Integrators, Replace Electricians With PoE Lighting

Author: Brian Rhodes, Published on Aug 19, 2016

Electricians often steal security business, causing problems for themselves, users and security integrators.

Now, an emerging technology could flip things by allowing integrators to install lights, with the end result looking just like conventional systems.

Are these products a novelty, or do they represent real advancement in lighting technology? In this note, we analyze PoE Illumination's potential impact in the integration market, looking at:

  • LED power consumption and PoE math
  • Management benefits
  • Licensing benefits
  • Commercial options
  • Upcoming PoE standard
  • Market upside for integrators

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Comments (26)

I've been watching this for a couple of years. We control lighting with our security systems like many other companies. It's kind of old school the way it's done. I'm excited to see security applications for this.

Wow! I remember a sales engineer I worked with a decade ago mentioned something like this would be occurring in the future. I wrote it off as I had never seen anything mentioning this application. It's not as though I read lighting trade magazines! This is a great article, truly broadening the horizon, and will definitely be investigated further.

I've heard of this trend being referred to as the "Digital Ceiling", which includes other IoT-ish things like adding in networked HVAC sensors and people counters.

Definitely food for thought.

sweet. Are the lights just a dumb device, meaning they just use the POE power of the switch and have no real network traffic associated with them, or do they actually have web servers built in where you can turn them on/off over the network.

Or are they using proprietary managed switches for that instead of each light having web servers?

The approach varies, but in general the lights are dumb and the switches/gateways/midspans are controlled. There are a number of accessories like dimmers and toggle switches that are 'smart' with onboard webservers.

Either way you have to think twice before remotely cycling the switch.

This should prove interesting when the lighting is required exit lighting.

Although it may seem economical when using open wiring, when conduit is required there will still need to be outlets nearby on the walls until someone comes up with POE appliances and such.

It's certainly an improvement on the old Lutron way of lighting control with a ton of control wires and relays...and I mean OLD Lutron, not anything they may do today.

I agree and am also curious to see how/when established standards like NEC incorporate PoE powered lights into code. It's a big grey area now that there is no legislative authority over.

This results in lighting systems that do not have to be installed and serviced by licensed electrical contractor, but instead be addressed by low voltage and IT technicians commonly performing security integration work.

"How many electricians does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

"Zero"

Good Luck in this space for security integrator!!! Been there! Also Redwood / Commscope already disbanded the line.

Extreeeeemly high initial cost over convention fixtures with LED bulbs. And the even more difficult part is the design/build is entirely covered by the electrical core division and rarely / rather never to this date makes it to a Div 26/27 scope.

Even a retro fit is difficult as the cost to remove existing fixtures by an actual electrician is more than the cost of replacing the bulbs to LED.

POE lighting is not the way Redwood did it, they had their own appliance and although it used RJ45 ports and looked like switch it used 6 wires strictly for power, no Ethernet data, a contact closure for a ceiling mounted motion detector on the last pair.

I cant imagine buying a POE switch to power a light bulb, the POE port would cost nearly as much as a standard fixture alone.

Awesome concept hopefully it will take off in our realm in the coming years, but I dont see us taking work from electrical space here.

Interesting. Good insight!

Commscope tells us that while the original Redwood equipment is EOL'd they are readying for a new line launch post-acquisition.

I can't imagine buying a POE switch to power a light bulb, the POE port would cost nearly as much as a standard fixture alone.

LED fixtures (linears) commonly cost $75 and up. POE ports are maybe $15.

Maybe $15 on the cheapest switch known to man, but in a professional enterprize environment they are not. And none the less still $15 dollars more with a 100x multiplier for even small offices....

What I'm not sure you are getting is that LED panels are far more expensive fixtures than traditional lighting fixtures to purchase.

This is offset by reduced energy costs and increased fixture longevity.

So if you're a 'professional enterprize' you are likely spending $150 per panel, so $25 a port won't break the bank.

In addition, the lower voltage supplied to the lights means smaller, cheaper ballasts are needed at the light source. It also means less heat at the light source, which increases the longevity of the panels even further.

Finally, since each panel is individually addressable, lightning automation on a micro scale can be implemented saving 25% or more in energy costs, depending on the usage pattern.

So IF the case has already been made for LEDs, then POE powered LEDs is a reasonable upsell.

But some people will only see that nothing is cheaper (to buy initially) than a 'light bulb and standard fixture'. In those cases, let them buy bulbs until the last of them are banned in 2020.

The next step is allready there as well, check out VLC or Visual Light Communication. The LED lights are used to communicate with smart devices such as smartphones, tablets etc. This has the potential to replace WiFi in certain applications. there are allready field trials for instance in Carrefour Supermarkets in France where the technology is used to 'guide' customers to the products, share coupons and collect occupancie and stuff. Redwood was an early adopter but the advancements in technology and applications are huge.

by now it's much much more than just powering lights over the network, it's all about gathering information

Our lower-lumen LED lighting has been reliable and effective, but we've had very uneven results with high wattage PAR30/BR30 E27-based LED lighting. All of our Philips, Starpower, and Fait are still going strong after two years, but nearly 100% of the "100W equivalent" models from Lighting Ever and G7 Power failed within the first six months of operation.

Given the significant unit costs, whether low voltage or E27, I hope high-lumen LED reliability is improving. In our experience, the more reliable low-lumen LEDs are a solution in search of a problem -- they don't fulfill our needs.

"but we've had very uneven results with high wattage PAR30/BR30 E27-based LED lighting."

In our deployed demo systems which is the only traction we have had over the last 7 years we have had failures in every install we have done using some form of 2x2 fixture.

For reference' The fixtures are typically not made by the same company that manufactured the controller.

I can say that as a user of such internet enabled lighting systems that you will quickly realize the simplicity of a light switch and its placement is highly valued. And when one is not placed in the very common spot one would believe a switch to be, because a switch for such has gone from $2-5 each to $50 or more you will hate the fact that it takes you nearly two minutes to log into an app to turn a light off or on when that would not even be a thought in the past.

The only place we have had success in network based lighting control is in the conference/board room or lecture hall when we tie into a 3rd party (typically Lutron) lighting system to dim lights when a presentation is being displayed on a white board or screen. And this is irrelevant of LED low voltage fixture or not.

For anyone who watched the mr robot episode where the smart house was hacked, imagine these lights getting hacked and being messed with lol

In the article 3 manufacturers are mentioned.

Iluminar , Raytec and NuOptic.

Raytec I know. Can anyone tell me about their experience with the other 2?

We tested NuOptic's Varifocal Illuminator here. Similar performance, and while the varifcal feature is nice, it drives price higher. Likely helpful for PTZs if smart-IR is not available or uneffective, but likely too costly for fixed focal ranges.

The biggest issue I see here is the inability to daisy chain.

Assuming 1:1 port device ratio, I see little advantage in running a gazillion ethernet cables through a ceiling.

Standard electrical lights have the convenience of being able to daisy chain banks of lights on 1 circuit reducing cabling costs because all you need to do is run 1 cable and apply the snap on sockets.

I've been saying for years that almost everything minor appliance in a building will be heading POE...

there'll be POE powered desktop PC's, monitors, already we have Phones.

imagine a world where every light switch and bulb socket are POE...where security sensors, smoke alarms, thermostats, temperature sensors, screamers, sounders, light fittings are all POE...

in the not too distant future only the big things'll require dedicated mains sockets or wiring, can't see POE fridges, microwaves or kettles any time soon :-)

I include Totus in this line of thinking, since they directly integrate Axis and Mobotix 360-degree cameras into their lighting solutions. Not PoE, but still very forward thinking and absolutely suitable for parking lots!

http://www.totus-solutions.com/

Rumor is its "lights out" at Totus.

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