Network Technology Brightens Redwood's New LED Lighting System

Network Technology Brightens Redwood's New LED Lighting System

Startup Redwood Systems, which has operated largely in stealth mode since its founding in 2008, has unveiled its networked approach to LED lighting and building performance systems for commercial structures.

“This is a first,” said Redwood Systems Vice President Jeremy Stieglitz. “We’re not like anything you’ve see before.

"We’re the combination of two things that have always been separate -- the wiring path has always been separate from the control path.”

But not in Redwood Systems’ vision for powering and controlling lighting, which relies on low-voltage direct current (DC) power rather than alternating current, said Stieglitz, who calls lighting “the last dinosaur of analog electricity.”

The company’s idea is to unite power, communication and sensor systems to create a single low-voltage networked system, which would have the capability to manage much more than lighting.

{related_content}“Redwood's vision is to use LED lighting's low voltage to power not just lighting, but create a digital network to manage and efficiently optimize lighting, heating, venting, air conditioning, plug loads, window shading, and just about everything else that uses power in a building,” CEO Dave Leonard said in a prepared statement Tuesday.  “Using a network-based platform approach, we will deliver smart lighting systems that revolutionize how lights, and buildings, are powered, controlled and optimized.”

Leonard and CTO Mark Covaro bring major expertise in networking and power over Ethernet technology to Redwood Systems. Leonard was general manager of Cisco’s Ethernet Switching Business Unit and Covaro was principal power design engineer for Cisco's Power over Ethernet (PoE) solution.

According to Stieglitz, Redwood System’s technology will provide “microscopic control over dimming,” which is not the case with fluorescent lighting; generate far less heat; be safer; and have the capacity for expandability, rich data mining, microprocessing and two-way communication unlike anything else on the market.

Rather than have a driver for every LED, Redwood Systems would have, for example, “a mondo driver for 64 lights, so you not only have a light engine .... but a network at the same time,” said Stieglitz, describing some of the system’s basic concepts. Each light would have sensors for light levels, temperature, motion and voltage and current.

Redwood Systems plans to air more details about its technology later this year. Its calendar includes presentations exhibits at LightFair International and the Networked Grid, both in May; RealComm and ArchLED’10 in June, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild in November.

At LED lighting innovator Cree, Vice President of Market Development Gary Trott said, "Redwood Systems has the potential for a new and better way to power and control LED lighting that could add significant intelligence to lighting systems and accelerate customer ROI through energy savings and reduced installation costs.”

Old-school lighting technology, “Light Switch-O-Rama - Architectural Artifacts” -- Image CC licensed by Flickr user Max Wolfe.