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Make the Switch to Lighting Controls

Key Points
  • Maximize your next lighting upgrade by integrating multiple control strategies. 
  • Personal control of lighting improves workplace satisfaction and increases worker performance.
  • Demand response systems shed light loads to minimize disruption to building occupants.

Source: www.freeimages.com
Conference room
Energy-efficient lighting fixtures are a great way to reduce operating costs, but adding controls can increase those savings as much as 50 percent. Even the most efficient lights waste energy if they are left on when no one is present, or when free sunlight is available. Controls help to eliminate that waste while ensuring occupant comfort and productivity. The following are six commonly used control strategies that can improve your next lighting upgrade. 

  1. Scheduling. Timers control lights according to preset intervals. For example, lights are automatically switched off during overnight hours, weekends and holidays. Options range from basic, wall-mounted timers to multichannel time clocks with a variety of scheduling options. Timers typically cost $100 to $2,500, depending on the specific features and the number of lights controlled.
  2. Occupancy. Sensors automatically turn lights on and off, or dim them, in response to the presence of people. They work best in areas with varying foot traffic, such as restrooms and breakrooms. Sensing technologies include heat (infrared) and sound (ultrasonic); they can be mounted on ceilings or walls, depending on the application and the coverage pattern required.
  3. Task tuning. Light levels are adjusted using dimming or addressable switching to suit a specific task or the needs of an individual workspace. Task light levels are lower than normal, saving energy.
  4. Daylight harvesting. Photo sensors measure light levels and dim lights or switch them off in response to control signals. Fixtures can be controlled separately for multi-level switching or dimming, adjusting illumination levels as daylight increases or decreases. The level of daylight harvesting varies based on the proximity of the sensors to the windows.
  5. Personal control. Occupants control light levels in their workspace; creating presets for specific tasks, such as typing or holding a meeting. Fixtures can be dimmed or switched on and off individually, giving occupants more flexibility. Studies have shown that personal control of lighting improves workplace satisfaction and increases worker performance.
  6. Demand response. Advanced controls respond to signals from a demand meter, building energy management system or the utility, and dim or switch lights off to reduce peak demand or to meet specific demand response goals. Demand response systems shed light loads to minimize disruption to building occupants. For instance, lights are dimmed in low-priority areas first using a smooth fade rate.

Layering multiple control strategies optimizes their effectiveness. Start with time scheduling and include additional strategies based on your facility type, application, operating hours and other factors. Studies have shown that adding controls to a lighting upgrade can increase savings as much as 50 percent.