Date: 15/11/2017

Lighting Management: Networked or Standalone?

Patrick Kelly, Sales Manager at Llumarlite discuss how facilities management views the benefits.Recent observations have brought back to mind how some facility and energy managers view the choice between complex but comprehensive control systems as opposed to simple but effective.

The view of simple but effective, discrete control solutions such as ceiling mounted occupancy detectors with a dimmable output and the facility to connect a local wall switch provides small groups of luminaires (typically 4-6) with automatic switching to occupancy, the designed light level to be met and further dimmed where there is ingress of daylight and the ability to temporarily adjust the light level or switch OFF/ON from a wall switch or infrared handset.

This very cost effective discrete standalone occupancy detector solution is a powerful, intelligent energy saving control device which is programmable by a simple intuitive handheld infrared programmer. The facility manager is in full control of maintaining and optimising its operation to occupants needs. There are no network issues, interfacing/handshake issues, security issues or commissioning/maintenance support to keep the system optimised. 

Comprehensive but complex or simple but effective?

This is massively important to some, especially where they have a lot of office churn and reconfiguration of the workspace and the FM team want to be in full control of making those changes in a timely manner, that suits them and the occupants. 

Conversely the complex networked lighting management system has the same functionality as the discrete standalone solution but with the ability to communicate within its lighting management system and to other building services such BMS, fire, security & access control and to the outside world.

Networked lighting management systems are considerably more expensive and where interaction is required with other building services, the commissioning time and expense can be high. Security is also a major concern which requires its own due diligence for the systems it will interact with and further afield.

It is horses for courses, if the nature of the building requires this high level of visibility and integration then this level of system is appropriate. If the use of the building dictates a high level of office churn and reconfiguration, there will be a high dependency on the supplier’s availability to return to reconfigure the switching groups, light levels and also update the head-end PC floor layout graphics. Granted some work can be done off-site but some needs to be done in-situ, especially light levels.

So, from an FM point of view, the building you manage, bidding to manage or have influence in the replacement of the lighting controls, it is crucial to understand what is important to the client/occupier and you. 

What are the needs of the occupant, how quick a turnaround is the office churn and what budget does the occupier/client have to manage the maintenance/optimisation of the lighting to ensure staff have lighting when they need it and at the correct level, whilst also ensuring a safe and energy efficient installation.

Some clients adopt a flexible working space approach to their business whereby they can create a new team or business unit. Newly arranged workstation areas, informal meeting spaces, meeting and presentation suites and quiet rooms are built to suit the new needs.

Switching groups from occupancy sensors can typically be switching the wrong luminaires as a partition has been erected across the switching group and the occupancy sensor is now outside the room leading to lighting switching off while you are inside the room. Very annoying! 

Light levels may need to be adjusted due to partition and furniture layout changes or previously programmed light levels are not relevant to the new use. You may need to actually move some luminaires or even add some if you have the flexibility of a grid type ceiling.

New tasks may require different light levels, be that higher or lower and the ability to manually adjust to suit varying tasks.    

Not only does the office space need to be adaptable but the lighting needs to be adaptable to support the users and the tasks to be undertaken. As the workforce is employed into later years and eyesight typically deteriorating, we need to be mindful that some users may need more light, whether this is in general or for temporary tasks where greater visual acuity is required or both.

For further information on this topic or to discuss your building/estate please contact Llumarlite.