“Selling with lighting – it’s easier than ever“

Interview with ZVEI Managing Director Dr. Jürgen Waldorf

Salvador Dali painted with vivid paint colors and lighting designers can paint with colored light. DALI helps them to do this. The acronym stands for ”Digital Addressable Lighting Interface“. This international standard digital interface is the basis for intelligent and flexible lighting management. Manufacturers of control units have joined force in the DALI working group to promote the DALI standard. The team operates under the umbrella of the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association ZVEI (“Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie”). Our interview partner is ZVEI’s Managing Director for the Product Division Lighting.

How can retail design shop windows and sales floors with modern lighting technology?

Selling with lighting – this is easier than ever, since modern lighting solutions are “dynamic". This does not refer to “blinking” lights to call the customer’s attention to you, but rather the customization of lighting for the product and the sales area. To do this, aside from a fixed basic lighting setup you need to plan for additional pivoting or otherwise variably mountable extra light points.

With the help of LED, lighting fixtures and spotlights can be realized whose light intensity is continuously dimmable and permit a choice of color temperature. This way for instance, fresh and therefore cooler color temperatures with a higher Kelvin number can showcase a spring collection while a warm color temperature can better highlight Christmas decor – depending on taste. The decorator has many options to stage the merchandise and direct the customer’s attention. In addition, lighting scenarios for instance can be programmed, depending on daylight exposure to utilize energy savings.

Stay away from cheap solutions though! Here it might happen that the guaranteed life cycle of lighting fixtures and lamps is not adhered to or that the color temperature distinctly and visibly varies between light points.

Bus control system and DALI – what are the differences? What are the advantages of each system?

DALI is the control system used by the lighting industry with easy installation and operation, exactly matched to user needs. After all, many features of lighting control have to be locally called up and used by the operator. That is why DALI is not a bus control system that can be used for the overall building control. However, it can be integrated as a local lighting system into a more intricate bus control system.


LED and OLED are considered to be great innovations. Do the light-emitting diodes also open up new possibilities for DALI?

Of course they do, especially in the area of controlling light colors and color temperature. In the past, you needed relatively large lamps for this. You can realize this today for instance within a spotlight with compact size. On the other hand, complete luminous ceiling light that simulates natural daylight is right around the corner.

What components are required for lighting control with DALI?

In the simplest of cases, you need switches with DALI features for switching and dimming. Add sensors for daylight and presence to this. Easier to operate are control panels with which other functions can be controlled, for example lighting scenarios or color temperature.

Which lamps can be controlled with DALI? Can you retrofit old lamps?

In essence, all types of lamps can be controlled if they are DALI compatible. Retrofitting old lighting fixtures is not recommended due to various reasons: newer lighting fixtures are without exception more energy efficient and this can be more beneficial by up to 80 percent. Retrofitted lighting fixtures lose their certification marks and this very quickly leads to questions of liability. Light fixtures and their reflectors were developed for a specific lamp. That is why the light distribution is going to change and thus the original light distribution in the space, as planned by the lighting designer. Especially with LED lighting, optimal thermal management and an LED adjusted electronic system is necessary for long-term stability. Those who want to retrofit old light fixtures should also consider this: newer lighting fixtures have a more modern design and with new quality products, you are always on the safe side.

How much in investment costs for lighting controls do retailers have to count on?

First, you need a great lighting design. Then you need to specify what range of functions you would like. Only then should you consider the range of products by the lighting manufacturer. Since lighting design always has to be customized to the application, investment costs are also individual.

Can you also lower your electricity costs with lighting control?

When you consider this question, you also have to look at the previous question. Energy-saving light fixtures are only one static way to cut energy costs. Patterns of use and the existing natural light are neglected in this consideration. Depending on the use, significant potential savings can be realized through lighting control that may be greater than those of energy efficient lamps.

Interview by René Schellbach, iXtenso.com

- Link tip: DALI working group



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