Control your lighting

5 mins read

Whilst the advantages of converting from fluorescent lighting to LED technology are substantial, they become far greater when integrated with an intelligent lighting control system, which delivers the correct amount of light where and when it is needed.

When dimmed, LED lighting becomes more energy efficient and automated systems like daylight harvesting and occupancy sensors can turn on or dim lights according to changes in light, need or the time of day.

Wireless lighting control systems however are designed to control lighting without the need for complex wiring systems and provide increased flexibility in the way an area of a building can be used. Instead of positioning switches and sensors where wiring permits, building operators can place controls where they are needed with ease to optimise lighting performance.

Automated lighting networks can radically reduce energy consumption whilst delivering optimal lighting performance, where it is needed. Typical savings, when combined with LED luminaires are between 60-95%, depending on its application – ranging from commercial to industrial, education to healthcare and even hospitality! In addition to the obvious energy savings, an intelligent lighting system allows activation of an individual light or groups of lights from one device, sets lights to turn on and off or dim at precise times and creates customised lighting for a specific task.

A wirelessly connected system eliminates the disruption, cost and maintenance burden associated with hard-wired installations, whilst still allowing full control of the lighting system. The resulting system is at heart simple - yet infinitely scalable to the needs of the installation. From a single light fixture to thousands, within the same system, there is no upper limit.

New solutions like Light Boss make lighting networks much easier to design as well as install and maintain. Software enables users to upload their floorplan – existing or proposed - for quick lighting layout creation, via easy-to-use ‘drag and drop’ tools. Once installed, the connected system creates a digital network, where luminaires communicate wirelessly, controlled by Android app or web interface, with simple software.

Setting or adjusting the lighting can be achieved without any wiring changes. Luminaires can be added or replaced, and re-configured at the touch of a button and without any expensive re-commissioning.

Monitoring & maintenance

An extensive status monitoring dashboard provides on-demand reports of the ‘health’ of LED sources and drivers, highlighting any critical failure points that need attention.

For those involved in providing lighting support to sites, for example facility managers, the solution caters for ‘active’ maintenance support, in addition to delivering ‘reactive’ lighting maintenance solutions fast and effectively. Neither of these functions require maintenance teams to carry out surveys or make visits to the relevant site.

In addition to its routine maintenance capabilities, an intelligent lighting control system provides automation of routine emergency light testing and maintenance requirements, for example with self-test features for emergency lighting. Without the need to attend site and test individual light fittings, users are alerted to faults as and when they occur. With logging and fault recording functionality, it eliminates the need for manual recording.

Above: A monitoring dashboard provides on demand 'health' reports on LED sources and drives

Reporting on the energy consumption of all connected lighting fixtures allows analysis and measurement of a single site, or all the sites being managed. This makes a wirelessly connected system ideal for reviewing the energy performance of multi-site portfolios. Energy and facility managers can log in to review data from any site location as little or as often as needed.

A major advance of this integrated solution is that it can be applied to new builds, retrofits, old and new lighting. Light Boss modules are connected during the LED lighting upgrade, saving the time and costs of an additional lighting control installation.

Because the technology can be retrofitted – any luminaire and even individual lamps can be replaced with new LED and wireless-enabled luminaires. Integrate with non-LED luminaires, to make them smart too! All data can be monitored via the Android App (or remotely via web interface) or downloaded for easy analysis.

The savings can be substantial. Operating your lighting where it is needed – rather than at 100% brightness constantly – not only minimises energy consumption, but also extends lighting lifecycles and reduces maintenance costs. Example cost savings for a distribution centre fitted with LED lighting and Light Boss are around 87% with a payback of less than two years.

What is more, a wirelessly connected system qualifies for government schemes such as the Carbon Trust Green Business Fund. By claiming 100% first year capital allowance, through the Enhanced Capital Allowances Scheme (ECA), installers can offset the cost of a Wireless LED lighting control, LED luminaires, and their installation.

Lighting control systems are an effective way to reduce energy and operating costs. However, hard-wired systems can be expensive and time consuming to install, particularly in existing buildings, so it’s no wonder that wireless technology continues to gain popularity for building operators.

Author details: Saima Shafi, Sales and Marketing Director, Light Boss

Go Green without risk

Energy savings and reduced carbon footprint are compelling reasons for businesses to transition to LED lighting. But an uncertain economic climate can see risk-averse companies kicking the can down the road.

LEDs provide better working environments than traditional lamps and LED-lit workplaces are healthier, safer and more productive. Retrofit options give buildings a better quality of light without disruption and all fittings are easily upgradable, enabling them to be added to new or existing building automation systems.

It is not only the working environment that benefits - finances are healthier, too. The energy-savings and carbon footprint are obvious advantages, while the business gains a corresponding reduction in its carbon footprint.

Cost savings extend well beyond the improvement in power consumption. A substantial contribution comes from lower maintenance requirements. Although the initial cost is higher, the longevity of LED lighting more than compensates. When it comes to lifetime costs the cost of removing spent lamps, disposing of the old units and fitting replacements can be huge. Where quality LED lighting manufacturers offer guarantees of five years, maintenance costs can be eliminated altogether.

Many organisations have still not converted from incandescent, halogen or compact fluorescent lamps because of the high initial cost of installing LED lighting, however, it is possible to lease LED lighting through monthly energy savings.

Unlike conventional bank lending, either unsecured or tied into some form of collateral, leased assets are a form of collateral by themselves. Both parties are exposed to significantly lower risk, so leasing decisions can quickly respond to immediate commercial requirements.

Leasing also enables businesses to fund lighting replacement programmes from their operating budgets. Some leasing schemes allow the replacement LED lighting to be paid-for directly from energy savings. Companies can fund LED lighting completely out of their reduced energy costs and, depending on the length of the agreement, rates can be fixed for two to five years removing uncertainty and making budgeting easier.

Leasing is also tax friendly, with fixed monthly costs 100% allowable under UK taxation rules and with fixed rate schemes the risk is further reduced because the manufacturer’s guarantee covers the lighting units throughout the term of the lease. When the lease finishes, the customer will own the lights outright and is still able to take advantage of remaining guarantee period. LEDs will continue to save the company money for years after the lease period.

There are further advantages to funding a lighting replacement programme through the manufacturer’s lease offering.

With the Bright Plan from Goodlight, for example, businesses get a free site survey which provides a detailed breakdown of suitable replacement light fittings, the installed cost and the return on investment from savings on energy and maintenance costs. They also guarantee all LED fittings for 50,000 hours, making each LED lighting installation risk-free.