Saturday, November 10, 2012

Modular Lighting Controls - What To Use, When and Where

Often Facility Managers, Architects and Interior Designers wonder when or when not to use controls for lighting and what types of controls are available.

In today's environment sustainability and energy-saving lighting design should be a natural combination. Over-lighting indoor and outdoor has long been a problem in commercial, municipal and federal buildings.

It is true that 20% of the US energy consumption could be eliminated while maintaining the same quality of life with safe and adequate lighting levels by just selecting the right lighting technology, but few know that another 50% of the remainder used for lighting could be saved when using motion and other sophisticated control devices.

Many of you have been to municipal parking structures, US postal service redistribution centers, covered parking structures in airports, schools, universities, fire stations or hospitals. In those structures, where lights are turned on 24 hours a day, the savings using controls can often exceed 90%.

The energy cost of architectural displays, as used in Dulles Airport (near Washington DC) where the whole atrium is lit with 230 kW of HID lamps per hour, can be significantly reduced if those conventional lights would be replaced with newer technology and the light were adjusted to outdoor lighting levels.

The lights in conference rooms in hospitals are often left on and could be turned off automatically using an occupancy sensor, the same with restrooms where the lights could move from a lower level of lighting to a higher level of lighting which is more practical than motion controlled on/off lighting.

Once you have accepted that investing in controls to reduce lighting cost and maintenance makes extreme sense, here are some important issues to consider;

    try to stay with simple systems, which are self-contained so that you do not need a PC to turn on your light.
    A motion sensor / dimmer should be intuitively programmable on the dimming device without further hardware or know how required.
    A street light with daylight sensor or a high bay fixture with motion sensor should be re-programmable from the ground using infrared (IR) from a Laptop with an IR dongle.

Where to use which controls:

Home
In a Hallway use only simple and self-contained devices that can detect motion as well as setting dimming levels, that may be IR controlled via a remote control in a bedroom or the living room. For safety and convenience in the Garage or the Utility Room use motion control devices for. Use daylight sensors and timers for landscape lighting and daylight and motion sensors for perimeter lighting.

Small Office
Only use simple devices that can be motion operated in a hallway, that may be IR controlled via a remote control in the office or the conference room. Definitely motion control for the Printer/Mail Room or the Server Room.

Restroom and other Staff Areas
Restrooms and Kitchen areas definitely benefit from motion controls and Active Rest at 20% or 30% with such simple controls you may be able to light five restrooms and a kitchen area for $34 a year @ $0.11 a kWh.

Large Multiple Office Space
Only use simple devices that can be motion operated in a hallway, that can be daisy chained, that may be IR controlled via a remote control in the office or the conference room. Definitely motion control for the Printer/Mail Room or the Server Room.

A centralized system may reduce the need to personally monitor the locations or enforce rules to the availability of maximum light levels. This can be achieved using LightSpace Concentrators that can be connected to the Internet for remote event and use monitoring and following server applied rules. However, a server managed system should be locally self-sufficient. In case the Internet connection fails, the localized daylight and motion controls should remain fully functional and control the lights via the local LightSpace Controller(s).

Larger In-Door Systems' controls should be battery backed up and better still light fixtures and LightSpace controllers should be able to be supplied by line power and/or 48V-DC power for backup or permanently powering the devices from DC.

Outdoor Parking
For larger un-covered parking spaces the only practical control are timers and/or daylight sensors combined with timed and controlled light output.

Covered Parking (Single Structure)
For a single covered parking structure daylight controls in areas where natural daylight will supplement or totally cover daytime lighting levels and motion control for all other areas.

Covered Parking (Multiple Structures)
For multiple parking structures a centralized system may reduce the need to personally monitor the locations. This can be achieved using LightSpace Concentrators that can be connected to the Internet for remote monitoring. However, the system should be self-sufficient for the case when the Internet connection fails the localized daylight and motion controls should remain fully functional and control the lights via the local LightSpace Controller(s).

Klaus Bollmann is a 30 year veteran in energy conservation, resource saving innovative products for a sustainable environment. Click the link If you are interested in ActiveLED high performance lighting products.


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