Solid State Lighting Retrofit Project


Low-Cost, High Efficiency Integration of Solid-State Lighting and Building Controls using a Digital Electricity (DE) Power Distribution System

Fraunhofer USA in collaboration with VoltServer Inc.

This project stems from a DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) funding secured by VoltServer Inc and aims to address multiple goals of the DOE’s Solid State Lighting Multi-Year Program Plan related to costs, efficiency and controls integration.

The DOE estimates that there is tremendous potential for energy savings through adoption of Solid State Lighting (SSL). Energy efficient SSLs can deliver savings of up to 20% in 2020 and 46% in 2030. However, barriers to successful commercialization exist, inhibiting SSL use. At present, SSLs account for 2-3% of lighting sales, primarily for niche applications such as outdoor and street lighting.

  • SSL replacement lamps more expensive than equivalent CFLs or downlights
  • Performance and cost of LED driver circuitry: 15-20 % of the total cost and efficiency around 88%
  • Integration with buildings control: While being DC driven is a major advantage for integration, issues exist with integrating with legacy controls.

Voltserver’s DE technology allows transmission of thousands of watts of power over standard communication cables. The safety features of the DE system allow it to be operated as an IEC 60950-21 compatible limited power source (“class 2”) without conduit and minimal licensed electrician involvement under NEC Articles 800 and 725. Unlike Power-Over-Ethernet (POE), range is not limited to 50 feet. DE can be transmitted over long distances without significant losses.

  • DE capable of embedding data signals directly onto the power distribution channel, enabling the system to be intrinsically safe and able to detect and arrest power faults rapidly.
  • DE protocol enables in-line communications that can be utilized for low cost control and monitoring integration.
  • Centralization of AC-DC conversion, reduces overall losses and costs

Project Objective:

Fraunhofer USA will manage the field installation and testing of VoltServer’s DE enabled LED fixtures at a suitable commercial location.

  • Demonstrate lighting retrofit install at a commercial site for DE technology validation.
  • Conduct a side-by-side labor and energy savings analysis of conventional LED install with conduit and class 2 install with Voltserver's DE technology. Fraunhofer USA will audit the full installation process, including materials, design time, install time and labor costs.
  • Characterize Efficiency and MTBF (mean time between failures) of DE fixtures. Quantify increase in lighting improvement in hangar space through lighting power density/ lighting efficiency analysis.
  • Fraunhofer USA will provide a detailed report assessing the impact of DE SSL over conventional AC driven systems. Further, we will provide feedback on the DE system design and installation practices that might improve performance going forward.


Site chosen for retrofit was a 20,000 square foot airport hangar in Quonset, Rhode Island. Existing lighting included 400W Metal Halide hi-bay fixtures. New 240W LED fixtures were added as part of the retrofit. The timed labor study was performed for the install of 10 standard vs 10 DE fixtures in a similar spatial configuration. Monitoring and data acquisition equipment had been deployed before the install to record pre-install baseline energy usage and is now currently measuring the post-install energy consumption trends.

Follow on analysis is now underway to quantify and validate cost, labor and energy savings for the DE system vis a vis the pre-retrofit baseline and equivalent conventional LED systems.

Site selection for year 2 of the project has been started, the plan is to retrofit another commercial site with DE SSL technology with a similar evaluation process as the year 1 install, to demonstrate the maturity of the DE technology apart from incorporating lessons learnt from the previous install.