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NVC Mesh - Networked Controls - Wireless

INTRODUCTION

We offer 4 levels of lighting control solutions.

  • Level 1. Simple controls using one sensor per fitting. This can be for on/off or on/off and dimming, but one sensor controls one fitting, so no wiring between fittings is required.
  • Level 2. Master/servant controls. Here, a sensor in one fitting (the master) can control a group of adjacent “servant” fittings. This is a little more complicated to install than level 1 because wiring is required between the master and its servants, but the user experience is often better.
  • Level 3. DALI networked controls – wired. Level 3 is more suitable than levels 1 and 2 for larger installations. It is divided into 3 parts:
    • A full-functionality DALI based lighting controls and addressable emergency test system
    • LightBox Express. A simplified DALI based lighting controls and addressable emergency test solution
    • LightBox Emergency. A DALI based addressable emergency test system only
  • Level 4. Mesh-networked controls – wireless. These are suitable on the largest sites and offer more than just lighting control. Our mesh-networked solutions can encompass complete building control and take you towards the internet of things (IoT). This article is focussed on level 4.

THE NVC SOLUTION OVERVIEW

More complex lighting controls require specialist expertise, so we partner with Chess Wise BV when our clients need a wireless, mesh-networked approach to lighting and building control. Chess Wise is a Dutch company, based in Haarlem, which has specialised in the fields of wireless control since it was founded in 1988. Our partnership with Chess Wise gives our clients the best of both worlds - the deep lighting expertise of NVC and the mesh networking and internet-of-things (IoT) expertise of Chess.

Chess has developed MyMesh. This is a mesh-networking system that is a platform for complete building control using an internet-of-things approach. It can be used for almost any building control function, including lighting control, emergency lighting testing, security and access control, HVAC, air quality, door/window opening, asset tracking, water leakage and more.

With MyMesh we can implement systems that are secure, scalable, robust and adaptive.

DALI v MESH-NETWORKING. I DON’T GET IT – PLEASE EXPLAIN!

 Traditional DALI lighting control. In a traditional lighting control system, all the communication between the system components is done using DALI. If a sensor detects someone has entered an area, or that the sun is now shining less brightly, it will communicate that via the DALI bus (or network). The DALI bus is a pair of wires that joins everything together and carries messages using the DALI language (protocol).

DALI System



In this example, the sensor puts a DALI message onto the bus. The application controller (the brains of the system) receives the message, works out what the correct response is and generates a new DALI message, addressed to the appropriate lighting group. The message might tell the lights to switch on or get brighter. Each light fitting in the installation has a DALI driver with a unique address (or name) which understands DALI messages, so they respond as instructed and switch on to the correct light level.

 

If you need a general introduction to DALI, please check  "What is DALI ?" article

DALI sounds great. Isn’t that enough? It works really well in many projects, but sometimes users and building managers want to go further. For example, sensors that detect the movement of people could be used not only to turn the lights on – they could also be used to track footfall in a shopping centre. The same information could be linked to the ventilation system, to increase air flow as more people move into an area, or to security and access control to prevent overcrowding and help enforce social distancing. Now we are moving towards the IoT – a world in which everything is linked, often via a cloud, and accessible for management, monitoring and control.

DALI was designed for lighting and it would not support the diversity of sensors and devices required in this example. Also, the DALI protocol is relatively slow – fine for lighting, but inadequate as data volumes start to rise.

This is where mesh-networking scores over a pure-DALI environment.

Mesh-networking. In our mesh-networking solution all the system components are connected using MyMesh nodes. A node is an Rf transmitter/receiver that talks to all the other nodes within range.

In the example above, if we were using MyMesh, the MyMesh sensor would transmit a message that more people had entered the area. The message would be carried wirelessly across the system (not using DALI) and all devices to which it was relevant would react.

  • Light fittings in that area could get brighter
  • A gateway to a cloud server could pass the data to a system aggregating footfall data for the landlord
  • The HVAC system in the relevant area would adjust the ventilation
  • The access control system might close the area to any more visitors till the crowd density had fallen to safe social distancing levels.

With MyMesh is DALI dead?

No! MyMesh carries all the messages between the devices in the system wirelesly, but within each light fitting there is a MyMesh node. This takes messages it receives wirelessly and translates them into DALI and inserts them into the DALI driver in the light fitting. So, MyMesh uses DALI for lighting control but there is no DALI wiring and no DALI commissioning. To the installer, DALI is invisible because it is confined to the inside of the light fittings. We (NVC) know it’s there, but you don’t have to.

My Mesh Node From Chess



A MyMesh node from Chess. This would be inserted inside a light fitting. It has its own antenna - so it can communicate with other nodes up to 200m away. When it receives a message it “translates” it to DALI and communicates it to the DALI driver in the light fitting via two short wires.



MyMesh node from Helvar

 


A MyMesh node from Helvar. This can work with any Helvar “Freedom” driver or sensor, integrating it into a MyMesh installation.

 



The advantages of this approach are that:

  • MyMesh can work with any industry-standard DALI driver or DALI emergency module. We are not restricted to a particular driver vendor.
  • There is no bus (network) wiring. That means lower installation costs because each fitting just needs a live and neutral connection – no DALI wires.
  • Adding new components, such as light fittings or sensors, is easy. All they need is a mains connection.

Is MyMesh only for light fittings – what about sensors & switches?

MyMesh is not confined to hardware made by Chess, or just to light fittings. There is an ecosystem of manufactures all offering MyMesh enabled devices, including companies such as Helvar and Danlers.

A helvar freedom sensor

 

 

A Helvar “Freedom” sensor. Connected to a Helvar node this becomes part of a MyMesh installation.

 

 

 

 

Danlers Mymesh Sensor

 

 


A Danlers MyMesh sensor. In this case, because of the size of the housing, the MyMesh node is built-in.

 

 

 

 

Wireless communication – is that reliable?

MyMesh is extremely reliable for two reasons.

  • MyMesh has a choice of radio frequencies to use. It can use either 2.4GHz (mostly inside buildings, range 20-30m) or 868MHz (outside and between buildings, range c 200m). Within the 2.4GHz band there are separate channels reserved for building control applications, so we are not using the same spectrum space that is already crowded with WiFi and Bluetooth.

 

Mymesh dedicated RF channels

 

 

In the 2.4GHz band MyMesh uses dedicated channels to avoid the heavy traffic generated by WiFi and Bluetooth. This makes MyMesh fast and reliable.

 

 

 

MyMesh dedicated channels.

  • It’s a mesh network. That means that all messages are disseminated through the network by hopping from node to node, not by following dedicated point-to-point routes. If one node is temporarily unavailable the message just goes by another route.

How do you set-up a MyMesh installation?

This is done using an ipad and the MyMesh app.  At the outset, all the devices in the network are on the left of the screen. One by one, swipe them to the right, assigning them to the light fittings that they will control as you go.

The rules and relationships you are creating as you do this are stored in the MyMesh network – not the ipad. This is truly distributed intelligence. There is no central server that could fail so the system is very robust.

If you need to add extra fittings or sensors they will become visible to the app as soon as mains power is applied to them. This makes it really easy to add to the system over time.

Do I need a connection to the cloud?

Yes and no.

The system will work well without a cloud connection at all. However, a cloud connection brings some extra functionality, such as:

  • A real-time clock and calendar function. These are necessary if you want to schedule timed events, such as different rules at weekends and holidays or an emergency lighting test schedule.
  • Management reporting. If you wanted to analyse energy consumption from different zones over time then a cloud connection would also be required.

A cloud connection also brings connectivity. If you managed a distributed estate such as a university campus or a large hospital a cloud connection means that you could access every node and reassign relationships between them from your home, phone or office.

One size fits all, or is it scalable?

My Mesh is very scalable in two ways:

In terms of size of installation, MyMesh can be almost any size you want, and it can start small and grow over time.

 Mymesh single site instalation

 

 

MyMesh can start as a single site, compact installation.

 

 

 

 

 

mymesh multi site instalation

 

 

 

Over time it can grow to a multi site installation.

 

 

 

 

MyMesh is also scalable in terms of its functionality with three separate levels: Basic, Pro and Advanced. All three levels include sophisticated lighting control functions, but other capabilities such as emergency lighting testing come with the pro and advanced levels.

mymesh software suite

 

 

 

Whether Basic, Pro or Advanced is right for your project any MyMesh installation will be secure, scalable, robust and adaptive

 

 

 

 

 

Interested? For a deeper discussion, please contact us