Technology Review has an article on a new approach to wiring up LED lighting in order to make it even more energy efficient - Smarter LED Lights.
A new approach to LED lighting uses network cables, rather than conventional electrical wiring, to supply power to lights. Developed by a startup in Fremont, CA, the system also allows the cables to carry data from an array of sensors on the lights to a central control station. The system would cost about the same as a conventional lighting system, but because it can sense and control every light in a building, it could cut power consumption from lighting by 50 to 80 percent.
The new system offers a better way to control LEDs, which are relatively efficient and long-lasting compared to conventional lights, by taking advantage of the fact that they run on low-voltage direct current power. Current LED-based systems require transformers at each light to convert the higher-voltage alternating current in conventional wiring into lower-voltage direct current. The new system converts alternating current to low-voltage direct current at a central location, rather than at each light. This more efficient method cuts energy consumption by 10 to 20 percent, according to Jeremy Stieglitz, vice president of marketing for Redwood Systems, which will start selling its systems this summer.
The remaining energy savings come from using sensors and a central controller to reduce light use. The company has also developed a method for using those same power cables to carry data. Each LED can be fitted with inexpensive sensors that can be used to optimize light levels and ensure the lights are operating efficiently. Such sensors can also provide detailed information about temperature and where people are in the building--information that can be used to control heating and cooling systems. The sensing and controls, says Steiglitz, add very little cost to the new system because the network connections and power supply for the sensors are already in place.