Over the past few years, there has been a clear trend for track lighting and other innovative “system” style architectural lighting products to adopt 48VDC instead the usual mains voltage 120VAC or 220-240VAC.
48VDC delivers a host of benefits, most notably consolidating the AC/DC conversion circuit into one unit, instead of requiring it at each fixture. This dramatically shrinks the driver and therefore the fixture size, removes thermal load from the fixtures, and increases the overall efficacy of the system. 48VDC is really driving the current trend for miniaturization of small track spots. And with the ultra small size and weight of the fixtures, magnets have become the slick way to provide simple “click in” usability.
Let’s survey a few of the systems currently on the market:
Arkoslight offers a nice range of 48VDC track fixtures that capitalize on the small size inherent to the system.
Modular Lighting recently launched its diminutive Pista range of 48VDC track.
XAL’s extensive Move It System is rooted in 48VDC. A huge range of fixture options, mounting accessories and system extensions allow the system to become almost like an architectural system by itself.
Reggiani’s Yori Evo 48V system is recently expanded with a variety of spots, pendants and linear fixtures.
Key to this transition are the OEM component manufacturers that are launching 48VDC components. Examples include Tridonic’s DC string system, Xicato’s XIM module, A.A.G. Stucchi’s Multisystem, EUTRAC’s 48V LEDTrac and a wide variety of DC/DC driver chips from the big semiconductor manufacturers.
Beyond track, let’s briefly point out that any PoE system is inherently 48VDC. Check out the broad catalogue of PoE-ready lighting fixtures, sensors, controls, emergency lights that PoE startup Igor has assembled on their “Products” page to see how far PoE has progressed. Also check out Innovative Lighting’s Genisys or EnergieIP.
The Future is DC
The big deal here is that lighting is finally moving towards DC power inputs, aligning nicely with solar PV panels and battery storage systems. Net-zero energy buildings will generate, store and consume power all in DC format and researchers estimate that commercial buildings will save 15% of their total power by skipping the wasteful DC-AC-DC inversion process. New infrastructure players like LumaNEXT are creating electrical infrastructures for commercial buildings that use DC as the primary backbone throughout the building, not AC. AC is only provided for convenience outlets or legacy devices. A most interesting revolution is poised to transform our electrical infrastructure.