But that is just what Redwood Systems is doing. The Fremont, Calif.-based company announced on Monday that it has expanded its lighting controls product line to support all lighting fixture types, rather than just LEDs.
The company is not being bearish about the future; rather, it is acknowledging the present. There are a lot of different lights out there, most of which are not LEDs, and customers are looking for solutions that can give them controls even if they’re not ready for a full LED retrofit.
“Many of our clients have other areas they want to control and bring our kind of control to, so we extended it to talk to those types of fixtures,” said Redwood’s SVP of Technology, Bruce Pelton.
The system supports nearly all of the most commonly used light bulbs, including fluorescents, HIDs, CFLs and of course, LEDs.
Redwood’s new product has a universal gateway that will turn fixtures on or off through a 0- to 10-volt signal that goes to a dimmable ballast or an external relay. There are also sensors that can pick up on occupancy data, temperature, humidity and light levels. The sensors connect with the gateway, which then send information back over Ethernet for monitoring and controls.
If anything, Redwood sees the expansion into more classic lighting fixtures as a testament to the success of their LED business in the past few years. “We wanted to make sure our LED platform was mature enough, which it is,” said Sam Klepper, CMO at Redwood Systems. “This is just acknowledging the reality that there’s this moment in time where there are LEDs and other technology that customers want to control with our system.”
The system is intended for customers that are already working with Redwood, rather than serving as an offering to pull in substantial new business. Many businesses are seeing pressure from critical peak pricing, as well as new opportunities to get into demand response that make networked lighting a better business decision than in the past.
For utilities and aggregators, the system can reveal exactly what is being turned down and to what level, and exactly when it was brought up -- a level of granularity that is missing in a lot of demand response applications.
The controls and visibility have captured the attention of some high-profile clients, such as Facebook, SAP and Google. Johnson Controls, the building management behemoth, has installed Redwood’s technology at its headquarters, and last year, two companies announced they will work together to integrate Redwood's data into Johnson's systems.
And when clients are ready to switch or increase LEDs, Pelton said the value of the system is that is upgradeable.
Currently, the promise of working with most lighting fixtures is genuine, but it does not mean that the system can interface with anything on the planet. It isn’t compatible with DMX and DALI networks at the time, but it will be in the future.
The Redwood system will eventually connect to nearly every light fixture available, but “it’s so much more than lighting,” said Klepper.
The focus is still squarely on lighting, but Redwood Systems is also positioning itself to do a whole lot more. “With critical peak pricing,” said Pelton, “people are going to play to new rules to keep the doors open.”