Critical Attributes for Wireless Technologies Utilized in Connected Commercial Lighting
There are a few key attributes that need to be considered in wireless technologies utilized for commercial connected lighting applications. These are:
- Scalability & Performance
- Privacy & Security
The priority given to each of these attributes in a specific application heavily depends on the facility and the desired functionality of the commercial lighting system being deployed. Let’s define each of these attributes within the context of connected commercial lighting:
Scalability & Performance
The scalability of a wireless network refers to its ability to grow (in the number of nodes) to adapt for future growth while having a limited impact on the performance of the network. Performance goes hand in hand with scalability. There’s no point in a network being able to scale while significantly decreasing its performance.
Performance of a wireless network refers to the measure of service quality of the network. In the context of commercial lighting, some of the most important performance measurements include latency, throughput, and signal error rate.
Reliability refers to the ability to get a message from A to B within the time needed. The reliability of the wireless networks in commercial lighting applications is extremely important. Having sensor data points transmitted over a network that is not reliable could cause more harm than good. This is especially true for applications that are time sensitive.
Wireless networks employ various techniques to increase reliability. Some of these are at the protocol level, while others are at design and implementation.
The most common ones are:
- Data retransmissions in case of errors which relies on tracking the sequencing of data packets being transmitted and received
- Error detection and correction (e.g. data redundancy, forward error correction techniques, etc.)
- Increasing transmit power at the transmitter
- Increasing receiver sensitivity
- Multiple antennas at the receiver
- Frequency hopping to avoid noisy channels
Not all wireless network technologies are created equal, and some focus on reliability and robustness more than others. So, be sure to consider this parameter carefully when choosing a wireless network technology and really understand what mechanisms are utilized to achieve the level of reliability needed for your system.
Privacy & Security
Both privacy and security are major concerns when it comes to any wirelessly connected system. With the dramatically increasing amount of data collected in commercial lighting applications, protecting users’ privacy is becoming even more critical.
From a security perspective, wireless systems are much more vulnerable to attacks compared to wired systems. This needs to be taken into account when choosing a wireless technology to make sure the system is protected against cybercriminal attacks. Not all wireless technologies are created equal when it comes to security and privacy protection, so it’s important to evaluate how the chosen technologies achieve the level of protection appropriate for the application under consideration.
Two types of costs are involved with a commercial lighting system:
- Initial, one-time costs (hardware, deployment, installation, commissioning, and software)
- Recurring costs (maintenance, condition monitoring, and software)
It’s important to consider both types when selecting a wireless technology for your commercial lighting system.
Comparison of Wireless Technologies Most Suitable for Commercial Lighting
Based on the attributes mentioned above – scalability and performance, reliability, interoperability, privacy and security, and cost – here are the most suitable wireless technologies for the application of commercial lighting:
- Bluetooth® mesh
Now, let’s compare the most common technologies in terms of the key attributes we listed.