Category: Controls

Residential Lighting Controls at a Glance

Lighting designer Jim Benya, a regular contributor to Architectural Lighting Magazine (my alma mater) and a thought leader in the lighting community, wrote an excellent article about residential lighting controls…

Lighting designer Jim Benya, a regular contributor to Architectural Lighting Magazine (my alma mater) and a thought leader in the lighting community, wrote an excellent article about residential lighting controls for the magazine’s April/May issue, which was released at Lightfair. Calling residential a leader in lighting control, he identifies three ways to approach control:
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Photos courtesy of Lightolier Controls.

Photos courtesy of Lightolier Controls.

* Manual switching and dimming
* Whole-house integrated lighting control system
* Mixture of manual and scene controls, and controls capable of remote and automated functions

The systems can be wired or wireless. Among wireless, options include:

* Power-line signaling systems
* RF systems with repeaters
* Mesh network systems

Benya identifies a number of product offerings:

Power-line Carrier Systems
* X-10, the residential PLC signaling system
* Compose PLC by Lightolier, based on X-10 technology
* Decora Home Controls by Leviton, based on X-10
* Insteon by Smart Labs Technologies, a mesh network system using PLC and RF signals to increase the reliability of X-10 PLC systems
* Pulseworx by Powerline Control Systems, a UPB carrier system

RF Wireless Systems
* Enspire by Vantage Controls, using proprietary repeater technology
* Miro by Watt Stopper/Legrand, using proprietary repeater technology
* Radio RA and Homesever by Lutron Electronics, using proprietary repeater technology
* Jetstream by CentraLite, using ZigBee RF mesh control open standard in the 2.4-GHz band
* Vizia by Leviton, using Z-Wave RF mesh control proprietary (but de facto open) standard in the 900 MHz band

Whole-House Systems
* Brilliance II by Lightolier
* Elegance by CentraLite
* Homeworks by Lutron Electronics
* Lite Touch by Lite Touch
* Vantage by Vantage Controls

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The Importance of Commissioning Lighting Controls

At Lightfair, I will have the pleasure of presenting a workshop on lighting controls commissioning with Gary Meshberg of Encelium Technologies and David Weigand of Leviton, as part of the…

At Lightfair, I will have the pleasure of presenting a workshop on lighting controls commissioning with Gary Meshberg of Encelium Technologies and David Weigand of Leviton, as part of the Lightfair Institute. The workshop (course #L09W21), “Commissioning and Controls,” will be presented on Monday, May 4, from 2-5PM.

Dave Weigand

Dave Weigand

This workshop will focus on providing a broad general survey of the topic of commissioning lighting controls. The session will provide a definitive overview of the commissioning process, identifying the benefits as well as the lighting systems affected by the process. Additional general topics of discussion will include the importance of a commissioning plan as a tool to prescribe when to commission lighting controls and who does the work, as well as to specify the procedures to be performed to ensure optimum system performance. We will also provide specific discussion on functional and operational testing procedures for lighting controls such as occupancy sensors, time sweep controls, etc.

Gary Meshberg

Gary Meshberg

Be sure to attend this workshop if you specify lighting controls. Gary and Dave are among the best in the field and have tons of practical knowledge to share.

After the show, by the way, I will be working with the Lighting Controls Association and commissioning experts to craft detailed commissioning guidelines for popular control strategies along with a generic commissioning specification.

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Dimmable CFL?

PureSpectrum, Inc. will be launching a new line of high-performance compact fluorescents at Lightfair. The company says its new products are fully dimmable, priced affordably, have high power factor, turn…

PureSpectrum, Inc. will be launching a new line of high-performance compact fluorescents at Lightfair.

PureSpectrum booth at the Middle East Electricity Trade Show.

PureSpectrum booth at the Middle East Electricity Trade Show.

The company says its new products are fully dimmable, priced affordably, have high power factor, turn on instantly and work in place of any traditional incandescent lamp.

One of my biggest complaints about household CFLs is dimming issues, so I’ll definitely be stopping by their booth (#569) to check it out.

The company will also be exhibiting dimmable technology for linear fluorescent luminaires and a wireless lighting control system for commercial building retrofits.

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San Francisco Demonstrates Advanced Streetlight System

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and PG&E recently demonstrated streetlights installed on Turk Street (between Taylor and Jones) in the Tenderloin District, networked using Echelon’s LonWorks technology. The new LED…

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and PG&E recently demonstrated streetlights installed on Turk Street (between Taylor and Jones) in the Tenderloin District, networked using Echelon’s LonWorks technology. The new LED streetlights, remotely controlled and monitored, promise to reduce the city’s energy and maintenance costs while improving lighting quality and safety. Streetlights are among a city’s most expensive assets, accounting for almost 40% of its electricity costs, according to Echelon.

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The solution featured new LED streetlights from BetaLED embedded with Echelon’s power line signaling technology, allowing communication and control of the streetlights over the existing power lines. Echelon’s i.LON SmartServer is the segment controller, monitoring and controlling the streetlights from anywhere, at anytime over an IP connection. During the demonstration, Mayor Newsom used an iPhone to control and monitor the streetlights. Mayor Newsom also demonstrated a capability unique to LED lights and individual lamp control–the ability to “strobe” the lamps on and off. Tying such a capability to emergency services could add benefits such as enabling response teams to easily locate the site of an incident. A similar pilot project was completed in 2008 on Beale Street in San Francisco and was jointly developed by Echelon, PG&E and BetaLED.

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“Networked street lighting systems have been shown to reduce energy use by up to 40%, while improving citizen safety, dramatically lowering maintenance costs, and providing to-the-minute confirmation of lighting performance and availability,” said Anders Axelsson, Echelon’s senior VP of sales and marketing. “Like many energy and cost efficiency solutions, smart, networked streetlighting is not a question of invention, it is a matter of applying today’s technology and products in innovative ways to yield immediate and impressive results.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom prepares to control streetlights equipped with Echelon control networking technology using an iPhone over the Web.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom prepares to control streetlights equipped with Echelon control networking technology using an iPhone over the Web.

“Municipalities and utilities are looking for immediate ways to reduce cost,” said Al Ruud, president of Beta Lighting. “BetaLED provides lower total cost of ownership than traditional sources by reducing energy and maintenance costs. When Echelon’s technology is added, energy and maintenance savings potentials are further enhanced, freeing up funds for other budgetary expenses.”

Click here to learn more about the control system. Click here to learn more about BetaLED’s streetlights.

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Lighting Controls Association Offers New Online Course on Personal Lighting Control

The Lighting Controls Association has announced that EE205: Personal Lighting Control has been added to the Association’s popular online Education Express distance education courses. Residing at the Association’s website, Education…

The Lighting Controls Association has announced that EE205: Personal Lighting Control has been added to the Association’s popular online Education Express distance education courses.

Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics.

Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics.

Residing at the Association’s website, Education Express provides in-depth education about lighting controls and controllable ballast technology, application, system design and commissioning, as well as meta-issues such as LEED, energy codes and other trends.

Personal lighting control, an emerging trend in office lighting, involves providing occupants with the ability to adjust their task light levels. Encouraged by LEED and considered a feature of high-performance buildings, personal lighting control has been demonstrated repeatedly in research to increase office worker job and environmental satisfaction while producing energy savings.

EE205: Personal Lighting Control, which I authored on behalf of the Lighting Controls Association, presents the case for personal control, focusing on personal dimming control in workstations and private offices, including methods, general application guidelines and lessons learned from personal control research.

At the conclusion of the course, an optional online comprehension test is available, with automatic grading; a passing grade enables the student to claim education credit. EE205: Personal Lighting Control is accredited/registered with the National Council on Quality in the Lighting Professions (NCQLP), which recognizes 2.0 LEUs towards maintenance of Lighting Certified (LC) certification.

Click here to register and take this course, which is free and can be completed at any time.

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Acuity Brands Lighting to Acquire Sensor Switch, Inc. for $205 Million

Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. has entered into an agreement (subject to regulatory approval) to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of Sensor Switch, Inc., the $37 million controls manufacturer,…

Acuity Brands Lighting, Inc. has entered into an agreement (subject to regulatory approval) to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of Sensor Switch, Inc., the $37 million controls manufacturer, for $205 million. Sensor Switch, based in Wallingford, CT, offers energy-saving control solutions such including occupancy sensors, photocontrols and distributed lighting control devices.

The successful agreement. concept

“The acquisition of Sensor Switch is part of our profitable growth strategy aimed at offering the most technologically advanced sustainable lighting solutions incorporating both controls and fixtures to maximize energy savings while delivering exceptional quality lighting for commercial, institutional, industrial and residential applications,” says Vernon J. Nagel, Chairman, President and CEO of Acuity Brands. “We believe this acquisition will broaden our participation in both the new construction and building systems markets while greatly expanding our presence in the very large and dynamic renovation and relight market. We are acquiring a fast growing company, with a great team. The addition of Sensor Switch along with our recent acquisition of Lighting Control and Design allows us to expand our capabilities in offering a full array of intelligent lighting products and lighting control solutions in a time when energy management control is critical.”

LightNOW’s take: Acuity Brands Lighting, which already operates Synergy® Lighting Controls and recently purchased Lighting Control & Design™, is investing in expanding its presence in energy management and lighting controls. This kind of acquisition makes sense even in today’s climate for two reasons. First, the energy management side of the lighting industry is expected by some to grow as businesses switch resource allocation for new construction to upgrading existing buildings (assuming credit conditions ease), and lighting upgrades to reduce operating costs through efficiency are expected to be a popular form of renovation. Meanwhile, there is a nascent, but potentially significant, trend of integrating controls with luminaires, as evidenced by solutions such as Finelite’s ICLS, Peerless integrated control solutions including SIMPLY5, and Zumtobel Lighting’s ZX5 with Lutron’s EcoSystem. This looks like it could be big, and so some companies may be seeing it’s a good time to buy a controls company (or partner with one such as Lutron or Watt Stopper to get a “Lutron inside” or “Watt Stopper inside” marketing effect) just as many of them recently went through a spate of buying LED companies.

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NCQLP Recognizes Lighting Controls Handbook

I hope you’ll excuse some blatant self promotion, but I received some good news about one of my books, The Lighting Controls Handbook. The book has been selected by NCQLP…

I hope you’ll excuse some blatant self promotion, but I received some good news about one of my books, The Lighting Controls Handbook. The book has been selected by NCQLP as a primary reference for its Lighting Certified (LC) certification exam.

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Here’s a description of the book from the publisher:

“Intended for energy managers, electrical engineers, building managers, lighting designers, consultants, and other electrical professionals, this book provides a practical description of major lighting controls types and how to apply them. It’s a comprehensive step-by-step educational tour of lighting automation technology and its practical design and application, with useful discussion about the purpose and benefits of lighting controls, emphasizing the achieving of relevant energy savings, as well as support of occupant visual needs and preferences. The book shows readers how to take advantage of the many benefits of today’s sophisticated controls, including expanded energy saving opportunities, and increased flexibility, reliability and interoperability.”

You can get it from Amazon here.

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New Survey Suggests Typical Lighting Control Energy Savings in Office Buildings

The Lighting Controls Association authorized ZING Communications, Inc. to conduct a survey of a group of nearly 900 lighting designers, more than 730 electrical engineers and more than 530 lighting/energy…

The Lighting Controls Association authorized ZING Communications, Inc. to conduct a survey of a group of nearly 900 lighting designers, more than 730 electrical engineers and more than 530 lighting/energy consultants subscribing to the LightNOW lighting industry and lightingCONTROL lighting control e-newsletters. The survey, conducted online based on three email invitations distributed in December 2008 and February 2009, produced a 6% response. Of this response, 95 respondents qualified to complete the survey, an overall 4.4% response.

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The survey covers advanced lighting controls in the office building new construction and existing buildings retrofit markets, asking respondents to indicate how often they specify certain strategies, how they perform, whether energy savings are verified, and if so, how much energy they save on average.

Note that this is not a universe study. The results should not be attributed to the construction industry overall. The respondents, by virtue of their interest in lighting controls, subscription to lightingCONTROL, and their interest in and ability to complete a very detailed survey about lighting controls, suggests that they are in the high end of the lighting controls market. This introduces a bias with some of the results. For example, their satisfaction with controls may be higher than other construction professionals because they may design control systems better than their competitors. The data point that is most transferable across the market is average energy savings realized for certain control strategies.

How often are advanced controls specified and installed?

The subscribers divided themselves into two groups—those who focus on new construction, and those who focus on retrofits. They were asked to report the percentage of new construction or retrofit office building projects over the past two years for which they specified certain control strategies. They were then asked the same question, but concerning projects in which the controls were actually installed, not just specified. All resulting numbers are rough estimates (+5%), as respondents were asked to express their answers as a range (1-10%, 11-20%, etc.), which were defaulted to the middle as an assumption (5%, 15%, etc.). The numbers suggest rates of adoption for new construction and retrofit office building projects and substitution rates.

The results suggest that for new construction projects, occupancy sensors and bilevel switching are the most popular lighting control strategies. It is encouraging to see that the most progressive controls specifiers are specifying personal dimming control for one out of five projects, and the substitution rate, while higher than the other strategies, is still reasonable. The data appears to confirm that daylight harvesting is becoming more popular. However, there was one surprise: Occupancy sensors and scheduling controls would be expected to be installed in more projects.

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How often are advanced controls specified and installed into existing buildings?

The results suggest that for office building lighting retrofit projects, occupancy sensors and bilevel switching are the most popular lighting control strategies. The level of adoption of bilevel switching in existing buildings is surprising given the added cost and difficulties to the project. Bilevel switching is required by the Commercial Buildings Deduction, which may be more influential in office building retrofit projects over the past two years than we had supposed.

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Do specifiers regarding lighting control strategies as relatively problem-free?

Subscribers were asked to rate various lighting control strategies on a 1-5 scale based on how problematic the installed controls were during operation. A 1 indicated the installation was very problematic, a 3 somewhat problematic, and a 5 indicated that the controls are problem-free. No control types were identified as particularly problematic. These results are were expected.

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Why do specifiers specify advanced control strategies in their office projects?

Subscribers were asked to rate various reasons to specify advanced control strategies on a 1-5 scale based on their significance. A 1 indicated the possible reason is very significant, a 3 somewhat significant, and a 5 very significant. Energy codes and energy cost savings are identified as very highly significant as drivers to specify, which is not surprising. One interesting result is the importance of LEED and sustainability, identified as very significant (>4.0 rating), almost as significant as energy codes and energy cost savings.

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How often is the energy savings performance of office lighting control projects verified using monitoring or some other method?

Respondents were asked to identify the percentage of their office projects that include automatic lighting controls and in which energy savings were verified using monitoring or some other method. Nearly one-third of respondents said this occurs on their projects—an estimated 22% of projects, based on a weighted average of the responses with a +5% margin of error. These subscribers formed a subgroup to which another question was asked, which was to identify average lighting energy savings resulting from popular automatic lighting control strategies.

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How much lighting energy savings do popular automatic lighting control strategies produce?

Respondents were asked to identify average lighting energy savings resulting from installation of popular automatic lighting control strategies, as measured in their verification projects. All resulting numbers are rough estimates (+5%), as respondents were asked to express their answers as a range (1-10%, 11-20%, etc.), which were defaulted to the middle as an assumption (5%, 15%, etc.). The numbers suggest typical energy savings for popular lighting controls. Personal dimming control was eliminated due to insufficient data sample that was producing a suspicious result (25% energy savings, much higher than previous research).

The results for the remaining control types contradict conventional wisdom in the case of occupancy sensors, which were expected to be higher (around 35-45%), and scheduling controls, which were expected to be lower (around 5-10%).

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Do verified energy savings meet or exceed specifier expectations?

Respondents were asked to rate how well various control strategies installed in their office projects over the past two years met their energy savings expectations on a 1-5 scale. A 1 indicates it did not meet expectation, a 3 that it met expectations, and a 5 that it exceeded expectations. Occupancy sensor, scheduling and daylighting control strategies were ranked very highly by respondents. Personal dimming was eliminated due to insufficient response.

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What if 80% of the lamps in your house had to be fluorescent? Part 2

Great conversation still happening in the comments section in an earlier post here. To which I’d like to add: Perhaps we are “banning” the wrong technology? CFLs save energy but…

Great conversation still happening in the comments section in an earlier post here.

To which I’d like to add: Perhaps we are “banning” the wrong technology?

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CFLs save energy but they have dimming issues with self-ballasted screw-in type units, thermal issues in some luminaires, sizing issues in others, color, time to reach full brightness, etc. Being forced to use CFLs will mean compromises for consumers of light.

Dimming, meanwhile, offers no compromises that I can think of except a cost adder compared to the light switch (which CFLs also have compared to the standard A lamp). Dimming enables homeowners to keep the advantages of incandescent lighting–warm color, easy control, instant ON, fits all existing luminaires, zero mercury in landfills (although admittedly more mercury would still be emitted by power plants producing the higher amount of electrical energy required), offers light distribution that existing luminaires were designed to produce. Plus many of them are made in America, not in China, and aren’t we trying to get more people employed on this continent?

Meanwhile, dimming can dramatically extend incandescent lamp life, which is good for the environment, and according to one study produces an average 20% energy savings.

I’d like to make the argument that if you use an energy saving halogen light bulb (such as the energy-saving version of Philips Halogena), which saves 30% energy at the expense of a 10% reduction in light output, plus a dimmer, which saves an average 20% in energy savings, and you get all the advantages of incandescent light plus longer life, with none of the disadvantages of CFLs, perhaps we are targeting the wrong technology?

Perhaps we should be allowing consumers to choose whatever light source they want, and instead ban the ON/OFF light switch and require dimming everywhere?

What do you think?

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Luminaire manufacturers offer new integrated classroom lighting solutions

In many schools, lighting eats up 30-40% of utility costs. As energy codes become more restrictive, can lighting satisfy the demands of the modern classroom, with horizontal and vertical workplanes,…

In many schools, lighting eats up 30-40% of utility costs. As energy codes become more restrictive, can lighting satisfy the demands of the modern classroom, with horizontal and vertical workplanes, computers and A/V equipment? To test one approach, the California Energy Commission (CEC) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) engaged studies of a new Integrated Classroom Lighting System (ICLS) developed by manufacturer Finelite, which I wrote about in a whitepaper for the Lighting Controls Association, available here.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

Litecontrol's CS/av luminaire in AV mode.

ICLS includes two rows of direct/indirect linear fluorescent pendants, mounted parallel to the windows and spaced about 15 ft. apart, with a wallwasher illuminating the main teaching board. Each luminaire includes three high-performance (3100-lumen) T8 lamps: two outboard lamps producing uplight and downlight, and a separately ballasted inboard lamp producing downlight. Both the inboard lamp and outboard lamps cannot be on at the same time, resulting in immediate energy savings. An occupancy sensor provides automatic shutoff when the classroom is empty, and an optional photosensor can be used to dim the lights when daylight boosts light levels above a target threshold. As a result, the NYSERDA demonstration project revealed ICLS reducing lighting power density to an average 0.73W/sq.ft., about one-half of the maximum limit posed by the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 energy standard. Teacher switches mounted near the main teaching board allow the teacher to switch from General Mode (downlight off, uplight/downlight on) to A/V (and reading) Mode (downlight on, uplight/downlight off). A dimming option (using a dimmable ballast) allows the teacher to turn on and dim the downlight component.

Other manufacturers are developing their own solutions based on the ICLS template developed by the California researchers, such as Peerless and Litecontrol. Litecontrol’s new Control Solution/av, for example, provides flexibility needed in today’s modern classroom, which often uses whiteboards, smart boards, computers and LCD projectors. The CS/av is prewired for easy teacher control in two modes using a simple switch—General, for general room lighting, and AV, for AV presentations. It is also integrated with dual-technology occupancy sensors and is available with daylighting control.

It’s not uncommon these days to see luminaire manufacturers beginning to integrate lighting controls into their products, whether it’s a new Peerless Lighting solution integrating Synergy Lighting Controls’ SIMPLY5 control system, Litecontrol luminaires with various control options, or Zumtobel’s ZX5 luminaire with Lutron’s Ecosystem.

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