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What is DALI?

Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) is a lighting control standard defined under the European Standard IEC 60929. DALI facilitates the communication and therefore control of multiple devices such as ballast, transformers and other lighting equipment.

DALI was designed to replace traditional 1-10v analogue systems and proprietary digital systems such as DSI (Digital Serial Interface).

Designed on a distributed intelligent framework, each DALI device has on board memory that stores all relevant information about the device, including diagnostics, which reduces the technical requirements on the control system and the amount of data to be transmitted over the bus.

Unlike traditional lighting control protocols, DALI has bi-directional communication, allowing control systems to query data devices and obtain information about the status of each device. Queried information can be as simple as current state (on/off) or more technical, such as lamp status or battery level in the case of an inverter.

Scene selection and fault diagnostics are also available through DALI, making it very useful to use with building automation systems where remote supervising and service reports are required.

Example 1.DALI Communication

DALI is a Communication Language. Devices which speak the same language can exchange information, in much the same way people can exchange information when they communicate using the same language.

NOTE: Just like when humans communicate, if one person has trouble speaking the language, issues or miscommunication can occur. This is the same with DALI, its not a problem with DALI, but a problem with the way the language is used. Maco lighting recommends using DALI products which have originated from suppliers which have a high knowledge in the DALI language, therefore minimizing this risk.

With all languages, KNX, Backnet, EIB ( or French and English) the same miscommunication can occur if the language is not implemented correctly or learnt properly.

Example 2.DALI Control

Some control systems such as PLCs can talk DALI natively, whereas others may need a translator to assist in the communication, these translators are sometimes referred to as a DALI gateway. Protocols that use DALI gateways are normally slower and add extra complexity to DALI as they need to translate all their sent commands from their native language ( for example KNX, EIB, BACKNET etc) into the DALI language, whereas a Native DALI device can speak directly to the DALI devices ( ballast, leds etc) without translating the language.