The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) has released a Networked Lighting Controls category in its Qualified Products List (QPL). The first qualifying products will be published in June 2016. The likely result is inclusion of networked lighting controls in rebate programs that annually allocate billions of dollars in funding to promote energy-efficient lighting.
Comprised of 83 members representing some 100 utilities and energy efficiency programs, DLC is a non-profit dedicated to promoting energy-efficient lighting. The mainstay is the Solid-State Lighting QPL, a list of LED products tested and verified as satisfying stringent performance and efficiency criteria. Currently, about 175,000 products are listed. Utilities and energy efficiency programs across the United States and Canada use the QPL to qualify LED products as being eligible for commercial sector lighting rebates.
While lighting controls are common in rebate programs, penetration in existing commercial buildings remains low. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that daylight harvesting controls are installed in only two percent of commercial buildings, for example. DLC estimates that networked lighting controls are installed in less than one percent of lighting projects in member programs. Nearly all current prescriptive rebates do not recognize networked lighting control systems.
Utilities are becoming more interested in networked lighting controls because they have been demonstrated to save significant amounts of energy. These utilities are being charged by regulators to save energy beyond what is currently mandated by energy codes, resulting in an emerging focus on higher-performing LED lighting and networked lighting controls. Meanwhile, the lighting controls industry has made great strides in innovation to deliver systems that dramatically reduce time, complexity and cost traditionally associated with these systems.
“In order for utilities to successfully capture the opportunity provided by networked lighting controls—and to do so at scale—there are a number of resources needed,” says Gabe Arnold, PE, LC, Program Manager, DLC. “Utilities need to determine what products or systems will deliver energy savings and qualify for rebates. They need reliable estimates of energy savings for the technology that they can report to their regulators. They need training and education for the designers, specifiers, contractors and end-users that participate in their programs.”
To support its members and drive demand, DLC developed a networked lighting controls performance specification that will allow utilities to qualify products and incorporate them into their rebate programs. The process began in 2014 and included energy efficiency programs and manufacturers. The resulting specification is flexible so as to be inclusive of the many types of systems and approaches on the market today. The final specification was released in May 2016. In June 2016, the first products are expected to be listed in the online database.
“DLC’s goal with this specification and QPL is to equip DLC members with a key resources to harness the opportunity provided by networked lighting controls and accelerate adoption at scale,” Arnold says. “In partnership with members, DLC seeks to change the current paradigm—where less than one percent of projects seen by utility programs incorporate networked controls—to a new future where 90 percent or more of projects incorporate networked controls.”
Networked Lighting Control Systems Specification v1.01 covers control systems defined as such; it does not cover connected luminaires. The specification is based on “required” and “reported” system capabilities. Required capabilities must be verified for listing. Reported capabilities are not required but will be identified by DLC in the listing to help specifiers select appropriate solutions.
The required system capabilities include:
• Networking of luminaires and devices
• Luminaire and device addressability
• Continuous dimming
• Occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, high-end trim
In addition, the system must be protected by a minimum five-year warranty covering all components addressed in the specification. And the system must be commercially available.
Reported capabilities include:
• Luminaire-level control (integrated or non-integrated)
• Time-scheduling, load shedding (demand response), personal control, plug load control
• Localized processing (distributed intelligence)
• BMS/EMS/HVAC integration
• Energy monitoring
• Device monitoring/Remote diagnostics
• Type of user interface
• Operational and standby power
These capabilities are described in detail at the DLC website.
“We are pleased with the balance we have struck,” says Arnold. “The specification provides an inclusive and flexible framework to build from and allows DLC to raise the bar for the technology in a way that does not inhibit adoption. It enables options and customer choice for a wide range of applications, from simple to the most complex. It is supported by most of the lighting controls industry and flexible to support the varying needs of DLC members.”
Examples of systems that may qualify and be listed include Acuity Brands nLight, Cree SmartCast, Eaton Fifth Light, GE Daintree, Lutron Vive, OSRAM Encelium and Philips SpaceWise. According to DLC, about 40 systems currently on the market may be eligible to satisfy the specification.
DLC member and other energy efficiency programs are expected to develop new programs around the networked lighting control specification, though individual programs and timelines are likely to vary from one utility to the next. Some have already developed programs and will launch them in the second half of 2016, while others will launch programs in 2017.
The networked lighting controls specification is part of a larger market transformation effort by DLC. Additional program elements expected in the latter half of 2016 include an energy savings estimating tool for layered lighting controls, training programs and demonstration projects. Additionally, DLC is working on a unified, market-friendly unified incentive strategy that would simplify the rebate process and streamline it across multiple program territories.
For lighting practitioners, the result will be an exciting opportunity to deliver state-of-the-art lighting control systems to existing building projects—backed by rebates, third-party energy savings estimates and training.
“Be proactive, participate and leverage this new DLC resource,” Arnold says. “If you are a manufacturer, get your system qualified. If you are a specifier, ESCO, distributor or contractor, learn about qualified systems and use them on your next project. Get educated on the technology. Attend training. Take advantage of the new rebates. LEDs shook up and changed the lighting industry, but the potential changes from networked lighting controls have far greater implications to nearly everyone in the industry.”