Choosing the right technology: Benefits of DALI-2, Wireless and DALI Wireless

Tero Marjamaki
Tero Marjamäki heads the product management team at Helvar Lighting Intelligence. The product management team is responsible for solution road mapping and go-to-market activities. Tero has been leading product management teams and functions for software/hardware/service-solutions for the past 15 years in various industries. He likes to study and blog about potential technology-driven disruptions in businesses of interest.

Whether you’re a lighting designer, installer, facility manager or anybody looking for new office space to rent, you face a wide spectrum of technologies and solutions for lighting.  Over the years, we have experienced an expansion of technological opportunities for lighting control such as Bluetooth mesh, cloud-based solutions and even an award-winning self-learning system. However, it is essential to note that ‘digital’ lighting has been around for decades in the form of DALI. So, how about in the new world? How is the DALI standard evolving to make use of the opportunities of new technologies?



DALI has now advanced to the second generation of the standard, and we call that DALI-2. We now start to see multiple vendors bringing certified devices to the market, and this pace is expected to accelerate in 2021. The new version of the standard is taking us to the world of interoperability and true lighting ecosystems. All stakeholders and customers now have more choices to build the system, application, and solution they want based on an expanding number of interoperable devices. It might also be the case that as there is more choice and the number of opportunities increases, the complexity of the solution also increases.  It is therefore even more important that the core of the intelligent lighting control system is scalable, well tested and capable of making all lighting dreams come true.

Wireless is not just cutting wires from a system. And, just cutting the wires brings only a fraction of new capabilities. True wireless systems allow a new type of user experience as the system components can interact with each other and other systems in a modern building. It will bring new benefits for people maintaining, optimising and using a modern building and its services. Modern wireless systems have also introduced new ways of installing and setting up systems as mobility devices enable “consumer” grade usability and simplicity for even professional applications. It’s expected that open widely adopted standards, such as Bluetooth, will increase the pace of innovation also in digitalising buildings and its operations.

But what if you combine DALI and wireless? Will it be a super-combo of capabilities or an average of everything? Wireless DALI is targeting to close the gap between modern DALI-2 systems and pure wireless systems. It will allow designers to benefit from centrally managed lighting control logic, as well as off-the-shelf luminaires and control devices. When the DALI-2 over wireless standard is ready, as it gains acceptance in the market and is used in projects, we will start to see some of the robust capabilities of wired systems such as emergency lighting being seamlessly introduced into this wired and wireless combo.  However, it is essential to note that some of the benefits of the true wireless system are lost as the logic is centralised. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the needs of the people using, optimising and maintaining the building before making your final choice of technology.

At the end of the day, most advanced lighting systems will be connected to “intelligent systems”, offering analytics and capability to optimise the entire building and all of its operations. The capability of an individual technology is less important than the benefits an intelligent solution provides. The winning technologies will be the ones that can deliver useful analytics and insights to benefit the building and the people who interact with that building.  All lighting systems must be able to extract the data to optimise the lighting conditions for the benefit of users, and at the same time, they need to provide data and insight for the adjacent building systems.  DALI-2, pure wireless systems, and DALI over wireless now have the ability to interact and to be developed further and evolve….as a standard……and that is a great place to start the discussion.