A tremendous amount of our global energy use comes from lighting—in fact, lighting accounts for up to 40% of the electricity used in commercial buildings today. It should come as no surprise that much of this energy is used inefficiently. For example, lights in offices often remain on when the office is empty, or at full power even though sunlight is available. Throughout a typical day, most lights provide more illumination than their users desire, need, or can even perceive.
Lighting control solutions aim to solve this problem by vastly reducing energy consumption while providing users with greater control. This is achieved through a set of strategies that use sensor technology to deliver the optimal level of light to all users at all times.
Wireless lighting control goes a step further, by making these strategies more easily achievable and powerful, at a lower cost. With wireless lighting control, an intelligent lighting system provides greater control to users, automates lighting decisions, and minimizes wasted energy. Ultimately, this helps building projects meet government regulations and LEED certification, as well as save money and improve sustainability.
Advanced lighting control
Lighting control systems use automated intelligence to deliver the required illumination level, where you want it, when you want it. Luminaires can automatically turn on, off or dim at set times or under set conditions. Users have control over their own illumination levels to provide an optimal working environment while preventing energy waste from over-illumination.
Lighting control systems include some or all of the following:
- on/off and dimming controls
- occupancy sensors to detect whether rooms are occupied
- photosensors to detect the current illumination levels provided by natural and/or artificial light
- scheduling that turns on, off, and dims luminaires at preset times
- a centralized control system interface (such as a wall panel or computer software) to manage all of the above
- a method of communication between the lighting equipment and control system
- a method of measuring, displaying, and responding to lighting energy usage
Lighting control systems vary widely according to the technologies used to complete these tasks, as well as their degree of difficulty and cost. Historically though, the more system-wide controls and advanced strategies that are used, the greater the complexity, which often makes these solutions difficult or even impossible to implement across large-scale environments.
Removing the wires
Wireless is especially relevant for retrofit situations, where access to wires within walls and plenums, and introduction of new wires, can be difficult, expensive, and in some cases impossible. In retrofits, wireless enables the addition of powerful control strategies without the cost and disruption of rewiring. Removing communications wires also provides more flexibility in terms of where controls and sensors can be placed, and can make it more affordable to include additional controls and sensors in the network (enabling more granular information about illumination levels and therefore more accurate control).
Wireless solutions are also ideal for large companies or government departments that have installations covering multiple floors or buildings. Through wireless networking, the lights, switches, sensors, and other elements of the system all communicate with each other throughout a room, building, or across an enterprise, and can be controlled and managed centrally for a system-wide view of operations, current power usage, savings, and more.
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