Craig DiLouie LC, CLCP recently interviewed Rohit Udavant, Matt Petti, Joe Bokelman, Mike Lunn, Soroush Amidi and Gaurav Aggarwal, product managers at Eaton Corporation, about luminaire-integrated lighting controls. These interviews were used to develop an article on the topic for tED Magazine.
DiLouie: What types of luminaire-integrated controls are available for LED lighting?
Integrated Occupancy Sensor – This allows the fixture to sense occupancy and turn itself ON/OFF as well as adjust light intensity in order to save energy.
Closed Loop Daylighting Sensor – The fixture can now sense daylight levels in the room to adjust light intensity in order to save energy.
Temperature Sensor – The fixture senses ambient temperature and can share this data with the Building Management System to control other systems such as HVAC.
Power Metering – It is now possible to measure power consumption at a fixture level for more accurate monitoring of energy usage.
BLE Beacons – These are integrated into fixtures to provide positioning and location information of various assets.
Wireless communication chipset – Allows fixture to send and receive data and to support scheduling and other forms for centralized control.
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?
Rohit Udavant: Traditional luminaires deliver light and traditional controls are physically separated from the fixture. Thus, dimming, occupancy sensing, daylighting, etc. are all performed by one or more discrete devices that are connected to the luminaire. Lighting control panels aggregate the inputs from such devices into one centralized location that provides the intelligence required to control the luminaires.
With luminaire-integrated controls, the distinction between luminaire and control devices fades. Now, for instance, each luminaire performs its own sensing (integrated sensor) to turn ON/OFF and adjusts its intensity according to daylight levels. The intelligence to perform this computation, as well as the circuitry to control the luminaire, is built into the fixture itself (control module) and there is no reliance on central control (server) for basic functionality.
This approach reduces the total number of devices to be wired, saving valuable time and effort for the installer. Further, it reduces the control complexity and enables excellent response times, accurate control and lower energy consumption. Controlling individual luminaires without the use of a centralized system now becomes a reality. The decentralized control also protects against disruption that may result from the failure of a server. Of course, using a server or edge computing device (area controller) in combination with luminaire-integrated controls allows for a much higher level of control.
Besides the traditional use of lighting, luminaire-integrated controls also create new possibilities. Utility grade power metering now becomes possible at a fixture level. Ambient temperature can be sensed to not only control the luminaire but also to provide inputs to HVAC control and for fire hazard management. Smartphones can work in combination with positioning beacons and VLC technology within luminaires to help users find their way through buildings or track assets.
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?
Matt Petti: Sensors being integrated into luminaires are certainly a rapidly growing trend for a few reasons. New code revisions are requiring more lighting controls than ever before for all aspects of a building, in many cases at a very granular level. Integrating occupancy sensors and daylighting controls into the luminaire itself can significantly simplify the control scheme. Each luminaire now has an inherent occupancy sensor coverage and daylighting set supplied by the spacing of fixtures in the ceiling. These can then be addressed and grouped together to create virtually any sequence of operations for the desired application.
In addition, integrated sensors can now wirelessly network with each other, combine their sensors to control receptacles in a room, keep a record of movement throughout a facility over a period of time, and even integrate with a building’s BMS. By locating the controls within the luminaires, you also eliminate the electrical closets full of lighting control panels and instead, move the decision-making abilities to the intelligence onboard. While this technique of implementing lighting controls is attractive, there are still a few things that need to be kept in mind. Smaller sensors usually mean smaller coverage patterns; so proper sensor coverage still should be verified for each space.
Joe Bokelman: With sensors embedded in the luminaire, the solution delivers more value because there is no additional planning or installation needed. An LED upgrade or initial installation now allows for code compliance, maximum energy savings and increased personal comfort by having a control point at every fixture. Unlike traditional controls, embedded sensor networks can be re-zoned easily, micro-adjusted for task tuning, and now present the opportunity to have granular data points, if the associated system can gather and analyze the information.
DiLouie: How would you characterize the trend of miniaturization in lighting controllers and sensors making luminaire integration possible?
Matt Petti: Without the miniaturization of sensors and their associated control components, luminaire-integrated technology simply wouldn’t be possible. Traditional luminaire form factors like recessed troffers are getting increasingly slimmer in depth, allowing for less space inside the luminaire to attempt to integrate controls. In suspended fixtures, this is particularly an issue as all portions of the luminaire are visible, meaning any integrated component must be shrunk in every dimension to be effectively hidden. In some cases, to save space and wiring complexity, sensors are being developed that wire directly to compatible drivers, eliminating the need for relay-based control devices. We’re now seeing even more technology being packed into these tiny form factors such as Bluetooth chips, wireless communication hardware, and temperature sensors. Going forward, we expect integrated sensors to continue to get easier to hide and allow for a seamless integration. Eventually you won’t know it’s there but still performing its job.
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?
Mike Lunn: Advanced lighting control systems today require configuration of some sort to provide complete energy code compliance and customer desired sequence of operations. This can be extensive as it may require defining each luminaire in each area and how they interact with each other and other controls in the spaces. This is referred to as system setup or commissioning and is often completed late in the construction time line. Configuring a system historically required a factory-trained person to be on site with a PC working with the installing contractor to define the sequence of operations and programming.
In the past few years more systems are providing levels of self-configuration and out-of-the-box functionality. These often are seen with systems that provide luminaire-integrated controls especially concerning out-of-the-box occupancy and self- configuration daylighting capabilities. However, device addressing and zone identification are still mostly performed by factory personnel.
At Eaton, with our latest systems, we provide three levels of configuration capabilities based on how electrical contractors and end users interact with the lighting control system. This includes standard out-of-the-box functionality including automatic ON to 50 percent and automatic OFF, default wallstation control configurations and default daylighting.
We have also implemented two addition forms of configuration to simplify and expedite system set up and optimization. These Eaton features enable the installing electrical contractor to address and confirm wireless communications, and automatically configure the installation for energy code compliance. This eliminates the need for a factory-trained person to do the wireless configuration or a person having extensive knowledge of energy codes and how to apply them to areas in the building. It’s built into the system tools to take advantage of.
DiLouie: What are ideal applications for luminaire-embedded controls?
Joe Bokelman: While any lighting application can benefit from embedded controls, industrial spaces like warehouses and manufacturing facilities see tremendous increases in energy savings and productivity. Commercial interior spaces like offices, classrooms and patient rooms are also excellent opportunities, for both energy savings and increased user satisfaction.
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?
Joe Bokelman: The new NLC QPL provides a standardized method to compare advanced systems from various manufacturers, much like the original QPL did for LED products. Since these systems rely heavily on software features and programming, it has been difficult to understand the differences and benefits that each offer. With the NLC QPL, utilities can create rebate programs that have consistent criteria and the specifier has a reliable checklist of capabilities when designing a facility.
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?
Gaurav Aggarwal: Luminaires and controls integrated in single package have several advantages for a distributor to do business including:
• Better inventory planning: because lesser number of parts to track.
• Single supplier advantage: as now the distributor doesn’t need to work with multiple suppliers and discrete components to create a working system.
• Guaranteed compatibility: Eaton guarantees that all integrated sensing products are compatible with the luminaire they are installed in and provides a single warranty on the fixture with integrated controls.
• Easy to understand: Distributors are engaged in stock and flow business and need to be able to read through the product features and understand the system quickly especially when faced with many choices. With an integrated package, it may be easier to understand what the system is going to offer.
• Value-add to the contractor through labor and material savings of installing multiple devices vs a single luminaire to achieve the same goal.
DiLouie: What challenges exist for electrical distributors to properly recommend and select these systems? How can they mitigate these challenges?
Gaurav Aggarwal: Distributors must be able to understand if the integrated system is compatible with the control intent and meets the required energy code.
Application know-how is another challenge. Sometimes the nuances within a specific application need to be understood to be able to recommend the right system.
There is one level of integration where a control is integrated into the luminaire. But there are other levels of integration that happens between a building control system and the luminaire. The luminaire should be capable of interacting with the other entities such as building management system, a central IT server or HVAC controls. It all depends upon the complexity of the job and the requirements from the end user. This capability might be difficult for distributors to comprehend.
Distributors can mitigate some of these challenges in many different ways. It depends heavily in the level of engagement they want to have in the buying process of the lighting system.
• Actively participate in industry webinars to keep themselves updated on the latest trends and technologies
• If possible, participation in a specific manufacturing sponsored or LED events can be very advantageous
• Seeking the right personnel for answers when in doubt especially when not sure about a specific product selection. For this, it’s also important to know the right questions to ask.
• Eaton provides a wealth of information including code and application based selection guides to aid in this process as well as national and local training seminars.
DiLouie: What protocols are popular for these systems, and how can distributors navigate the sometimes-confusing choices, particularly on the wireless side?
Mike Lunn: Luminaire-integrated lighting controls are available for both a wired and wireless configurations and each has its own benefits. Electrical contractors today are favoring a wireless integrated lighting control system because of the lack of control wires and simplified installation. Wireless or other digital communications technologies especially when they connect to the building LAN cause users to have heightened security concerns. It is important that the electrical contractor and distributor have knowledge of what wireless communications are available that are correct for the application and how they provide security for the system.
When looking at wireless systems available today there are several protocols available including WiFI, Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, Thread, Bluetooth, LTE, EnOcean and Z-Wave and many more. The list of options and feature sets can be extensive and confusing.
Some things the electrical contractor and distributor should be looking for is how the system handles the following items: Security, Reliability, Scalability and Self-Healing.
As more and more of our buildings and homes are connected to the internet of things we need to be vigilant on the security of our wireless systems. Systems that provide AES encryption are preferable as all devices require authentication, this is used commonly on systems like WiFi, Zigbee and Thread.
Reliable communications is critical so systems that support a mesh topology to ensure communications can make it from device to device, around obstacles and even if the gateway or coordinator stops working.
Scalability is also important as our building spaces are becoming more flexible and updates and reconfigurations of spaces are common today.
Self-healing technology is integral to the reliability aspect where the wireless system learns the best route for communications and automatically adjusts communications paths if a device is taken off line for any reason.
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?
Soroush Amidi: here are different types of users interacting with a lighting system throughout its life cycle. Let’s quickly enumerate these users. We have the designer, the installer, the configurator, the maintainer and the end user.
With the digitization of lighting, most of these users are more and more interacting with the lighting system via a software application.
The right software platform is one that can cater to all these various stakeholders, which often have different technical expertise. It should provide an intuitive workflow and user interface that would allow common users to do 80-90 percent of their task without any needs to refer to a manual or technical support from the system’s manufacturer. At the same time, it should accommodate the more comprehensive lighting control strategies that typically would require a more experience control specialist.
For example, today’s electrical contractors are no longer installing lights, line voltage switches and sensors. They are installing smart lighting system that they need to customize to meet their customers’ needs as well as meet code. In the past they would reply on a factory specialist or certified installer to configure the system. However, with the proliferation of controls within the lighting market, the demand for factory specialist has exceeded the supply. This challenge was loudly communicated to Eaton when it was getting input from the market as part of its development effort to build a wireless lighting control solution.
What electrical contractors told Eaton was that they needed a software tool that would allow them to easily configure a system without the need to schedule for a factory specialist or a control specialist. Eaton worked closely with some of the largest electrical contractors in the market to better understand their needs during the installation of a wireless lighting control system and has developed an intuitive software application that runs on both iOS and Android platforms that would allow an electrical contractor to easily group fixtures, sensors and wallstations together and define control strategies for each space type. They can use pre-built templates to do or customize one for special applications.
So what is the right software? It is one that would allow all stakeholders intrusively complete the tasks with no or minimal need to read a user manual. It would be a responsive-designed-based software that would provide the best user experience based on the size of the device used by the user, which typically is a smartphone for an electrical contractor, iPad for a facility manager and a laptop/tablet for system specialists.
Last but not least it should be IoT ready. While it should be able to provide the basics features expected with a lighting management platform, it should also support the upcoming advanced applications that would leverage the new types of data being collected by the lighting system (temperature, location, etc.) and be able to easily integrate with third party system using open standard based interfaces and API.
DiLouie: If you could tell all electrical distributors just one thing about luminaire-integrated lighting controls, what would it be?
Rohit Udavant: Luminaire-integrated controls are solving new and complex problems that are no longer limited to lighting. Distributors have a unique opportunity to add even more value by aiding their customers in designing a solution that reduces the total installed cost of the system, provides guaranteed compatibility of the control and luminaire, earns rebate dollars for advanced control functionality/energy savings, and enables building owners to collect more data about their facility such as occupancy trends and asset location.