Category: Controls

The Value Of Sensors, IoT, & Smart Lighting Data

EC&M Magazine recently ran an article about the value of sensors, IoT, and Smart Lighting Data. Energy ROI is an obvious benefit of advanced controls, but is often insufficient to justify the costs, after LED lighting has already slashed lighting energy use by more than 50%. In some places, lighting controls are installed to meet local code requirements.

EC&M Magazine recently ran an article about the value of sensors, IoT, and Smart Lighting Data. Energy ROI is an obvious benefit of advanced controls, but is often insufficient to justify the costs, after LED lighting has already slashed lighting energy use by more than 50%. In some places, lighting controls are installed to meet local code requirements.

Advanced lighting control systems go beyond just controlling the lights by allowing the gathering of data, bringing 10 to 100 times more value to the end-user. The easiest and most well-known solutions to achieve this are with occupancy sensors and daylight sensors. But what if one can get such data for an entire floor, building, or campus of buildings? This might be data that can tell how often a room is entered or how many cars are currently on a parking garage floor. How many customers went into the store today, and what portion of the parking lot is used at night? And is anyone still in the local park when it’s closed? This valuable data can be collected, analyzed, and communicated to learn much more about a site.

Since lighting is everywhere, when grouped under a network, it can then be used as a conduit from end-users to devices for valuable information. Asset tracking, contact tracing, and wayfinding are a few examples of how advanced lighting control systems are being used beyond controlling the lights. As an example, a building’s HVAC, fire alarm, and lighting system can use the same signal to turn off air intake and turn on all lights when the fire alarm is activated. The benefit of such information/signals gets even more valuable when shared with other manufacturers.

For example, you can share control of a room’s temperature using lighting control wall stations, or a demand response signal can be set up from the local electric utility to dim lights. This type of system will not only provide additional energy savings, but more importantly in some locations, it also satisfies a requirement to be code compliant. Such an ecosystem provides manufacturers’ and industries’ IoT products a backbone for advanced data and information at the heart of IoT. Air quality, structure vibration, and space utilization heatmaps are some examples of IoT applications.

Read the full article here.

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Product Monday: WAC Smart Track System Provides All The Bells & Whistles

WAC’s STRUT is a smart lighting, power, and control system, with lighting elements designed for high performance. STRUT is intended for retail, restaurant, commercial office, or residential lighting, without custom lead times.

WAC’s STRUT is a smart lighting, power, and control system, with lighting elements designed for high performance. STRUT is intended for retail, restaurant, commercial office, or residential lighting, without custom lead times. The system offers Direct, Indirect, Wall Wash, Downlights, Spotlights, and Pendants, on a 48VDC smart track.

STRUT is a solution for open office designs and other community spaces, the smart system incorporates combination vacancy/photo sensors to maximize daylight harvesting and reduce energy consumption, during the day.

At night, STRUT can give each occupant control over their own task lighting with SILO adjustable pendants, while integrating illumination of pathways and common areas with layered lighting.

STRUT is fully customizable and can adapt to changing design decisions. Components ship within a week. Construction delays and change orders can be avoided with the modular power system enabling lighting elements to be easily modified on site.

STRUT is technology agnostic, with interfaces available for 0-10V, DMX, or TRIAC protocols. It is commissioned through the wireless app, and can then be integrated with a variety of control systems that clients are already using.

The system is setup and online using the WAC app for iOS or Android. It enables limited permissions to various users to control certain elements. Basic functions, like on/off/dim, Grouping and Scheduling can be performed by anyone with a simple, intuitive user interface. Changes to fixture grouping or actions are automatically recognized by control systems that are integrated with the Connected Power Unit.

More information is available here.

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Industry Survey Shows Openness To PoE Lighting, But Little Traction

A recent Carrie Meadows article in LEDs Magazine emphasized the lighting industry’s openness to PoE lighting. The survey was conducted in Fall of 2021, by LEDs Magazine and the Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY), the organizer of LEDucation.

A recent Carrie Meadows article in LEDs Magazine emphasized the lighting industry’s openness to PoE lighting. The survey was conducted in Fall of 2021, by LEDs Magazine and the Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY), the organizer of LEDucation.

The strongest indication of the industry’s openness to PoE was the survey response to ranking connectivity technologies from most preferred to least preferred. PoE was most likely to rank first or second, followed closely by Bluetooth and WiFi. While this response shows industry openness to PoE, another question indicated very low PoE adoption.

When asked which connectivity technologies they have specified or used for networked lighting control projects, PoE didn’t show up. While “Other” received roughly 6% of responses, these respondents cited Other as DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface); DMX; Casambi wireless offerings (which are Bluetooth Low Energy–based); Zigwave (now known as Z-Wave and typically used for wireless home automation); and Raytec API (which is networked via PoE or Internet Protocol).

While the industry’s openness to PoE Lighting is noteworthy, so is PoE’s lack of traction, to-date, among the same survey respondents. The full article is available here.

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Four Major Trends In Lighting Controls

Electrical distributors, sales reps and manufacturers need to recalibrate their sales and marketing strategies to increase their share of lighting controls that accounts for 2.2% (approximately $2.64 billion) of the estimated $120 billion in sales through full-line electrical distributors.

A recent article in Electrical Wholesaler reports on four major trends in the lighting controls market.

Electrical distributors, sales reps and manufacturers need to recalibrate their sales and marketing strategies to increase their share of lighting controls that accounts for 2.2% (approximately $2.64 billion) of the estimated $120 billion in sales through full-line electrical distributors. There are four major trends now reshaping the lighting controls market:

  • App-based lighting control is commonplace for homes and other smaller applications.
  • Wireless lighting control is popular for applications with a small footprint and retrofit work with a relatively limited number of fixtures to control.
  • Networked lighting control systems are often tied in with HVAC, building automation and security systems in larger applications.
  • Field-selectable CCT (correlated color temperature) and wattage is now widely available across the lighting industry.

The full article is available here.

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Lighting the Sentient Building

My contribution to the March issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR describes cutting-edge research RPI is conducting to explore lighting systems that use artificial intelligence to act autonomously in providing optimal light distribution, light level, and color.

My contribution to the March issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR describes cutting-edge research RPI is conducting to explore lighting systems that use artificial intelligence to act autonomously in providing optimal light distribution, light level, and color.

From the article:

Imagine entering our hypothetical conference room, only this time it lacks discernible controls and is illuminated by a small number of visible luminaires. The lighting system detects where you are and what tasks you and others are performing and then smoothly adjusts output, spectrum and emission pattern to optimize comfort, productivity and circadian function. For example, a troffer mounted over the table provides a focused, high light level for task work, and then automatically transitions to more diffuse lighting for a meeting.

“Just as the vision of a self-driving car will include an embedded expert driver, we are developing the concept of an embedded lighting designer for autonomous lighting systems,” said Robert Karlicek, professor and director of the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) at RPI. “Our research testbed will explore delivering the ‘right light when and where needed,’ where optimized lighting will require no occupant intervention.”

Karlicek added that the data produced by the sensors would then be leveraged into a wide array of “sentient building” operations.

Check out this interesting research effort here.

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DOE’s Integrated Lighting Campaign Extends Recognition Application Deadline And Publishes New Case Studies

The ILC has extended its deadline to submit projects for its 2022 Exemplary Performance Recognition Cycle, from March 30 to now April 15, 2022.

US DOE’s Integrated Lighting Campaign (ILC) is a recognition and guidance program designed to help facility owners, operators, and managers. The ILC focuses on high-efficiency lighting and control systems that are integrated with other building systems (e.g., HVAC and/or plug loads) for added efficiency and performance. The ILC also focuses on the integration of lighting with operational functions (e.g., asset tracking, wayfinding, security systems, etc.).

The ILC has extended its deadline to submit projects for its 2022 Exemplary Performance Recognition Cycle, from March 30 to now April 15, 2022. The ILC is seeking:

  • ILC Participants (organizations including building owners, operators, and managers) to submit projects that they would like to have considered for recognition.
  • ILC Supporters (utilities, energy efficiency organizations, lighting designers, and ESCOs) to submit for recognition for their efforts to support and implement the use of advanced technologies that facilitate integration in buildings.

ILC Participants (organizations including building owners, operators, and managers) are encouraged to submit projects—indoor or outdoor—that they would like to have considered for recognition. The Campaign seeks to highlight applications that have a positive impact on energy justice, diversity, equity, or inclusion. Projects that support the unique needs of under-served communities through their deployment or installation should provide relevant information in the narratives. Projects can be submitted here.

In addition, the ILC has published several new case studies featuring last year’s recognized participants. The case studies are provided as resources for facility owners and managers who are thinking of completing similar advanced lighting projects. The case studies cover advanced lighting strategies and lessons learned.

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Signify’s Rahul Shira Talks Luminaire-Level Lighting Controls

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify, on the topic of luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC). Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify, on the topic of luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC). This interview was conducted to inform an article that will be published in the May 2022 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How would you define luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC)?

Shira: Signify’s definition of luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC) is derived from the intent of the original definition drafted by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) and endorsed by the DLC. At Signify, we define LLLC as a connected system, where the majority of the luminaires in a deployment are regulated by built-in intelligence. This could be a luminaire-integrated sensor with spatial or environmental sensing capabilities, or it could be a luminaire or lamp with built-in connectivity mechanisms, such as a wireless transmitter and receiver, but no sensing capabilities. The connectivity mechanisms enable users to realize a bidirectional communication link with the lights to support their business needs, such as energy consumption analysis, device diagnostics, or central or manual light level overrides.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for LLLC compared to discrete (general lighting + added-on control system), and would you consider this category a trend?

Shira: Overall, demand for lighting controls has increased. In some geographies, LLLC-based systems is even of greater interest than discreet control systems. This trend can be attributed to three factors: 1) wireless connectivity and technology advancements, making it the first-choice option for most retrofit projects. 2) Higher rebates offered by utilities for LLLCs due to the energy savings they offer. 3) Ongoing updates to regulations through various building codes and targeted to minimize energy waste.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of LLLC for electrical distributors, contractors, and owners?

Shira:

1. Electrical Distributors: LLLCs provide an integrated option between the luminaire and controls, thus reducing the overall Stock Keeping Units (SKU) a distributor may need to onboard and simplifying the management of the flow of goods. In simple terms, by integrating an occupancy and daylight sensor into the luminaire, the SKU counts drop from 3 to 1, a 66.66% drop, and when considered at scale with different luminaire configurations, it translates into significant savings for the distributors. The second soft benefit for distributors is the learning curve their internal staff may need for discrete controls in contrast to an LLLC offering, which can easily fit into their existing processes.

2. Contractors and ESCOs (Installers): The time and money required to cut holes in the ceiling for mounting discrete sensors; the planning required to install discrete controls panels in the electrical room or a distributed controller in the plenum; and the additional materials costs associated with copper, piping and accessories to connect the dimming wires to luminaires can quickly add up and can offshoot the allocated budgets. LLLCs eliminate this nondifferentiated work for the installers and keeps the primary effort limited to luminaire installation. Signify’s Interact Pro scalable system is a wireless LLLC system that can save up to 80% on installation costs when compared with conventional discrete controls. Moreover, because Interact Pro is a cloud-based connected system, installers can proactively offer maintenance services to their clients, giving them an additional revenue stream to grow their business. Finally, LLLCs tend to be more intuitive to configure and commission, making it easier for installers to execute tasks and customize settings as a response to a last-minute change request from the end user, thus helping them build their brand value and trust.

3. Owners – According to research published by the DLC, where they analyzed 194 installs, the energy savings from LLLCs were, on average, 28% higher than that from non-LLLCs. Solutions like the Interact Pro scalable system can push the energy savings bar further with its unique adaptive dimming and dwell time features, which provide the right light levels at the right moment and the right location.

LLLCs with wireless communication technology also offer the flexibility for owners to re-configure lighting control areas, without any disruptions to existing electrical wiring schemes, to easily align with their desk layouts, which, as we know, is changing frequently these days to adhere to physical distancing measures, for example.

With connected LLLCs, owners can gain granular insights on energy use, occupancy patterns, environmental monitoring and space usage, to optimize their operational expenses further.

DiLouie: What are the advantages of LLLC that are driving adoption? What are ideal applications for LLLC?

Shira: Adoption has been growing due to the:

• Documented energy savings benefits by industry partners such as DLC
• Popularity of wireless controls for retrofit markets because of an aggressive ROI model, lower installation costs and flexibility of re-configuration throughout the life cycle of the installation.
• Need to comply with latest regulations and building codes
• Planning for the future – LLLCs like Interact Pro can be deployed in a standalone manner, i.e. without installing any gateways or backend infrastructure, but then can be scaled up to a connected offering by adding back-end building blocks like a gateway or cloud access, whenever deemed fit. This is like a Lego model, where customers can keep accessing new features and benefits by building on top of the foundation that was laid on day 1.

These unique characteristics of LLLCs makes them ideal for schools, universities, libraries, offices, warehouses, parking garages and healthcare facilities.

DiLouie: Looking specifically at retrofit projects, how do the simplicity and economics of installation for an onboard control solution impact the project economics and likelihood of controls being added to the project?

Shira: In retrofit projects, LLLCs unlock the path to claim higher rebates. In most geographies, these rebates range from $15 to $65 per sensor integrated into an LED luminaire and are in addition to the rebates offered for installing LED lights. When coupled with the installation savings and deep energy savings (+28% over DLC average for non-LLLCs) offered by LLLCs, an ROI of less than 2 years or even 1 year becomes very achievable.

LEDs have a longer life span, but controls capabilities are expected to evolve at a faster rate with new innovations. Installing LLLCs means that end users’ retrofit strategy is future-oriented and can easily adapt to evolving business needs.

DiLouie: What are the disadvantages of LLLC? In what applications or application conditions would such a solution be less desirable?

Shira: LLLCs add cost over a base luminaire due to the additional value offered by integrated controls with respect to energy savings. But in some applications like heavy duty manufacturing facilities, where life safety and security supersedes energy savings or where lights need to operate on a schedule such as in a retail store, LLLCs may not be a good fit, unless there is a need for collecting spatial data from the lighting infrastructure.

DiLouie: For what luminaire types are LLLC options available? For what luminaire type or types is LLLC most popular or otherwise advantageous?

Shira: LLLCs are popular in common spaces like a classroom, open office or meeting rooms, for example, where energy savings can be maximized with features like adaptive dimming and dwell time, and where there is the need to alter lighting controls zones/areas frequently. These spaces are typically designed with troffers, linear recessed or suspended luminaires and downlights. In retrofit applications, an LLLC with a retrofit kit is popular.

In highbay applications like warehouse settings, LLLCs are often deployed, as occupancy patterns in these applications are uneven and can be brief. End users can use LLLCs to flexibly re-zone the lights as per their warehouse’s modified aisle structure and only ramp up those lights that are directly detecting motion within the aisle while keeping the rest of the lights in the same aisle at a low background level. This type of adaptive behavior delivers significant energy savings without compromising user safety and comfort.

DiLouie: Understanding that there may be many product options, what are basic, common configurations? How do they typically install, configure for sequences of operation, intelligence inside or outside the luminaire, operate independently or group, and how is control operation managed after installation?

Shira: LLLCs, like the Interact Pro scalable system, are specified by selecting the appropriate sensor option code on the luminaire spec sheets and configured on-site by a non-technical or trained installer using an intuitive configuration App. The App guides the installer on critical steps such as creating lighting groups, altering sensor parameters, trimming the maximum light output etc. Installers can also use the App to execute a code-compliant sequence of operations in a secured manner, thus making the overall process straightforward with minimum dependencies.

If the project evolves over time, the installer can update that same install to the next level by adding a gateway and unlocking additional capabilities like energy reporting, asset performance diagnostics, scheduling, remote monitoring, firmware updates, etc. One of the main tenets of Interact Pro is to prioritize localized outcomes; therefore, intelligence is always retained in the local devices; for example, the link between a wall switch and the LLLCs is independent of whether the project involves a wireless gateway for coordinating system data or not. If the gateway goes offline, the intelligent functions like occupancy sensing or dimming are retained.

External devices like gateways act as coordinating hardware to cloud-based applications, so customers always stay up-to-date with the latest innovations.

DiLouie: Do any special design factors need to be learned or addressed? Is there anything different about LLLC that requires special training or changes in traditional design and installation practices?

Shira: LLLCs with wireless technology are designed to be intuitive and self-serviced; therefore, the learning curve for installers is rapid. One consideration installers will need to take on-board is the planning for wireless mesh continuity. Depending upon the space dynamics, they must consider tactics related to wireless node locations and range. One of the benefits of LLLCs is that a sensor is made available on every luminaire, which reduces or even eliminates the planning and cross checks required to identify sensing blind spots on a project.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about LLLC, what would it be?

Shira: LLLCs are the future of lighting control systems. They can help end users maximize their sustainability goals, enhance operational efficiencies, lower maintenance costs and drive employee engagement. Systems like Interact Pro can help them stay relevant in line with their evolving business needs.

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Product Monday: Orro Incorporates Circadian Lighting Control Into A Smart Switch Platform

While there are a lot of smart wall switches in the market, Orro has innovated by adding automated circadian lighting scheduling with many of the other features that you’d expect from a premium smart switch.

While there are a lot of smart wall switches in the market, Orro has innovated by adding automated circadian lighting scheduling with many of the other features that you’d expect from a premium smart switch:

  • Automated smart lighting
  • Smart home control
  • Home monitoring
  • Vacation security lighting scheduling
  • Energy-saving features
  • In-home intercom
  • Daylight harvesting
  • Voice control via built-in Alexa

On a recent call, I asked the CEO, Colin Billings, about how the circadian lighting control works, and he shared that Orro automatically adjusts the intensity of the room’s lighting based on time of day, to provide more stimulus during the day and less at night, for better circadian entrainment. The system doesn’t address the spectrum of the lights, but recent research has shown that light intensity makes a bigger contribution to circadian stimulus than light spectrum does. In addition, the light sensors in the switch can factor daylight within a room into the light intensity level, for greater circadian health benefits.

The heart of the Orro Smart Living System is the smart switches containing sensors to detect motion, light, and sound, combined with Orro’s smartphone app. Orro’s system utilizes the sensor information about the room to default-automate many of the features listed above, making the system easier to use than one requiring every feature to be manually established in settings. The smart system learns and adapts the lighting based on homeowners’ habits and preferences. In addition to the automated circadian lighting feature, the company claims lighting usage reduction of up to 80% for both environmental benefits and electricity cost savings.

Last week, the company announced that it had extended its integrations to more 3rd-party smart home platforms, including Lutron Caséta, Lutron RA2 Select, Leviton, Kasa Smart by TP Link, and LIFX. This move gives Orro connections to more connected switches, dimmers, plugs, outlets, and lighting systems. Orro can be the main control for the home or part of a broader hybrid system.

Orro also goes to market differently than many of its larger competitors. The company’s primary channels are direct sales to smart home integrators, home builders, and electrical contractors. The company is not currently focused on electrical distribution, big-box DIY retail, or online retailers.

Two weeks back, the company announced the upcoming release of the Orro S, a reduced feature version of its circadian enables smart switch, at a 50% lower price point of $149 per switch MSRP, compared to its premium Orro One at $299 per switch MSRP. Orro One’s touch screen and voice-enabled features were removed from the Orro S to achieve the lower price point and create a more focused, sensor-enabled, smart dimmer with circadian benefits. The company believes the lower price point Orro S will allow builders to increase use of the Orro system in more rooms, as well as a wider range of smart home projects.  The Orro S will be available for the spring/summer home building season.

More information on the Orro Smart Living System can be found here.

 

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Using LLLC Occupancy Sensors To Improve Indoor Air Quality

A University of Oregon researcher makes an interesting case for how Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) sensors can improve indoor air quality and human health. Over the last year, returning to offices and schools in a pandemic increased awareness of indoor disease transmission, energy consumption, and overall indoor environmental quality.

A University of Oregon researcher makes an interesting case for how Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) sensors can improve indoor air quality and human health. Over the last year, returning to offices and schools in a pandemic increased awareness of indoor disease transmission, energy consumption, and overall indoor environmental quality.

University of Oregon’s Energy Studies in Buildings Lab published a whitepaper in May that explored how LLLCs have the potential to revolutionize how we monitor and respond to indoor environmental factors that impact human health. LLLCs have a networked occupancy sensor and ambient light sensor installed for each luminaire kit. The wireless sensors are embedded at the fixture level, which can independently modulate light intensity, apparent color, and spectral distribution through onboard controllers and sensor packages. Since each fixture is capable of sensing and responding to ambient conditions, LLLC systems provide light only where it is needed, saving significant amounts of energy.

With LLCs, you have a new sort of data coming from your lighting system that is distributed occupancy awareness. The onboard occupancy sensor helps guide the fresh air delivery systems so that the building is providing fresh air where and when it is needed and doing it more quickly than other sensor technologies.

Another way LLLC can benefit human health is through circadian regulation, where the onboard daylight sensor can track what the likely dose is of each occupant in each space in terms of the daylight available and potentially supplement that with the electric light on board or guide users through a hot-desking system to the better-daylit locations.

Luminaire level lighting controls are already integrating occupancy sensing with plug strips so that you could turn off unnecessary plug loads. It’s connecting with daylight harvesting and therefore dimming the electric light according to the daylight available, and the study authors believe that in the future, LLLC sensors could also connect with building ventilation systems so that you provide the fresh air when and where it’s needed based upon the distributed occupancy signal from LLLC occupant sensors.

Read the full article here.

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ioXt Certification Expands To Include Network Lighting Controls

The ioXt Alliance, a global standard for Internet of Things (IoT) product security, is expanding its ioXt Certification Program with a new profile for network lighting controls (NLC), allowing manufacturers to certify commercial lighting systems with wirelessly connected parts.

The ioXt Alliance, a global standard for Internet of Things (IoT) product security, is expanding its ioXt Certification Program with a new profile for network lighting controls (NLC), allowing manufacturers to certify commercial lighting systems with wirelessly connected parts. Aligned with the initiatives set forth by the DesignLights Consortium (DLC), which satisfies the NLC5 requirements, the new ioXt NLC Profile brings transparency and visibility to enterprise buyers in the commercial lighting space.

With a concentration on security, upgradability, transparency, and compliance, the ioXt Certification Program evaluates products against the eight ioXt pledge principles requiring that the devices will be tested against clear guidelines for quantifying the optimal level of security. The NLC profile is an efficient and cost-effective standard process for commercial lighting manufacturers to become DLC-compliant.

Once a manufacturer receives the ioXt stamp of approval, this satisfies the DLC’s cybersecurity requirements and the product is eligible for qualification, which is required for many rebates offered by efficiency programs throughout North America.

Read the full article here.

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