Craig DiLouie, LC, CLCP recently had the opportunity to interview Manuel Oomen, Senior Director of Product Marketing, Philips Lighting, on the topic of luminaire-integrated lighting controls.
DiLouie: What types of luminaire-integrated controls are available for LED lighting?
Oomen: For indoor lighting, integrated controls include presence detectors, (day)light sensors and receivers. For outdoor lighting presence detectors and photocell light sensors can be integrated at the light pole, while receivers and dimmable ballasts can be integrated in the luminaire itself.
DiLouie: What does it mean when the lighting controller is embedded in luminaires in a space? How does this differ with traditional and centralized-intelligence control approaches? What capabilities become possible, what advantages and disadvantages?
Oomen: With embedded lighting controllers, individual luminaires can be adjusted to output the desired light without the need to be connected, which can be a cost advantage, especially for retrofit projects. Luminaires with a receiver can easily and individually be commissioned and controlled with a handheld remote control. In addition, when networked (and connected), individual integrated luminaire controls provide high density information on presence, light levels and lighting energy use.
DiLouie: What does it mean when sensors are embedded in luminaires? How does this differ from traditional approaches where sensors are mounted remotely? What capabilities become possible, what advantages and disadvantages?
Oomen: With embedded sensors, it’s no longer necessary to have separate sensors, wiring and mounts with the control system “pre-wired” in the luminaire. In many instances, we’ve seen issues in the field with traditional control systems attributed to wiring issues. Factory installed equipment helps to decrease control wiring issues, as all a contractor has to do is bring power to the luminaire. In addition, embedded sensors provide optimized energy savings through more granular light control as well as offer high density data on presence and light levels.
While the luminaire cost can be somewhat higher, the overall installation cost of an embedded system is significantly more affordable than equipping a space with separate sensors, network configuration and additional commissioning.
DiLouie: How would you characterize the trend of miniaturization in lighting controllers and sensors making luminaire integration possible?
Oomen: We are deep in the throes of this trend. Luminaires can now have sensors embedded without compromising design. Moreover, luminaires will allow for easy replacement of controls.
DiLouie: There are many types of approaches to configuring and optimizing control systems featuring luminaires with integrated sensors and controllers. How would you generally categorize them, and which categories are most common? Which approach does you company favor?
Oomen: There are three approaches. One, if one wants to network the smart luminaires, configuration of a control system is needed. Two, using a remote control to commission each luminaire and three, plug-and-play luminaires that will self-commission. All three have pros and cons depending on customer needs, therefore Philips Lighting will have solutions for all three approaches, with a continued focus on making installation and commission easy.
DiLouie: What are ideal applications for luminaire-embedded controls?
Oomen: Anywhere where you want to avoid or reduce ceiling clutter. Example industries include offices, hospitality and retail.
DiLouie: The DLC now has a Qualified Products List for Networked Lighting Controls. What impact do you see the QPL having on demand for networked lighting controls?
Oomen: The QPL is one factor that will influence demand. Its effect will depend on the number of systems available – currently there are 11, and the rebates offered by utilities. Another factor will be the advantages that networked controls bring to the table.
DiLouie: Why should electrical distributors recommend and select these systems? If luminaires and controls are integrated in a single package from a single manufacturer, are there advantages to ease of doing business?
Oomen: These systems are better in delivering the right amount of light when and where needed, and do that automatically. Future regulations may require individual light point control. There are certainly advantages when it comes to ease of doing business, when it comes to networking or using the data from the luminaires.
By gaining a solid understanding of control system capabilities and product options, distributors can differentiate themselves by recommending lighting options that better meet their customer’s specific needs. From simply meeting building code requirements and saving energy to enabling control of individual light sources within an end customer’s environment, the distributor has the ability to act as a custom solution provider.
Philips can help to simplify the process by offering a variety of comprehensive fixture and control packages that eliminate any concern with compatibility of mixing components from various manufacturers.
DiLouie: What challenges exist for electrical distributors to properly recommend and select these systems? How can they mitigate these challenges?
Oomen: The rate of change in the development of new controls, just like LED’s, goes at a higher pace than what distributors are used to for conventional lighting. So it will add to the fear of getting stock of products that are quickly outdated.
Manufacturers can mitigate this risk by maintaining modular controls in their inventory instead of specific combinations of fixtures and embedded controls.
Philips also offers a variety of training options to keep our distributor partners up to date and ahead of the curve with the latest product advancements.
DiLouie: What protocols are popular for these systems, and how can distributors navigate the sometimes-confusing choices, particularly on the wireless side?
Oomen: For wired systems, 1-10 V is most commonly used, while DALI is gaining ground slowly. For wireless, Zigbee is most commonly used, but it is not the only protocol available. Distributors may choose for one leading (the most common) protocol to be in stock for all luminaire lines.
DiLouie: In one sense, the equipment is only as good as the software used to configure and manage it. What types of software are available, and what should distributors look for to identify the right software?
Oomen: For integrated luminaires, the leading manufacturers provide this software.
The complexity of the “software” really depends on the type of control solution in question. While we do offer sophisticated control solutions that can manage entire cities or facilities, our simple integrated control options like Philips Spacewise and Philips EasySense do not require software to configure the settings. These systems rely on pre-installed firmware and are extremely quick and easy to configure right out of the box.
DiLouie: If you could tell all electrical distributors just one thing about luminaire-integrated lighting controls, what would it be?
Oomen: The demand for luminaire-integrated controls will continue to grow, as it is one of the simplest ways to implement basic lighting controls in a facility. Distributors should reach out to their manufacturer partner for training and information on the various control options so that they are in a position to offer the best solution to meet their customer’s needs.