This article, authored by Craig DiLouie, LC, was published in the January issue of tED Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
The LED revolution is spawning another revolution in lighting controls that promises similar potential to transform both the traditional lighting industry and how we illuminate the built environment.
Many commercial building energy codes now require automatic shutoff, multilevel control and daylight harvesting, with a general trend toward flexibility both in control zoning and luminaire light level reduction. LED lighting is highly compatible with lighting control. LED luminaires are typically offered with dimming standard or as an option.
“The instant-ON and dimming capabilities of LED lighting give end-users unprecedented control over the environment,” says Tom Hinds, Product Portfolio Manager, Cree, Inc. “They can adjust light levels and increase the energy savings by dimming in response to daylight or building occupancy.”
As control becomes increasingly important, a number of lamp and luminaire manufacturers, either on their own or by partnering with a control company, have begun integrating control devices within their products. Examples range from the basic, such as a standalone LED wallpack with an integrated motion sensor, to sophisticated systems integrating multiple sensors into luminaires and then tying these luminaires together within an intelligent control network for lighting management across a room or facility.
“The rapid adoption of LED lighting in both new construction and retrofit applications comes at the same time energy codes are becoming more stringent,” says Audwin Cash, Vice President – Acuity Control Solutions, Acuity Brands Lighting. “It is natural for customers to find ways to marry the two for increased simplicity and cost savings. As manufacturers, we want to make it easy for our solutions to be deployed, and there is nothing easier than having installers connect controls into the system by simply connecting the hot, neutral and ground on a luminaire.”
For the designer, there are fewer items to consider, as sensors are integrated into the luminaire, eliminating power and controls wiring. There is also peace of mind that they are specifying a proven system known to be compatible and from a single manufacturer. For the installer, there are fewer devices to install and coordinate placement, potentially reducing installation time. For the distributor, luminaire-integrated controls can simplify the solution and reduce the number of devices needed.
“Overall,” says Cash, “integrated LED lighting and control can mean less coordination between vendors on projects, fewer purchase orders and fewer phone calls to track down missing shipments. With one vendor responsible for the system, you can eliminate a lot of coordination and waste associated with project management of separate systems.”
The most powerful options available today consist of intelligent luminaires with onboard sensors that are tied together in a communication network that may be hardwired or wireless.
Brian Bernstein, Global Head of Indoor Lighting Systems, Philips Lighting, says intelligent LED lighting systems with integral controls should be regarded as having a local and application layer. The local layer represents each luminaire’s “reflexes,” such as dimming in response to available daylight. The application layer covers lighting management activities that occur across the application and the collection of data that can be fed into a database for analysis using software. For example, a municipality could install streetlights with luminaire controls for ON/OFF at the local layer while collecting data at the application layer for energy analysis and maintenance.
Going further, intelligent lighting permits a vision of the lighting system as a platform that combines a network of intelligent luminaires with additional sensors, controls and software providing capabilities that go beyond illumination.
“LED luminaires with integrated controls may offer a range of additional capabilities,” Bernstein says. “Some communicate information about their own status and operations—including internal operating temperature, energy metering and lifetime monitoring—that lighting systems 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, such as 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.”
The latter envisions lighting, an electric lighting system prevalent in every building, as a delivery point for an Internet of Things—LED lighting as advanced digital building infrastructure capable of collecting data, delivering information to occupants or both. Bernstein sees this as the future of lighting in many buildings.
“In general, the market share for intelligent luminaires is relatively low today but is expected to be much higher in five years,” says Jonathan Weinert, Strategic Content Development for Connected Lighting Systems, Philips Lighting. “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.”
In the interim, he says, it’s practical to regard applications as individual spaces with individual control needs. In some, traditional lighting may be sufficient, while in others, such as highly occupied spaces such as offices, can benefit from intelligent lighting. This hybrid system can be integrated using a gateway or other integration method.
Industry changes may include new business models focused on services and support, with new players taking a more active role in lighting decisions. “The more connectivity you have with the lighting and intelligence embedded in luminaires, the more critical it becomes to have software to manage and magnify the benefits of these systems,” Cash says. “For traditional lighting manufacturers, some of these changes afford new business models around services and support that allow end-users to get maximum benefit with significantly lower cost of ownership. Traditional lighting, lighting control and HVAC providers will certainly be involved. As luminaires collect and manage increasingly more data, we will see new players in the networking, data, advertising, mobile marketing and security space take more active roles in selecting lighting.”
For distributors, intelligent lighting control offers ongoing opportunity in their lighting business, but education is key.
“Keep learning and experiment with the technology,” Cash advises. “This is an extremely dynamic category advancing at a rapid pace. We will be challenged to rethink our role in the construction process as luminaires become more intelligent.”
“In both LED lighting and lighting controls, distributors should look for high-performance products that are easy to use, reduce maintenance and energy costs, without forcing end-users to compromise on light quality or performance,” Hinds says.