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DALI and wireless

DALI lighting control and wireless communication

There are different options to combine wireless communication links with DALI lighting control, which traditionally uses a 2-wire bus.

One option is to use an application gateway to translate between DALI and the wireless protocol of choice. 

The second option is to use an underlying wireless carrier to transport the DALI commands. This approach is specified in Part 104 of the IEC 62386 standard, which includes several wireless and wired transport alternatives to the conventional wired DALI bus system. Part 104 is not currently included in the DALI-2 certification program.

The DiiA Technical & Certification Work Group (T&C WG) has two subgroups that are investigating different options (see below), in conjunction with different partner organizations (see right). 

At this stage, no wireless protocols have been excluded from consideration.

 


DiiA wireless subgroups

Wireless Gateways

This subgroup is discussing specifications for standardized application gateways between DALI and existing wireless protocols. Currently these are:

  • DALI to Bluetooth mesh gateways
  • DALI to Zigbee gateways

For each protocol, the subgroup is developing gateway specifications to describe which commands and data will be supported across the interface.

Test specifications will be developed to enable certification.

DALI over Wireless (Part 104)

This subgroup is discussing the implementation of DALI over wireless carriers, in line with IEC 62386-104. The subgroup currently is looking at two options:

  • DALI over Thread
  • DALI over Bluetooth mesh 

The subgroup is working to identify any additional requirements that are necessary to implement Part 104.

Test specifications will be created or adapted to enable certification.

All DiiA Regular members are invited to participate in all T&C WG activities, including the new Wireless subgroups.

 


BACKGROUND

At the DALI Summit in September 2019, Arnulf Rupp, chair of the DiiA Board, gave a presentation entitled, “Where does DALI fit in a wireless world? >> Download the presentation

As well as unveiling DiiA's wireless plans, the presentation reached the following conclusions:

  • DALI fits in a Wireless World in multiple ways.
  • There will not be ONE protocol dominating the world any time soon.
  • Standardized gateways will allow use of D4i in combination with established, multi-vendor ecosystems.
  • Native DALI has the opportunity to win important markets with its unique set of features combining wired and wireless on multiple carriers including IP-based carriers.

 

Partner organizations

DiiA is working with several organizations:

Bluetooth SIG

  • Specifications for DALI to Bluetooth mesh gateways
  • Specifications for DALI over Bluetooth mesh

>> View News

Thread Group

  • Specifications for DALI over Thread

>> View News

 

 

Zigbee Alliance

  • Specifications for DALI to Zigbee gateways

>> View News

 

 

 


DALI and Wireless – FAQs

Are you developing standards for wireless DALI?

View answer

Yes, DiiA is developing specifications that will allow the use of DALI-based lighting control in combination with wireless communication networks. There are two main ways to achieve this. One is to develop specifications for standardized application gateways that effectively translate between DALI and a particular wireless protocol. The other approach is to implement DALI over an underlying wireless carrier. This so-called “DALI over Wireless” approach does not require translation. DiiA has two technical subgroups that are addressing these two options.

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What’s the difference between DALI Over Wireless and Wireless Gateways?

View answer

DALI Over Wireless implements the DALI lighting-control application on top of an underlying wireless network. The devices in a DALI Over Wireless mesh network are DALI-based devices with wireless communication capabilities. There is no translation between DALI and the wireless protocol. It will also be possible to have a bridge between a wireless DALI network and a conventional wired DALI network. A DALI-to-Wireless Gateway allows conversion between DALI and the wireless protocol in question. Commands and data are mapped across the interface.

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Which approach is better – DALI Over Wireless and Wireless Gateways?

View answer

There are many different application areas and use cases that can be addressed by combining DALI lighting control with wireless communication links. By working on specifications for both DALI Over Wireless and Wireless Gateway options, and by involving at least two wireless protocols in each case, DiiA is creating the necessary standardization that will provide choice for product developers, customers and other stakeholders.

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What is “Part 104” and can product developers already use it?

View answer

The term “Part 104”, which means Part 104 of the IEC 62386 standard, relates to DALI Over Wireless options. Yes, anyone is able to use Part 104, which is publicly available via IEC. Part 104 describes a number of transport alternatives—both wireless and wired—to the conventional wired DALI bus system. However, Part 104 lacks a number of critical details that will enable interoperability and certification. For some of the DALI Over Wireless options in Part 104, DiiA is working on new specifications that address these deficiencies. This is turn will allow testing and certification for these options.

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Will you offer certification of wireless DALI products? How long will this take?

View answer

Yes, the goal of both DiiA activities—DALI Over Wireless (Part 104) and Wireless Gateways—is to establish certification programs in collaboration with the different ecosystem partners. Work is progressing, but it is too early to give a firm schedule for the start of certification.

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Are you working with established wireless protocols?

View answer

Yes, DiiA has signed liaison agreements with the Zigbee Alliance , the Thread Group and Bluetooth SIG. We are working to develop specifications for DALI-to-Wireless Gateways with Zigbee and, separately, Bluetooth Mesh. For DALI Over Wireless, we are developing specifications that will enable DALI over Thread, and, separately, DALI over Bluetooth Mesh.

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How do you decide which organizations to work with, and which protocols to adopt?

View answer

Guided by the opinions of DiiA member companies, the DiiA Board decided on a first set of priorities and established liaison agreements with the appropriate organizations: the Zigbee Alliance , the Thread Group and Bluetooth SIG. While we are working to develop specifications for DALI to operate with the different protocols from these organizations, it is important to note that DiiA has not excluded any other protocols from consideration. Also, within DiiA we work on a volunteer basis. We need volunteers from at least two different member companies to be able to develop and write specifications and to verify the corresponding test procedures.

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What’s the benefit of combining DALI with a wireless network?

View answer

Wireless networking has the potential to provide many benefits, not least the ability to integrate lighting with other building-management systems. However, the most widely-used wireless protocols were not developed with lighting as the main focus. In contrast, DALI was developed specifically for lighting and has a number of tailored features related to diming, colour control, sensing, emergency lighting, availability of luminaire, energy and diagnostics data, and many more. DALI is also based on a global standard. Other protocols cannot offer the same rich set of standardized, lighting-specific features.

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Will DALI work over Ethernet? What about WiFi?

View answer

Part 104 describes a number of transport alternatives—both wireless and wired—to the conventional wired DALI bus system. One of the underlying communication protocols in Part 104 is User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which is related to Internet Protocol (IP). UDP enables several wired (e.g. Ethernet) or wireless (e.g. Thread, WiFi) options. Among these IP-based solutions, DiiA is currently working with Thread to develop a DALI Over Wireless specification. However, no protocols have been eliminated from consideration, so it is possible that future work will look at other protocols such as Ethernet and WiFi.

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