Connected systems create a new era in advanced lighting control
Connected lighting systems can help improve user experience and optimize operational capabilities. Learn key considerations when specifying these systems.
Connected systems insights
- The evolution of lighting control systems from electronic dimmers to smart, connected solutions has improved energy efficiency and environmental impact.
- Luminaire level lighting controls and cloud connectivity provide a dynamic and scalable approach to lighting design, offering personalized control, adaptability to changing needs over time, and the potential for continuous improvement through software updates.
In the 1960s, the electronic dimmer revolutionized the relationship between lighting and the built environment. With the introduction of solid-state dimming controls that fit in a standard wall box, lighting could suddenly be so much more than just on or off.
In the following decades, commercial customers, homeowners and legislators began to embrace the power of lighting control to meet code, lower energy use, reduce electricity bills and curtail negative environmental impacts. Control aesthetics and efficiency are now a given in good lighting system design and the opportunities lie in advanced operational capabilities.
The emergence of LEDs, combined with smart, connected lighting control is reframing the narrative, allowing specifiers to marry advanced technology with the traditional benefits of lighting control systems to improve system operations immediately and for the life of the space.
Connective systems lighting control specifications
Owners and end-users are thinking holistically about the efficient operation of their space. Connected control and intuitive dashboards facilitate the collection and analysis of data to modernize building operations, help quantify return on investment, maximize uptime, minimize risk and seamlessly integrate lighting control with the other building systems.
Lighting control can elevate the role of the specifying engineer well beyond code compliance and necessity. The designs can address both the advanced needs of the customer and improved building operations for the owner. Connected systems should be addressed at the beginning of the process by working with companies that are committed to continued technological innovation and ongoing service and support.
To ensure the best experience for end-users, it is necessary to identify providers and solutions with proven experience in the global marketplace, a reputation for problem-solving and a history of taking care of the customer. There are a few key points to consider when selecting a lighting control system.
Level of expertise in connected systems
Connected solutions can transform the lighting system into a building asset that contributes to sustainability, increases flexibility and adds value over the life of the project.
Engineers should get comfortable with information technology (IT) conversations and what it means to deliver a high-value “smart” building. This requires going beyond codes to create solutions optimized around what the facilities team needs, including tools for modern space management and the ability to monitor and maintain more than one building at a time. Smart, connected systems allow the building management team to be effective from anywhere and at any time.
Digital control systems can provide upgraded building intelligence within the current hardware infrastructure. Customers count on the specifying engineer to help them navigate best practices and implement operational changes, so it’s necessary to choose a lighting control system that delivers more capability to stakeholders, while differentiating the value to the customer.
Optimize building operations
Because lighting is universal, it plays a pivotal role in intelligent building design. Smart lighting systems can serve as the integration hub for shading, room scheduling software, security, maintenance systems and heating, as well as ventilation and air conditioning systems that impact the value and flexibility of the property.
What does this look like in practice? In a boardroom, for example, lighting system occupancy sensors can trigger a series of defined events — lights brighten, shades close to ensure privacy and the videoconference monitor turns on to ensure the room is ready for guests. Once the meeting has started, presenters can use wireless remotes or a tap of a screen on the corresponding app to activate preset room scenes. All settings return to their “unoccupied” state once the system senses the room is vacated. Similar sequences can be triggered from wall controls or lighting system apps.
Building owners also look to lighting system data for actionable insights to support business goals and operations, aid in employee recruitment and retention and inform better space planning. Intuitive system dashboards can make it easy to visualize and analyze complex information, such as occupancy patterns, energy data and user interaction, in user-friendly reports that help inform business decisions and drive operational improvements.
Design freedom and scalability with connective systems
Over the last few years, it’s become increasingly necessary to pivot quickly and adapt to individual preferences. Choosing the right lighting system will accommodate change and expand design options while delivering integration and control capabilities for any project size or scope.
When specifying a system, ensure it works with a wide variety of fixtures to deliver static white, tunable white and full-color control under a single platform, matching the needs of each space. Clients won’t want to compromise lighting performance in high-profile areas or executive conference rooms, and they also don’t want to compromise the budget in areas where static white control is sufficient.
Integrated daylight control
Natural daylight is one of the most coveted amenities in the built environment, so it’s important to take advantage of available sunlight with daylight harvesting strategies — either as a scheduled event or in response to daylight sensors — to increase comfort, reduce glare and support energy reduction goals.
For example, automated shades can open in the morning to let daylight illuminate the space, with only minor electric lighting to augment daylight as needed. As the sun moves throughout the day, lights turn on or brighten and shades adjust to prevent uncomfortable glare and heat gain. At night, shades may close against the cold or open to a beautiful exterior for an after-hours event.
Personalized lighting control
Individual fixture control or luminaire level lighting controls, magnify the power of LEDs, integrating the benefits of connected control systems directly into each fixture. Luminaire level lighting controls-equipped fixtures can be controlled individually or digitally grouped into lighting zones that meet the specified design vision and specific customer needs — all without requiring complicated wiring schematics.
Incorporating luminaire level lighting controls in the design allows facility managers to evaluate data and revise lighting strategies over time without having to rewire or replace hardware. Tenants change. Spaces get updated. Occupants have different personal requirements. Add value with a lighting control solution that meets today’s needs and quickly adapts to future changes.
While cloud-connected technology is a paradigm shift in lighting control, internet of things (IoT)-connected systems that deliver increased value over time are already part of everyday lives. Microsoft Office 365 and Apple iOS platforms are prime examples of technology that becomes more valuable and more integral over time. The hardware is assumed to be the front end and the customer counts on it to become more intelligent and capable as software and firmware are enhanced.
There should be the same expectations of connected lighting control systems — the power to make changes right from convenient apps, the opportunity to take advantage of the latest tech and the confidence that new capabilities are just a cloud update away. With the right lighting system, commercial spaces can become more dynamic and experiential, enhance well-being, and provide the data and insights that drive operational improvements to cement future system value.
Robust security and reliable support
Cybersecurity is on everyone’s mind. Choose systems up to the challenge and work with companies committed to communicating with IT teams throughout the process to deliver a system with security as a priority. Look for third-party validation from organizations that promote standardized security and privacy requirements and verify manufacturer cybersecurity and software support policies for IoT products. System challenges happen, even in the best of situations. Lighting malfunctions, programming glitches and other unforeseen issues can affect employee comfort, building operations, productivity, and tenant satisfaction. Design an integrated solution Lighting control is part of the total property package, that contributes to the resilience, flexibility and well-being of the overall project.
The future of lighting is connected
Connected control supports innovation and improved building performance over the life of the project. Plan ahead to deliver your clients a new standard in lighting control solutions designed to optimize the occupant experience and operational efficiencies. The considerations above can help you prioritize solutions that deliver ground-breaking innovation, proven technical expertise, and a global service team that can respond quickly to solve problems and provide system intelligence that expands with the needs of the project.