November 2012

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Advantages of DALI

DALI fixtures in your building have a unique I.P. address and, can be controlled individually or in a group, without any limitation.

Maxime Lacroix,
Administrative Officer
Cristal Controls

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DALI technology has been used for decades in Europe and is considered as a standard there. Recently, many companies in America started using it in big projects as it gave them the capacity to use the full potential of the building. Here’s a short text explaining how DALI can help your project be more successful.

What is DALI?

DALI means Digital Addressable Lighting Interface. In other words, it means that all the DALI fixtures in your building have a unique I.P. address and, with the use of a computer, can be controlled individually or in a group, without any limitation.

DALI Limitations

Before going any further, it is really important to understand what the limitations behind the DALI systems are. In terms of building size, there are no limitations. Projects have been done for very small buildings to huge office buildings. Components such as ballasts, switches, scene controllers, motion detectors and photocells must be approved for DALI systems (Advance, Osram, Universal, etc.). The rule of thumb is that you can have 64 individual addresses per loop, 16 groups and 16 scenes, and you can add as many loops as you want (for example, a recently completed building had over 1600 DALI ballasts in a convention center).

Using DALI Features

To benefit from DALI’s full potential, control via a web interface is the best method. For example, Cristal Controls ( created a web application (Jasper MCU) that can be used via normal PC, MAC, iPad, Smartphone, etc. and can control lights individually, without any restrictions. Jasper not only allows you to control individually every ballast’s light intensity, but you can easily schedule holidays, working hours and such. One of the greatest features we can see in DALI systems is that it can spot burned out lamps, but can also warn the building manager when they will be due for a change so that he can do preventive replacement.

Real Life Application of DALI

As practical is always easier to understand than theory, we’ll analyze a recent project done by Cristal Controls for Expocité ( in Quebec, CANADA. Expocité is a 125,000 square feet space convention center where many tradeshows and exhibition happen during the whole year. As not every show require the use of 100% of the available space, a moving wall has been installed in the building and hides unused space. As the used space is not predetermined, Jasper MCU can be used to select exactly the used space and leave the unused one in the dark or dimmed. Another great example would be an auto show that happened and some carmakers wanted more or less lighting (depending on the type of paint they had on their vehicles), so the building manager came next to the vehicles and used an iPad to dim the lights to the exact lighting level that was needed for the vehicles (different level for each carmaker). Finally, such a big building uses more than 1600 ballasts to cover the 125,000 square feet space, so finding a burned out light is very difficult. Using the dynamic plan on Jasper MCU, the building manager can easily spot when a light needs to be changed and does not need to walk the whole place to find it. DALI is a perfect solution to save time on maintenance and not be limited to existing wiring as it is digitally possible to change a whole room setup in less than a minute.  Here is a short video showing what a DALI system can do:


Costs Behind DALI Systems

Reliable Controls Unlike popular belief, DALI components are not more expensive than regular 0-10V ones. Pricing is very similar to normal dimming ballasts. Installing DALI fixtures is also much faster, because you use the same conducts as power lines and you install the components using series wiring. Pricing usually ends up being very similar to regular 0-10V systems, but the features are much better and long-term (maintenance) costs are what make DALI systems worth it.

To sum up, DALI is a great flexible solution that will survive easily for future use. DALI can be used as a stand-alone system (DALI only), as a stand-alone subsystem (answer questions to the building management system) or as a pure subsystem (to work, for example, with BACnet or LonWorks).

For more information about DALI :

For more information about Jasper MCU :


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