Commentary | Apr 19, 2016

Zhaga Meets Smart Lighting by Dee Denteneer

At first glance, the standardization of LED lighting components seems to be quite remote from the rise of smart, connected lighting and the Internet of Things (IoT). But the projected growth in penetration of smart lighting can only be realized through developments in high-volume electronics and standardization. Such standardization is intended to remove arbitrary variations in components, making design and implementation easier for manufacturers of smart LED luminaires, and enabling a supplier ecosystem. This is where Zhaga comes in.

Zhaga is an open industry consortium that aims to simplify the design and manufacturing of LED luminaires and accelerate the adoption of LED lighting solutions. It does this by writing specifications for the interfaces between LED luminaires and different component types.

While Zhaga’s early specifications focused on complete LED light engines, there has been a change of focus to enable independent interchangeability of LED modules and LED drivers.

Different module types are now covered by their own individual specifications. Examples are the new Zhaga Book 12 specification, which defines a family of six chip-on-board (COB) LED arrays, and the LED drivers, which are now specified in Zhaga Book 13.

The newest Zhaga specification, which is still at the proposal stage, continues this trend towards interchangeability, and is directly related to smart lighting. It will enable interchangeability of sensing/ communication modules that are used to control LED luminaires for outdoor lighting applications.

In the outdoor lighting market, the industry is seeing a transition to LED-based light sources in parallel with a demand for smart lighting enabled by connectivity and control. This type of functionality can significantly improve the efficiency, maintenance and running costs of outdoor luminaires. For example, light levels can be controlled in response to input from motion and other sensors. Also, energy usage can be monitored, and operational problems can be detected and reported.

Typically, a smart luminaire will have a sensing and communication module on the exterior of the luminaire that can provide control inputs to the driver. The proposed Zhaga specification will define the interface between a sensor/ connectivity module and the LED luminaire. Specifically, the module will fit into a receptacle on the luminaire, using a 4-pin connector. The Zhaga specification will define this connector interface but will not place any unnecessary restrictions on, for example, the design or functionality of the sensor/ connectivity module itself.

A standardized connector interface enables interchangeability. This means that the luminaire maker is able to fit different sensor modules, from different suppliers, according to the needs of the customer. Or, the luminaire could be supplied with a sealed cap on top of the receptacle, allowing the sensor module to be added later. And, perhaps most significantly, the standardized interface will allow the module to be easily upgraded in the field, adding new intelligence and extending the useful life of the luminaire.

The new proposal aligns with Zhaga’s central goal of simplifying the design and manufacturing of LED luminaires. The use of a standardized connector interface can reduce the design effort for the luminaire maker while enabling a broad choice of modules from different sources, according to the requirements of the application.

Going forward, Zhaga will continue to respond to requests from its members and the wider lighting community, and will investigate areas where component standardization is the smart option.

Dee Denteneer

Dee Denteneer was elected as Secretary General of the Zhaga Consortium during the most recent gathering of the Zhaga General Assembly in Shanghai. Dee has held positions at the University of Utrecht, the Statistical Office of the Netherlands, and Philips Research. He has a PhD in mathematics, and a background in wireless connectivity, lighting, project and program management, and finance. Currently, he is Director of Standards at Philips Lighting, focussing on strategy and governance in industry alliances. Along side of his position in the Zhaga Consortium, Dee is a member of the executive team, treasurer and chair of the Finance Committee of the ZigBee Alliance; Technical Working Group Chair of the Fairhair Alliance; and non-executive member of the Board of the Philips Pension Fund.