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Which is the best Lighting Control System?

May 22, 2019

On top of his full time role, Kevin Stubbs (FSLL)  - Technical Sales Manager at Llumarlite, is also Vice Chairman of the LIA’s Controls Equipment Technical Committee. He suggests:-

“The best lighting control system is the simplest - one that works for you, your building, and it’s occupants.”

Networked, IoT or Standalone? -

There is a vast array to be considered, but evaluating all these can be a complex and time-consuming exercise. Key points are:-

  • Simple
  • Effective
  • Easy to Maintain

What do you want your controls to do?

  • Maximise energy savings?
  • Meet the requirements of Part L?

Presence Detection makes the most significant savings, followed by Daylight linking, then constant illuminance.

Absence detection is better than presence, as it ensures that lights are only switched on when the occupant chooses, yet still turns lighting off when the space is vacated (whereas Presence turns lights on whenever it detects anyone, irrespective of their wishes)

These functions can all easily be achieved using localised or stand-alone control devices, even intelligent (Smart) luminaires within built detectors. By keeping it simple, users will quickly understand the operation of their controls and effective savings will be achieved. Many have simple handheld remote programming tools to enable time and illuminance settings to be adjusted to suit the changing needs of your building over time.

Do you need more? - Having covered the basic needs above, there are few cases for increased complexity!

Do I need a Networked System? - You may have differing needs to suit your application, limitations imposed by wiring, retrofit, or building layout. Also Human-Centric preferences might call for more individual control, mood enhancement or possibly further connectivity.

You may want to test and record the functionality of your emergency lighting, or monitor equipment for maintenance purposes –requiring networking of devices using a hard wired, wireless or hybrid system. This adds a level of cost and complexity, initially and for long term maintenance. Systems that are not hard wired are likely to introduce security and maintenance risks

Further savings are possible from Networked systems such as “last man out” commands, reduced out of hours functionality (security override). Timed commands to inhibit light levels for different activities can also be accomplished.

You may want to report activities (ie occupancy) to other systems or services – for instance to trigger heating or cooling systems. This could be done locally, or by using another layer of a suitable networked system to gather the required data and transmit this between systems. Volt free connections might work as well as high level data exchange, but - in most cases - this only needs to be a small amount of traffic to a BMS system if handled properly.

Do I need a system that logs every command of every device?  – no! – simple is best, less to maintain, less data to be responsible for (GDPR).

Networked controls can of course be wireless, the network can be limited within an area or building, or buildings linked together across secure or open networks.

IoT Connected devices and localised wireless systems such as Bluetooth Mesh can provide solutions that may help you should you need to operate beyond the scope of conventional wiring or conventional thinking.

Make sure you understand the true lifetime risks and costs of updates, maintenance and security.

Need to get a handle on your existing control system?

Every year we help Llumarlite customers save millions of pounds, saving many MW/hours of energy, and thousands of tons of CO2 with practical know-how based “no – nonsense” solutions. We have punched above our weight to help save global resources for over 25 years.


Links for further reading

LIA Lighting Controls Mini Guide

LIA Lighting Controls Guide

LIA Wireless Mini Guide

LIA Technical Statement TS38 - Interim Guide to IoT and Lighting