Lighting Control Systems
“Many energy-efficient lighting solutions can be addressed with more than one technology,” says Lou Preston, a certified lighting management consultant and a certified sustainable lighting consultant with Precision-Paragon. “Although we most frequently see indoor ambient lighting designed with linear fluorescent products, exterior solutions have closer to an even mix of linear fluorescent, LED, and induction.”
The implementation of a lighting controls system can help achieve the highest overall savings by reducing energy use, says Preston.
Precision-Paragon, a sister company to Columbia Lighting, is a lighting retrofit manufacturer offering fluorescent, LED, and induction technologies.
Precision-Paragon’s team of auditors, engineers and production experts assist customers in specifying a project and deploying various technologies where they are most applicable.
“Project objectives are unique,” says Preston. “The most energy efficient lighting design is not always the desired solution. Precision-Paragon helps customers tailor solutions to fit the parameters of a project where priorities vary from ROI [return on investment], life cycle cost, kilowatt reduction, kilowatt-hour reduction, and annualized maintenance cost.”
The biggest flaw in the process of a retrofit is usually in the beginning, when facility owners start to identify the main objective, says Preston.
“Many owners neglect the opportunity to design a solution,” he says. “For example, most projects are initiated by a solicitation to reduce your energy cost and keep the same light levels. Although this objective is frequently achieved, an objective is decided on prior to determining needs.”
The World Energy Control Corporation (WECC) Distributed Lighting Control System (DLCS) includes a VBC100 controller to help reduce energy consumption and lighting energy costs. The VBC100 transforms a desktop into a control room that monitors and controls lighting in a building, which also can be done remotely through a laptop or smart phone.
“Our perception is to take that idea to the next level and use computer software,” says Ron Flores, president of WECC. “We don’t need all of those external components. We have integrated everything into a little box. We give every fixture an IP address. By doing that, we’re able to control and rewire lights in cyberspace, wireless or cable.”
Through the controls, lights are dimmed to increase lamp life. The system can even out a load over the course of a day—a feature that’s helpful in regions of the US where customers are charged extra for using an excess of electricity during peak use periods.
Graybar distributes electrical, communications, and data networking products and provides related supply chain management and logistics services. Allen Pilgrim, a lighting business development manager for Graybar, points out the options now available to help buildings become more energy efficient include T8 and T5 lamps, various types of LEDs, and other lighting technologies.
“The main thing we see as the most bang for the buck—even for someone who recently performed a retrofit—is if they didn’t implement a lighting control strategy, then they’re not taking advantage of every energy savings opportunity available,” says Pilgrim.
In the past, one practically had to be an expert in controls to install them, he notes.
Some major manufacturers had that niche market in the past and they really dominated the controls arena, but now there are very user-friendly options. “Some very simple control measures include wireless occupancy sensors that not only sense occupancy, but also have a function to be able to adjust to ambient light, so they are capable of light harvesting,” says Pilgrim.
In addition to wireless controls, the industry now offers an integrated ballast that communicates with a Web-based computer program. The end-user can use the program from home or the office to control lighting in a remote facility to derive the biggest energy savings or determine if there is a maintenance issue, Pilgrim says.
“What’s really interesting about these Web-based programs is you can put a big screen television or computer monitor in your front lobby, and it could actually show the present energy usage of the building and show people how you’re promoting the green initiative,” he points out.
Graybar’ energy analyses include a lighting review as part of an all-encompassing approach that includes variable speed drives, power factor correction, HVAC, and other energy saving offerings.
“If an end-user is reaching out to us, we’ll go out and ask questions to substantiate how we can offer an energy savings solution,” says Pilgrim.
Typical questions: How old is the building? What are the hours of operation? Do they own or lease? Is a project of this nature budgeted?
“If the customer determines that this is going to be a viable option for them after doing a quick walk-through, we’ll establish a time to go out to the facility and do a more complete review and get an account of the existing infrastructure, what the technology is, and what the electrical load is,” he says.