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Lumenpulse Lumentalk

Issue 69 Oct/Nov 2012

David Morgan is excited about a breakthrough technology that enables digital control of LED lighting over existing AC power lines... and reduces installation costs by 30%.

Although Lumenpulse was only founded in Montreal, Canada in 2006, it has grown rapidly and now has offices in the USA and UK. It has already established a reputation for innovation and design, winning a raft of industry awards. The founder and CEO of Lumenpulse, François-Xavier Souvay, is the son of a lighting designer and was quick to recognise the huge potential for LEDs in the architectural lighting market.

The high powered management team and board of directors combine many years experience in LED lighting from leading companies including Color Kinetics, Lumec and Martin Professional.

The latest innovation from Lumenpulse, which was launched at Lightfair in Las Vegas earlier this year, is the Lumentalk system. The system is a bi-directional digital mains signalling system and allows luminaires to be dimmed and controlled over existing mains wiring.

Apparently the primary application is for white light projects where the cost of rewiring as well as changing to LED luminaires would be prohibitive. A figure of 30% of the total installation cost has been mentioned by Lumenpulse as the potential saving by using the Lumentalk system.

Although mains signaling control and data transmission systems have been available from a wide variety of suppliers for many years, Lumenpulse appears to have taken the idea to a new level of completeness for the lighting market.

The basic mains signaling technology is apparently quite similar to that used for remote electricity meter reading that implies a high degree of reliability although at a fairly low data transfer rate. The system will work on voltages from 100 up to 277 and meets EMC and RFI requirements for use in most countries around the world.

The details of the patented and patent pending system have been developed to meet the particular requirements of cabling for LED lighting which, in many situations, requires separate power and data signals for smooth dimming down to low levels. In retrofit projects the existing mains wiring would not be able to provide the data element so that the additional cost of re-wiring would need to be added to the already high cost of the LED luminaires. Although phase dimming LED drivers, which are able to use standard mains wiring for dimming, are now becoming more widespread and available they generally do not dim down to less than 10% or 15% yet and require trailing edge Triac dimmers to work well.

The Lumentalk system would be of particular use in applications where low dimming levels are needed and when used with colour changing or dynamic white luminaires that require DMX control. Lumentalk can handle DMX although apparently there is quite a slow data transfer rate so any effects requiring rapid scene changes or video would be problematic.

One of the novel features of Lumentalk is its ability to read and translate dimming levels from a wide range of standard dimmer types including Triac, 0-10V, DALI, DMX and ELV. The Lumentranslator system converts them to a standard format and sends them over the system to be decoded at the luminaire end.

In addition to sending signals to the luminaires over the mains, the system also allows data to be collected at the luminaire end via motion, light level or other sensors and transmitted back down the mains to the building automation system where it can be used in daylight harvesting or for security purposes thus reducing overall building cabling costs and effecting increased energy savings.

In large buildings with multiple electrical circuits and phases an additional element – Lumenlink - is required. Control panels on one phase or circuit can then control luminaires in other parts of the building that may not be on the same phase or circuit. This allows Lumentalk to be scalable for any building size to create a seamless system.

Although so far I have only seen Lumentalk working in an exhibition setting, it seems to offer a good solution for certain specific projects where rewiring costs could be an obstacle to changing to LED lighting. The system would also seem to have wider applications for non LED luminaire projects where DALI or 0 – 10 V dimming is required but rewiring costs to provide the data lines would be an issue.
It will be fascinating to see how widespread the use of this interesting system becomes over the next few years.


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