Have sparkies seen the light?

nuLEDs Network Powered Lighting

When you’re thinking about  installing new lighting in your home or office, your first call is usually to your electrical contractor. Indeed under current UK Building Regulations, “Part P” requires that a suitably-qualified electrician is used to install or certify new lighting circuits. But if companies like NuLED have their way, that may all be about to change.

Increasingly we are replacing traditional lighting with LED. LED lighting systems have really come of age in the last few years, the colour, brightness and ‘quality’ of light is now equivalent to, and in many cases superior to, the tungsten and halogen lighting we’ve been used to for the last 20 years or so. LEDs don’t suffer from the ‘warming up’ issues associated with low energy lighting using CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) technology, and the leading LED manufacturers now have drivers that are capable of smoothly dimming down to 1% brightness (or even less) without any flicker.

So how does that affect who installs them?

A ‘traditional’ lighting circuit is mains voltage (~220V) which has the potential to cause a lethal electric shock and so must be installed by a qualified person. LED lights work at much lower voltages (typically 12V) and also require much less electrical power to produce the same amount of light (typically 7W for LED compared to 50W for a halogen lamp). Therefore a transformer and associated electronics is required to lower the mains voltage from 220V AC down to 12V DC…so the qualified professional is still required as mains voltage is involved.

NuLED however take a radically different approach.

They’ve realised that the amount of power required for LED lighting is actually capable of being delivered over the low voltage data cables typically used for your IT network or AV distribution. Power over Ethernet (PoE) uses standard network cables and connections but also sends low voltage power over the cable as well as the data signal. Now, instead of mains power having to be run to your light switches and all your lighting luminaries; a standard network cable is run instead.

No mains voltage = no certified electrician required.

Not only that, but because the same cable is also capable of carrying data, it opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the control of your lighting systems. It’ll be a few years yet before we start wiring our homes and offices purely with Ethernet cables rather than mains cables and legislation may need to catch up; but the technology is here just waiting to be exploited…we’ll certainly be keeping our eye on it at Cyberhomes.


Posted by
on 03 Nov 2014