Innovative connection technology supports reliable and dynamic architectural lighting
More and more cities and municipalities are following the trend of using light to draw attention to selected structures in striking fashion. Whether they are historical buildings, landmarks, parks, or bridges – architectural lighting enhances public spaces. The use of sophisticated LED systems, in particular, enables energy-efficient and modern illumination. However, installing lighting outdoors also poses challenges, which mainly concern the underlying electrical connection technology. Apart from being simple to assemble on-site, the components have to be designed such that they function reliably even in adverse environmental situations. At the same time, they need to meet demands relating to aesthetics and color dynamics. The solution to this are innovative installation systems that are tailored perfectly to the specific environmental conditions.
It is just as night begins to fall that architectural lighting really comes into its own. Not only does it create a friendly atmosphere, it also conveys a sense of security and increases the charm of any city. It is a long time since artificial light has just fulfilled its basic function of pure illumination. It now plays a role in atmospheric staging as well. It emphasizes features, stirs emotions, and revives downtown areas. This is where LED technology especially shows off its strengths. Alongside their energy efficiency and long service life, LED lights barely cause any electrosmog, can display almost any shade of color, have robust switching and dimming properties, and can be integrated into modern control systems via suitable interfaces. This is opening up whole new applications for architectural lighting.
The illumination of public structures and facilities while taking account of pragmatic and aesthetic aspects is one of the most demanding tasks in lighting. After all, we are talking about outdoor installations that are sometimes assembled in places that are difficult to access and have to function perfectly at all times even under extreme conditions. The electrical connection technology plays a pivotal role in this. The solutions used have to be both functional and reliable, enable easy assembly and maintenance, and also meet the demands of modern light technology. This can be achieved with an intelligently coordinated installation solution, as Wieland Electric from Bamberg demonstrates with its RST connector system.
Designed perfectly for outdoor use
Constant temperature changes, high UV radiation, wind, moisture, and, not least, mechanical wear – outdoor electrical installations tend to be exposed to extreme conditions. To avoid material fatigue, water ingress, and, ultimately, lighting failure it is crucial that the materials used and the very specific environmental conditions interact perfectly. With RST, Wieland provides a globally established, watertight system for cabling and power supply to outdoor luminaires as well as to other outdoor electrical consumers. As a cohesive system from the socket to the luminaire, it has robust interfaces for the electrical installation and satisfies every requirement in terms of functionality and safety.
A further challenge when it comes to illuminating impressive structures is the assembly. This sometimes takes place in difficult-to-reach places and over great distances. For this reason, the RST connectors are innately installation-friendly and adhere strictly to the system philosophy. Complex installations can be built flexibly, and consumers can simply be plugged into the installation. Mechanical codings within the product lines ensure a clear distinction between different circuits, ruling out dangerous mismating. With the smart Twistlock locking mechanism, the connectors lock automatically when plugged together and give the user clear feedback on the correct end position.
Impressive light show in Scotland
A major project that was completed by Wieland Electric recently shows just how well suited the RST system is to the demands of modern architectural lighting. A few months ago, the Queensferry Crossing, the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world, was opened over the Firth of Forth, connecting the capital Edinburgh with the north of the country. Built like the Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge spans more than 2,600 meters in total with towers that are 210 meters high. The impressive architectural style is underlined by intelligently designed lighting with electrical connection technology based on the RST connector system from Wieland.
At night, the cable-stayed bridge lights up like a stream of lights over the estuary and is also showcased to perfection by spectacular light shows. These use almost 3,000 luminaires, powered from above the road surface with energy and control signals. This is where the DMX 512 protocol from stage technology comes into play. The robust signal covers ranges of up to 1,200 meters, boasts great dynamism, and enables a large number of subscribers. The connector of choice was the 5-pole RST MINI 16i5 from Wieland. This is designed to transmit energy and data and – like all Wieland connectors for outdoor use – meets the requirements of protection categories IP66, IP68, and IP69. As a result, both the plug-in connection and the luminaire are so protected that water cannot penetrate either from outside or from inside. With Wieland’s project experience it was possible to design a system that rules out any confusion thanks to different codings for power and DMX supply. This, combined with UV-resistant, shielded outdoor cables with only minor signal attenuation, also enables transmission of the DMX signal over great distances.
The advantages of the prefabricated and pluggable RST components from Wieland also benefited the project managers in terms of logistics. For example, the entire concept for the electrical connection technology was developed and realized in
advance in collaboration with British electromechanical specialist SES Engineering Services. The combination of 122 prefabricated bridge elements and 440 preconfigured service modules, which were made in SES’ project-specific off-site
production facility at the site of the Queensferry Crossing, together with the structured wiring solution from Wieland, reduced the logistical requirements considerably. This simultaneously minimized the health and safety risks of the project on-site.
The possibilities in outdoor lighting design have never been more varied than they are today. In particular, the rapid development of LED technology is taking architectural lighting to a whole new dimension. More and more cities and municipalities are using this potential and implementing innovative lighting concepts which not only help people find their way around and increase security in urban areas, but also play with colors and effects. This is underpinned by the electrical connection technology. Through the choice of a suitable connector system, the assembly is easy even in places that are hard to access and reliable lighting outdoors is ensured. As Wieland Electric shows with the example of the Scottish cable-stayed bridge, the Queensferry Crossing, innovative connection technology can also exploit the dynamism of light to the fullest, allowing colorful light shows to be realized while ensuring reliable functionality by using the right connector.