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DMX vs DALI lights | Difference between DMX and DALI controls

This page compares DXL vs DALI lights and mentions difference between DMX and DALI control types. Non-DALI luminaire type is also described.

These are used as control units to control the lights or luminaires in various environments such as building, office, theatre etc. It helps in energy conservation by using dimming control. Todays smart lighting solutions have become possible due to availability of these luminaire control types.

DMX Control

DMX control

As shown in the figure-1, DMX makes use of control unit in order to control the loads (i.e. lights, luminaires etc.). It is referred as centralised control system due to the fact that single control unit is used to control multiple luminaires.

DMX control unit uses RS485 or RS422 for bidirectional communication. Hence DMX units employ RS485/RS422 IC which interfaces control unit with multiple luminaires using differential two wires as per standard specification. Due to multidrop connection using RS485 or RS422 more number of loads are connected with single control unit.

It is used to provide RGB control which helps in changing color of the LED light as per need.

DALI control

DALI control

DALI is de-centralised control system as shown in the figure-2. Multiple control units are controlled individually or in broadcast mode (with upto 16 groups). It is non proprietary standard used for dimmable control.

Following are the features of DALI control.
• It uses two wire as control line.
• Maximum distance coverage is about 300 meters (maximum).
• Maximum of 64 units are connected with single DALI control unit.
• This technology is successor to earlier 0 to 10V based lighting control systems.
• The interface is specified in IEC 62386/IEC 60929 standards.
• DALI takes care of 254 brightness levels between OFF state and 100% ON state.


The luminaire or light which can not be digitally addressed is known as Non DALI.

Following table mentions difference between DMX and DALI control types used to control various luminaires.

Features DMX control DALI control
Full Form Digital Multiplexing, abbreviation of DMX512 Digital Addressable Lighting Interface
Speed Fast Slow
Number of adresses 512 64
Multiple devices with the same address Yes (It is possible to implement.) Not possible
Automatic addressing No Yes
Centralised control Yes (It is possible.) No
De-centralised control No Yes
Cable length 300m 300m
Cable requirement Yes, Cat-5 No
End-of-line resistor Yes No

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