Correcting 0-10V LED dimming with digital drivers: Page 2 of 4

March 05, 2019 //By Russ Sharer
Correcting 0-10V LED dimming with digital drivers
Solid-state luminaires have taken the market by storm due to the amount of energy they save. LED luminaires use one-third the power of fluorescent lighting and less than half the power of incandescent lighting. Dimming capability can increase energy savings even more, while improving the work environment for tenants. But the problem is that 0-10V LED dimming is not truly standardized. If you mix and match LED luminaires from different vendors you will likely get different dimming profiles, which can really be a problem especially for lighting retrofit projects.

Understanding variations in 0-10V dimming

Since there is no standard for 0-10V LED dimming, each manufacturer has its own dimming curve for their luminaires. For one vendor, a 5V signal could indicate dimming to 50 percent of initial output, while for another vendor 5V could translate to 30 percent or even 80 percent output. There is no consistency and the only way to ensure uniform lighting is by reprogramming the dimming curves in the luminaires using digital drivers.

Also, with no 0-10V dimming standard you are never really sure if a luminaire is truly “off” at 0V. For example, is the dimming curve truly 0-10V or is it really 1-10V. Some drivers are set to dim only to 1V, which is 10 percent, so the luminaire may be perceived to be off when it is still using power. Some of these types of drivers may even require a separate relay for off, i.e. 0V. Without digital drivers and luminaire monitoring you may never know if you are wasting energy.

Ideally, you also want centralized control over individual luminaires and zones so you don’t have to configure each luminaire manually. To control various zones you could install low-voltage control wiring, but requires wiring every luminaire driver in the zone, and you would still have to adjust lighting panels, occupancy sensors, photocells, and time clocks manually. Even with a well-designed low-voltage control system you can still miswire or mislabel a connection, creating headaches for you and for the next building tenant. What’s more, any simple change in the lighting layout means ripping and replacing this control wiring, which is messy and disruptive. Control wires are not economical or practical.

There also is no standard for 0-10V dimmers either, so one manufacturer’s dimmer may not work with another vendor’s drivers. If the luminaire flickers or fails then the dimmer or driver will have to be replaced. If you are using a variety of manufacturers’ drivers and LED lamps, then you risk having lights pop on or off or darken completely when dimmed, or they could flicker or strobe when turned on or off. Compatibility is not guaranteed.

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