Category: Controls

Research Indicates Individual Lighting Controls Can Improve Worker Productivity

Research conducted in 2020 indicates that the control of light impacts indoor environmental quality (IEQ)-productivity belief more than other IEQ control.

Research conducted in 2020 indicates that the control of light impacts indoor environmental quality (IEQ)-productivity belief more than other IEQ control.

Indoor environmental quality (IEQ) plays a key role in determining occupants’ productivity at work; however, analyses of the interconnected factors among building physical, attitudinal, social and demographic components in one study are lacking. To fill this research gap, this study investigated these interconnected factors’ influence on occupants’ IEQ-productivity belief, defined as a personal, subjective evaluation of the linkage between the impacts of five IEQ aspects (the quality of indoor temperature, air, natural and electric lighting, and acoustics) and productivity. A cross-sectional survey data was collected in university offices from six countries (Brazil, Italy, Poland, Switzerland, Taiwan and the U.S.). Results of multiple linear regression models indicate that IEQ satisfaction is the strongest positive predictor of the IEQ-productivity belief and this relationship is stronger in private offices. Country of residence is the second primary predictor. Several attitudinal-behavioral factors, including thermal comfort, perceived ease of controlling indoor environmental features, and attitudes toward sharing controls are all positively associated with IEQ-productivity belief. Interestingly, the level of control accessibility to light switches has the strongest impact as opposed to other controls. On the other hand, group norms and conformity intention are not significant predictors.

Regarding demographics, men are more likely than women to perceive the IEQs to have positive impacts on their productivity, without considering other variables in the regression model; however, women are more likely than men to consider all IEQs as having positive impacts on productivity, after considering other variables. These findings provide suggestions for prioritizing wellness in the workplace at the early design stage.

Read the full research article here.

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LLLC Shows Promise

My contribution to the May issue of tED Magazine evaluates luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC) as a control solution and potential path for designing and installing networked lighting control systems.

Originally published in tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Reprinted with permission.

Luminaire-level lighting control (LLLC) combines the energy code-mandated functions of occupancy and light sensing in an LED luminaire capable of operating autonomously using an onboard lighting controller. The latest generation of products adds a layer that enables programming and collection of useful occupancy and other data.

Typically installed in office buildings and schools, LLLC is also suitable for high-bay, parking garage, gas station, and other applications, particularly luminaires that are high wattage and have long operating hours and would therefore benefit most from enhanced energy savings. The Department of Energy estimated the installed base of networked luminaires will grow from less than one percent currently to nearly a third of all lighting by 2035.

“LLLCs combine LEDs, controls, connectivity, and data for a flexible lighting product that can improve occupant comfort and space utilization,” said Martin Mercier, Strategic Marketing Manager, Connected Systems, Cooper Lighting Solutions. “In the market, there is definitely a growing interest as these systems are getting easier to install, commission, and use.”

Defining LLLC

Image courtesy of Lutron Electronics

A basic LLLC solution starts with a luminaire fitted with LEDs connected to driver(s). A lighting controller is added as an integral component of the driver(s) or as a separate device that uses a relay to send dimming signals to them. The controller also features a microprocessor for programmed (or preprogrammed for “out of the box” energy code-compliant) operation, enabling the luminaire to operate autonomously. Finally, we have the input sensor(s), which may include an occupancy or vacancy sensor, light sensor (for daylight response), or a hybrid unit combining these functionalities. All control components are pre-installed in the luminaire.

As a subset of networked lighting control, a number of solutions incorporate radios for wireless communication between the luminaire and gateways or hubs and/or a central server that constitute the lighting network. If connected to a server, along with energy data, highly granular occupancy data can be collected for purposes such as optimizing space utilization. With Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity, additional capabilities, such as asset tracking and contract tracing, can be implemented. Theoretically, other sensor types, such as air temperature sensors, can be incorporated, along with additional control strategies such as shade, plug load, and HVAC control.

Categorization

A 2021 Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) study categorized LLLC as one of three types of systems: Clever, Smart, and hybrid of the two.

Clever: These systems enact high-end trim, dimming, occupancy sensing, and light sensing. The luminaires install in a plug-and-play manner and require little or no additional programming.

Smart: These systems include capabilities of Clever systems but feature the ability to communicate and analyze energy and non-energy data for various uses such as space utilization, asset tracking, and more.

Clever-hybrid: These systems include a standalone gateway and provide additional capabilities such as monitoring but do not provide the full data collection and analysis capabilities of a Smart system.

Advantages and disadvantages

LLLC offers several advantages. Overall, by making each luminaire a control point, control is highly flexible, responsive, and therefore generally more energy-saving. According to the NEEA, average lighting energy savings with LLLC exceed 60 percent.

For the electrical contractor, LLLC can simplify wiring and reduce time installing discrete lighting control devices. For the electrical distributor, it offers an energy-saving, value-added solution that can streamline product schedules for lighting projects. The designer gains flexibility; the owner gains high energy savings, potentially data, and the ability to fine-tune and reconfigure the system with relative ease in the future; and users interact with a lighting system that respects comfort and offers personalization potential.

“Wireless systems and LLLC will continue to simplify lighting control design and specification because you don’t need to have all the project details upfront,” said Craig Casey, Building Science Leader, Lutron Electronics (Lutron.com). “Contractors don’t have to be worried about wired zones or zone configuration, just power to the fixture. Because of the tremendous opportunity for enhanced lighting performance, the lighting designer has a broader palette than ever and can enjoy greater freedom to design lighting that meets the individual needs of every job.”

“For electrical distributors, LLLCs provide an integrated option between the luminaire and controls, thus reducing the overall SKUs a distributor may need to onboard and simplifying the management of the flow of goods,” said Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify (Signify.com). “In simple terms, by integrating the occupancy and daylight sensor into the luminaire, the SKU counts drop from three to one, significant savings.”

“Because these devices are typically installed by the fixture manufacturer, driver compatibility is resolved before the fixture is shipped,” Casey added. “Distributors don’t have to worry about compatibility and can be confident they are selling the contractor a system that will result in an easy installation and setup with limited callbacks.”

The primary inhibitors are the luminaire’s higher base cost, potential higher complexity of the project if a Smart system is deployed, insufficient value or savings for a given project, and uncertain owner interest in non-energy benefits generated by collecting data. According to the 2021 NEEA study, compared to a luminaire with no controls, the cost of LLLC in 2020 was estimated at an average $0.58/sq.ft. for Clever, $1.16/sq.ft. for Smart, and $0.78/sq.ft. for hybrid systems based on a prototypical 40,000-sq.ft. office building. NEEA noted, however, a significant decrease in costs from 2019 to 2020, suggesting these systems were becoming more competitive with a falling initial cost that can be further softened by rebates when applied in a retrofit.

“In retrofit projects, LLLCs unlock the path to claim higher rebates,” said Shira. “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 offered by LLLCs, a return on investment of less than two years or even one year becomes very achievable.”

Image courtesy of Cooper Lighting Solutions

Taking advantage

“LLLC will grow in market penetration and evolve into more advanced solutions with more benefits beyond lighting, making it easier to break building system silos with open protocol,” Mercier said, advising distributors to get ahead of the curve by becoming familiar with the technology and products through education. “This already exists, but market penetration and functionalities will grow by large factors. It also leads to standardization, so more devices can interact as part of an IoT ecosystem—think temperature sensors for room HVAC control, Microsoft Office suite tools for hot desk booking, Parking Guidance System integration, wayfinding for warehouse lifts, and so on.”

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Verdantix 2022 Report, Green Quadrant: IoT Platforms for Smart Buildings

Enlighted, A Siemens Company has publicly released a partial version of Verdantix’s new whitepaper, Green Quadrant: IoT Platforms for Smart Buildings 2022.

Enlighted, A Siemens Company has publicly released a partial version of Verdantix’s new whitepaper, Green Quadrant: IoT Platforms for Smart Buildings 2022. This report provides a detailed, fact-based comparison of the 17 most prominent Internet of Things (IoT) platforms for smart buildings available on the market today. The analysis brings together information from extensive live product demonstrations with vendors, their responses to a 154-point questionnaire and insights from a survey of 285 real estate executives. The analysis finds that leading vendors have expanded their capabilities to deliver more comprehensive applications across areas such as asset monitoring and maintenance, energy management, space monitoring, and building security. The evaluation of capabilities and market momentum reveals that four firms — JCI, Schneider Electric, Siemens and Spacewell — currently lead the market, whilst other providers have strong capabilities in specific areas. Corporate real estate executives and technology buyers can use this report to understand the leading offerings in the market and the vendors that will best meet their needs.

Download the whitepaper here.

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How Dim-To-Warm Lighting Works

An article in Lighting Exchange breaks down how Dim-To-Warm lighting works. Warm dimming can also be referred to as dim-to-warm or black-body dimming.

An article in Lighting Exchange breaks down how Dim-To-Warm lighting works. Warm dimming can also be referred to as dim-to-warm or black-body dimming.

Dim-to-warm simulates an incandescent ambiance by adjusting the LED color temperature as you dim. This type of lighting can be dimmed down to a relaxing amber tone, similar to that of a candle.  It provides the same warmth and glow as halogen dimming performance.

It is typically designed for 2700-3000 (Kelvin) at full output and decreases in correlated color temperature (CCT) as the output is reduced.  This output can go down as low as 1800K (the color of candlelight). The light color becomes increasingly warm in appearance (more yellow and red) as the product dims.

Light color and the dimming quality of fixtures are highly valued in hospitality settings such as restaurants, hotel lobbies, guestrooms, ballrooms, and theaters.  It is also an excellent addition to any residential space.

Dim-to-warm’s methodology can accentuate any area and bring out its best features.  The warm-colored lighting can create the desired look and feel that hospitality managers want their customers to experience.   The light is reminiscent of the warmth of home and can be an effective way to provide a calm, relaxing atmosphere for clientele.

Dim-to-warm lighting requires at least three LED primaries to dim along the black body curve like incandescent lighting. This type of product’s dimming is associated with the color change; therefore, there is only one control signal and, consequently, only one controller per group of luminaires that dim in unison.  Some systems can accomplish this function with a phase-cut dimmer, where the dimming information is carried in the voltage waveform.  This tactic may not have as much dimming resolution or smoothness as a control system using 0-10V, DALI, or DMX. The latter three require separate wiring for the intensity/color signal and luminaire power. Dim-to-warm luminaires can be equipped with a wireless receiver for control by a wireless transmitter using Zigbee, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or hard-wired to facility power.

Read the full article here.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Publishes Controls Design Guidance

My contribution to the April issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR tackles the subject of designing lighting control systems.

My contribution to the April issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR tackles the subject of designing lighting control systems.

The article describes how the world of lighting control has changed over the years and then summarizes two documents by the Illuminating Engineering Society that provide solid design guidance for maximizing success.

For electrical contractors who want to stay ahead of the curve, this means education and training. Those that design systems would likely benefit from learning about best practices as much as manufacturer training on setup and installation. Because lighting control systems are becoming more complex, good design practices and disciplined approaches are worth understanding.

This article summarizes some of the design processes and key related considerations involved when designing with and specifying lighting controls, and then focuses on what’s needed for the most advanced systems.

Click here to check it out.

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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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