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I'd not thought of this before until I came across some interesting lighting products. Using wireless lighting control indoors is almost second nature to me. I love the technology, to be honest. I can't remember the last time I touched a switch at home to turn lights on or off. Okay … I haven't fully integrated the kitchen yet … but that's coming soon to a Maurer home near me. The lights I have in there aren't "smart" enough. And they cost me a good chunk of change, so I don't want to trash them.

Taking Wireless Lighting Control Outdoors

Steve Maurer, IME
I'd not thought of this before until I came across some interesting lighting products. Using wireless lighting control indoors is almost second nature to me. I love the technology, to be honest. I can't remember the last time I touched a switch at home to turn lights on or off.

Okay … I haven't fully integrated the kitchen yet … but that's coming soon to a Maurer home near me. The lights I have in there aren't "smart" enough. And they cost me a good chunk of change, so I don't want to trash them.

But, there's always the switch upgrade to handle that.

On a more commercial/industrial level, timers and photocells are as fancy as I've gotten so far. That may change, though.

Let's talk … nodes.

Not those little garden statues. Those are gnomes.

I'm talking wireless network connection nodes.

These nodes don't work on their own, by the way. They need a manager to control them. And for real flexibility, they need a supervisor.

Here's how it works. It's really kind of a cool idea.

Minimum viable lighting network
You need at least one control node and a network manager. The node is installed on the light, either by a receptacle or a pigtail. Kind of like a cap-style photo sensor.

The manager is a wireless lighting "router" that's connected to the building network either by a wired Ethernet connection or 3G cellular connection. A software "supervisor" oversees the manager and the associated lighting networks.
So, the minimum viable network is one node, one network manager device, and the software to control it.

But who has just one outdoor light, right?

The network lighting nodes connect to the manager via the wireless IP network. Each one can establish a direct connection. However, a single node can also be a "parent," supporting up to 10 "child" nodes. The manager can do that as well.

The system I researched handles it with a tree architecture. In other words, one node will connect to the manager hardware, and other nodes connect to the primary node.

Should there be a network loss between the nodes, the architecture "heals" itself. That means the disconnected nodes will search for and connect to another network path. That scenario can happen if the node connecting to the manager fails. One failed node will not fail the entire network.

Of course, you can have several managers stationed at different locations around the building. This keeps building interference and physical barriers from hindering a network of connected lights.

Of course, once the lights are connected to the manager(s) via the network, it's time to control them.
Enter the software "supervisor" application.

Complete control of the lighting network
The software runs on either Microsoft or Unix servers and allows complete control of the lighting network or networks.

The control interface is accessible on any PC with a compatible web browser. It can also be accessed on most Android and Apple iOS devices.

Multiple networks can be managed from one location. Not only that, but the network devices can be grouped within the network if they served different purposes.

For example, you may have some parking lots and walkways that share the same network, but need separate control parameters. That's easily done via the supervisor software. In fact, a single node on the network can be controlled differently than a group might be.

The software also monitors the "health" of the components. It will alert the building owner's facility manager of any issues with the outdoor lighting.

While the nodes and managers will work with multiple types of lighting, LED dimmable fixtures benefit the most. In fact, many municipalities have energy codes that involve multiple light level requirements, including "Dark Sky" initiatives.
Using these nodes, managers, and accompanying supervisory software, compliance with outdoor lighting codes is simplified.

Wireless outdoor lighting control is not just cool … it's the smart thing to do.
Photo courtesy of Legrand North America
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