Control and dimming is an essential feature of many LED-based solid-state lighting (SSL) systems. However, there has been a shortage of standards to ensure compatibility between dimmable LED light engines (LLEs) and phase-cut dimming controls.
To help address this lack of standards, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) published in April 2013 a new standard, NEMA SSL 7A-2013 Phase-Cut Dimming for Solid-State Lighting: Basic Compatibility.
SSL 7A provides compatibility requirements when a forward phase-cut (sometimes called a “leading edge”) dimmer is combined with one or more dimmable LED LLEs. All dimmers and LLEs tested against the criteria set forth in SSL 7A will be compatible with one another, without the need for specific testing of every LLE and dimmer pairing.
SSL 7A was developed in close cooperation with the Zhaga Consortium, an international organization that is developing specifications to enable interchangeable LED light sources. The standard is already referenced in several Zhaga specifications (known as “Books”).
“Standardized compatibility between LLEs and controls is essential to meet Zhaga’s goal of enabling LLE interchangeability,” said Ethan Biery, design and development leader with Lutron Electronics, a member of Zhaga. “However, the development of such a standard is outside Zhaga’s scope. Therefore, Zhaga was very pleased to work with NEMA on the development of SSL 7A, and congratulates NEMA on the successful publication of this standard.”
The SSL 7A standard has already been referenced by the most recent versions of Zhaga Books 2 and 8, which define socketable downlight LLEs with integrated control gear. In part, this is because SSL 7A is the only available specification covering a two-wire, mains-powered, phase-control dimming interface.
In order for an LLE that supports dimming functionality to be compliant with Zhaga Book 2 or Book 8, such dimming functionality has to comply, at a minimum, with the provisions of NEMA SSL 7A.
Future Zhaga Books which have integrated electronic control gear, and which are used in applications where phase-cut dimming is applicable, are also expected to refer to SSL 7A.
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its 400-plus member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Total U.S. shipments for electroindustry products exceed $100 billion annually.