Connecting Modern Lighting to a Brighter Future

Jim Bachle and Amanda Bell, WAGO


Solid-state technology has dramatically altered the industry

The controversy over when, where and who developed the incandescent lamp continues with dates and places varying from the early 1800’s in Hungary to the late 1800’s in Menlo Park, California. What cannot be disputed is that this product brought about a revolution to the lighting industry, leading to the constant creation of new lighting technologies for generations to come.

The introduction of fluorescent lighting in the 1940’s brought a new evolution in the lighting industry and has since been a dominant technology in the marketplace. With an installed base exceeding 30 billion units in commercial and institutional properties, the end product continues to increase efficiency, life expectancy, and lumen output while maintaining an affordable price point.

Despite discovery in the early 1900’s, the Light Emitting Diode has only recently been instituted in this latest revolution in lighting. Touting very high operating efficiency coupled with extended life, this technology has generated an entirely new set of challenges associated with control, certification, and manufacturing while allowing designers new freedom in creating lighting schemes to fit their applications.

While designers enjoy their new autonomy from the lack of constraints from conventional lamps, and tubes no longer trying to innovate designs while handcuffed by ‘the same old box’, the engineering community is thrilled with the new challenges and opportunities to be creative in their own right.

Solid-state lighting issues
Managing the headaches associated with previously unseen issues such as with thermal dynamics, color shift, and certification are offset by the rewards gleaned by the fresh capabilities and possibilities of full-range dimming, ‘instant-on’ regardless of ambient temperatures, as well as infinite control possibilities.

Although the price tag associated with the end-product continues to fall, OEMs face ever-present demands for increased performance at lower operating costs while designing for extended life and warranty periods. 

Solid-state technology has dramatically altered practices and components implemented in the manufacturing process. The industry is faced with dealing with an entirely new range of components and conductor ranges and regulations; quickly going by the wayside are the days of tombstone sockets, ballasts and 18 AWG solid conductors. Industry pressures and Energy Star requirements are forcing manufacturers to make this magical new technology maintenance friendly.

Maintaining the integrity of the technology is gaining new prominence in this revolution as manufacturers continue their evaluation of every component within the system specific to solid, long-term performance.

Connectors specifically have shifted to surface mount technology as the light source has also shifted from a lamp or tube to a circuit board. Challenges associated with height and color (to prevent shadowing) must be weighed against current and voltage requirements that can reach Class I thresholds. Consideration must be given to environmental issues such as shock and vibration, temperature changes and salt-spray/corrosion (See Figure 1).

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Figure 1: Consideration must be given to the environment the lighting is deployed

Building on a long history of solid performance under the most challenging of conditions, WAGO Corporation continues to produce innovative products that provide solutions via our industry-proven, maintenance-free CAGE CLAMP® connection technology. WAGO’s ISO 9001 manufacturing processes ensure the ultimate in quality while providing components with a competitive value and cost ratio.

Compact Surface-Mount Connection Technology
WAGO offers a comprehensive range of surface-mount PCB terminal blocks with pushbuttons for the lighting industry, including the 2060, 2061 and 2059 Series. Each series is available in tape-and-reel packaging for ease of implementation into the automated assembly process, offers easy handling via side-entry wiring and top-of-unit actuation, and features 1-, 2- or 3-pole variants. The compact size and light color of each surface-mount PCB terminal block helps conserve space and reduce shadowing in LED applications (see Figure 2).

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Figure 2: The compact size and light color reduce shadowing in an LED application

Ideal for interconnecting PCB-based LED modules in luminaires and signs, WAGO’s 2060 Series SMD PCB Terminal Block with Pushbuttons features a low profile, contoured edges and a light color. A larger variant than the field-proven 2060 Series is the new 2061 Series SMD PCB Terminal Block with Pushbuttons, ideal for PCB-based LED lighting and industrial electronics. The perfect connection for incoming power to an LED driver, or for higher power LED modules, the 2061 Series is a cost-effective, manufacturing-friendly alternative to hand-soldering leads.

As the smallest product in WAGO’s range, the 2059 Series SMD PCB Terminal Block is the ideal solution for extremely small LED applications, offering a fast, cost-effective alternative to soldering leads (see Figure 3). Due to its ease of use and compact size, the 2059 Series is especially suited for solid state lighting applications that often utilize metal-core PCBs, including compact or miniaturized LED modules and LED ‘bulbs’.

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Figure 3

Street Light Application
Unlike interior fixture applications, several lighting manufacturers are implementing LED drivers capable of delivering an output voltage of 400V DC, changing the electrical environment from Class II (Low Voltage) to Class I. Insulation properties of connector bodies must meet the certification requirements for 600V as well as spacing criteria for differing potentials.

A WAGO customer had built prototypes without a connector and was experiencing concerns over the expense and reliability associated with direct solder of the conductor to the metal-core circuit board. The challenges associated with the application called for an end-product that could withstand vibration associated with heavy traffic flow, temperatures that could range from -30°F to 100°F+, and possible locations in coastal areas where salt-spray would be of concern.

WAGO offered two options: either two ‘single-pole’ 2060 series connectors, or a custom unit developed specifically for this application – a single unit with spacing that met the requirements of the certification agencies.

The single unit (series 2060-802) was selected for the following reasons:

  • Wide range of conductor size and type (24-18 AWG, solid/stranded/stranded prepared)
  • Excellent resistance to vibration, corrosion and temperature cycling
  • Single component placement reduced cost of mounting while increasing throughput of automated equipment
  • Voltage and current requirements were exceeded (rated at 600V/9A)
  • Ease of maintenance and replacement of arrays
  • Standard two year warranty of WAGO products

Interior Downlighting Application
The proven design of the recessed downlight has been a favorite of designers for decades due to its’ clean lines and excellent performance. Updating this platform from the previous generations of incandescent or compact fluorescent to LED greatly expands the capabilities of the unit.

Throughput in both automated and manual assembly areas of the manufacturing process are key factors in obtaining a palatable market price for the end-product. Shadowing and minimizing obstructions for LEDs and their optics are considered critical factors for acceptable product design. With base platform designs of 4” or 6” apertures, space is at a premium.

Two single-pole 2060 series (2060-401) were selected for a WAGO customer for the following reasons:

  • Small footprint allowing placement to minimize shadowing
  • Wide range of conductor size and type (24-18 AWG, solid/stranded/stranded prepared)
  • Direct insertion of conductors reduced cost of assembly while increasing throughput of the manual assembly process
  • High voltage and current thresholds exceeded the requirements of the application providing assurance of long-term performance
  • Ease of maintenance and replacement of arrays
  • Standard two year warranty of WAGO products

The rapidly changing technologies within modern lighting schemes have significantly reduced the chasm between economies of operation and aesthetics. With the increasing demands and expectations for extended service-life, connection technology has gained new prominence as an integral component of the finished product.