DALI Drivers – Driving You Up The Wall?

DALI Drivers

questions - DALI Drivers - Driving You Up The Wall?What is this issue with DALI drivers? How can they sell them if they’re not compliant? Does it really matter if they don’t have the DALI logo? What’s the difference between DALI and DALI-2 and why does it matter?

These are all questions that we’ve been asked over and over again.

Intelligent Environments is a lighting control company

We provide and program the systems to “control” the lighting in buildings such as offices, hospitals, schools, hospitality venues and sporting centres. We have historically had no involvement in the lighting design, or the supply of light fittings or LED drivers.

So why do we keep encountering the confusion and the multitude of queries about LED drivers?

The Introduction of LEDs and DALI

Before LEDs became the lighting of choice, light fittings were controlled by transformers and ballasts. With the emergence of LED fittings, came the proliferation of LED drivers, that now litter the market.

For an LED fitting to be dimmable and controllable, the easiest option is to include a DALI dimmable driver if it’s to be controlled by a system.

DALI is an open protocol, but products need to be tested and certified in order to claim that they are DALI compliant and to carry the DALI logo. Initially DALI manufacturers could self-test and certify their own products, but as you can imagine, some manufacturers were not as consistent and their testing methods as reliable, as others. This led to interoperability issues in the market.

DALI 2 logo rect - DALI Drivers - Driving You Up The Wall?With the creation of DALI-2, to better regulate the industry, the DALI Alliance (DiiA) created and operates an independently verified DALI-2 certification program.

Once a product has been successfully DALI-2 certified, it is permitted to carry the DALI-2 trademark. It will also be listed on the DiiA database. If it is not listed, it is not certified.

Unfortunately, there have been instances of products falsely carrying the DALI logo, so it is very important to check that the product is also listed as correctly DALI-2 certified.

DALI-2 has been adopted as the lighting control standard for Australia and New Zealand 

DALI official AU NZ standard v2 470x195 - DALI Drivers - Driving You Up The Wall?Since the adoption of the standard, for a lighting control system to be compliant, it MUST be a DALI-2 system. It is essential therefore that everyone involved in the specification, supply, or installation of lighting and/or lighting control products should have a good understanding of what the standard covers, and what is required to be DALI-2 compliant.

When a driver is not DALI-2 certified . . .

. . . a significant number of problems can occur as seamless interoperability (which should be standard with DALI-2) rarely occurs.

We’ve seen issues where a “rogue” driver has not only prevented operation of the light fittings it supposedly “drives” but has created issues on the DALI line resulting in the malfunction of entire systems. Usually not resolved until all non-compliant DALI drivers have been removed and replaced with properly certified products. Then the entire system must be re-programmed.

This is a very time-consuming and therefore expensive exercise. With DALI-2 systems having the ability to pinpoint the device causing such issues, the supplier of the drivers is likely the one having to foot the bill from the electrician who has to replace all non-compliant drivers, the one from the controls provider who now has to spend time re-programming a corrupted system, and the one from the customer whose project has been delayed!

The moral of the story . . .

When dealing with DALI devices of any type:

  1. Ensure you specify/order DALI-2 devices
  2. Check the product carries the DALI-2 trademark
  3. Check the DiiA database to ensure the product is listed

If you have any doubts or queries about how the device will function within a DALI control system, seek assistance from your controls company. If necessary they can pre-test the device on a DALI set up. This needs to be done prior to installation however.

Saving a few dollars by buying a “cheap” driver, could have a significant cost associated with that decision!

Our company has a huge amount of experience with DALI, and we are happy to provide advice. Give us a call. Better to be DALI savvy when supplying or purchasing lighting products to operate on a DALI-2 controlled system.