins, and various mechanical and electrical properties.

This specification will reduce market entropy, and avoid unnecessary variation. It will support the many companies that are currently considering to bring outdoor sensor or connectivity modules to market, and that are looking for a more compact and versatile alternative to the NEMA C.136 interface. Again, specify once rather than many times.

The standardized interface will allow such a module to be added or upgraded in the field. By enabling intelligent, easily-upgradeable luminaires, the new specification will help to accelerate growth in the global smart-luminaire Internet of Things (IoT) market.

As with COB, this may not be the end of the discussion. There are many use cases that would benefit from a specification that includes a more complete electrical and control interface. An analysis is ongoing to decide whether requirements and state-of-the-art in this domain have sufficiently advanced to arrive at a well-accepted specification. If answered in the positive, Zhaga will not hesitate to move forward!