Lighting Modular systems

Where a larger budget is available, even greater flexibility can be achieved by installing a lighting system that is made up from individually controllable modules. Despite their modular design, there may, however, still be a significant initial investment to factor in because most systems require a central hub to act as a gateway between the system’s internal communication network and a WiFi router. The various systems available in the market take numerous different approaches to internal communication, with some utilising a hard- wired network such as Dali or

power-over-ethernet, while others use wireless communication, including various proprietary protocols such as Z-Wave or Zigbee. Meanwhile, in most systems a connection to a router facilitates control from outside the building, typically via a dedicated app which might also offer control of other devices as part of a smart home system. Expandable systems enable householders to select from a wide range of products that might include smart power sockets, locks, sensors, room thermostats and other devices as part of the wider Internet of Things.

Wired or wireless

When considering which systems to offer, the plethora of competing technologies underpinning internal communication are likely to make decision-making more difficult for wholesalers as there are pros and cons for each method.

Wired systems avoid the vagaries of wireless communication but, in terms of ease of installation, wireless communication has distinct advantages. Not least among these advantages is that the modularity of a control system can be fully exploited to expand the network of devices

Multi-way dimmer switch systems comprise a master dimmer which can be used with a number of dimming slave units, enabling dimming at any entry point.

without the need for significant rewiring at each additional installation phase.

Modular systems may include dedicated switches or actuators that can be placed behind existing switches to communicate wirelessly with dimmer modules or dimming drivers located in the ceiling void, wireless wall sockets or adapters powering side lamps and sometimes smart light bulbs capable of direct control.

Dimmer compatibility When considering systems by niche manufacturers it is worth thinking about whether the dimming technology offered is sufficiently versatile to handle the wide variety of dimmable drivers found in the market. Many manufacturers of lighting control systems are not experts in the complexities of

designing dimmer switches for LED lighting so there are clear benefits in choosing products from established manufacturers with expertise in dimming.

For example, the Varilight MultiPoint dimmer series features V-Pro technology; not only are the default settings extremely versatile but a suite of features is available to optimise the performance of a particular LED load, including a choice of three dimming modes. In order to determine the full stable dimming range of an LED driver, V-Pro dimmers offer minimum and maximum brightness level adjustment. In addition, the V-Pro Drive feature provides for extra power at start-up to overcome low power illumination issues exhibited by some drivers.

A further benefit for wholesalers in choosing solutions from established manufacturers is that their lighting control products are likely to coordinate with a wider range of switches and sockets, providing a further opportunity to cross-sell matching wiring accessories.

Untapped market

Some extremely powerful and versatile systems are available to wholesalers but they may come at a high cost and present a degree of complexity that makes them unattractive to installers undertaking less ambitious projects. In order to address the larger market of relatively modest homes, wholesalers may wish to consider including an entry-level system in their offer that is capable of delivering lighting system that is flexible enough to cater for a typical open plan living space that comprises a kitchen/diner and a lounge area.

This is perhaps the greatest untapped market as even a relatively simple system can potentially have a transforming effect and provide lighting that is as flexible as the open plan living it is designed to illuminate.

Expandable systems enable homeowners to choose products that could include smart power sockets, locks, sensors, room thermostats and other devices as part of the wider Internet of Things. March 2018 electrical wholesaler | 37

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