Networked Lighting Controls: Types, Protocols, Methods, and Benefits

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In the past decade, lighting controls have come a long way, offering various benefits to both commercial and industrial buildings. One major advancement is networked lighting control systems (NLCs), which provide several advantages over traditional lighting controls. In this overview, we’ll discuss the different types of lighting control systems, control protocols, methods of light control, and the benefits of NLCs.

Ask the Expert: Danny Derry provides overview of lighting control systems

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Types of Lighting Control Systems

There are five types of lighting control systems, each serving a specific purpose:

  1. On/Off Controls: This is the simplest form of control, where a switch turns the light fixture on and off.
  2. On/Off Occupancy Sensors: Basic, traditional motion sensor that turns the lights on or off depending on activity in the space.
  3. Smart Occupancy Sensors: Similar to motion, but these systems also allow the user to adjust the light level. Design teams can set parameters to brighten the space when active, then dim or turn off depending on how long the space has been inactive. Smart occupancy sensors can also be set to stay on for longer or shorter periods of time depending on the space they are in. This is valuable in spaces like manufacturing facilities, where lights that automatically turn off can create potential safety hazards.
  4. (Daylight Harvesting): These systems use sensors to detect natural light and adjust the electric lighting accordingly.
  5. Networked Lighting Controls (NLCs): These systems are connected to a network and allow for centralized control of lighting throughout a building.

Control Protocols Used for Lighting

There are two types of control protocols used for lighting:

  1. Wired Protocol: This type of protocol is hardwired between the control devices and the light fixtures, allowing for direct control.
  2. Wireless Protocol: This type of protocol uses radio waves to communicate between the control devices and the light fixtures, offering greater flexibility in installation and retrofitting.

Methods of Light Control

There are four methods of light control:

  1. Time-based Control: This method turns lights on and off based on a predetermined schedule, ideal for buildings with consistent use patterns.
  2. Zone-based Control: This method divides a space into zones and controls the lighting in each zone independently, offering customization for different areas.
  3. Task-based Control: This method provides the right amount of light for a specific task, such as reading or working on a computer, further enhancing energy savings.
  4. Personal Control: This method allows the user to adjust the lighting to their preferred level, enhancing comfort and productivity.

Benefits of NLCs

Networked lighting control systems offer several advantages over traditional lighting controls, including:

  • Energy Efficiency: NLCs allow for precise control of lighting, reducing energy consumption and cost.
  • Increased Comfort: NLCs provide greater flexibility in controlling lighting levels, creating a more comfortable and productive environment.
  • Cost Savings: NLCs can result in significant cost savings due to reduced energy consumption, lower maintenance costs, and increased lifespan of lighting fixtures.
  • Scalability: NLCs can be easily expanded or modified to accommodate changes in building use or layout.

Lighting Designers and NLCs

The role of a lighting designer is crucial in NLCs, as they can create customized lighting solutions that align with the building’s specific needs. Lighting designers can work closely with clients to determine the optimal lighting controls for their building, taking into account energy savings, productivity, and aesthetic appeal. This collaboration allows for the creation of tailored lighting solutions that meet the unique requirements of each building.

Final Thoughts

Networked lighting control systems offer several benefits over traditional lighting controls, including energy savings, increased comfort, cost savings, and scalability. Lighting designers play a crucial role in the implementation of NLCs, as they can provide customized solutions that meet the unique requirements of each building. As technology continues to advance, we can expect even more innovative lighting solutions that provide enhanced benefits to commercial and residential buildings.

About your expert, Danny Derry

Dan Derry - PEC Sales EngineerWhen it comes to impactful lighting designs, Danny is a seasoned veteran — helping to design and scale transformative solutions for blue chip clients like PCA, Weyerhaeuser, Schneider Electric, Sysco Foods, and dozens more.  Get in touch with Danny using the info below to learn how a high-performing LED retrofit could revolutionize your facility and help you reach top business objectives.

Phone: 360-624-1245

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