Category: Interviews + Opinion

John Arthur Wilson Interview: Better Bricks Wireless Lighting Controls Guide

David recently had the pleasure of interviewing John Arthur Wilson, a lighting control and utility rebate consultant, about his 2021 market research into wireless lighting controls. That research resulted in a learning guide that can be used to support basic education around wireless trends in lighting. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has published that document on their Better Bricks website, available to the public.

I had the pleasure of interviewing John Arthur Wilson, a lighting control and utility rebate consultant, about his 2021 market research into wireless lighting controls. That research resulted in a learning guide that can be used to support basic education around wireless trends in lighting. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has published that document on their Better Bricks website, available to the public, here

Shiller: The wireless control guide that you created for Better Bricks is a great document about wireless lighting controls. It provides a simple explanation of load control devices, the protocols, frequencies, performance, topologies, proprietary versus open, and more. Who was the primary audience for this guide?

Wilson: The guide was purposefully meant to target a broad audience set, and that was largely because it was something that we wanted to be really accessible. We didn’t want it to go overly in-depth in any one area to where you really needed to have a technical background. The idea was that this is something that could be leveraged either in training settings or to educate end users. So, the idea is that this guide is something that any organization across North America could pick up and could incorporate into any sort of workshop they’re doing. For example, if we’re working with electrical contractors or a utility with a strategic energy management program, and they’re working with facilities people or key decision makers. It was meant to be something that they could incorporate into their curriculum and leverage it.

There was a big body of research that informed why the guide was needed in the first place. Over a period of six months, we worked in-depth with over a dozen lighting control specifiers. We had electrical engineers, we had lighting designers, and we had contractors that design, build, and commission. We asked a lot of questions about project specifics to better understand the lighting control specifier and the customer. One of the things that came up repeatedly, was that luminaire level lighting controls (LLLC) has a massive “value engineering” problem, due to their higher costs. If you’re just looking at first costs upfront, people are saying this costs more, but there are so many other benefits. One of the major benefits is the wireless aspect. It streamlines installation. Some lighting specifiers and their clients are concerned about cybersecurity with wireless controls. We ask, is cybersecurity an issue on your jobs? And for most projects, it’s not. There’s a disconnect between how much we talk about cybersecurity as this generic boogeyman and then how much it’s actually an issue. But 80% of the actual cybersecurity risk isn’t wireless devices in the network system. They pose a tiny risk, but it’s nothing compared to the way your gateway is connected to the Internet and how you have established user access and password protection. That’s where the overwhelming majority of cybersecurity risk is.

As soon as you say no to wireless, you’re negating all the other wireless benefits. Wireless was a pinch point that we identified. In working with these specifiers, we realized there is typically an opportunity to educate the end user. We created the wireless guide to be an educational resource that could be part of that conversation when specifiers are talking to decision-makers.

Shiller: The wireless guide was published last year, right?

Wilson: The very end of last year.

Shiller: What’s been the overall response to the guide. Is NEEA happy with the clicks, downloads, and attention that it’s getting?

Wilson: Yes, I think they’re very happy with it. People love that even though it’s ten pages, it’s not dense. We kept it high level including a lot of graphics.

Shiller: After the basic education aspects of the guide, it dives into three major trends with wireless controls:  data resiliency, automatic device reconnection, and latency versus simultaneity. I was wondering if you wanted to talk a little bit to those three trends?

Wilson: Yes, I think of it as properly addressing past problems. They’re not wrong and they’re not imagining it. They’re right. Resiliency was a real issue. It is important to validate that. Wireless has gone from mostly reliable to resilient. There was an issue with devices that would fall offline, or just wouldn’t connect, and that was an issue. The biggest improvement here is the mesh network. You’re no longer reliant on an individual node, so that if something happens to that node, the message isn’t going to get passed. Another problem is that when people hear wireless, they almost always conflate it in their heads with Wi-Fi, which is just one type of wireless, but it’s not really the type that matters in commercial lighting. In fact, Wi-Fi plays a tiny part in commercial lighting networks, overall.

Shiller: What about automatic device reconnection?

Wilson: This one really matters. It was incredibly common and just so unbelievably frustrating when a device would invariably fall offline and then come back online. Now, these devices can come back online, they know who they are, they know who they’re supposed to be talking to, what they have received in between, because there’s timestamps. Before, people had to open the ceiling and press a button and put it back into discover mode, and then you have to reconnect it to the part of the network it was in, which was just awful. So, that was a major improvement.

Shiller: Great. And the third trend was latency versus simultaneity.

Wilson: Yes. Latency versus uniformity, simultaneity or whatever you want to call it. It drove my lighting designer friends up a wall. When you have a large space, and the scene command would get sent out, you’d get this ‘popcorning’ of lights changing at different times, throughout the space. This problem has been solved with time-synched commands, which is very cool. You can have a mesh network that sends this command out over a space, with a time signature stamp on it. Then when it gets to individual nodes that are controlling that, it sends the synchronized command out to all the rest of the devices so that everything happens uniformly. It is one of the major macro trends that I believe is a big step forward.

Shiller: What do you think are the most important takeaways from the guide, that you’d like specifiers to know? 

Wilson: I think the most important thing in the guide is that every single one of these issues doesn’t matter for every single job. Just focusing on wireless as the cause of cybersecurity risks does nothing to address the actual cybersecurity risks. The most important thing is it’s a tool kit to help specifiers understand the advantages of wireless, to help support a solution that is best for the client.

Shiller: Were there any topics left out of the guide in order to keep it short, manageable, and digestible? I’m curious if there are things you wished you could have fit in, but you couldn’t?

Wilson: We got all the major topics in it. There’s always a risk when you’re an inch deep and a mile wide that you’re not hitting the important details. We could really nerd out on this stuff, but those conversations don’t actually matter for decision-makers. There are always areas that we could have gone deeper on. And one, I wish we could have gone deeper on is open versus not open. The truth is we don’t have anything close to open in lighting, even though 98% of products on the market are based on open but have been tweaked to proprietary. And then the way that these companies talk about their systems being open is very misleading. Similarly, the way that they talk about if you need a gateway or not is very misleading. It’s like you don’t need a gateway for the most basic functionality, but if you want something like scheduling, you’re going to need a gateway. Rather than trying to answer all the issues through this guide, we set the table and then say, don’t be afraid to ask, what is this? How open is it, or is this a totally proprietary solution? Is this the solution in the middle where we still have an open API?

Shiller: John, I really appreciate you sharing your expertise with our readers. Thank you. The NEEA Better Bricks Wireless Lighting Controls Guide can be downloaded here.

edited July 18, 2022

 

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Interview: The Circular Economy For Lighting

The GreenLight Alliance (GLA) is a non-profit organization with leadership across Europe and North America, dedicated to applying circular economy principles to the lighting industry, targeting specifiers to drive change. I interviewed Emilio Hernandez, Chair of the GreenLight Alliance about the GLA’s goals and strategies.

The GreenLight Alliance (GLA) is a non-profit organization with leadership across Europe and North America, dedicated to applying circular economy principles to the lighting industry, targeting specifiers to drive change. I interviewed Emilio Hernandez, Chair of the GreenLight Alliance about the GLA’s goals and strategies.

Shiller: The Green Light Alliance (GLA) mission seems straightforward, to promote circular economy practices in the lighting industry, especially among specifiers. What actions is GLA taking to make that happen? That’s less clear on the GLA website .

Hernandez: That’s an excellent question. We’re approaching this from several angles. A key aspect is education and awareness. People can follow GLA and receive newsletters and invitations to discussions on circular topics and webinars from industry bodies and manufacturers who are pushing the dialogue on the subject forward.

But our main role is to build a trusted network and facilitate a dialogue between people across the industry.

Shiller: The Information Hub that GLA has built on the website is very interesting. There appear to be 11 documents, standards, and white papers about applying circular economy and sustainability principles to the lighting industry. Is it correct to say that most of these documents appear to be European efforts, rather than North American efforts, to-date? 

Hernandez: This is true, you need to start somewhere and we are relatively new in terms of our existence. We’re trying hard to reach out and have ambassadors in the US and are more than open to other regions, too. We have already found a lot of benefits to opening up the dialogue. To better understand different challenges, we collaborate on initiatives to further our reach, and concentrate the efforts that are happening.

Shiller: Are there any significant North American efforts to apply circular economy principles to the lighting industry, that you’re aware of? 

Hernandez: I’m not aware of any significant lighting focused circular economy initiatives in North America (but happy to be proven wrong!) However, there is a growing requirement for Life Cycle Analysis (LCA’s) and environmental product declarations (EPD’s), in construction. New York’s NYSERDA and California’s Title 24, for example, are bringing in requirements on a state level, and LEED is offering credits for building materials with EPD’s, or materials that use ‘healthy’ materials.

LCA’s are an important way of measuring a business’s efforts to improve the embodied and emitted carbon within a product’s lifetime, hence the LCA incubator that we are partnering on with the IALD Lighting Industry Resource Council (LIRC). This has participating manufacturers from the US who are really interested in developing these principles as part of their business model. StickBulb and Lumenwerx, for example, were very quick to be part of this discussion, and PNNL has also been a helpful partner on the project.

Shiller: As you are based in Sweden, do you see Europe leading this effort, globally?

Hernandez: There are currently financial incentives to migrate over to circular business models in Europe, via subsidies as part of the EU Green Deal, which is the ‘economy’ part of the circular economy. Good intentions will only take this so far, so it needs to be economically viable. We’re aware of manufacturers’ concerns over the uncertainty of costs associated with decoupling from linear business models and producing EPD’s. It can be an expensive process so we’re trying to understand how this can be achieved in lighting quickly, reliably, and affordably.

Shiller: The GLA website has a case study page with 9 case studies listed. Do you have a favorite case study among those nine, that best shows what’s possible in bringing the circular economy to lighting?

Hernandez: The best thing about them is that they all have different insights into approaches to circularity. This migration to circular design isn’t a straight line process. There are legacy products on the market which can be innovatively remanufactured, and there are approaches to new fixture design or specification that will yield benefits at the end of their designed life. However, something we are trying to help people understand is that a low embodied carbon product, that is majority recycled or disposed of at the end of its first life is not really circular, it’s just a lightweight linear economy.

Shiller: If any LightNOW readers find this subject interesting (almost half of LightNOW readers are lighting specifiers), what are some ways that they could get more involved in GLA and its mission (i.e. join GLA, subscribe to GLA, other?)

Hernandez: Please get in touch with us directly if you have a specific need or would like to be a more involved community member at info@greenlight-alliance.com, and subscribe via the website and you’ll receive a newsletter with updates, periodically. Our LinkedIn community is useful for up to date sharing of webinars and articles, and they can all be found here.

Shiller: Thank you for sharing your expertise, Emilio.

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Interview: Korrus’s CEO On The Recent Acquisition Of Circadian ZircLight

Korrus is the company that owns Ecosense, Soraa, Scuva, Tempo Industries, and now Circadian ZircLight. They focus on “Human Light Interaction (HLI),” which they define as seeking to understand human interactions with light, and creating technologies that better serve the needs of those humans.

Korrus is the company that owns Ecosense, Soraa, Scuva, Tempo Industries, and now Circadian ZircLight. They focus on “Human Light Interaction (HLI),” which they define as seeking to understand human interactions with light, and creating technologies that better serve the needs of those humans. I interviewed Mark Reynosa, CEO of Korrus, about their recent acquisition of Circadian ZircLight, and where Korrus is going from here.

Shiller: Congratulations, first off, on the acquisition of Circadian ZircLight.

Reynosa: Thank you so much.

Shiller: I was curious whether the acquisition would impact the partnerships that Circadian ZircLight currently has, providing light engines to partners like Acuity, H.E. Williams, and presumably others? Will the OEM engine play still be a focus for Circadian ZircLight?

Reynosa: Yes. We have no intention to interrupt any preexisting agreements and relationships between ZircLight and other participants in the industry. Quite the opposite. The entire thesis around our acquisition has been it supports our mission and the thesis is about enabling and creating greater awareness around solutions that deal with some of the ill effects of artificial light in the world, today.

Shiller: You mentioned the ill effects of artificial light. Most of the circadian lighting manufacturers leading the space have focused on what I consider a high cyan / low cyan, 2-channel approach. That’s been the dominant approach by multiple players. I’m curious if you envision circadian lighting moving beyond this 2-channel approach, to more sophisticated levels of spectral tuning?

Reynosa: We’ve been working really hard for quite a long time to really understand, at the physiological level, what actually works well in terms of understanding spectral energy. The kind of light that naturally occurs from morning till evening, and then asking ourselves, to what degree can we accurately replicate that spectral energy, to effectively entrain one’s circadian system. Through a tremendous amount of work, and years of research, we believe we have a technology platform that actually delivers on that promise. And you’ll begin to see our dynamic offering in that regard, begin to enter the marketplace next year. We believe it is materially differentiated from anything you’ve seen in the world, heretofore.

Shiller: So you’re saying that there are different approaches coming, beyond this 2-channel, high cyan / low cyan approach? Do you agree that something more sophisticated is coming, without asking you to give it away?

Reynosa: Yes. It’s been a very clear focus of ours. All through the organic work that we’ve done, and then through the acquisition of Soraa, and now with ZircLight, we have almost 500 patents in the intersections of humans and light, many of which have to do with one’s physiology, biology, and how it interacts with one’s circadian system and the natural environment. We don’t believe there is anything in the marketplace today that accurately reflects what occurs in nature. We think what we are building towards is quite likely a step function change from what is available today.

Shiller: Sounds exciting. You mentioned the Soraa asset acquisition in 2020. There was also the Lumium acquisition in 2019, the Tempo Industries acquisition earlier this year, and now Circadian ZircLight. Do you foresee Korrus acquisitions continuing at this pace?

Reynosa: We don’t really have a time-based acquisition strategy. Our business model and strategy have been pretty clear for the better part of almost a decade now. Sometimes there are opportunities that allow us to scale our vision more quickly. And in those instances, if we see that opportunity, we will take advantage of that through an acquisition. Otherwise, like Scuva, we’ll just build it internally. In fact, you’ll see an announcement coming shortly from us whereby we are partnering in the marketplace with an entity to help us increase the speed with which certain life-based technologies can be delivered to the marketplace, to increase human health and well-being, literally. You’ll see that announced in a number of days or weeks.

We build it internally, we acquire something externally, or we partner with someone. We’re very agnostic about the pathway through which we execute. The key for us is that we see it as a tremendous opportunity to get critical technology out to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people. We just focus on the ways in which we think we can do that best.

Shiller: The Lumium Lighting brand was turned into a product line under Ecosense, but Soraa and Tempo remained separate brands. Will Circadian ZircLight remain a separate brand or be consolidated like Lumium?

Reynosa: The distinctions between how we operate a particular brand varies depending on where we think the best way to maximize against our vision is. We haven’t completely determined the right way to optimize the ZircLight platform, because it is a just announced acquisition. Part of what we do is go out to the existing marketplace partners and ask them how do they feel we can best support them in their efforts with our technologies and solutions. We take that input into account in how we think about an execution perspective.

Shiller: With this Circadian ZircLight acquisition, Korrus is very well positioned and represented in the circadian and GUV aspects of light & health. I’m curious if you envision Korrus moving into other areas of active research for light & health, such as migraines, depression and other non-circadian light therapies?

Reynosa: Yes, this may be is a good point to clarify the mission that we are on. The way that we describe ourselves is that we’re pioneering a new industry called Human Light Interaction. As the name implies, what we want to understand deeply is all of the ways in which humans and light behave together, and how we might be able to provide or create technologies that enhance those interactions. That could be in the in the realm of diseases and illnesses. It could have to do with antiviral properties and material properties. Germicidal things that have to do with the lived environment and to optimize that from a physiological perspective. So we see our mandate as extremely wide, and we don’t even use the word “lighting” to describe the business. We use the word “light.” If you just pause for a second and just think about that, the distinction is quite different. In fact, we had part of our business development team at Display Week, this week in San Jose, showing our technology and our display applications. So televisions, monitors, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. When we think about the problems being encountered in modern society and the application layers of modern society, we see our mandate and vision really speaking to that entire opportunity set. The next logical question is that’s a gigantic market and opportunity set. So we try to be very disciplined in the specific areas that we want to target. But in terms of research abilities, we have a deep science and engineering team, exploring a very wide cross-section of modern dynamics and how we might participate in helping better the world through specific applications.

We have a culture of curiosity and exploration. If one of our scientists or engineers come upon something in the literature that they think is interesting, we give them the opportunity to go explore and understand that more deeply. It could be depression, Alzheimer’s, sleep, or performance, like an athlete. It is extremely wide.

Shiller: I personally see those non-circadian light therapies, for things like migraines, depression, etc. as potentially becoming much bigger business than circadian lighting, over the medium term, because it’s so debilitating, and it’s a bigger quality of life issue. Do you see those areas becoming big business or is it just too soon to tell?

Reynosa: Take a step even further out. I think the intersection of digital technologies, health, and wellness, which has even removed the word light, for a second. I think in the next 30 to 50 years, you’re going to see an ocean of new categories, industries, products, applications, and experiences at that intersection. At one level, Korrus is just a small microcosm of a gigantic wave coming from that direction, at that intersection. To your point, it is an overwhelmingly large opportunities, because since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve pretty materially divorced ourselves from the natural environment. Modernity brought in a lot of really wonderful things, but with that we brought on certain drawbacks and certain compromises that we think we can create a better balance with. We see our mission as elevating people’s understanding of their light diet, much in the same way they think about food, air and water. It’s literally that fundamental. And in the last 50 years, you’ve seen real revolutions, frankly, in all three of those,  where we believe light to be extremely misunderstood. And part of that is because 80% of everything that we know about human health and light has only been discovered in the last 20 years. The science is only now catching up with the truth and reality of the situation We’re trying to be at the forefront of that to help bring awareness and evangelize ways in which we can solve some of those modern ill effects, from divorcing ourselves from nature.

Shiller: We have been talking about human light interaction. Do you anticipate Korrus moving beyond human light interaction to other biological lighting, such as horticultural lighting or livestock and poultry lighting, that are non-human, but still biological.

Reynosa That’s a good question. Probably every three to six months, we get an inbound request, whether it’s from somebody in industry or academia, who is interested in exploring some of those intersections with our technology capabilities. After some explorations in that space, we’ve concluded that the intersections of humans and light is already overwhelmingly large. Opening the aperture up even larger, right now, would be a real distraction.

Shiller: Is there anything else that you’d like our reader to know about Korrus?

Reynosa: Thank you for that. I’d encourage people to go to Korrus.com to learn a little bit more about the market and the industry that we’re pioneering. There are a couple of videos. One that discusses human interaction with light and our mission. There’s a second video, under our science page, specifically on the intersection of humans and circadian health and well-being.

Shiller: Thank you for sharing your insights, Mark.

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An Interview with Christina Halfpenny – Diversity, Inclusion & Culture at DLC

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Halfpenny about her approach to women in leadership positions, at the Design Lights Consortium (DLC), and on the subject more broadly.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Halfpenny about her approach to women in leadership positions, at the Design Lights Consortium (DLC), and on the subject more broadly. There are a large number of very accomplished women in leadership positions at the DLC – many brought on board after Christina Halfpenny became Executive Director in 2015. DLC has grown into an independent international non-profit that drives energy efficiency and connected building solutions through solid-state lighting and controls, across North America. Halfpenny has been a strong advocate for diversity and representation on panels at every DLC meeting for the past several years, and in the imagery the organization uses on its website and in materials.

Of the DLC’s 21-member staff, more than half (12) are women, including Dorene Maniccia and Leora Radetsky, both with numerous published papers to their names, and Bernadette Boudreaux who co-leads a Diversity Equity Inclusion and Respect (DEIR) in Lighting Working Group, with the DOE. Also, Liesel Whitney-Schulte has over 20 years of experience working on utility energy efficiency programs and collaborating with lighting designers to create programs that simultaneously fit utility goals and promote quality lighting design. Bios of all the women on the DLC team are here: https://www.designlights.org/about-us/team/.

Shiller: More than 50% of DLC’s staff are women, despite the lighting industry historically being male-dominated. What advice do you have for other lighting industry executive leaders in a position to increase women’s representation, as well as diversity in hiring of all kinds (gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.)?

Halfpenny:  It isn’t just executive leaders in a position to hire women and diverse people. Every person in the hiring process can influence the diversity of their team, their vendors and suppliers, as well as leadership. Inclusion of people on hiring teams and questions from staff for prospective employees can help not only get a view into the organization’s dynamics, challenges and priorities, but also provide a relevant assessment of culture fit. These things can be overlooked if we are not taking a deliberate approach towards diversity in our hiring methods. With the ongoing changes in lighting and the industry, it’s an opportune time to prioritize diversity for the variety of perspective and experience that comes with a diverse team. There is always room for women and diversity in leadership; on Boards and in executive functions, but truly valuing diversity happens when space is made for diversity at all levels of the company.

Shiller: DLC has many recognized industry thought leaders on its staff, both women and men. Do you have any advice to other executives on recruiting and retaining elite industry talent, both women and men?

Halfpenny: On their behalf, thank you for the recognition. We are fortunate to have (and had) people on staff who are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about lighting and protecting the environment. Our team thrives on making a positive impact, and these folks leave their marks on the work we do and affect colleagues and peers in positive ways.

Ultimately, personal fulfillment leads to job retention. Look at the statistics of how many people recently left their jobs for something that paid less but provided more meaning and balance for them. Individuals also need to know that their contributions are valued by the company, however, we all know that individual performance is not the sole driver for success. I find that fulfillment from work comes not only from enjoying the actual work, but also the people.

Leadership at the DLC sets expectations for the entire team to contribute value and exchange ideas and feedback in a productive and respectful way. We prioritize an organizational culture that enables and supports collaboration, and collectively celebrates success, so that leading and learning are simultaneous for individual satisfaction and collective success.

Shiller: Are there ways that having a majority women staff has been advantageous to DLC? How has it changed the culture at DLC?

Halfpenny: Yes! As far as a change in culture at the DLC, we have always been a majority of women or 50%, and we have benefitted from a culture of support and respect. That culture generates increased capacity to listen and consider the impacts of our work on our stakeholders. While we prioritize collaboration internally, that resonates with our work externally with members, industry experts and stakeholders, which a key success factor for a Consortium.

In addition, having a balance of women in the organization brings more honesty about life outside of work.  For whatever reason, women are still juggling the majority of the home life – sick kids (and parents), doctor appointments, school activities, carpools, etc. – and we need to normalize that as a part of our lives. I hope if women can normalize it in leadership positions, and throughout the workplace, then men can too, and we will all benefit from a genuine work life balance.

Shiller: What’s your view of current efforts to increase women’s representation in lighting leadership positions? There are a couple organizations now working toward this goal (i.e. WILD, WIL, etc.)? Do you see specific women’s challenges that aren’t yet being addressed, in the lighting industry, that need to be addressed?

Halfpenny: Many of the women’s representation groups are providing much needed resources for mentoring, strategies to succeed and gaining visibility, particularly for younger women. There should be more efforts focused on inclusion and support to ensure that women and underrepresented groups have the resources they need to grow and be successful.

I do see many groups working on diversity who are made up of the diverse people themselves and that’s a little frustrating to see them doing all the work in this area. There have been a few changes in highly visible positions in the industry for women and diverse people, so change is happening, but we can’t lean on the minority to make it so. Everyone has a role to play in the change. As I mentioned previously, it’s in the hiring process, the procurement process and the values that shape the business culture.

Shiller: Thank you, Christina, for sharing your thoughts and expertise with our LightNOW readers.

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NEMA Luminaire Section UGR Task Force Chair Jeremy Yon Talks Glare Metrics

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Yon, Industry Relations Leader, GE Current, a Daintree company, and Chair of the NEMA Luminaire Section UGR Task Force, on the topic of application of the Unified Glare Rating (UGR) metric. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Jeremy Yon, Industry Relations Leader, GE Current, a Daintree company, and Chair of the NEMA Luminaire Section UGR Task Force, on the topic of application of the Unified Glare Rating (UGR) metric. This interview was conducted to inform an article that will be published in the September 2022 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, the official publication of NECA. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: NEMA recently published LS 20001-2021, a whitepaper concerning current use of UGR as a glare metric. What was the rationale behind producing this whitepaper?

Yon: Glare is a timeless and universal concern to everyone who cares about lighting. It is one of the most critical aspects of an occupant’s experience with lighting and one of the most devilishly difficult topics. Historically, glare comes in and out of fashion. Because LED efficacy is now slowly increasing, glare is returning to the forefront of the industry’s attention. This topic has been grappled with by true lighting visionaries in the past, and now my NEMA colleagues and I are attempting to re-structure how glare is thought of and talked about so that there can be a common understanding and vocabulary when working together with all stakeholders.

DiLouie: What does UGR, overall and in general, reliably deliver, and what are its limitations?

Yon: The broad aim of UGR is to provide a better way to evaluate glare in indoor settings. However, it is not a simple matter because UGR depends strongly on the specific application; not only in regards to the luminaires, but also in their layout, the shape of the room and the reflectances of the surfaces in the room all affect the value of UGR. Additionally, the location of people in the room and the tasks conducted within the room can affect the experience of glare as well, so different values of UGR may be desired in different applications.

Therefore, we believe much of the confusion and misunderstanding when it comes to UGR is due in part to the three different ways that the term is used – they each have their own purposes and limitations. Since they were unnamed previously, we’ve taken the liberty to recommend that they be called Application UGR (UGRAppl), Luminiare UGR (UGRLum), and Point UGR (UGRPoint).

We’ve come to understand through our research that Application UGR and Point UGR can be tools for lighting designers to get predict what will likely be the visual comfort level for specific locations within an application. These are not absolute determinations and must be balanced with other predictive factors. Application UGR was designed while, and works best when, considering a windowless rectangular room with regularly spaced luminaires (think troffers). Point UGR is possible with computer simulations, but it should not be evaluated by looking at each point as it requires averaging over an area by the user to achieve the intended indication of comfort.

Luminaire UGR is the most common use of the term today and is the most problematic use of the equations. The UGR methodology was not intended to be an absolute measurement. The Luminaire UGR approach does this by forcing an evaluation of a single luminaire type in a specific evaluation space without taking into consideration the space itself (geometry, room finishes, luminaire placement, windows, partitions, multiple luminaire types, etc.). It cannot appropriately predict the likelihood of glare in any space other than that single specifically required condition. NEMA advises strongly against using Luminaire UGR.

DiLouie: What are the most common misconceptions practitioners have about glare and UGR, and what is the reality they should understand?

Yon: I think the most common misconception is to assume that a luminaire can have a UGR rating, ignoring the role of the application. If you look at a table of values produced by the tabular method for a single luminaire, you will see that, depending on the light distribution of the luminaire, the UGR can vary greatly. It clearly does not depend only on the luminaire. Below is an example in which UGR varies from 2.6 to 21.8.

While some may claim that UGR is the best of the various limited glare evaluation tools, that doesn’t mean UGR can deliver more than it is capable. Unless properly evaluated for the specific application in which a luminaire will be used, it can’t give absolute assurance that the luminaire selected is going to meet the required lighting design criteria. To this point, some manufacturers refuse to put Luminaire UGR numbers on their cutsheets. They don’t want to contribute to a misuse of the UGR metric, nor have their customer be the victim of poor lighting design quality because of a misapplied UGR number.

DiLouie: DLC, LEED, and WELL specify a maximum UGR based on glare emitted by the luminaire (UGR-Lum). This offers an advantage of reducing glare to a simple number published on a catalog sheet. NEMA says there are significant disadvantages. What are they?

Yon: All of those rating programs use the Luminaire UGR simplification to get the single value you mention. This creates a situation where a designer thinks they are selecting a product that has the “right number,” but in actuality, they may be selecting one that has more glare than is desired in application. From the example given earlier, the tabular reporting of that luminaire had a range of values from 2.6 to 21.8 – just based on room size and no other factors. With a variation this wide, it simply makes no sense to try and represent a luminaire with a single number.

Because of the selection of only a single reported value, there are many factors that impact the visual experience found in the final application that are not incorporated into Luminaire UGR. Some examples include the room finish (a dark ceiling will be much different than a light ceiling), the luminaire mounting height (high-bay vs office), and non-uniform placement (troffer grids vs artistic slots).

At the same time, luminaires that are designed to achieve only a Luminaire UGR value, and not to minimize glare from an application approach, can have various consequences. The luminous surfaces of the luminaires may be less uniform with easier-to-see LEDs, there may be additional accessories that need to be installed and there may be a feeling that the final spaces are darker, even though there may be adequate horizontal light (some may remember the deep-parabolic troffer days of the 1980s).

DiLouie: NEMA believes UGR-Appl, adopted by ISO and EN 12464-1, is a more appropriate metric to use to predict glare in a space…

Yon: NEMA is saying that UGR should be used in the way intended by the original CIE documents. Simplifying it to a luminaire based value is not correct.

DiLouie: Some organizations utilize UGR-Point, which predicts glare at a point in the space. This similarly places the metric in the space, not at the luminaire, but NEMA cautions about its use. Why?

Yon: Simulations will produce an array of point UGR values in a space. The original UGR uses a “trick” to calculate the average UGR over a 1H x 1H square centered along the walls. If only point calculations are done, as simulation software typically does, then the averaging step is omitted. Judicious positioning of the luminaires and/or the point for calculation can result in large variations in the UGR. “Cherry picking” from a set of UGR point values can yield a misleading value for UGR.

In examples given in the NEMA paper, UGR tables include a variation expectation that is often overlooked. These show expected point-to-point variation values, depending on the spacing of the luminaires. In the example we provided, the variation ranges from a minimum of +3/-3 units to +7.5/3.8 units, making a comparisson against a threshold impossible.

The user of a piece of software should perform proper averaging, either as detailed in the UGR standard (in a 1H x 1H region at the center of two adjacent walls) or in certain situations where occupants are only in specific areas, such as custom areas that best represent their design objectives. Secondly, there are some ambiguities in the UGR standard around handling different sizes of luminaires that can lead to differences between software simulations.

Finally, and most importantly, the designer needs to balance the results with all the other aspects of a lighting design – vertical illumination, presence/design of windows, space use flexibility, circadian exposure objectives, etc.

DiLouie: If UGR-Appl is most advantageous in predicting glare, a challenge is that the procedure appears to be complex and not well understood. What is the solution for this?

Yon: It is complex and not well understood! The fundamental CIE UGR standard (117) has been around since 1995. But oversimplifying it will lead to artificial selection of some luminaires as “good” and others as “bad,” when in fact the goodness/badness is impossible to evaluate outside of the context of the application. With the absence of a simple answer, it is good for all of us to remember that lighting, by definition, is a blending of art and science. This balance is what makes it so interesting and engaging for most of us.

The first recommendation is that luminaires should be used in the manner in which they were intended; if a high bay luminaire is used in an office, there is probably going to be a difference in visual comfort than if a luminaire designed specifically for an office is used. Building on this notion, manufacturers play an important role in determining what appropriate use is. The literature should be clear, and specifiers should ask for details they feel will help complete the project. A qualified lighting professional should be used to bring together all the complexities of lighting into an optimized solution.

Finally, and most importantly, all stakeholders need to come together with researchers to provide consistent and actionable recommendations. The IES is tackling this for some product categories and there is hope for continued engagement. Internationally, there is still work to be done by the CIE.

DiLouie: How should electrical contractors evaluating lighting systems approach it in regards to ensuring a product will not produce objectionable glare? Are there rules of thumb for evaluating application glare?

Yon: The most important rule of thumb is that glare, at its essence, is related to the difference between a bright object and a dark background. This is easy to see in daily life – high-beam headlights that can be disabling at night are barely visible during the day. The first step is to factor in the surfaces around the luminaire – are they light or dark finished? Is there light from other sources hitting the surface to keep it from being dark? The luminaire should fit into those needs by providing diffuse light in circumstances where an overall lighter environment is warranted, controlled and shielded when a dark atmosphere is expected.

It always helpful to think of the extremes – a soft white uniformly backlit luminous ceiling and white walls (if not overly bright) can have almost no glare (to the point that it can be disorienting); whereas a black-box theater goes to extremes to hide the source of the light so as to not draw attention away from the performance. Similarly, luminaires for offices would most likely be expected to have a uniform appearance and contribute to lighting the walls and surfaces, while task-specific lights (such as a wall-wash or a high-bay warehouse aisle light) rely on precision optics that need to be coordinated with the overall viewing expectations of occupants.

DiLouie: What other solutions does NEMA recommend as a way to ensure lighting systems are designed and delivered that minimize glare while serving the best needs of the application?

Yon: The first is to recognize how UGR can be both properly and improperly utilized as a guidance method for good lighting design. We’re hopeful that through the NEMA whitepaper, it is understood that only Application UGR provides suitable guidance in terms of what an occupant will experience in a specific space. In addition, if simulations are done, the individual point UGR values should not be utilized (averaging should be done) and there are assumptions about large and small luminaires that may lead to variations of answers in different software platforms.

Certainly, there is more study and work to be done to improve how we predict glare. It is hopeful that further focus and effort can be made that will simplify how this is done. Yet for now, Application-UGR remains our best option. What we don’t want is a misunderstood lighting metric, such as Luminaire-UGR, being used in good faith efforts to simplify the situation, as this will result in poor outcomes in lighting performance.

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

Yon: Our message to the industry is that UGR is an imperfect predicter of glare, but Application UGR is the best method we have today. With the right understanding, it can be an asset to lighting design application. If UGR’s limitations are not understood, such as using Luminaire UGR as a singular number inaccurately across a variety of applications, it undermines the purpose of the metric and can result in poor lighting.

DiLouie: Is there anything else that you’d like to add about this topic?

Yon: NEMA members place a high value on the visual environments our luminaires create. We work together with designers, installers and users to balance the needs of an application to create the most appropriate experience. Balanced factors like efficacy, color rendering, color temperature, uniformity, light distribution, color consistency, etc. all can have different impacts on the perceived glare for each specific application that cannot be factored into a single-value luminaire value.

NEMA welcomes the opportunity to work with all the stakeholders in evolving means to both predict and communicate expectations for visual comfort. Today, Application UGR and averaged Point UGR calculations can be an effective part of an overall lighting design, but they are very limited and should not be applied as a luminaire selection tool.

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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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BriteSwitch’s Leendert Jan Enthoven Talks 2022 Lighting Rebate Outlook

I recently had the opportunity to interview Leendert Jan Enthoven, President, BriteSwitch, LLC, a rebate fulfillment firm, on the topic of 2022 commercial lighting rebates and rebate trends.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Leendert Jan Enthoven, President, BriteSwitch, LLC, a rebate fulfillment firm, on the topic of 2022 commercial lighting rebates and rebate trends. This interview was conducted to inform articles for the May issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR and the March feature for the Lighting Controls Association, where average rebate dollars for popular lighting and control rebates will be published. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How would you characterize the current commercial prescriptive lighting rebate opportunity in the United States? What is the current overall level and trend in funding?

Enthoven: 2022 has proven to be another strong year for commercial lighting rebates. Currently, 77% of the US has a rebate for commercial lighting or controls. That’s up from 74% we saw last year and close to the highest we have on record, 79% in 2017. While most of the country has incentives available, there still are some notable hold-outs like Alaska, Kansas, North Dakota, Ohio, and West Virginia.

DiLouie: How did the pandemic affect rebate availability in 2021, and what impact will this have on 2022? Are things back to “normal”?

Enthoven: The pandemic didn’t affect the availability of rebates in 2021. Most programs continued as expected throughout the year.

As an effect of the pandemic, we noticed that rebate amounts increased throughout 2021. Towards the end of the year, programs either increased their incentives or offered limited-time bonus programs that provided temporary increases of anywhere from 10% to 100%. In Q4 of last year, we saw that roughly 20% of the rebate programs in the US were offering some kind of bonus to try to spur participation.

DiLouie: What are the top 3-5 trends in lighting rebates and what impact are they having on demand for energy-efficient lighting?

Enthoven: Overall, the rebate amounts for LED solutions stayed relatively flat for 2022. That’s a big change from the past. Historically, LED rebate amounts have dropped 10 – 20% each year. Last year was the first year they stayed flat, and this year continues that trend. The price increases seen across the industry, as well as lack of active projects, are probably the reasons behind this change.

2022 has also proven a strong year for rebates for horticulture lighting. The number of rebates for horticulture lighting has tripled over the last year. The rebate amounts for horticulture lighting have always been relatively high, but the new programs have brought the average amount down by roughly 25%. Still, even with that decrease, it’s the product category with one of the highest rebate amounts at an average of $102 per fixture. We also noticed that in 2022, a lot of the horticulture rebates have switched from custom to prescriptive, making them easier to estimate and file for.

We saw that incentive amounts varied a lot throughout the year last year. For most programs, a rebate amount will be set at the beginning of the year and remain consistent. Last year, adjustments were going on through the year. Most of this was to adjust the levels to take advantage of the available program budgets. This means distributors and contractors have to stay on top of the programs and changes that might be occurring.

DiLouie: What are the top 3-5 trends in lighting control rebates and what impact are they having on demand for lighting controls?

Enthoven: Lighting controls rebate amounts continue to remain consistent. Over the past 14 years, we’ve noticed incredible stability in the rebates for this category.

The number of utilities offering rebates for Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) increased by 16% in 2022. In most cases, if there is a lighting rebate available, NLC will also receive an incentive. These rebates are usually on top of, and not replacing, the rebates for standard lighting controls.

DiLouie: What role do electric vehicles and electric-vehicle charging stations play in rebates now? How do they work, and what are opportunities for electrical contractors and distributors in this category?

Enthoven: EV charging equipment, also called EVSE, is a growing opportunity for electrical contractors and distributors. It’s a relatively new segment with tremendous growth potential in the next few years. We’ve seen rebates, incentives, and grants for EV chargers skyrocket over the past year. These rebates significantly reduce the cost of installing EV chargers, but they may present a challenge. Rebates for EV chargers are much different from rebates for energy-efficient products like lighting or HVAC. While they both provide incentives, they’re more like a distant cousin than a sibling. They come from different organizations, run on different timelines, and are often structured differently. It takes a significant amount of time to fully understand them for even a seasoned rebate veteran.

One of the biggest differences between traditional lighting rebates and EVSE rebates is the sources of funding. For lighting, the rebates are typically through the utility. For EV charging stations, it can come from a variety of sources like the utility, state, county, municipality, or others. Sometimes several programs can even overlap, and you have to select which is the best for each individual project. We’ve been tracking energy efficiency rebates for 14 years, and there were so many differences with EV charging rebates that we had to develop a whole new database to capture and identify all the rebates correctly.

That being said, there’s a tremendous opportunity out there as the electrical charging infrastructure grows in North America. The number of rebates for Level 3, or DC fast-changing, EV charging stations increased by over 20% just in the past three months.

DiLouie: How would you characterize growth in lighting control rebates? Where do you see this trend headed in the future?

Enthoven: Over the past 14 years, lighting control rebates have always been remarkably stable, with dollar amounts and rebate availability being relatively consistent between the years. Most rebate programs in North America offer an incentive for control solutions, but they’re often tucked away in the back pages of a rebate catalog and not highly emphasized. It’s a shame, because the average rebate amounts for controls are relatively high compared to the cost, making them a relatively inexpensive upsell to most lighting retrofit projects.

DiLouie: How would you characterize growth in networked lighting control rebates?

Enthoven: The number of utilities incentivizing networked lighting controls increased by 16% in the past year. The rebate amount itself didn’t change much. Most rebate programs seem excited by the opportunity that NLC presents, but the consensus is that the growth of these systems is slower than expected. One of the biggest challenges seems to be educating the marketplace on how to market and sell these solutions effectively.

DiLouie: What are the most popular models for networked lighting control rebates?

Enthoven: Most of the rebates for NLC are on a “per fixture installed” basis. Filing for incentives for NLC can be tricky. Just one project can have a combination of standard control rebates, standard lighting rebates, and NLC rebates.

DiLouie: What do electrical contractors need to know about helping their customers gain rebates?

Enthoven: The two biggest issues that contractors working on rebates run into are pre-approval and product selection.

A majority of rebate programs require pre-approval before installation. The amount of time pre-approval takes varies depending on the rebate program, but the average is 3 – 4 weeks across North America. Contractors must make sure to allow themselves time to get pre-approval before a project is slated to begin. It’s better to start on the paperwork as early as possible to make sure rebates don’t delay the project.

Product selection is also critical when it comes to rebates. Many programs have strict requirements for what type of lighting is installed. The most common requirements are that the LED is EnergyStar or Design Lights Consortium listed, with over 3/4 of programs requiring certification to receive incentives. Contractors must make sure the product they’re using is currently on the DLC or EnergyStar website; a logo on a spec sheet is not sufficient proof. It’s even more important this year, as DLC will transition from version 5.0 to 5.1 later this year.

DiLouie: Where do you see rebates going in the future?

Enthoven: If price increases, material scarcity, and inflation keep on track, I think commercial lighting rebates will remain stable, if not increase, in the future. For lighting upgrades, the early adopters and the low-hanging-fruit opportunities have already made the switch, and now it’s a matter of convincing the hold-outs, which may need more financial incentives to make the switch.

DiLouie: If you could tell all lighting professionals only one thing about lighting and control rebates, what would it be?

Enthoven: If you do not include rebates on all of your quotes, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. The rebates allow you to lower the perceived price to your customers without impacting your margin. They also show your customers the value and expertise you add. Rebate paperwork can be a cumbersome burden, but don’t let that stop you. Having a dedicated person at your company to handle rebates, or outsourcing to a third-party rebate processor, can reduce the hassle.

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DLC’s Levin Nock on the New LUNA Technical Requirements for Outdoor Lighting

I recently had the opportunity to interview Levin Nock, PhD, Senior Technical Manager, DesignLights Consortium (DLC), for an article about the DLC’s new LUNA requirements I’m writing for the June issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Transcript follows.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Levin Nock, PhD, Senior Technical Manager, DesignLights Consortium (DLC), for an article about the DLC’s new LUNA requirements I’m writing for the June issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How prominent are outdoor luminaires in utility rebate programs, and what role does the DLC and the Qualified Products List play in these programs?

Nock: Outdoor luminaires comprise nearly half of all the products on the DLC Solid State Lighting Qualified Products List. According to BriteSwitch energy information, 90% of energy efficiency programs across most of the US and Canada offer rebates for DLC qualified outdoor lighting.

DiLouie: Generally, what is the purpose of LUNA Technical Requirements V1.0?

Nock: The DLC LUNA requirements are intended to mitigate negative impacts of lighting at night by establishing system performance specifications and best practices with the following goals:

1. Minimize lighting energy use. In addition to meeting the efficacy thresholds of the DLC’s SSL V5.1 Technical Requirements, LUNA qualified products must meet additional dimming, control, and shielding requirements to ensure efficient use of lighting energy. These thresholds will help efficiency programs meet or exceed their energy savings goals and end users reduce operational costs.

2. Minimize light pollution. The LUNA program introduces requirements for light distribution, correlated color temperature (CCT), and dimming controls that ensure less light is scattered into the atmosphere, resulting in reduction of light trespass and sky glow, and darker skies for stargazers, astronomers, and wildlife.

3. Provide appropriate visibility for people. The LUNA program incorporates all SSL V5.1 spectral quality requirements, BUG reporting requirements, and additional spectral power distribution and intensity distribution reporting requirements, enabling lighting installations to meet recommended practices and voluntary guidelines for dark-sky best practices.

DiLouie: Is it complementary to current DLC SSL outdoor lighting requirements, or will it be integrated?

Nock: LUNA Technical Requirements V1.0 complement existing DLC requirements for outdoor lighting, with additional requirements that are specific to enabling the responsible application of light at night. LUNA qualified products not only meet the existing DLC SSL V5.1 requirements for lighting quality, but also have attributes that help limit light pollution, sky glow, and light trespass.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of LUNA for owners, contractors, distributors, designers, manufacturers?

Nock: LUNA provides a clear way to address light pollution and light trespass while saving electricity and qualifying for energy efficiency rebates and incentives. The LUNA program qualifies warm white LED luminaires that will help meet dark sky policies and ordinances. These products can be used to meet the prescriptive application guidance in the Joint IDA-IES Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO). LUNA products can also be used to meet the light pollution and trespass requirements for LEED certification. And LUNA products of 2700K to 3000K CCT can be used to meet the light pollution and trespass requirements for 2021 WELL certification.

DiLouie: What does the DLC anticipate for participation by the end of 2022?

Nock: Considering that a third of all artificial outdoor light in the US is lost by unshielded luminaires – costing facility owners over $3 billion every year – and that light pollution consciousness as well as regulations are proliferating, we anticipate extensive participation by the end of 2022. Readers may find the actual count of products that meet LUNA requirements on the DLC QPL as they become qualified in mid-2022.

DiLouie: In recent years, the DLC broadened its interest in energy efficiency by addressing lighting quality issues with indoor lighting. What was the rationale for doing something similar for outdoor lighting?

Nock: The US National Park Service estimates that at the current rate of increasing light pollution, no dark skies will remain in the continental US by 2025. The DLC has played an important role in enabling the rapid conversion of outdoor lighting to energy-saving LED lighting. Due to a variety of factors including lack of proper application knowledge in the market, the unintended consequence of rapidly increasing light pollution has been identified as an issue. The DLC Technical Requirements have been updated to address lighting quality issues found in both indoor and now outdoor lighting, because we recognize the need to prevent more light pollution and the opportunity to resolve the existing issues. Specifically, the LUNA program enables selection of products that will limit light pollution and trespass.

DiLouie: What impact do you see LUNA having on rebate programs, the market, and the state of outdoor lighting? How do you see LUNA fitting into local ordinances and the IES Model Lighting Ordinance?

Nock: In terms of energy efficiency rebate programs, we expect LUNA qualified products to continue to receive rebates because they meet DLC SSL V5.1 requirements for energy efficiency. In terms of the market and the state of outdoor lighting, we hope that light pollution will decrease as LUNA qualified outdoor lighting products are installed following the IDA-IES Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting, which essentially call for appropriate consideration of lighting needs for outdoor projects.

LUNA qualified products also enable specifiers to meet local ordinances related to light pollution and trespass using warm white light and meet the prescriptive application guidance in the IES Model Lighting Ordinance.

DiLouie: What impact do you see LUNA having on product development? What percentage of the market currently complies, and how and where will manufacturers need to stretch to comply?

Nock: In terms of product development and the shifting market, we expect to see:

1) more decorative roadway/area luminaires with less uplight, based on the LUNA uplight requirement of U2 or lower;
2) more luminaires with CCT of 2200 K to 2700 K at 105 lumens per watt or higher, based on LUNA spectral and efficacy requirements;
3) more public sharing of luminaire spectral data;
4) more listings of shielded products, due to LUNA shielding efficacy allowances;
5) more efforts to standardize outdoor chromaticity specifications for white and amber spectra; and
6) a broader selection of DLC-qualified bollards, due to the LUNA efficacy allowance.

In terms of compliance, most DLC qualified roadway and area luminaires already have an uplight rating of U0 or U1, and many have a family member available at 3000K CCT. The biggest stretch will be for optical limitations in decorative products and for bollards, even with the efficacy allowance for bollards. The biggest opportunity is likely to be newly qualified products at the lowest white light CCTs.

DiLouie: Controllability is required. What was the rationale for including it, and what are the benefits of providing it?

Nock: Controllability is the key to using light where it’s needed and when it’s needed. Controllability is also a key factor for advanced energy savings.

Whenever an outdoor luminaire is dimmed, by whatever means, sky glow is reduced during the dimmed times. This is true even for U0 luminaires because of reflections from the ground and other surfaces. Dimming can also mitigate light trespass and overlighting.

Also, considering that dark sky ordinances are proliferating rapidly throughout the world, installing a controllable product with a standardized control receptacle today reduces the risk of obsolescence tomorrow. While standardized control receptacles are not required in this version, the QPL will make it easier to find these products.

In terms of requirements for controllability, all LUNA qualified products are continuously dimmable to 20% or less of maximum light output. In addition, details about controllability capabilities and communication protocols are publicly available on the DLC QPL, to support easier selection of lighting products and NLC products that are likely to be compatible with one another.

DiLouie: What control scenarios do you see being enacted using the controllability capability required in LUNA?

Nock: To ensure that light is no brighter than necessary, high-end trim enables specifiers to meet design requirements without overlighting. To ensure that light is only used when it is useful, outdoor lighting can be dimmed down as far as appropriate, as frequently as appropriate. For example, when fewer cars and people are present later at night, lower light levels can be scheduled for street and roadway lighting, compared to evening and morning rush hours when more illumination is needed per ANSI/IES RP-8-21. Similarly, occupancy sensors for area lighting can dim the lights whenever an area is unoccupied.

Smart city projects sometimes invest in networked lighting controls (NLC) with various types of sensors plus centralized dashboards for remote diagnostics, scheduling and energy reporting. However, many LED-retrofit projects do not yet include NLC. New LED luminaires are likely to remain in the field for 15 to 20 years, so future upgrades are an important aspect of controllability and sustainability, to avoid premature replacement. A LUNA-qualified luminaire chosen with a standardized control receptacle and a digital D4i driver can be installed cost-effectively today with either a simple standalone photocontroller, or a standalone photocontroller with part-night-dimming and field-adjustable high-end trim. In the future, as value propositions mature, for instance with 5G buildout, each control receptacle can accept a new piece of digital hardware, to support NLC plus additional types of sensors.

DiLouie: What education and training do contractors, distributors, etc. need to properly implement LUNA-compliant solutions?

Nock: Appropriate project design begins with consideration of the IDA-IES Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting shown below:

Beyond that, design and application guidance is available from the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES). An extensive list of references is available in the LUNA Technical Requirements.

The DLC recommends that, when possible, a qualified lighting professional assist in designing and implementing a complete project that meets all of an owner’s project requirements, including minimizing light pollution.

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

Nock: With all the infrastructure and roadway lighting projects that will happen in the next few years, now is the time to ensure that lighting solutions minimize light pollution and support decarbonization goals. If practitioners and owners do not minimize light pollution and guard against premature replacement as primary design goals, then the opportunity will be lost for decades. With LUNA qualified products, decision makers can be confident of saving energy AND following best environmental practices for nighttime lighting.

DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this topic?

Nock: Lighting is no different than other human inventions and activities in that it does not occur within a vacuum. What, where, and how we illuminate our outdoor spaces has impacts – sometimes profound – on neighboring human communities, wildlife, the environment, and the ability to enjoy and study the night sky. LUNA supports a more holistic view of nighttime lighting that provides appropriate illumination for people, while mitigating light pollution and reining in billions of dollars in energy waste that contributes to the climate crisis.

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Cooper’s Eric Jerger Talks Field-Adjustable Luminaires

I recently had the opportunity to interview Eric Jerger, VP and GM, Indoor Lighting, Cooper Lighting Solutions, for an article I’m writing for tED Magazine’s March 2022 issue. The topic? Field-adjustable luminaires.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Eric Jerger, VP and GM, Indoor Lighting, Cooper Lighting Solutions, for an article I’m writing for tED Magazine’s March 2022 issue. The topic: field-adjustable luminaires. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How would you define a field-adjustable luminaire?

Jerger: A field-adjustable luminaire allows users and installers the ability to choose from a range of color temperatures and/or lumens with a simple switch on the product.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for field-adjustable luminaires, and would you consider this category a trend?

Jerger: The demand for field-adjustable luminaires continues to grow as distributors are maximizing limited warehouse space. Field-selectable luminaires offer multiple products in one, saving distributors money by stocking less inventory while still being able to meet the needs of the customers.

DiLouie: How does the field adjustable mechanism work, who does it, and how can it be changed in the future after installation?

Jerger: Field-selectable color temperature and lumens can be controlled with a flip of simple switch that is located on the luminaire. The switch can be adjusted during installation or after installation by any customer at any time to set the color temperature and/or lumens to their desired preference.

DiLouie: What adjustability is most popular? Lumens/Wattage, CCT, light distribution, or some combination of these?

Jerger: In the lighting industry, customers prefer to have the ability to change color temperature and lumens as these luminaire attributes can lead to desirable benefits such as increased productivity, enhanced mood, and alertness, as well as improved health and well-being. Customer preference for selectable lumens or selectable color temperature or both depends on the application.  For example in Industrial applications, customers typically only need selectable lumens from their high bay fixtures.

DiLouie: What lighting products are covered in this category? Troffers, downlights…? Is it only indoor, or are there outdoor products with this capability as well?

Jerger: Field-selectable color temperature and lumens are features that spans across multiple product categories in the lighting industry and will only continue to grow in the future. Recessed downlights, undercabinet fixtures, troffers, linear lighting, and even high bays are some examples of indoor solutions.

Indoor has been the predominant space for field-selectable products, however this emerging trend is also being requested by customers in outdoor products including residential floodlights, wall packs and canopy lighting luminaires.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of field-adjustable luminaires for electrical contractors?

Jerger: For contractors, the benefits of field-selectable products include being able to create the most optimal space for the customer during installation, as they will be able to choose with the customer their ideal LED color temperature and lumen output. In addition, the contractor knows they have installed a low maintenance product that will likely not require them to return to the job site. Also, for the contractor, field-selectable products make their jobs easier by not having to carry multiple variations of products.

DiLouie: For the contractor and owner, what are typical and ideal applications? Is there a “killer app” for this product?

Jerger: Field-selectable products can be used everywhere. Whether it’s a residential homeowner or a schoolteacher in an education environment or a facility manager in a warehouse, field-selectable products are simple for contractors to install while providing long-lasting benefits in a multitude of applications.

We’re not aware of a “killer app” for field-selectable products.

For residential applications, Cooper Lighting Solutions does have a HALO Home mobile app that is user-friendly and lets homeowners easily control their home’s lighting from anywhere in the world.

For commercial applications, Cooper Lighting Solutions does have a WaveLinx mobile app that allows the user to control color temperature and lumens.

DiLouie: Looking more closely regarding what’s in it for distributors, what types and level of cost and inventory savings can be realized, and what additional value can they offer to customers?

Jerger: With field selectable products, distributors are able to optimize their inventory, increase their turns, and likely provide better service to their customers. Cost and inventory savings would depend on the exact use case.

DiLouie: As typically these luminaires impose a cost premium, they have to justify additional value. Under what application situations would they not prove desirable?

Jerger: Examples would be projects where the lighting fixtures are highly specified to have a specific lumen and/or color temperature and thus the designer never intended for them to be changed.

DiLouie: What do you see as the future of this category in 3-5 years? Do you believe it will grow to mainstream adoption, or do you see it growing to serve a specific market willing to pay for the additional flexibility?

Jerger: We believe that in the next 3 to 5 years there will be an increase in customer adoption of field-selectable products, which will have growing applicability in a multitude of vertical applications.

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

Jerger: Field-selectable technology empowers users to adapt to the every-changing needs of a space, creating the most optimal lighting experience at any time.

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RAB’s Ross Barna on Field-Adjustable Lighting

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ross Barna, CEO, RAB Lighting, Inc., for an article I’m writing for tED Magazine’s March 2022 issue. The topic: field-adjustable luminaires.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Ross Barna, CEO, RAB Lighting, Inc., for an article I’m writing for tED Magazine’s March 2022 issue. The topic: field-adjustable luminaires. Transcript follows.

DiLouie: How would you define a field-adjustable luminaire?

Barna: Field adjustable lighting luminaires enable installers and/or end users to control any number of parameters including but not limited to: the amount, color temperature or even distribution of light. The most common adjustable methods include switches or knobs with preset levels but can even be controlled wirelessly using a smart phone or proprietary control system. Some field-adjustable luminaires are designed to be set once during installation and others are able to be adjusted at any time.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for field-adjustable luminaires, and would you consider this category a trend?

Barna: Field adjustability is an emerging trend across most categories of lighting including indoor, outdoor and lamps. While still not in the majority of lighting products sold today, I would not be surprised to see field adjustable features in the majority of products within the next couple years.

DiLouie: How does the field adjustable mechanism work, who does it, and how can it be changed in the future after installation?

Barna: The mechanics of field-adjustable lighting can be accomplished in a number of ways but most often it is achieved by accessing switches that have pre-set values, such as color or output. The factory pre-sets these switches and installers can adjust them as needed. In the case of smart lighting adjustments can be made using an app.

DiLouie: What adjustability is most popular? Lumens/Wattage, CCT, light distribution, or some combination of these?

Barna: The earliest trends in adjustability were seen in light output. We are also now seeing strong demand for three-way adjustable products— output, color temperature and photocell.

DiLouie: What lighting products are covered in this category? Troffers, downlights…? Is it only indoor, or are there outdoor products with this apability as well?

Barna: We are seeing strong demand both in indoor and outdoor categories and emerging demand in lamps as well. We currently offer field adjustable downlights, wafers, troffers, panels, undercabinets, floodlights, wallpacks, area lights, A Lamps, PARs, BRs and more.

DiLouie: What are the benefits of field-adjustable luminaires for electrical distributors, contractors, and owners?

Barna: The biggest benefit of field-adjustability for electrical distributors is that in some cases, one SKU can do the work that many used to do, in some cases as many as 18 SKUs. When distributors can concentrate their inventory on fewer SKUs they are more likely to have what contracts need, in stock, today.

Contractors benefit from being able to satisfy end-users needs with less guessing and can dial in just the right result.

DiLouie: For the contractor and owner, what are typical and ideal applications? Is there a “killer app” for this product?

Barna: I don’t believe there’s a “killer app” here, it’s more of a “better mousetrap.” The end result is the same, it’s just easier to get the result the end-user desires.

DiLouie: Looking more closely regarding what’s in it for distributors, what types and level of cost and inventory savings can be realized, and what additional value can they offer to customers?

Barna: Distributors these days are facing a very challenging environment, where supply chains are unreliable and inflationary pressure is pushing costs up across the economy. Being able to invest in inventory that can hit many birds with one stone and is simply the best option to win in today’s market.

DiLouie: As typically these luminaires impose a cost premium, they have to justify additional value. Under what application situations would they not prove desirable?

Barna: RAB has taken all efforts to ensure that field-adjustable luminaires are very competitively priced relative to their predecessors. We do this by engineering cost out throughout the design to enable the addition of the components needed to enable field adjustability.

DiLouie: What do you see as the future of this category in 3-5 years? Do you believe it will grow to mainstream adoption, or do you see it growing to serve a specific market willing to pay for the additional flexibility?

Barna: In the next 3-5 years, I expect to see field adjustable products to become the majority of what is sold in the market across nearly all categories.

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

Barna: Now is the time for distributors to invest in field-adjustable inventory across all lighting categories. With continued high costs of freight and shortages of labor and materials, the sooner you stock up, the better! It’s a no-brainer.

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