Risks Of 0-10V And Tunable White Lighting

March 15, 2024 Paula Santa Cruz

The evolution of 0-10V and Tunable White, the Consequences and eldoLED Recommended Solutions

Let’s face it—we love 0-10V in North America. The wiring and LED drivers are prevalent, simple to install and familiar to electrical contractors. Here’s the catch. Out of your 75 fixture zones in your 0-10V architectural or commercial applications, there’s one zone that needs Tunable White. Shouldn’t be a problem, right?

0-10V has its perks—but it’s not ideal when it comes to consistency for color temperature or intensity. In this post, we’re diving into the control system pros and cons, why 0-10V LED driver technology with Tunable White isn’t compatible, the consequences and the recommended solutions.

Let's discuss the two lighting control systems at-play: 0-10V and DALI.

(Learn more about selecting a lighting control system in our sister article here.)

0-10V Control System

Figure 1: 0-10V Control System with LED driver 

0-10V is an analog protocol that dims general lighting and communicates with a 0-10V LED driver via voltage levels. All 0-10V installations require two wires that are approximately 16 or 18 gauge and are polarity sensitive (+ or -).  

Each 0-10V group requires its own wiring or can leverage a homerun connection to the 0-10V dimmer or controls source. A homerun connection is wiring that connects the driver back to the control device and is necessary for every control zone.

Pros of 0-10V

In addition to easy accessibility and electrical contractor familiarity, 0-10V is a relatively straight forward system that involves adding or removing of wires to the desired fixtures. 0-10V controllers also have a huge install base for those existing projects that need quick adjustments.

Cons of 0-10V

One of the cons of 0-10V controls in a Tunable White system is voltage drop. This occurs in analog systems due to the resistance value of the wire. The longer the wire, the higher the voltage drop. Voltage drop can result in a different control voltage reaching various driver locations along the wire resulting in variations of color and intensity.

Labor and cable costs often run more expensive in a 0-10V installation since it requires two runs with every control zone returning to the controller or dimmer.  It’s also not the most elegant solution on a wall.

DALI Control System 

Figure 2: DALI control system wiring with LED driver

DALI—also known as the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface—is a bi-directional protocol for general lighting. It’s a digital system that provides greater flexibility and precision in control. The bi-directional communication can also incorporate light and occupancy sensors.

Pros of DALI 

DALI LED drivers and control systems function on digital addressability—which yields greater flexibility in commercial lighting applications that require frequent reconfiguration. DALI also provides higher accuracy in intra-luminaire communication and the guarantee of consistent color intensity and temperature across different lighting fixtures.

Cons Of DALI

When compared to 0-10V, standalone DALI controls aren’t as readily available in North America. This control system also requires additional on-site commissioning after wiring.

The Evolution Of 0-10V And Tunable White Lighting 

Throughout LED lighting history, there were several ways lighting professionals attempted to implement 0-10V and Tunable White lighting.

Warm White and Cool LEDs 

The first and most rudimentary attempt was leveraging two different LEDs—one warm and one cool. Both LEDs were in the same fixture with controlled intensity. Each brightness was controlled by a different slide switch.

This solution started getting complex with lighting in the middle ground. Moving the switches at the same time caused differing ratios. Making it near impossible to lower at the same time and implement.

Introduction of eldoLED LightShape Technology 

Six years ago, eldoLED’s signature LightShape technology was the first of its kind that incorporated the driver-side color science. This technology enabled you to communicate to the driver which color temperature aligned with each output.

Video: What Is LightShape Technology?

This resulted in one driver with two separate outputs—one for a warm LED and the other for the cool LED. LightShape provided a control handle for overall intensity and another for CCT. We originally leveraged our LightShape technology in our DALI LED drivers. Then, we created a 0-10V version to garner familiarity within the North American market.

The first control handle enabled a specific CCT mix of the cool and warm LEDs. Then, the second control handle provided control of the overall brightness of the combined output. The driver provided the intelligence to keep the ratio between the two outputs consistent amidst varying intensity.

Implementation greatly enhanced the end-user and specifier experience. Where’s the downside you may ask? The 0-10V analog system still resulted in voltage drop and inconsistencies in longer run fixtures. Analog systems also don’t allow for returning to a pre-selected color intensity and ratio.

0-10V Wall Switches and Translators

Next, 0-10V wall switches ran through a translator that would change the analog signals to a digital signal. The digital signal enabled precision identified a number and sent a consistent signal to all drivers. This signal sends down the wire like an analog signal—taking the repeatability and accuracy one step further.

Fully Digital Tunable White System with a Central Control System

This involves use of a central control system. This control system operates like a computer and sends the information digitally to all the drivers. LightShape technology repeats—enabling the drivers to use the same algorithm and create the same outputs without driver variation across the space.

A fully digital Tunable White system can optimize the wiring within a building and reduce the number of required wall dimmers. Digital control also enables flexibility for reconfiguration of the space and functionality.

Consequences of Using 0-10V for Tunable White Applications

0-10V is heralded for its familiarity and simplicity in North America. However, mixing dimming and CCT control within an analog system is a challenge. The human eye perceives small shifts in color temperature—especially at low intensity levels. Meaning, the more the lights dim—the more likely your eye will pick up on those changes.

You cannot maintain consistent color temperature in a long run fixture due to the voltage drop of a 0-10V system. Every control zone requires two separate runs of 0-10V wires back to the main connection. Additionally, every control zone also requires two separate 0-10V control sources (i.e. on the wall, two separate loads within a controller).

Four Considerations with 0-10V and Tunable White Lighting

There are several items to consider when it comes to 0-10V and Tunable White lighting—Analog Signals, Voltage Drop, Set Points and Driver-Side Color Science.  

Analog Signals 

Analog signals and systems are susceptible to interference affecting the application. In industrial settings, the electrical noise from machinery or transformers running over the high voltage wires can create interference—causing erratic undulations in the color or intensity.

Voltage Drop 

Voltage Drop can affect the intensity and color of the fixtures due to resistance. As mentioned above, this is a standard con of 0-10V. The longer the control wires, the more likely resistance will affect the color temperature and intensity outputs.

Set Points 

Set Points include setting your color temperature and intensity to a repeatable level. You can draw a line on your switch and slide it to your pre-set levels—but it does not guarantee overall accuracy every time.

Driver-Side Color Science 

eldoLED’s driver-side color science—also known as LightShape—is advantageous. This technology simplifies the implementation of Tunable White and takes out the guess work for the luminaire manufacturer and the specifier.

eldoLED's Recommendation for Tunable White Lighting 

Ask us our first choice for a standard controls protocol—and it’s digital all the way. At eldoLED, we recommend leveraging a digital control interface such as DALI or nLight® for the following reasons:

  1. Overall efficiency within your lighting system 
  2. Reduction of initial and TI labor-intensive costs down the road

Product Recommendation: DUALdrive LED Driver

Figure 3: eldoLED DUALdrive LED driver Family 

We highly recommend our DUALdrive product family as the Tunable White LED driver of choice. Achieve deep dimming (0.1%), remain flicker-safe and maintain color temperature and intensity control for luminaires requiring task and ambient lighting. 

Here are some notable DUALdrive highlights:

Figure 4: eldoLED DUALdrive 50W (561/S)

  • DUALdrive 50W (561/S): 0-10V compatible and Tunable White LED driver [Spec Sheet] 
  • DALI-2 DT8(Tc) compatible for extra refinement and accuracy for overall color management
  • Flicker-safe dimming that meets the IEEE 1789 recommendations.
  • Tunable White support with signature LightShape technology
  • Ideal for indoor commercial, architectural, hospitality, office, education, high-end residential and horticultural applications

If you need a different wattage, pair our DUALdrive DALI LED drivers with our 0-10V to DALI translator

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