Digitizing Electricity

VoltServer and Fraunhofer CSE are piloting Digital Electricity (DE)-integrated LEDs, which can bring the price of LED down by 30%. Photo courtesy of Quonset State Airport, Rhode Island.

VoltServer and Fraunhofer CSE are piloting Digital Electricity (DE)-integrated LEDs, which can bring the price of LED down by 30%. Photo courtesy of Quonset State Airport, Rhode Island.

LED lighting has a long lifetime and is highly efficient. Its initial cost, however, is approximately two times higher than the price for equivalent compact fluorescent lamps, which makes it difficult to replace HID and fluorescent technologies for uses such as high-bay lighting. The Rhode Island-based power distribution company VoltServer and Fraunhofer CSE are testing a new technology that could change that.

Reducing the Initial Investment Cost of Sustainable and Efficient Lighting

To address the high initial costs of LED lighting and foster its adoption, VoltServer and Fraunhofer are collaborating to pilot a novel method for distributing electricity to LED lighting fixtures. This technology, known as “Digital Electricity™”, has the potential to dramatically reduce the installed and operating cost of LED lighting. Similar to the way that music and video has evolved from vinyl records to MP3s, digital electricity distributes electricity in a natively digital format. The technology allows high voltage DC wiring to be safely installed without conduit, which lowers the installation costs. It also has the potential to eliminate the need for LED driver circuitry, which can further reduce cost while improving efficiency and reliability. In combination, these attributes can effectively reduce the installed cost of LED lighting by 30% or more.

Natively Digital Distribution of Electricity in Energy Packets

Digital Electricity technology combines energy and data into energy packets and transfers hundreds of packets each second from a VoltServer transmitter unit to a receiver unit. The transmitter verifies the transfer of each packet. If there is improper wiring, a short circuit, or a person is touching the transmission lines, the transmitter recognizes the condition in milliseconds and will not send any more energy packets. The result is touch-safe electrical power distribution at high power levels and an inherent ability to digitally control a host of modern electronic devices connected to the distribution system, enabling low cost integration of features such as advanced lighting controls or sensors.

Pilot Installations for Commercial Lighting Projects

As part of a U.S. Department of Energy Program, VoltServer has teamed with Fraunhofer CSE to pilot and evaluate Digital Electricity (DE)-integrated LEDs in a commercial lighting project at Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island. The project entails comparing DE technology to conventional LED and HID lighting across a range of metrics, including installed cost, energy use, integration of controls, and overall usability. This pilot will be followed by a second, larger pilot with an industrial partner during 2017.

Read VoltServer news release: https://voltserver.com/news/doe/led%20lighting/funding/2015/08/26/voltserver-department-of-energy-sbir-grant/

Read the U.S. Department of Energy’s news release: http://energy.gov/eere/buildings/articles/bto-awards-small-business-grants-lighting-building-integrated-heat-and

Read the U.S. Department of Energy’s overview of awarded projects: http://energy.gov/eere/buildings/downloads/low-cost-high-efficiency-integration-ssl-and-building-controls-using-pet


About author
Anne Williams is Fraunhofer CSE's Associate Marketing Manager. She works with the Center’s staff to foster CSE’s business relations and make its activities known to the public.
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