LumenCache was a minor celebrity at CEDIA Expo 2019, where the company demonstrated a low-voltage LED lighting control system, along with a complete infrastructure for powering and controlling other DC devices — all over Cat 5 cable, no Romex necessary.
Integrators got it right away. They oohed and aahed. They were ready to give the system a try in their own showrooms and houses, according to LumenCache founder Derek Cowburn.
It was a far cry from LumenCache’s CEDIA 2012 debut, following a failed Kickstarter bid for Cowburn’s young company. The former home-technology integrator spent most of his energy at CEDIA 2012 educating dealers (and uninitiated reporters) on the nuances of LEDs, inhospitable AC/DC conversion schemes of the day, and the general nonsense of powering low-energy lamps with high-powered electrical lines.
“Why are we still wiring buildings with 15-20 Amp Romex for lighting when lights draw 1/6th of the power?” Cowburn said in 2012. “And it’s only going down from here.”
LumenCache Incubates, Proves Valuable in the Field
Cowburn spent the next seven years or so proving the LumenCache platform in commercial installations like the Forest City Wellness Center in North Carolina, where engineers apparently were so surprised by the energy savings, they “had to double check the readings because they were so low.”
He earned spots in international tech incubators and had his products deployed into major proof-of-concept projects such as the Chinese Low Carbon City sponsored by the US Department of Energy and China’s Ministry of Housing for Urban and Rural Development.
Cowburn returned to the home-tech channel for CEDIA 2019, just as integrators were already warming up to low-voltage lighting systems, thanks to Colorbeam, Lumastream and other providers paving the way in the channel.
Cowburn tells us the high price of DC-powered lighting systems is a distant objection, claiming LumenCache reached “installed cost parity with AC lighting” in 2018.
“AC wiring in the ceiling uses more copper resources, is less efficient, doesn’t support communications, and now … is more expensive than LumenCache,” he wrote last year. “Builders are reporting their installed cost quotes are now lower using LumenCache than from their AC electrician quotes for the exact same packages. Technically, owners get much more capabilities from the LumenCache platform.”
Accessible LED Drivers, Easy Upgrades
Feeling pretty confident that his system is ripe for the production-builder market, Cowburn points to its modular platform that separates the LED drivers from the lights themselves. The drivers snap into LumenCache Power Distribution Modules in a central location, easily replaceable by better (or different, more appropriate) units down the road.
Builders can populate an entry-level LumenCache panel with run-of-the-mill drivers, leaving upgrades to users and their low-voltage integrators.
“You don’t have to even go up into the ceiling to change the lights,” he says.
New at CEDIA 2019: Switches, Home Automation Drivers, More DC Things
New this year is a series of Decora-style low-voltage wall switches that are super-low-profile because the key components reside elsewhere.
Also, Cowburn says two-way home-automation drivers are on the way, starting with Control4. The integration modules will simply snap into the LumenCache panel.
Cowburn is eager to recruit a variety of manufacturers to his low-voltage ecosystem, beyond the couple of partners that make things like Cat 5 exhaust fans.
“This is an open platform,” he says.
Meanwhile, LumenCache is working on a higher-powered solution to provide a more comprehensive LV-DC backbone for the home.
Watch the LumenCache @ CEDIA 2019 video above for more details about the company’s low-voltage and LED lighting architecture.