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LED Drivers with Bluetooth Interface

Highly advanced miniaturisation of wireless communication modules combined with a drop in their prices are the reason why radio transmission modules can be found just about everywhere. Despite this, incorporating this type of module into the LED power is a very innovative solution and makes it incredibly easy to produce lighting systems. By introducing a popular data transmission standard, such as Bluetooth, you may create functional, unique, simple to manage and control lighting systems for buildings, halls, rooms etc.

The Bluetooth interface is a well-known feature of headsets. One other popular use of this standard may be the emulation of the UART virtual serial port, which enables data transfer between devices, usually between a PC and a smartphone. By their nature, they were point-to-point connections, making it impossible to control extensive networks of devices.

One from the major trends in neuro-scientific wireless communication products are IoT networks, Industry 4.0 and smart buildings. These trends are also recognised through the consortium that oversees Bluetooth development and the companies cooperating with it, so it's not surprising the successive versions are increasingly focused less on audio devices as on energy-saving solutions powered by batteries or alternative energy used in such systems.

Bluetooth and Grid Networks

As mentioned before, the Bluetooth interface was mainly centered on point-to-point connections. However, there would be a profile to produce local PAN (Personal Area Network) networks, it had been hardly ever used, because these were networks with rather low transmission speeds and limited capabilities.

Bluetooth version 4.0 reveals the potential of creating grid networks. Their main advantage is their virtually unlimited range, as data can be transferred in the base device towards the network node after which from node to node. A node in such a network is any device which, apart from data transfer, may also possess some other functionality. It can, for example, come with an additional function of a display, switch, sensor etc. Grid networks are particularly suitable for communication inside a smart building, as they offer almost unlimited coverage. Data could be transferred e.g. between floors or rooms without complex wiring. An execllent advantage of grid networks is the easy modification. What is important is that the Bluetooth communication protocol happens to be well secured – it ensures device authentication and knowledge encryption, making hacking into the network highly difficult.

Drivers with Wireless Communication

The engineers from MEAN WELL, a well-known manufacturer of power equipment, created an excellent idea that responds ideally to the market trends. They decided to equip a LED driver with a Low Energy 4.0 Bluetooth programmable communication module. This opens up the best way to control lighting by using popular devices for example smartphones, tablets, personal computers and microcomputers, for instance Raspberry Pi. The combination of the radio module into the driver has greatly simplified the sunlight control system – control takes place in the driver itself, i.e. exactly where it is needed, without any additional intermediary devices required.

The new drivers by MEAN WELL were designed in cooperation with European company Casambi, which was created develop and improve Bluetooth grid network solutions. Casambi’s communication modules have been integrated in drivers in the LCM-25/40/60BLE series. The listed number of drivers provide the possibility to set the output current within the available power range (the amount within the driver’s name indicates the utmost load power), thanks to which variously connected LEDs can be easily powered using the same driver after the output current is placed using the DIP switches. The available load current and voltage combinations are conveniently labelled on enclosures of the respective models (fig.1).

Fig.1. LCM-25BLE series driver.

Fig.1. LCM-25BLE series driver.

  • Powering various configurations of LEDs. Output current/voltage modified using a DIP switch.
  • Plastic housing, class II design.
  • Built-in active PFC function.
  • Energy efficiency as much as 90%.
  • Lighting dimmed by way of Bluetooth and a button.
  • Protection against short-circuit, overvoltage and overheating.
  • Surge immunity as much as 2 kV (L-N).
  • MTBF > 50,000 hours.

The proven fact that the parameters from the output voltage and current could be changed is a great convenience for the system contractor and service technician. The former can reduce the number of various devices in the lighting system as well as in the warehouse, while the latter can also enjoy significantly easier work, because replacing a damaged power supply module with a brand new one or changing the configuration of powered LEDs only involves setting the burden current without the need to use multiple modules for different connection variants. It is also essential that both models could be used successfully for indoor in addition to outdoor lighting systems.

Lighting control options

Casambi is promoting a special application to control the LED driver. It allows you to group power supplies, set scenes, timers, correlations, etc. The drivers can also be operated using devices which are compatible with the communication protocol produced by Casambi, for example wall switches or light sensors, which can be accustomed to extend the plethora of the network and to develop customised, smart lighting systems. This provides you the opportunity to create advanced lighting control algorithms to attain a specific aesthetic effect or far-reaching energy savings.

In addition to the potential of managing lighting while using application, the drivers also boast a freely programmable input attached to the neutral power cable by means of a pushbutton (Fig. 2). This input can be programmed in a way it controls not just the directly connected driver, but also a group or all the drivers, allowing for switching on/off the lighting, a single luminaire, a group of luminaires, as well as a scene change.

Fig. 2. Connecting a programmable pushbutton

Fig. 2. Connecting a programmable pushbutton

The variant of Low Energy 4.0 Bluetooth grid network produced by Casambi works in the self-organisation mode, which does not impose around the user or installer the requirement for complex configuration. Within this mode, the network coverage (range) is maximised with the help of the devices operating within the network, and there's no need for additional gates or bridges. The Casambi application for controlling the operation of the drivers, and thus the sunshine sources being supplied, can be attached to the cloud for data storage and standing reporting.

Disover LED drivers with Bluetooth interface by MEAN WELL

Final remarks

When installing lighting systems for smart buildings, it is worth taking into consideration products by MEAN WELL. They not just enjoy good reputation, but also are practical and provide wide possibilities of configuration and application. Among MEAN WELL products you will find not just the described drivers in the LCM series, but additionally LED controllers without adjustable current or voltage, but with PWM output, which lets you regulate colour temperature and light intensity. A good example of this type of solution is the PWM-120BLE model with 120W and output voltage (depending on model) from 12 to 24V. Number of input voltage (90…305V AC) permits the controller for use in any lighting system. The PWM-120BLE has a built-in Casambi BLE 4.0 module, which enables remote communication and control of the sunlight. It is worth mentioning that among products by MEAN You can also find LED controllers without wireless interface.