Low Voltage Ceiling Grids
Drop-In Lighting and Wiring Systems
The suspended ceiling is familiar to anyone who has worked in an office – a grid of tiles that hang overhead, creating conditioned space, suppressing sound, and yet allowing easy access to overhead systems such as HVAC, electrical, and media. They are so popular, in fact, that they have been moving into the residential and decorative realm. For building owners, these are quicker and cheaper than framing in a solid ceiling and drywall finishing, easier to maintain, and can be more appealing visually since there is such a huge diversity and design involved with ceiling tiles.
Recent years and technology advancements have seen the advent of using those same ceiling grids to power the items that are laid into them – such as lights, speakers, security cameras, thermostat sensors, controllers for HVAC handlers, overhead projectors, and even mobile device charging stations. The concept of using these overhead raceways as a method of carrying electrical current is brilliant, and will change the lighting – and ceiling industry – for good.
The great part about this design is that not every length of the ceiling grid will be (or needs to be) energized – but that any part of it can be. The energized bus grid pieces can be used interchangeably with regular ones, and power generation or devices needing power can be attached or detached to the hanging power grid as needed.
Power generation – like a solar panel system – or a transformer can be installed and mounted to the grid, then connected to whichever parts of the grid will be used to power the drop-in peripherals, clip-on lights, and other electronic devices.
Now, your ceiling grid can also be a power grid – a DC powered one, that can be used on lights, projectors, speakers, sensors. Practically anything you can imagine and power with DC can be utilized with the correct clip-in system. Not only that, but since the system is designed to be both low voltage and low current, it will enforce efficiency simply by dint of its inability to support giant power-guzzling fixtures or equipment. Use it to power WIFI routers, to activate lights, HVAC louvers, and occupancy sensors – or even just to enjoy more kinds of fixtures then the traditional fluorescent high bays, such as monorail lights, beautiful recessed alternatives to can lights, and overhead lights whose purpose is disguised as art.
Now we know AC is super efficient for transmission (which is why we are using it across our national infrastructure) and that it is generated anytime we use a motor – like the turbines used in power plants, or renewable ones such as a windmill or water mill. I’ve mentioned previously – local generation (microgeneration), and using DC microgrids in individual buildings can save on conversion, prevent long-distance transmission losses, and allow direct hook-up to renewable power as well. Utilizing a combination of AC and DC power allows us to get maximum efficiency with minimum stress – and take advantage of the best of all worlds when it comes to renewable energy.
We all know there are plenty of resources for DIY dropped ceilings. However, since powered grid ceilings are electrified (low-voltage, but any amount of amperage can be dangerous) it is important that you have your low-voltage ceiling designed and installed by a trained electrical professional – like an electrician. Future work, installations, adjustments, and maintenance must be performed by an electrician as well, per 2014 National Electric Code. This practice establishes safety as a priority and will ensure legal, protected installations.
Considering implementing a low voltage ceiling grid of your own? Don’t hesitate to call Swartz Electric – we have the engineering knowledge to design one, the master electricians to create them, and the integrity to help you build and maintain something that will last for years.
Swartz Electric – Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, Black Forest, Fountain, Falcon, Woodland Park, and everywhere in between. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.
Call, e-mail, visit our website, or stop by our office today, and allow Swartz Electric to serve YOU.
This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.
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