Category: Craig’s Lighting Articles

ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Lighting Integrators

My most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR talks about the smart building and lighting market and the commensurate increasing opportunity for electrical contractors to provide integration services or work with integrators.

My most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR talks about the smart building and lighting market and the commensurate increasing opportunity for electrical contractors to provide integration services or work with integrators.

Electrical contractors may interface with integrators in different ways or may even be integrators themselves. They might partner with them to provide integration services to customers while receiving training to ensure proper system installation and testing. Some ECs may leverage their low-voltage experience to understand which systems work well together and collaborate with engineers to offer various levels of integration themselves, such as starting with lighting controls and evolving toward building automation integration. Among these, some are expected to take the final leap to become master systems integrators, investing in being able to deliver value-added, higher-margin integration services and potentially ongoing services, such as performance monitoring and maintenance.

Check it out here.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Lighting and DC Building Microgrids

In my lighting column published in the February issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, I tackle the topic of DC building microgrids.

In my lighting column published in the February issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, I tackle the topic of DC building microgrids.

Throughout the age of alternating current, few imagined that direct current would reemerge as a viable primary power distribution option at the grid, community or building level. DC and hybrid AC/DC microgrids, however, have gained interest in recent years due to the proliferation of renewable energy, demands for backup power during grid failures and potential efficiencies that can be gained by directly connecting DC power to DC end-use devices, such as LED lighting and controls.

If this nascent trend grows, it could present opportunities and challenges for ECs…

Click here to check it out.

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A Look Inside NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program

The National Lighting Bureau’s (NLB) new Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program will offer electrical distributors assurance that lighting products they select are supported by warranties independently verified as worthy of trust.

Below is my contribution to a recent issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Reprinted with permission.

The National Lighting Bureau’s (NLB) new Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program will offer electrical distributors assurance that lighting products they select are supported by warranties independently verified as worthy of trust.

Launched in 2020, the program audits warranties from manufacturer applicants in a points-based system. Qualifying warranties may carry the Trusted Warranty label, signifying the warranty satisfies the program’s criteria covering accessibility, internal support, clarity, relation of terms to reliability testing, warranty insurance based on length of warranty compared to years in business, and responsiveness to warranty claims.

For distributors, this provides confidence that a given warranty satisfies the large majority of a list of published criteria. For manufacturers, it offers a way to demonstrate—via trusted third-party verification from a nonprofit organization—that they stand by their channel partners by taking care of their warranty issues.

This is important for the industry as a whole, as it provides a means to separate manufacturers with strong warranties from bad actors; it also provides a distinguishing mechanism for new players to gain trust and credibility.

“When warranty issues occur, the electrical distributor is usually caught in the middle and many times has to absorb the cost of the warranty, especially for some strategic customers,” said Randy Reid, Executive Director, National Lighting Bureau (www.NLB.org). “The Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program is meant to give the electrical distributor peace of mind that the manufacturer will take care of their warranty issues.”

The NLB intended to launch the program in March 2020 but delayed it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reid said after several beta evaluations in late 2020, dozens were scheduled for December 2020 and early 2021. Lighting product and component manufacturers who sell in the United States and Canada are eligible to participate.

Out of a total possible maximum score of 10 points in the points-based evaluation system, a minimum of eight must be gained. The evaluation covers:

Formal warranty. The manufacturer has a documented warranty that is readily accessible on its website and supports it with internal formal procedures and resources.

Warranty language. The warranty is clear, concise, and includes its start date. If it is prorated, this must be clearly expressed and marked as such.

Warranty insurance. Either the manufacturer must have been in business longer than the length of the warranty or provide a warranty insurance policy to ensure it will cover any warranty obligations.

Technical evaluation. The program auditor will spot check two randomly chosen SKUs for reliability testing, with credit given for each SKU for which reliability testing was completed, whether internal or external.

Claims review. The program auditor will randomly choose three claims from the past 12 months and evaluate the trail from when notification was made to when the claim completed. The auditor will then evaluate whether the manufacturer acted expeditiously based on the information it had.

Manufacturers that earn Trusted Warranty status qualify to display the Trusted Warranty Certificate and logo in its marketing materials. The Certificate and ability to display the logo lasts three years, and then the company must requalify.

Reid encouraged electrical distributors, contractors, lighting specifiers, and utilities to get to know the Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program and ultimately reward these manufacturers by doing business with them.

“Today, we hope that our channel partners will simply begin acknowledging the program,” Reid said. “In 2021, we hope to see soft language such as, ‘XYZ Distributor prefers lighting products recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.’ In 2022, we hope to see the language, ‘XYZ Distributor buys the majority of lighting products from companies recognized by the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Program.’ In 2023, we hope that distributors will actually specify that their lighting products must carry the seal of approval. Basically, a three-year rollout.”

Learn more about the NLB’s Trusted Warranty Evaluation Program at NLB.org/trusted-warranty-program.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: Exit Sign Brightness Study

As lumen depreciation is a significant failure mode with LED lighting, it raises the question whether some older exit signs are still producing sufficient brightness to be visible in smoky conditions. This is the subject of a new study being undertaken by NALMCO in partnership with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and the topic of an article I wrote about the study for the January issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

As lumen depreciation is a significant failure mode with LED lighting, it raises the question whether some older exit signs are still producing sufficient brightness to be visible in smoky conditions. This is the subject of a new study being undertaken by NALMCO in partnership with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, and the topic of an article I wrote about the study for the January issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

Click here to check it out.

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Roundtable: Lighting in the COVID Era

To get a picture of how the lighting industry is now being affected by the pandemic, I talked to five industry leaders.

Below is my contribution to the January 2021 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created extraordinary challenges for electrical distributors and their customers. For the end-user, a primary goal is the safe reopening and operation of buildings. The lighting industry has responded by developing germicidal ultraviolet options, promoting visible-light disinfection and lighting options designed to cultivate wellbeing among occupants, and controls that are touchless, wireless, and facilitate management of social distancing protocols. While the pandemic will someday end, its impact on buildings may endure far into the future.
To get a picture of how lighting is being affected by the pandemic, tED’s Craig DiLouie, LC, CLCP talked to five industry leaders.

DiLouie: The COVID-19 pandemic is directly contributing to a projected contraction in new construction that may last well into 2021. In economic shocks, however, there are typically opportunities as well as threats. Where do you see the biggest opportunities in lighting in 2021? What can electrical distributors do to take advantage of these opportunities?

Mike Watson, Cree Lighting: This year’s combination of remote working and extended business shutdowns opens two areas of opportunity for electrical distributors in 2021: addressing changes in commercial real-estate use and adapting to the rise of digital business models.

With “work from home” proven to be effective, retail and office spaces are migrating to lower density and smaller footprints, driving commercial real-estate projects towards new business models such as telehealth centers and retail-to-warehouse conversion. Retrofit projects could grow in share of lighting projects as new construction shrinks, and demand will increase for warehouse and industrial lighting as e-commerce continues to grow rapidly.

Additionally, the growth of e-commerce means that buyers will increasingly look for 24/7 information, more transparent pricing, and improved digital communication. To adapt, distributors will need to develop omnichannel strategies that embrace e-commerce, meet the customer where they are, and provide price transparency with service differentiation. Brick-and-mortar distributors can leverage their physical presence as a differentiator while also becoming more digital. To help distributors navigate this shift, we’re providing extensive product information and tools digitally on CreeLighting.com—presenting customers with instant, relevant information—while helping them enjoy a local distributor relationship for delivery and other services.

Mike Watson is Vice President, Marketing and General Manager of e-conolight at Cree Lighting, a company of IDEAL INDUSTRIES.

DiLouie: Acuity Brands recently announced a strategic partnership with Ushio to incorporate filtered far-UVC disinfection modules into general lighting luminaires. Do you believe COVID will result in a permanent shift among building owners toward ongoing disinfection, including germicidal ultraviolet?

Gary Trott, Acuity Brands Lighting: While we can’t predict the future, we think due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, lighting manufacturers are going to see long-term interest from building owners in developing comprehensive and ongoing disinfection protocols, including using germicidal UV where appropriate.

COVID-19 has brought UV lighting to the forefront from what has been previously a very niche technology. In fact, this immediate need for disinfection solutions has given rise to new and innovative product developments, such as the recent emergence of filtered 222nm far-UVC technology for use in occupied and unoccupied spaces. We anticipate that integrating technologies like filtered 222nm far-UVC into general illumination luminaires will make it even easier for building owners to adopt this technology. When applied, the 222nm far-UVC technology will allow people to be present while continually reducing harmful pathogens in a way that is unobtrusive … but is just visible enough to provide the message that the building owner is working to help make people feel safer.

We think that a variety of “disinfection” solutions will be now discussed on many new design and renovation projects as building owners seek ways to keep spaces safer for occupants. And this is even more likely to be the case for owners of buildings with high-traffic and/or public gathering areas such as restrooms, dining areas, meeting spaces, waiting rooms and so forth.

Gary Trott is Vice President, Technology Commercialization for Acuity Brands Lighting.

DiLouie: In what ways can lighting controls support efforts to keep buildings open and otherwise support occupant health during the pandemic?

Tom Perich, Lutron Electronics: As businesses begin to reopen and navigate our new reality, they will consider social distancing mandates, enhanced cleaning requirements, and physical changes to the space that help employees and visitors feel confident and reassured.

These changes are complicated by that fact that contractors are facing widespread skilled labor shortages, challenges resulting from COVID-based work rules, supply chain disruptions, and unusual schedule constraints.

Wireless, touchless lighting control can help mitigate the challenges of these situations in several ways. From the design and implementation perspective wireless solutions save time—install up to 70 percent faster than wired, reduce material and labor costs, and minimize risk by maximizing flexibility for the user and the building owner.

For building managers, there are additional benefits. Wireless solutions like Lutron Vive can include touchless options for hands-free adjustment of the lighting, personal control that limits the number of people interacting with a keypad, and simple reconfiguration right from a convenient iOS app. Lighting can be programmed and zoned to facilitate social distancing protocols, and then easily reconfigured with no rewiring or tearing open walls.

Wireless lighting is flexible, agile, and able to adapt quickly to support both owners and employees during these evolving and uncertain times.

Thomas Perich is Director, Channel Marketing – Electrical Wholesale for Lutron Electronics.

DiLouie: Hubbell is now offering visible light disinfection luminaires that produce conventional general illumination while focusing a portion of its emission in the 405 nm range. While this emission is not effective against viruses such as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, it has been demonstrated as effective against bacteria. Do you believe the pandemic has created a heightened awareness for lighting that promotes health beyond COVID mitigation?

Jeff McClow, Hubbell Lighting: Yes. Facilities of all shapes, sizes and functionality are challenged with creating and maintaining a clean and healthy environment. It’s one of the reasons why we developed SpectraClean, which combines white and narrowband 405nm visible light to meet ambient and task lighting requirements while providing a continuous, unobtrusive disinfection option for forward-thinking facility owners and operators. For example, the U.S. food industry where there’s an estimated $77 billion economic loss incurred from recalls related to foodborne illnesses every year. While rigorous food safety practices reduce the risk associated with these illnesses, they aren’t 100 percent foolproof and foodborne illness outbreaks continue.

Jeff McClow is Product Manager for Hubbell Lighting.

DiLouie: The COVID-19 pandemic has raised awareness of the need and opportunity for building owners to provide occupants with healthier spaces. Besides potential opportunities with germicidal lighting, what other opportunities should electrical distributors be promoting to end-user customers about lighting and human health?

Kevin Poyck, Signify: Keeping employees healthy and protecting their well-being are major workplace concerns. Lighting can help us be smarter about the way we use shared office spaces, enable teams to be productive and ensure we are prepared for challenges that may arise in the future.

Electrical distributors can help guide end-user customers on the value of connected lighting systems. Building managers can use their lighting infrastructure in combination with software tools to plan and make critical spacing and operational decisions. For example, they can steer employees to uncrowded areas of their facility to comply with physical distancing requirements, while leveraging the seating data to ensure those areas are cleaned more frequently.

Beyond the current pandemic, tunable lighting is another area that can make a big difference in the health and well-being of employees. Automatically mimicking daylight patterns and adjusting our lighting’s temperature and brightness can provide visual comfort, offer productivity boosts, enhance collaboration and lead to increased employee satisfaction. Distributors can be a strategic advisor for customers, educating them on occupant wellness-based benefits beyond simply energy-savings ROI.

Kevin Poyck is CEO of the Americas for Signify.

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Publishes 2020 CII Lighting Trends Survey

The electrical contracting community experienced significant economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic but is somewhat optimistic about 2021. That is one key finding from the 2020 Commercial/Industrial/Institutional (CII) Lighting Trends Survey, conducted by ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR in October among the magazine’s Subscriber Research Panel. The survey and article were my contribution to the magazine’s December 2020 issue.

The electrical contracting community experienced significant economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic but is somewhat optimistic about 2021. That is one key finding from the 2020 Commercial/Industrial/Institutional (CII) Lighting Trends Survey, conducted by ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR in October among the magazine’s Subscriber Research Panel. The survey and article were my contribution to the magazine’s December 2020 issue.

Among the key findings:

* A majority of respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic impacted their 2020 business revenues, with the majority of these respondents saying their overall revenues decreased, not just for lighting.

* Overall, respondents are optimistic about 2021, with more saying they expect their revenues related to lighting in all three markets will increase in 2021 than those saying it will decrease. About 30%–40%, however, believe their revenues will remain unchanged.

* A majority of respondents are familiar with major lighting trends, with the greatest familiarity or actual work experience being with wireless lighting controls (73%), color-tunable lighting (63%) and networked lighting controls (61%). Three-fourths of respondents are least familiar with germicidal lighting and the IoT, which is not surprising, because these are relatively new trends. However, upward of three-quarters of respondents who are aware of the technologies are comfortable specifying and installing each of them, with the least comfort for germicidal lighting, IoT and networked lighting controls.

* More than 60% of respondents have discussed lighting quality and color-tunable LED lighting as lighting product features/trends with customers. Nearly half have discussed networked lighting controls. Customers were most interested in lighting quality, followed by color tuning and networked control. However, more than three-quarters were somewhat or very interested in all five technologies.

* The average respondent considers ECs as having a somewhat high degree of influence in selecting lighting equipment for new construction and major renovation CII projects and the highest degree of influence in lighting retrofits.

Check out the article here.

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Tunable White Positions Itself as a Lighting Tool

White-light color tuning is one of the most exciting advantages of LED lighting, providing the ability to adjust luminaire color output across the white light spectrum. As the timed spectral emission of light plays a part in circadian lighting—the application of light to promote circadian health—this developing trend offers the potential to take tunable white more mainstream.

Below is my contribution to the November issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED. Reprinted with permission.

White-light color tuning is one of the most exciting advantages of LED lighting, providing the ability to adjust luminaire color output across the white light spectrum. As the timed spectral emission of light plays a part in circadian lighting—the application of light to promote circadian health—this developing trend offers the potential to take tunable white more mainstream.

“Interest in tunable-white lighting is fueled by increased adoption of the WELL Building Standard and with more research demonstrating the positive impact tunable-white lighting can have on our moods and productivity,” said Rahul Shira, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Signify US (www.signify.com).

Tunable-white lighting products produce white light that can be adjusted over a range of correlated color temperatures, typically from a visually warm (orangish-white) 2700K up to a visually cool (bluish-white) 5000K or 6500K. This is accomplished via the relative dimming of separately controllable arrays of warm- and cool-white LEDs, or primaries. Other colors may be added to enhance the spectrum of available color output while maximizing color rendering across the dimming range. While some screwbase LED replacement lamps offer white-light tuning as a feature, it is primarily featured in luminaires.

As a new capability, tunable white has created new lighting applications. It can be used to change the apparent warming or cooling of a space, set a mood, visually emphasize room finishes or artwork, simulate daylight or candlelight, and signal activity changes in spaces such as classrooms.

As the industry develops best practices for circadian lighting, the primary utility of tunable-white lighting remains its ability to signal and support activity and mood changes for occupant productivity and wellbeing. Image courtesy of Hubbell Lighting.

“If implemented correctly, tunable-white solutions can enhance people’s moods by giving them a touchstone to the outside world, especially in spaces where they have no access to windows or daylight,” said Jeff Hungarter, Commercial Indoor Director, Cree Lighting (www.creelighting.com). “In combination with other design elements like ergonomic furniture and enhanced air quality, it can really influence the wellbeing of the people in the space.”

A promising demand driver is the potential role tunable-white lighting can play in circadian lighting and health, a relatively new aspect of lighting that deals with its non-visual effects. Circadian lighting encompasses light distribution (emphasizing vertical light to reach photoreceptors in the eye), quantity of light reaching these photoreceptors, how long and at what time of day the light is received, and the spectrum of light.

Regarding spectrum, scientific research suggests shorter-wavelength light (around 450-530 nm, bluish white) in the morning can promote circadian entrainment and thereby reduce the quantity of light required for it. As such, while the presence of tunable-white luminaires that deliver recommended spectra may not be enough on their own for circadian entrainment, they can play an important role.

These LED luminaires produce a skylight appearance and simulated daylight effect, using advanced lighting control and color tuning to simulate dawn-to-dusk, east-to-west travel of the sun. Image courtesy of Cree Lighting.

“Don’t be fooled—tunable-white lighting is not automatically circadian lighting,” Hungarter cautioned. “Tunable white can and will play an integral role when the lighting design is done to ensure quantity, timing, and other parameters for circadian lighting are met. Ongoing research and education are going to be key as we drive health and well-being into current and future lighting designs.”

This potential opportunity has created demand for design guidance. Currently, there are two guidelines for circadian lighting. One is UL’s Design Guide 24480, Design Guideline for Promoting Circadian Entrainment with Light for Day-Active People, which is largely based on Lighting Research Center recommendations and research, and the other is the WELL Building Standard, a points-based healthy building rating system that is potentially a significant demand driver for circadian lighting. Both account for spectral emission, which can be used to reduce quantity of light, though they use different metrics and WELL is more concerned with achieving a certain spectral profile (D65), while UL is more flexible.

The COVID pandemic has increased interest in designing around health and wellness. This is nominally good for lighting features such as disinfecting light, circadian lighting, and intelligent lighting control that enables space management, support of social distancing, and contact tracing. So far, however, tunable white has minimally benefited; the predominant beneficiary, at least in terms of interest, has been germicidal light.

“Designers are applying tunable white in education, healthcare, and higher-end commercial suites, where the circadian or aesthetic effects have value,” said David Venhaus, Manager of Training and Curriculum Development in the Lighting Solutions Center at Hubbell Lighting (www.hubbell-ltg.com). “COVID is driving more interest in disinfection options like UV-C or 405-nm visible blue disinfection lights.”

As a result, despite its utility, tunable white continues to face hurdles to adoption including a cost premium, more complex wiring, potentially more sophisticated controls, and a lower efficacy than fixed-color sources. While it is increasing in adoption, the market is still developing as end-users become more aware of its benefits and how to quantify these benefits.

This requires a conversation with customers that includes return on investment based on energy efficiency but also includes non-energy benefits of being able to adjust color appearance and resulting mood and atmosphere. The key to this transition and support of new lighting technologies like tunable white and intelligent lighting control is an educated customer and consultants like electrical distributors.

“Distributors can help guide end-user customers on their lighting decisions and advise them on how to shift their focus from energy savings-based ROI and take advantage of a combination of energy and occupant wellness-based justifications,” Shira said. “Moreover, distributors can add value by promoting qualified tunable-white lighting packages between fixture providers and control providers, with the understanding that manufacturers that offer both elements have robust and consistent performance and are capable of dealing with the complexity of correlated color temperature, intensity, and spectral tuning.”

“Invest the time, energy, and resources to establish a solid baseline understanding of the latest developments in tunable-white technology,” Venhaus advised. “Get familiar with the technology in the luminaires and the control systems used. And make sure you understand how the final end-user interface works because this is the key to a successful user experience.”

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ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR: TM-30 Turns Five

My most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR provides an update on the TM-30 color evaluation method, which turned five this year.

My most recent contribution to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR provides an update on the TM-30 color evaluation method, which turned five this year.

With the proliferation of LED lighting, previously accepted flaws in the CRI metric became accentuated. With LED, you can have two products with the same CRI but very different color-rendering abilities. In other words, different effects on finishes, furnishings and flesh tones. To address this, in 2015, the Illuminating Engineering Society in New York produced TM-30, “IES Method for Evaluating Light Source Color Rendition,” a proposed method for color evaluation. The idea behind this method was more information and greater accuracy.

Click here to check it out.

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Decoding 90.1-2019

My contribution to the July 2020 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR analyzes the major lighting requirements and what’s new in the 2019 version of the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 energy standard.

My contribution to the July 2020 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR analyzes the major lighting requirements and what’s new in the 2019 version of the ANSI/ASHRAE/IES 90.1 energy standard.

Late last year, ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, published the 2019 version of ASHRAE/ANSI/IES 90.1, “Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,” the model commercial building energy code. For lighting, the new version most notably modifies interior power allowances, updates some control requirements and provides contractors a new simplified compliance method for office, school and retail buildings.

Read it here.

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What’s New in Connected Lighting

My contribution to the August issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED, covers what’s new in connected lighting.

My contribution to the August 2020 issue of tED Magazine, the official publication of the NAED, covers what’s new in connected lighting. Reprinted with permission.

Three leading lighting brands say demand for connected lighting is solidly increasing in both indoor and outdoor markets, driven by simplified energy code compliance and value-added features such as data and location services. As such, this premium segment of the lighting category offers electrical distributors opportunity—but may require a shift in sales approach from focusing primarily on energy cost savings to include newer capabilities.

Connected lighting consists of a system of luminaires with integrated or remote load controllers that communicate via low-voltage wiring or a wireless frequency. With digital communication, the resulting system has the potential for luminaires to be programmed and controlled using multiple strategies, either individually or in groups. Additionally, there is a potential for two-way digital communication, enabling measuring, monitoring, and data sharing.

“The connected lighting segment continues to outpace the growth in the overall lighting market, which is fueled in part by energy codes and greater functionality beyond lighting and energy savings,” said Gary Meshberg, LC, CLCP, Director of Industry and Market Engagement, OSRAM ENCELIUM. “Energy savings is the tip of the iceberg. When fully optimized, the data obtained from these systems can prove to be the most valuable aspect.”

The majority of connected lighting systems are sold as room-based solutions for new construction. These systems are typically factory-programmed to provide detailed control strategies that satisfy commercial building energy code requirements. The main value proposition is solving the problem of code compliance via a simple solution. Installing controls embedded in the luminaires simplifies the solution even further.

A growing number of systems are being adopted as enterprise-based solutions—PC-based with a dashboard—spanning buildings, campuses, and even cities, which fully exploit connected lighting’s capabilities. These systems offer centralized control, which can lead to better lighting management and energy savings that go beyond code, while also offering valued-added, data-driven services. With wireless controls, these systems are available not only to new construction but also existing buildings, supported by a growing list of rebates.

Looking at this segment, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated the installed base of connected lighting was less than 1 percent across all sectors in 2017, though DOE expected penetration to grow rapidly to 3-21 percent in 2020 and 7-31 percent in 2025. The range in these forecasts is split between the current market trajectory and a trajectory if certain DOE program goals are met addressing adoption hurdles for the technology, notably related to demonstrating and verifying energy savings, interoperability, and user-friendliness. DOE is focused on energy savings however, where connected lighting’s biggest opportunity may lie beyond it.

“Connected lighting brings LED lighting and information technology together to take light beyond illumination,” said Roger Karner, President, Signify US. “It allows us to harness the power of the Internet of Things for data-driven insights into activities and operations, to inform decision making. Business can have better lighting management, diagnostics and maintenance, helping to lower costs, save energy, and increase operational efficiency. Data can also be combined with that of intelligent building, smart city, and other systems to help control overall environments and better understand everything from office space utilization and occupancy to traffic patterns and road surface conditions.”

A connected luminaire. Image courtesy of Acuity Brands Lighting.

The DesignLights Consortium (DLC), which maintains technical specifications by which products qualify for many utility rebate programs, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) both recognize the growing importance of connected lighting as a tool to maximize energy savings. DLC research of more than 100 applications identified average lighting energy savings of 47 percent for networked lighting controls, establishing a baseline for determining return on investment. In 2016, the organization launched technical specifications for the category and a resulting Qualified Products List for rebate programs targeting the existing buildings market. According to rebate fulfillment firm BriteSwitch, the number of programs promoting networked lighting controls in 2020 grew to 95, or about 25 percent of all rebate programs; approaches vary, though a majority offer a rebate adder for each luminaire connected to a qualifying networked control system.

Meanwhile, the DOE’s Interior Lighting Campaign, launched in 2015 to encourage facility owners and managers to install energy-efficient LED luminaires and controls, is reinventing itself this year as the Integrated Lighting Campaign to bring greater focus to connected luminaires, networked lighting controls, plug load controls, and integration with other building systems. The Better Buildings Alliance, another DOE program, is planning an IoT-Upgradeable Lighting Challenge, which will challenge industry to produce a luminaire that can be easily upgraded after installation with IoT sensors and devices.

“Energy savings are an important part of the story for connected luminaires, but there is more to consider in the ROI calculation,” said Gilles Abrahamse, Vice President/GM Digital Luminaire Components, Acuity Brands Lighting. “It is important for distributors to think beyond energy savings, as there is value in better utilization of the building from understanding where people are and their use of the space. Through ease of (re)configuring the space, we can turn the building into revenue-enhancing assets.”

“Distributors should take a more holistic approach to selling an overall system solution,” Meshberg said. “First by selling the quality of LED lighting, then the operational flexibility and data gathered from the connected lighting control system and lastly utilizing the data to enrich the building operational efficiency and occupant experience.”

A wireless connected lighting system. Image courtesy of Acuity Brands Lighting.

Information applications for data collected by connected lighting systems can be used for a variety of operational benefits that may be standard and customized. Depending on the manufacturer, standard benefits include energy measuring for saving verification and other purposes, monitoring and diagnostics for maintenance, occupancy data for space optimization, RFID tags and beacons for inventory tracking, and beacons for indoor positioning. Sensor data can be shared with other systems such as HVAC. Application program interfaces (APIs) enable many more applications to improve operational efficiency and expand user services based on leveraging the lighting system and its generated data.

“It is important to understand the pain points of the customer and speak in terms that will resonate with them,” Karner said. “Explain the benefits the connected lighting system will deliver. For example, we have customers that have been able to optimize their real estate investments by understanding office space utilization via our system.”

“The lighting industry is transforming since the adoption of LED, and connected lighting is a major part of this continuous change,” said Abrahamse. “Connected lighting will be the new normal and will help create new value in the lighting industry. There are two things a distributor can do to position themselves for connected lighting. First, invest in controls personnel and training to better understand the value and the offering. Second, partner with the manufacturer to learn and provide feedback on what the customer is seeking, features or benefits.”

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