DALI is an open standard for creating control solutions for lighting. It is relatively easy to install and can be configured in many different ways, without having to modify the wiring or connections of the existing lighting. This makes it a very popular control solution in, for example, office buildings, restaurants, hotels and other larger buildings. But what exactly is DALI and how does it work? Over the next few weeks we will be taking a closer look at how DALI works and what applications there are.

But first the name. What does DALI actually stand for? It is an abbreviation for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface. This interface consists of a so-called two-way digital communication protocol, i.e. a protocol in which mutual communication is possible. This ensures the smooth integration of LED lighting from different manufacturers, because they can all communicate with each other.

The development of the DALI protocol began in the mid-1980s by a collective of manufacturers including Philips. In the 1990s, a number of American companies joined the program. The first international DALI standard was approved and published in 2002.

A central control system

Many of the fixtures you’ll find in a DALI installation are identical to those within other control solutions, but the receivers and drivers are a different story. These specialized products allow DALI to communicate with any lighting that is connected within the system. These lights can be controlled through a central control system, whether that is a laptop or a dedicated control unit.

A simple DALI system, which is also called a “loop,” can handle up to 64 devices. Each device has its own address and they all connect to the central DALI controller. To manage more lights within one system, multiple ‘loops’ are linked together so they can be controlled simultaneously.

DALI also has a transmission function. Since each fixture has its own address, they can also be controlled individually. It is also possible to create groups and control them independently of each other. DALI is thus a flexible system, because the lighting can be reconfigured without having to modify the wiring. In this way it is possible to quickly and easily change the layout and setting of rooms in a building.

Next week we will go one step further and discuss DALI-2, a modern version of the protocol that offers even more possibilities.

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