Craig DiLouie, LC recently interviewed Brian Bernstein, Global Head of Indoor Lighting Systems, Philips Lighting, about LED luminaire-integrated lighting controls.
DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for LED luminaires with integrated controls?
Bernstein: The demand for LED luminaires with integrated controls is increasing, driven by improving LED source performance, regulatory compliance requirements, and sustainability concerns. At the most basic level, all luminaires that use LED sources for illumination have some form of integrated control. All LED luminaires have memory and processing capacities, and most have some type of communications. LED luminaires with integrated controls may also offer a range of additional capabilities. Some communicate information about their own status and operations—including internal operating temperature, energy metering, and lifetime monitoring, which lighting system owners and managers can use to optimize system performance, efficiency, and maintenance. Other LED luminaires use integrated sensors to collect information on usage and environmental factors in illuminated spaces— including occupancy levels and activity patterns, temperature/humidity changes, and daylight levels… If the lighting system is integrated with a lighting management software platform on the back end, system owners and managers can store, visualize, and analyze historical information about luminaire performance and activities in illuminated spaces for decision support, greater insight into worker/customer behavior, and enhanced facility management.
Application-specific behaviors can be incorporated into the integrated controls of an LED luminaire itself, providing local, built-in responses that don’t require a lighting management system or networked controls. These responses act like a luminaire’s “reflexes,” triggered immediately and reliably by stimuli. For example, luminaires may respond to changes in daylight levels or occupancy by switching (turning on or off) or dimming (using ramp up/ramp down curves). When installed throughout a space, luminaires with local “reflex” behaviors create a distributed network of lighting controls that can potentially support all lighting system management activities.
LED luminaires with rich illumination capabilities, such as dynamic color-changing and tunable white light, can use integrated controls to offer responsive behaviors that benefit the users, as well as the managers and owners of the spaces. Targeting light levels to support specific tasks can help improve personal performance, while adjustments to color temperature can enhance occupants’ experience. Dynamic, color-changing scenes and effects can transform environments for special purposes and occasions, while full-color accent lighting can create a sense of excitement or relaxation in a space.
System architects are currently engaged in a conversation about how much control or intelligence to integrate into the luminaires themselves, and how much to distribute to other layers of the lighting system architecture. Some of the questions that need to be addressed are:
- What capabilities should go into the local “reflex” layer, the luminaire’s OS?
- What should be the responsibilities of the application/analytics/presentation layer?
- What role does middleware play in distributing lighting system intelligence, and what kind of software and devices are optimal?
Some systems thinkers are moving beyond LED luminaires with integrated controls to imagine a “digital ceiling” – a distributed computing platform that combines a network of intelligent luminaires with external control devices, databases, and software to deliver extraordinary illumination and value beyond illumination. For owners and managers of illuminated spaces, value beyond illumination includes optimized workflows and energy efficiency based on deep insight of facility utilization. For users of illuminated spaces, value beyond illumination includes the delivery of in-context information and location-based services, such as indoor wayfinding, personalized marketing (in-store couponing), and presentation of relevant online offerings.
The US lighting control market is largely analog-only at present, and much of it is wired and load-control based. Systems with analog controls don’t share data of their operations and cannot support enhanced intelligence or value beyond illumination. An enormous opportunity exists at the moment to realize value for customers by moving from analog to digital lighting control systems, up to and including fully integrated connected lighting systems with intelligent luminaires.
DiLouie: What would you estimate as present and future market share (say in five years) for LED luminaires with integrated controls compared to LED luminaires without integrated controls? What is driving demand for LED luminaires with integrated controls?
Bernstein: The percentage market share varies depending on how you define LED luminaires with integrated controls. In general, the market share for intelligent luminaires is relatively low today, but is expected to be much higher in five years. Within that timeframe, we anticipate that the market will reach a tipping point, with the center of gravity shifting from analog or load-based control to digital control, profoundly affecting the lighting industry from end to end. Once this transition is complete, we expect the lighting industry to look much more like the electronics and IT industries, rather than the traditional lighting industry of the last 100 years or so. This transition has already started to occur.
With advanced capabilities, digital control and systems integration, projects that used to be strictly about providing excellent, energy-efficient illumination are now focusing more on how to use the lighting infrastructure to deliver measureable business value to customers. Can the digital ceiling, the network of intelligent luminaires, increase the total value of illuminated spaces for owners, operators, and users? Can cities integrate intelligent lighting management practices into their comprehensive city planning, management, and resiliency initiatives? If so, the pace of adoption will accelerate.
DiLouie: Please describe a typical system. How is it specified, installed and used?
Bernstein: There are no typical systems. One of the great advantages, and also one of the challenges, of intelligent and connected lighting systems is their flexibility. Systems can be any size, from a few lights in a single enclosed office, to a network of tens of thousands of individually controllable light points distributed across several geographical areas. Systems can incorporate a wide range of capabilities, including basic illumination, comfort, and energy savings to specifically targeted, personalized illumination integrated with a variety of personalized services and in-context information. Lighting systems can focus solely on general and task illumination, or they can deliver spectacular, large-scale experiences for corporate branding, civic pride, cultural experiences and events.
There are no one-size-fits-all systems. Specifying and designing effective and successful intelligent and connected lighting systems starts with gathering customer and business needs, then tailoring a solution that delivers the specific illumination and other desired capabilities. This approach implies a greater collaboration between traditional lighting design/specification practices and other practices, such as IT systems planning and deployment, systems integration, electrical design and installation, environmental design, and architectural design. At the very least, lighting designers and specifiers who want to succeed in the new world of integrated systems need to educate themselves on the advanced capabilities of connected lighting systems, and on the role that lighting infrastructures can play in the new digital ecology.
Lighting manufacturers and forward-looking system designers need to help the lighting design community navigate this new and emerging territory by offering a range of pre-configured solutions, in which typical lighting behaviors and system responses are pre-defined in a template or recipe to deliver key value in specific applications, such as office spaces or stores of a certain size. In addition to helping specifiers better understand the potential capabilities and value of intelligent systems, these packaged offerings will provide easier installation and quicker deployment as specifiers develop expertise.
Systems thinking is the second great disruption that the lighting design community has had to absorb in the last 10 years, after the introduction of LED lighting itself. Intelligent and connected lighting systems do not spell the end of lighting design, but the beginning of an expanded and more central role for lighting designers. With spectrally tunable digital light available in virtually any form factor – as well as the ability to embed LED light sources in the environment and make them responsive to changing conditions and the preferences and habits of individuals – lighting designers can have a profound effect on the health, comfort, safety, and effectiveness of people, and on sustainability, energy efficiency, and resiliency.
DiLouie: What are the advantages of luminaire-integrated controls for the lighting designer?
Bernstein: With intelligent and connected LED-based systems, lighting designers can be further involved in delivering optimized illumination and value beyond illumination. Forward-looking designers are well positioned to articulate the value of the digital ceiling and fully integrated intelligent lighting management. Designers with a good understanding of connected lighting themes and systems can participate in substantive dialogue with customers about how to use connected lighting as an approach to realizing measurable value beyond illumination. In business settings, these values include optimized facility management, HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) cost reduction, and enhanced employee performance and satisfaction. In retail settings, these values include positive impact on top-line results, customer conversion, and customer retention. It’s possible to articulate similar outcomes and values in other contexts, such as healthcare, public, and education.
Bernstein: Intelligent and connected lighting systems represent both opportunities and challenges for installers. Installers form an integral part of the value chain for both traditional lighting and intelligent lighting, but the transition from one to the other requires installers to transform their business practices. A savvy installer can increase their worth by acquiring skills in deploying intelligent and connected lighting systems, allowing them to deliver enhanced value to customers and realize the opportunity to attract differentiated, higher-margin projects.
Bernstein: Facility owners are already paying to install and maintain the lighting infrastructures in the spaces they manage. By moving to connected lighting systems that distribute controlled, intelligent luminaires throughout the illuminated environment, business owners can realize significant operational and energy cost savings for a small incremental cost increase relative to a non-intelligent system. They can also optimize facility operations by using the lighting infrastructure as a pathway for information and intelligence on occupancy and activities in managed spaces. In these ways, facility owners can realize the advantages both total cost of ownership (TCO) and total value of ownership (TVO) from initial hardware and installation costs equivalent to traditional systems that deliver less value.
Bernstein: Like installers, distributors have an opportunity to embrace the digital ceiling and become part of the intelligent LED lighting revolution. Not every application requires intelligent luminaires, but developing expertise in this space can extend distributors’ repertoire and differentiate them from competitors. A distributor that positions itself as the go-to practice for the latest and greatest information about cutting-edge lighting technology has a distinct advantage over a traditional lamps-only distributor.
DiLouie: What are ideal applications for LED luminaires with integrated controls?
Bernstein: There are many! A basic application may consist of occupancy and daylight sensors integrated into ceiling troffers to switch luminaires on and off in an open floor plan or enclosed office. A more sophisticated application may call for integrating all luminaires with a facility’s IT network to collect real-time and historical occupancy information that facility managers can use to evaluate space utilization, increase HVAC and facility maintenance efficiency, and fine-tune illumination rules to achieve the optimal balance between user experience and energy efficiency.
We see value for interior applications in offices, retail environments, schools, hospitals, sports arenas and many, many other spaces, but we also see tremendous opportunities for incorporating intelligence into outdoor roadway, area, and site lighting applications. For these applications, the largest impacts on TCO and TVO relate to asset management and tightly controlling light levels based on activity and environmental factors. Point-by-point roadway luminaire status via a single dashboard or view, for instance, can dramatically increase maintenance efficiency and contribute to good safety practices.
DiLouie: What are the disadvantages of this approach to lighting control? Putting it another way, for what applications or application conditions would this approach be unsuitable?
Bernstein: Done right, integrated connected lighting systems should present no disadvantages. System designers must always keep in mind that the first responsibility of a lighting system is to deliver excellent illumination. The “beyond illumination” capabilities that a connected lighting system can provide should never come at the expense of excellent illumination.
As for suitability, it’s important to consider where intelligent illumination is required and where traditional illumination may be sufficient. In office buildings, highly occupied spaces can benefit from intelligent luminaires, while many common and utility spaces – such as loading docks, stairwells, bathrooms, and hallways – can have conventional luminaires with separate or central controllers to turn lighting on/off for basic comfort, task support, convenience, and energy savings. Through the use of gateways and other networking and integration devices, application spaces that do not require intelligent luminaires can still be part of a facility-wide connected lighting system.
DiLouie: What are typical pitfalls with this approach, and how can they be mitigated through good design and installation practices?
Bernstein: The key to good design and installation practices is to know what measurable business value a given customer wants to realize, and then deliver a system that supports that value without compromising excellent illumination.
As in factory automation and business systems, success is predicated on defining the desired outcomes prior to deployment. Approached in this manner, system design can reduce cost by specifying intelligent luminaires only where needed for specific and relevant purposes. Ideally, you use a hybrid approach in which you define a common facility-wide system architecture that offers management and control of both intelligent and non-intelligent luminaires from multiple suppliers. You can install the appropriate luminaires for your various illumination needs in the context of a connected lighting system that delivers illumination and targeted, measurable business value beyond illumination.
DiLouie: Many of these packages feature controls that are wireless. What are the advantages and disadvantages of this control method?
Bernstein: Wireless is one technology appropriate for providing the communications portion of an intelligent luminaire. There are also many wired options, including DALI, Ethernet, power line carrier (PLC), and 0-10V control. The key is not only how the data gets the last few feet to and from the luminaire, but how the entire system can use a number of technologies to minimize initial /deployment costs while realizing measurable business value. To realize its value, wireless must find its place as part of an integrated system – alongside in-luminaire and independent sensors, panels, and switches – as well as the potential integration with building management systems.
Wireless can be effective method to deliver data to a luminaire, but it does not work well in all environments. Wireless is most effective in very open areas, such as warehouses, open-plan offices, and classrooms. It may also be a good option in retrofit situations. In renovations and new construction, Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), and other wired approaches, can be very economical in terms of first and deployment costs.
Keep in mind that purchasing wireless from one vendor, luminaires from another, and integration services from a third can be an expensive proposition. Much more attractive is an integrated wireless/luminaire solution from a single vendor.
DiLouie: What protocols are most popular? What are the pros and cons of each?
Pros: Retrofit, potentially fewer wires
Cons: Relatively high inital cost, no standards for lighting, can be unreliable for high-bandwidth lighting control (for dynamic and color-changing effects and light shows, for example)
• Power-over-Ethernet (PoE)
Pros: Easy installation, easy integration
Cons: Limited wattage per fixture, no standards for lighting
Pros: Established (in Europe)
Cons: Hard to commission, expensive, limited data, not well established yet in US
• Powerline Carrier (PLC)
Pros: Uses existing infrastructure
Cons: Interference, not currently available for lighting
• Load control, 0-10V
Cons: No data, no intelligence
DiLouie: What is the potential for integrated non-lighting sensors into LED luminaires? What is the market outlook for this approach?
Bernstein: Occupancy sensors can trigger lighting, collect data on facility utilization and maintenance activities, support room scheduling, and enhance security. Visible light communications (VLC) can be used for luminaire and connected lighting system commissioning, as well as indoor positioning and location-based services offering ambient intelligence to employees and consumers. Some sensors and measurement devices—cameras, toxic gas sensors, and smoke detectors, for example—can be used for capabilities unrelated to lighting. Deciding whether to integrate non-lighting sensors into the lighting infrastructure, or install them as a separate sensor network, is sensor- and application-dependent. Do you need a smoke detector or a security camera in every luminaire? The answer requires an evaluation of the application space and other factors, such as the cost that the sensor would add to each luminaire.
DiLouie: Does the increase in adoption of lighting controls, and specifically LED luminaires with integrated controls, create any opportunities for industry players to sell software and services? What players will be involved, what could they offer, and how would they benefit?
Bernstein: Absolutely. The lighting industry is beginning to look more like the electronics industry, with a strong emphasis on software and services. Thanks to the connected lighting system architecture, existing industry segment consulting groups (such as those in retail, for example) can deliver enhanced and significant value to their customers through data collection and targeted, location-based communications within a facility.
Similarly, lighting controls companies are starting to transition from analog-only controls to the new world of digital controls. Because the value of a connected lighting system is directly proportional to the number of integrated devices that the system supports, illumination providers are adding controls capabilities, or partnering with controls companies. We have no doubt that the vertical integration of intelligent luminaire electronics, luminaires, controls, analytics, and visualization will deliver unique value to customers.
DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about LED luminaires with integrated lighting controls, what would it be?
Bernstein: With LED-based lighting systems, you have devices that include embedded processing capacity, memory, and communications installed throughout your facility, creating a digital ceiling. What do you want to do with the power of this digital ceiling? Connected lighting systems can deliver tremendous TCO and TVO, simply by leveraging the lighting infrastructure that you’ve already installed and maintained.
DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Bernstein: The best way forward to address the largest number of customer needs in the global marketplace is to deploy hybrid connected lighting systems that allow you to specify the optimal luminaires for various applications, independent of their control capabilities. With hybrid systems architectures, you can use both conventional and LED luminaires from multiple manufacturers, combine multiple methods of distributing data and power, and use multiple wireless communications methods to flexibly deliver the specific capabilities required by a customer’s specific lighting application and business needs. The more devices you can integrate and connect within a lighting system, the greater the value that facility owners and users of spaces can realize.