Bluetooth Cuts the Wires Between Lighting and Controls

Digital lighting control, with the ability to set timers and dimming 
levels for one-time or recurring events, once required sophisticated, 
hardwired digital addressable lighting interface (DALI, for short) 
systems. Now such capabilities are becoming available with both easier 
installation and operation. The intelligence of these products is built 
into individual lamps and switches, so a central controller is no longer
 necessary, and with operation via smartphone-based apps, programing 
their operations is easier than ever. Leviton Manufacturing

Chuck Ross

Digital lighting control, with the ability to set timers and dimming levels for one-time or recurring events, once required sophisticated, hardwired digital addressable lighting interface (DALI, for short) systems. Now such capabilities are becoming available with both easier installation and operation. The intelligence of these products is built into individual lamps and switches, so a central controller is no longer necessary, and with operation via smartphone-based apps, programing their operations is easier than ever.

“Bluetooth” is one of several wireless communication protocols this new generation of lighting products now uses. One of this approach’s biggest advantages over other protocols, such as WiFi and ZigBee, is that it doesn’t require a central hub plugged into a home or business’s WiFi router to relay commands or check device status. Instead, communication is instantaneous with nearby compatible devices. On the downside, Bluetooth has a range of 30 ft. or so, which means users can’t adjust controls while away from home, but this is less of an issue for set-and-forget features, such as timers and dimming levels for light fixtures.

Leviton is making the most of Bluetooth technology’s ease of use with its new Decora Digital switches and dimmers. The devices look just like other products in the fashionable lineup, and are compatible with Decora and Decora Plus screwless wallplates – and they also install similarly to non-Bluetooth products. But, once paired with a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone or tablet, the switches and dimmers can be controlled with a free Android or Apple app to perform a number of functions. For example, dimmers can be set to have adjustable fade rates, all fixtures can be programed to turn on and off at selected intervals to create a “lived-in” look while occupants are away, and sleep timers can be set to turn off at preselected times.


Photo courtesy of Leviton Manufacturing