How to Light, IoT/Smart Lighting

How to Light: What special wiring do I need to allow for when installing a Bluetooth mesh network?

This question was answered by the technical team at Silvair.

You do not need any special wiring when installing a Bluetooth mesh network. It is a truly wireless technology – there is no need for any wires except for standard power cables for your fixtures. What’s more, you do not need to connect any additional devices to your system. A fully operational Bluetooth mesh lighting network may consist of smart luminaires and sensors alone. How is it possible?

Decentralized lighting control system

First, there is no need for any gateways because in a Bluetooth mesh lighting network, devices communicate directly with each other. A gateway is also not required to set up a network, since Bluetooth is natively supported by every smartphone and tablet on the market – so such devices can be conveniently used to perform any configuration or maintenance activities.

Second, a wireless lighting control system based on Bluetooth mesh doesn’t need any central control boxes. That’s because Bluetooth mesh puts a software controller into each luminaire. It is designed to allow for plug-and-play implementation of advanced lighting control strategies, including occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting.

The controller allows luminaires to understand messages published by sensors (occupancy, ambient light) and to adjust the output accordingly. This way, the luminaires themselves become intelligent and form a complete lighting control system without the need for a centralised controller typically present in legacy installations.

Bluetooth mesh challenges the architecture of control systems. Until now, building automation was all about centralised controls: centralised lighting controller, centralised heating/ventilation controller and so on. This is the legacy of wired installations where centralised solutions work perfectly fine. But centralised systems do not scale in the wireless world. Wireless technologies need a different approach to provide proper performance.

Centralized lighting control system

Radio is a shared medium and data packet collisions are one of the major problems to address. Centralised systems have bottlenecks through which large amounts of data are transferred back and forth. This drastically reduces the overall robustness of a network, resulting in unwanted delays and asynchronous fixture performance. But Moore’s Law (the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles about every two years) allows for moving the control function to the very edge – to the leaf nodes, which cuts half of the data traffic instantly.

This is how Bluetooth mesh handles wireless communication. With its dispersed logic configuration and multi-path packet delivery, lighting control systems based on Bluetooth mesh are extremely resilient and scalable.

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