Zhaga | Circular Economy | Smart Lighting | Oct 13, 2023

By Futureproofing Outdoor Lighting, Zhaga Promotes a Circular Economy

A circular economy is an economic system that aims to limit the consumption of resources and materials and avoid landfilling waste. At Zhaga, the global lighting-industry consortium with the mission of standardising the interfaces of components of LED luminaires, we call this market framework ‘circularity lighting’.

“Circularity lighting encompasses products and systems that support the aims of the circular economy through enhanced serviceability,” says Armin Konrad, Senior Director at LEDVANCE GmbH.

According to Konrad, serviceability means LED luminaires and light management systems that are repairable, upgradable, replaceable and durable. “To be serviceable, these products and systems must be designed in a modular way and use component interfaces that are based on standardised and widely recognised specifications,” he adds.

This is where Zhaga comes in.

Since its founding in 2010, Zhaga has been developing and standardising specifications for LED modules, intelligent sensors, communication modules and control gear for lighting manufacturers, specifiers and operators to apply in LED luminaires. Zhaga’s specifications are called Books, with each book defining the interface of one or more components of an LED luminaire.

Together, the interface specifications established by Zhaga Books enable an interoperable ecosystem of luminaires and components (e.g., communication and sensor modules, LED modules, control gear, etc.). In doing so, Zhaga and its members contribute to ‘closing the loop’ as outlined by the Ellen McArthur Foundation’s butterfly diagram.

The Ellen McArthur butterfly diagram visualises the circular economy by showing the continuous flow of materials within a circular economy. The right-hand side of the diagram represents the technical cycle, which is relevant for products that are used rather than consumed, such as lighting products and components.

By specifying the interface properties of serviceable luminaires, all 26 Zhaga Books contribute to the ‘maintaining’ and ‘remanufacturing’ categories of the butterfly diagram, thus helping keep products in use and out of the landfill.

“In particular, the inner ‘maintaining’ loop is important as this is where the most value can be captured by retaining more of the embedded value as luminaires do not need to be removed from the application site,” explains Martin Creusen, Standards and Regulation Manager at Signify.

Simplifying Maintenance, Expanding the Lifecycle
While all Zhaga Books are directly tied to ‘closing the loop’, not every Book is needed all the time. In fact, creating a future-proofed, serviceable product or component typically requires only a couple of Books. For example, the recipe for creating a circularity outdoor luminaire using Zhaga standards can involve a mix of Books 13, 18 and 19. 

Zhaga Book 13 relates to LED drivers. Although not specific to outdoor luminaires, it plays a non-negotiable role in ensuring serviceability by defining what interface specifications of LED drivers can be used in combination with a wide range of luminaires. The Book also addresses fundamental properties of the electrical interface between LED drivers and LED modules, which is critical in determining whether components are interoperable.

More specific to outdoor luminaires is Book 18, which standardises the control devices that can be installed onto streetlights. By specifying power and communication aspects, in addition to the mechanical fit system, the specification allows any certified control device to operate with any certified luminaire. Zhaga Book 18 also simplifies the addition of nodes such as sensors and communication nodes to LED luminaires. In this way, a plug-and-play operation between a luminaire and up to two control devices is guaranteed.

Also relevant to outdoor luminaires is Zhaga Book 19, which defines interface specifications, including keep-out volumes, for LED modules and lens plates enabling IP protection. Specifically, Book 19 allows for slim luminaire design and higher optical efficiency as no protective cover is needed to make the luminaire IP protected. The resulting ecosystem of LED modules and lens plates makes it possible to refurbish luminaires during their lifetime with new module-lens plate combinations, thus extending their use and fostering the circular economy.

Together, these Books can help maintain, prolong and refurbish an outdoor luminaire per the butterfly diagram. For example, the standardised dimensions and mounting points from Books 13 and 19 enable easy replacement. Components made in accordance with this standard are guaranteed to fit into the luminaire’s mounting, meaning drivers can be easily replaced and upgraded to future intelligent smart drivers.

“This makes field-repairability and field-replacement easy and extends the luminaire’s economic life,” remarks Creusen.

Lifecycle Data Enables Easy Repairs and Upgrades
Two other Zhaga Books that are relevant to the serviceability of outdoor luminaires are Books 24 and 25, both of which deal with Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. The extremely short-range wireless communication standard allows manufacturers to configure such lighting components as LED drivers to their specifications, both before and after installation – which can play an important role in enabling circularity lighting.

NFC also lets you manage data over the luminaire’s entire lifecycle, from production to installation, maintenance, replacement and repair. Having such lifecycle data not only helps increase efficiency, it also promotes products that use a modular design and that can be easily repaired and upgraded.

Luminaire manufacturers, installers, system integrators, and utility companies now have the option to select a single physical programming tool that will work with all field-maintenance applications from all vendors implementing Book 25 and all NFC-programmable devices implementing Book 24. 

Whereas Book 24 is geared towards luminaire manufactures, Book 25 defines a Bluetooth Low Energy communication protocol for communication between the field-maintenance application on a smart device and the NFC reader. In doing so, it enables maintenance and replaceability with a cross vendor harmonised method of NFC programming for in-field use.

According to Konrad, using Book 25 creates an enormous advantage in the field. “If an LED module is replaced by a more energy efficient LED module, Book 25 ensures that the new operating parameters can be set wirelessly on the driver,” he says.

Book 24, on the other hand, allows for configuration by the manufacturer and for customer-specific operating parameters. It also allows the configurations to be set on demand and in accordance to the customer’s specific parameters. “An exchange of the driver is usually not necessary, which avoids waste and extends the service life of the driver,” adds Creusen.

Zhaga Delivers Circularity Outdoor Lighting
The road to resource-efficient, circularity lighting starts with standardisation – which is exactly what Zhaga delivers. “By ensuring that luminaires and components can be easily repaired, upgraded, replaced or serviced, Zhaga is futureproofing outdoor lighting and promoting a circular economy,” says Creusen.          

“Manufacturers benefit from using Zhaga Books by achieving interoperability, accessing global markets, reducing costs, ensuring quality, staying adaptable to new technologies and protecting themselves against evolving regulations – all while gaining customer confidence,” concludes Konrad.

To enhance Zhaga’s global reach and impact on the circular economy, Zhaga Books are being transferred to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

While Books 13, 18 and 19, along with Books 24 and 25, are already available, Zhaga is currently working on offering the same high-level of serviceability, upgradeability and repairability for office illumination. That is expected to be available early next year – so stay tuned for more information.

Books are available to Zhaga Members. To learn more about becoming a member, please visit www.zhagastandard.org. If you want to find out more how Zhaga addresses Sustainability and the Circular Economy, please visit www.zhagastandard.org/circularitylighting.

If you come to Smart City Expo, 7-9 Nov in Barcelona, please visit the Zhaga booth in Hall 2 #54.

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