Crestron Zūm, Unlocking the Power of Ethernet

In 1999, Crestron released the first control system with a built-in Ethernet port. For many, this provided a faster way to program systems and provide connectivity to new and emerging technologies. However, over the years, Ethernet has evolved to both offer more and allow us to do more.

In 1999, Crestron released the first control system with a built-in Ethernet port. For many, this provided a faster way to program systems and provide connectivity to new and emerging technologies. However, over the years, Ethernet has evolved to both offer more and allow us to do more.

The Challenge

The Solution

The Technology

The Results

Lighting control, for the most part, has been relatively simple over the years. We turn lights on and off, and dim them up or down via wall controls, sensors, or automated schedules. But as energy codes have gotten more complex, lighting control systems are required to do more and be more intelligent, which leads us to the innovations we see today. Any networked lighting system must communicate to what is known as a central head-end, which provides time clock schedules and some needed automation to meet these codes. Traditional lighting control systems provided this communication over old technology that was invented 40 years ago, but today we can use Ethernet to communicate.


Now let’s talk about PoE. The idea or concept of PoE lighting is to use low-voltage (class 2) wiring to connect low-voltage fixtures that are more suited to the lighting technology being used inside of the fixtures: LED. Light emitting diodes, otherwise known as LEDs, are a low-voltage light source that natively operate using DC or direct current. Most buildings in the U.S. and Canada are wired to accommodate 120/277V AC (or alternating current) for lighting and power outlets, HVAC, and other systems contained within the building. To overcome this obstacle, LED lighting fixtures use a driver similar to a fluorescent ballast to convert the power being fed to them from high voltage (AC) to the required DC that allows them to operate at their most efficient levels and deliver the longevity that the technology promises. In theory, a PoE lighting system will lower the high costs associated with conduit, wire and labor required to install a high voltage lighting system, but it has physical limitations as to how much power can be passed over a single Ethernet cable.

Introducing Crestron Zūm Wired and How It Works

Crestron is leveraging the power of Ethernet in our new Zūm lighting platform to provide customers with all the features they want and the flexibility they need. In fact, Crestron Zūm Wired solutions eliminate all issues associated with PoE solutions without sacrificing system integrity or installing proprietary systems.

So, how does Zūm Wired work? Zūm Wired breaks down the system into two primary technologies: 1) control of the lighting fixture or fixtures, and 2) the communication to the network.

Let's start with Control. Although LED lighting is much more efficient than old fluorescent or incandescent lighting, the primary control methods of every fixture on the market remains one of four basic types: Phase control, 0-10 volt, DALI or DMX. Every single manufacturer in lighting offers at least one, if not all four of these options on their fixtures. These are industry standards and open protocol, which means the cost is more controlled. DALI and DMX are digital formats that provide individual granular control of fixtures; one of the most common requests of people considering a PoE lighting solution.

The second feature of interest was having an IoT backbone, and a lighting system provides the unique ability to deliver this simply because lighting is everywhere in a building. So, if we can leverage the lighting communication backbone to provide this IoT communication, it checks another box on our list. Zūm Wired has a built-in Ethernet switch in its ZūmNET room controllers that provide this much-desired network. The Zūm Net Ethernet network also speeds up installation and lowers the cost of both wiring and startup time.

The third item on our list was a cost reduction. The idea of using Ethernet that can be installed by anyone rather than a high-priced electrical contractor is appealing, but labor costs are not the only thing that adds up. PoE was designed to power IoT devices that require low amounts of power, such as PoE switches, cameras, sensors, or other devices. Although LED fixtures require far less power to operate than fixtures using traditional technology, there is still a limit on how many fixtures can be connected to a single Ethernet run. Traditional CAT5 cables are only capable of handling around 100W of power, often limiting a PoE lighting run to only a few fixtures. And some linear fixtures may require multiple Ethernet runs to be installed per fixture. More cables also mean more Ethernet switches, which can dramatically increase the system costs. Overall, PoE lighting systems can cost up to four times that of a Crestron Zūm Wired solution.


Groundbreaking Features at a Lower Cost

You may remember the old saying of wants and needs. We established what you want in a system; you want it to be more flexible in control, provide IoT type data now or well into the future, and finally, you want a system that costs less. Your lighting control system needs to control your lights and meet all legal code requirements as well. Remember that your lighting system is part of what is known as the "Life Safety" systems in a building. So, first and foremost, the lights have to work.


Zūm Wired lighting control provides all the same features you are looking for in a PoE lighting system, but for a lower cost and more reliability, serving as a true end-to-end solution.

Contact us today for more information and design assistance with your project.

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