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Case Mount Kelvin: Lighting magic at VALO Hotel & Work

009 Wirepas VALO hotel 11 2020 HIGH RES

Minna Hurme, Andreas Lindqvist & Teemu Saari in VALO enclosed courtyard.






Beyond lighting: wireless hotel automation

Mount Kelvin is changing the guest experience, one hotel at a time. The company’s principle is total lighting control, which means that all luminaires in a room including table, floor and reading lamps can be controlled with the Mount Kelvin guest room management system. VALO Hotel & Work (‘valo’ means ‘light’ in Finnish) in Helsinki presented a unique challenge: each of its 422 rooms are hotel rooms by night, office spaces by day. So with hundreds of rooms, dozens of public areas and thousands of luminaires that must do double duty to create different room experiences, how do you enable both kinds of guests to optimise their lighting? To further complicate the picture, VALO management layered in a need for occupancy data, motion-driven guest location data and future functionality like adding sensors to control motorised curtains.


The right lighting and temperature control can mean the difference between a good stay and a delightful one. Mount Kelvin is a guest room management system that’s easy to use, super-easy to install and operate…and does its bit in preserving the planet.


Wirepas Mesh enables total control

Your average lighting control system is optimised for one thing: command lighting, which requires relatively low data traffic. The lighting solution that VALO needed involved all lights – floor, ceiling, wall and desk lighting – as well as transmitting occupancy data. Such variability and information retrieval increases data load dramatically over command functionality.

For wireless control, there are two options: Star topology and Mesh topology. Wifi is a good example of Star topology, where base stations are required for wireless coverage. Mesh is divided in two categories, flooding mesh (BLE Mesh) and routing Mesh. When you add devices in flooding mesh, they impact network loads almost exponentially, because data is transmitted everywhere. Centralized routing mesh (Zigbee) requires that all commands need to go through a gateway and then to the device in question. Wirepas provides adaptive flooding and adaptive routing, a decentralized structure that’s ideal for quick communication, as it allows each device to dynamically choose the best route to get data to the cloud.

With traditional wireless connectivity, many small Zigbee subnets would be required to deliver data. At VALO you might need 40 sensor-dedicated subnets, all painstakingly engineered not to interfere with each other and with Wifi channels reserved for guest and management usage. Need to add a luminaire to such a network? It would have to be custom-commissioned to a specifc sub-network.

With Wirepas Mesh, the entire hotel forms one massive mesh network, where signals travel from device to device, automatically selecting the most available channels. This enables installations like VALO to scale very large, with little design constraint, as long as there is a sufficient density of devices. In the coming years, it will be super easy to replace or add luminaires or sensors.

Mount Kelvin guest room management systems were quickly installed to enable the management and control of lighting solutions and motion sensors, for both visitors and VALO employees. Over the years, device firmware can be updated over-the-air (OTA) thanks to Wirepas Mesh.


Wonderful lighting, valuable data

Most hotel lighting solutions can’t provide the wealth of options that guests want while keeping things simple and intuitive. Nor do they provide the data that management needs to make better business decisions. Wirepas Mesh is as robust as wires, but much easier to install and modify. Mount Kelvin, together with Wirepas, changed all of this for VALO. In addition to quickly and simply achieving just the right lighting in public spaces and rooms, hotel management are building heat maps of space usage throughout the hotel – valuable occupancy data that staff will use to optimise hotel usage and space.

Wirepas Mesh allows us to scale the size of our installations with very few design constraints. With BLE Mesh or Zigbee, we would have ended up planning and installing small subnets and still suffering data throughput issues. With Wirepas we just need a sufficient density of devices – no one needs to think about device placement. That makes installations fast…and simple. There’s nothing else like it. 

Visa Parviainen
CTO, Mount Kelvin

How does it work

Simple, yet sophisticated architecture for Wifi -worry-free installation

LED drivers from Helvar and sensors running Wirepas Mesh software automatically search for each other and form an efficient, robust mesh network over which Mount Kelvin guest room management system data travels. The more sensors there are in the network, the stronger the signal, in adjacent rooms and between floors. Mount Kelvin powers most switches with motion-driven energy (no batteries required), while occupancy sensors are mains-powered. Devices communicate with each other using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) ultra-low-power 2.4 GHz nRF52832 hardware from Nordic Semiconductor. Since hotels are full of Wifi signals and there’s a lot of radio chatter in the 2.4 GHz frequency band, each device running Wirepas Mesh dynamically jumps channels and uses minimal transmition power in order to save energy and to minimise impact with other devices. Thanks to Wirepas Mesh, VALO’s entire lighting and sensor network connects to the Internet via a single network gateway.

Each hotel room typically includes:

  • Ceiling, wall, floor and/or LED strip luminaires
  • Luminaire drivers by Helvar
  • Switches and power sockets
  • Door sensors
  • Passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors

The Mount Kelvin gateway is the most sophisticated part of the system. Paired with the Wirepas Mesh network, it replaces all individual room control components. It represents a huge savings in cost and space, and vastly simplifies installations. Working together, the gateway control, Wirepas Mesh technology and wireless switches made installation a snap.

VALO hotel refe 20210119 01

True value

The right lighting, simple installation, data harvesting and future-proofing

Just the right lighting can make a hotel visit so much more enjoyable. But when each room doubles as a workspace, lighting modularity is crucial. With the Mount Kelvin system connecting over Wirepas Mesh, the VALO team was able to achieve just the right lighting effect for all scenarios. They were also able to gather sensor data that will enable them to further optimise the guest experience. Another advantage of the Wirepas Mesh/Mount Kelvin system is that it is inexpensive to install and simple to change—adding luminaires and additional sensors of different kinds is simple, with no commissioning required.



Mount Kelvin guest room management systems control all lighting and sensors of various types, taking the hotel guest experience while harvesting useful data. Visit Mount Kelvin website.

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Helvar Logo

Helvar’s Freedom luminaire components were custom-designed for VALO to connect luminaires and sensors into the Wirepas Mesh network. Visit Helvar website.

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Wirepas logo 2020 200x75px black RGB

Wirepas Mesh is wireless connectivity software for massive IoT. Integrated into devices, it’s a scalable, reliable and cost-efficient IoT solution.



Minimal RF planning required

When every device extends coverage and strengthens the signal, forming a mesh network in the most efficient way possible and choosing channels opportunistically, planning is simple.


Fast, simple installation

When one gateway will serve an entire hotel’s worth of sensors and the network is self-provisioning, just about every hotel can afford to build a custom-lighting and sensor solution using Wirepas Mesh. Plus, data harvesting is something that can be provisioned right away or added at a later date. With Wirepas Mesh, just about anyone can install.


Dynamic channel selection

Hotels typically have dozens of Wifi routers operating at same 2.4GHz frequency, which creates tons of interference when doing things like streaming movies over Wifi. Each device on the Wirepas Mesh network dynamically selects one of the 40 available channels. When there is traffic on one channel, device chooses another automatically without impacting rest of the network. The result? Lighting functions seamlessly no matter what, today and tomorrow. Every time a command is delivered to group of luminaires, changes take effect without delay simultaneously across luminaires.  As the facility adds wireless devices, the Wirepas Mesh network adapts dynamically, transmitting data to the next available channel.


VALO management saw clear benefits in the match-up of Wirepas Mesh and the Mount Kelvin guest room management system:


Lighting for office/guest rooms

The Mount Kelvin system yields flexible, individualised lighting combinations suitable for rooms that serve as office spaces by day and guest rooms by night.


Data mining for guest experience optimisation

Wirepas Mesh harvests data from motion sensors, enabling VALO management to create heat maps of guest movement. This allows them to further optimise use of space for better visits.


An architecture that allows for sensor growth

With Wirepas Mesh, VALO hotel staff can add more luminaires with no complicated commissioning required, or a whole new range of sensors, while keeping the existing architecture.

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IoT Expert Jani Vehkalahti

Jani Vehkalahti

Wireless IoT expert