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2012/07/25

Low Wattage Lighting from LumenCache

I've been thinking about the subject of lighting recently, looking to make myself a computer-controlled fading lamp. I've gone from thinking "I'll wire up a bank of modern LEDs" to "I'll figure out how to hook a digital potentiometer to replace the slider in a CF dimmer switch". I hadn't really given great thought about the future of how lights work.

Thinking about the future of lighting is what LumenCache is there for, and that's not at the lamp level, but at the building level. Let's hit a few ideas.

  • LED lights have a life of 100,000 hours, but the drivers burn out more like 25,000 hours. (I'm reciting from a presentation where I didn't take notes, so I could have it wrong, but I believe I have the jist of it right.) So, we're talking about a quarter of the life of the bulb thrown away.
  • So, we get better drivers, kicking out DC power, which does not have to be high wattage, and we put 'em in a central location.
  • Lower wattage means lower costs for lighting (and LEDs are getting brigher for less all the time) and lower heat. It also means that putting a battery with the system means you can keep the lights on and the system going through small power interruptions.
  • The wiring doesn't have to be the high-wattage wiring we use to push standard electrical power. It can even be kicked over CAT5. It isn't Power Over Ethernettm but it is power over ethernet cable. CAT5 has four pairs, and the standard only uses the outer pairs, so they're putting power over the center while keeping bits on the outside. (It has been a decade since I last crimped an ethernet cable, so I might have some of those details mixed up, please see your cabling professional.) So, you can use some of your runs to go to your WiFi access points.
  • Control is also at the center, but definable to the switches (and they can be standard switches) and also (presumably) via computer controls, web applications and smartphone apps. Or at least in the future.
  • And, it isn't just on/off. You can fade lights, too.
I don't expect that sort of wiring setup any time soon, but I hope it is clear that I love this idea.