DALI or DMX: In Which Projects?

There are several different protocols for controlling and dimming lights, including Bluetooth and Zigbee, which you can read more about here. We want to focus on DALI and DMX in this blog post – these are more popular than other variants – by our customers.

Why is it important to know the difference? To choose the appropriate protocol for your project, you must be aware of the options of the luminaires.

About DALI

DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) is a flexible control system that simply needs a single cable that carries a bi-directional digital signal between the system's devices. It is a decentralized system that is individually controlled to dim and control the light. The maximum distance it covers is 300 meters and you are able to connect 64 luminaires with different brightness levels from "off" to "on" mode.

DALI is a command-based protocol that specifies messages. The instructions include repetition, fade time and level settings. It is especially a popular system because it can be installed in a main channel.

About DMX

DMX (Digital Multiplexing) is often used for lighting in the theater, architectural and entertainment industries. It is a so-called streaming protocol where each stream - also known as the universe - can carry up to 512 channels containing data. The luminaires receive data from these channels, which are sent to the controller at a specific refresh rate (e.g. 33 for each second).

It is important to be aware the protocol does not assign any specific meaning to the various channels, so the controller must know what the luminaires expect. Each fixture “listens” to a specific number of channels beginning with a specific channel number (so-called address of the fixture). DMX is a centralized control system that receives input from all sensors connected and sends data to all luminaires. The DMX is transmitted over shielded twisted pair cable, where all fittings involved are connected in series.

We give you inspiration on what considerations are good to keep in mind – if the choice is between DALI or DMX in different projects:

Sports Arena / Stadiums

The right sports lighting play a key role - both for players and the audience. Low hanging light will provide poorer conditions for athletes, therefore lighting via high masts is preferable. It will depend on various factors which type of light control is most relevant. Some sports arenas choose to have well-structured lighting control that consists of DMX when illuminated outside the field, and DALI control on the field itself.

The Road Network

Roads and highways consist of a long stretch of road that can be several hundred kilometers long and typically require constant light. It will be relevant to use high masts with the correct adjustment of regular intervals. In a project like this, DALI lighting control would be preferable, as the system will help maintain the amount of light and easy to control. However, it is essential that further control be included so that communication can take place with Wi-Fi. With intelligent street lighting, there are many different types.

Choose the system that matches your need

Certain features such as daylight, emergency lighting and multiple sensors and an extremely installer-friendly system are easier to perform using DALI. If dynamic effects, synchronization of specific fade times, DMX would probably be a better choice. Whatever lighting system you choose, most importantly the system should match the features of your project.

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