Discover DALI - excellent system performance

DALI stands for Digital Addressable Lighting Interface and is a protocol set out in the technical standard IEC 62386.

The task of providing light in a room has long been resolved – the challenge today is to ensure that the right quality of light is provided. The list of parameters that need to be considered is long. Just a few are:

  • brightness and glare,
  • colour rendering and light colour
  • colour control and presence sensing.

For these tasks, you need a reliable, reasonably priced and simple control system helping to adress the challenges that modern lighting technology needs to meet – that’s DALI.

Controllable lighting systems are the key for energy saving in building lighting installations – with the additional benefit of increased comfort and safety. DALI was developed as an international industry standard for intelligent and easy management of lighting equipment.

The standard incorporates several parts that provide control and monitoring functionality for ballasts, emergency gear and LED gear, and now also for lighting controls.

DALI facts at a glance

Everything you need to know about the digital control protocol and how it can help:

DALI is the Digital Addressable Lighting Interface. It enables easy and intelligent management of lighting equipment. The DALI protocol is managed under the internationally recognised IEC standard 62386 and is promoted by the DALI working party and part of the ZVEI - German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers´ Association.
The working party promotes the development and use of the protocol, as well as working to recruit members and make sure the DALI logo is properly used. The organization aims to improve understanding of DALI in the market, and is working to become more dynamic and accessible to all industry stakeholders, with information available to members and non-members through a variety of channels.

DALI is described as a protocol for communications and control of lighting equipment. This includes Control Gear (not just ballasts but also LED drivers, switching devices, emergency inverters, colour control and so on) and Control Devices (buttons, rotaries and sliders, presence detectors, light sensors…) as well as the requirements for bus power supplies, which may be standalone devices or integrated with Control Gear or Control Devices.

One of the key feature of DALI is the uniformity of the standard and interoperability with a range of system components. No other standard in the lighting industry is as open and futureproof. In principle, a DALI lighting system can have components from many different suppliers, all working from the same standard. To support the ‘open protocol’ philosophy, DALI plans to create training forums to explain the fundamentals of DALI for contractors.

Due to the growth of LED, the increasing demand for energy saving and growing awareness of lighting control systems, DALI has become more important than ever before.
With almost 120 active members the DALI working party is keeping it on its growth trajectories in 2014 and beyond. The focus is to raise the international awareness of the DALI protocol and its acknowledged logo. Thanks to the work of the working groups the DALI working party was able to achieve its goals and the interest in DALI has become much more international, with a tremendous growth in membership. The DALI working party will consistently follow the strategy of internationalisation and overcome the challenges of the future together with its members.

Compared to a fixed output installation, the dimming and individual control capability provided by DALI enables considerable energy savings. In combination with dimmable drivers, presence and daylight sensors, energy savings of up to 80 per cent can be achieved. If the operation of the lighting is to be rearranged or regrouped, the costs per circuit in a fixed output system could be four times higher than those in a DALI system. The ability to send queries and obtain replies – two-way communication – can greatly reduce maintenance costs. For example, DALI allows automatic testing and reporting of monthly function tests of emergency lighting. In addition, energy consumption and lamp condition can be checked for each luminaire, very easily and at no additional cost.

The DALI trademark is an indication of product compliance with the DALI protocol. The picture trademark may be used on products, product literature and for marketing purposes by DALI members and licensees, if the product has successfully passed the official DALI compliance tests. The DALI picture trademark unmistakably stands for the DALI protocol.

The DALI logo allows members and licensees:

  • to indicate product interoperability & compliance
  • to promote themselves as a member or licensee of DALI

Three main conditions have to be fulfilled in order to apply the DALI logo on products:

  1. The company whose name or brand will appear with the DALI logo on the product, literature or marketing material, must be a member of DALI – a working party of ZVEI
  2. company must have signed the Trademark Agreement with ZVEI
  3. The company must ensure the products are compliant with the requirements set by DALI. This can be achieved by obtaining a positive test result with the official DALI test system.

 A list of members can be found at

The official DALI test system helps manufacturers ensure their DALI compliant products will have the highest levels of interoperability with other compliant products. Testing can be done either by an approved test house or by DALI members themselves.

Access to the standardized DALI test software is a benefit of membership. This allows members to carry out self-testing, which can greatly reduce the time and cost of developing DALI products. For details of the approved DALI tester, see:        

  • Alternatively, companies may decide to carry out testing using an independent test house. Details of test houses can also be found by following the above link. For testing fee’s, please contact the test houses directly. An international testing infrastructure is expected to be added in 2015.
  • Only with the combination of positive test results and the logo on your product you will be able to announce your products as “DALI compliant”.

With the logo licensing process coming later in 2015, DALI will require test results to be uploaded to the DALI website, so checks can be carried out before use of the logo is granted. This will also allow members to list their compliant products in a searchable database.

With the launch of DALI 2 , Control Devices became part of the standard. The current DALI test platform is for testing of control gear only (for example LED drivers, fluorescent ballasts, HID, emergency etc.).
To test control devices, a new DALI test platform will be required. This is currently in development and is expected to be ready later in 2015. The new test platform will be able to test DALI Control Gear, Control Devices and bus power supplies.

The DALI protocol includes definitions of commands, reactions of devices to these commands, and requirements for devices. Wireless can be used in a DALI system – for example by using an interface (gateway) between the wireless devices such as buttons and sensors, and the DALI network. This can provide the convenience of wireless together with the reliability and low cost of wired connections to luminaires. Interfaces to many protocols are available, and more are still being added. Examples include TCP/ IP, BACnet and KNX. The standard states that the DALI protocol is designed to sit below the level of a building management system.

A DALI lighting control system can be as simple as a single luminaire containing a driver and a sensor. The same luminaire could be connected with other DALI devices to form a larger system – and DALI systems don’t stop at a few rooms. Using gateways, multiple DALI subnets can be connected into seamless systems, allowing many thousands of devices to be connected in a single system. This allows the strengths of DALI as a dedicated lighting control protocol to be used. A good example of this is the 2014 DALI award winner, the World Trade Centre in Abu Dhabi.

DALI’s road map is about much more than just fluorescent ballasts. Already the standard includes LED drivers, emergency devices and other control gear devices, and in the future DALI will encompass all types of lighting control products, including PIR sensors, rotary control and user interfaces.