Lighting Controls: Finding The Perfect Solution For Your Business


February 18, 2013 By Danielle Stewart

Unless your building is lit with LED lighting, leaving the lights on even for a few minutes can be a drain on both the life of the bulb and resources. When that energy expenditure is multiplied by the cost of a general or peak period, the savings from keeping the lights off can be substantial. In the case of incandescent lighting, the majority of the energy expenditure is heat, not light, which raises the temperature of the room. Leaving the lights on in summer months can trigger the air conditioner, resulting in an even higher power bill.
Turning the lights off is good advice, but it’s a hard habit to follow. That’s where automated lighting comes in handy. Every time a person enters a room, the lights will turn on. Once there are no occupants, the lights will turn off. Automated lights can even sense the amount of natural light in the room, turning off when sunlight offers enough illumination and turning back on when it gets dark. Human memory may have its faults, but a computer relies on consistent programming to ensure that the lights stay at the appropriate level.
Automated lighting isn’t limited to one design. For whatever type of lighting, there’s a fixture for it. Regardless of the layout, every automated system needs a way to control it, but choosing the right one can be complicated. Whether it’s an independent fixture control, a whole system circuit-level control or connected individual fixture level controls, each one offers both benefits and drawbacks, which is why it’s necessary to consider how each one works before integrating a retrofit.
Independent Fixture Controls
The simplest applications often have the most utility. This type of control system utilizes occupancy sensors to determine whether or not someone is in a particular area or daylight sensors to monitor the amount of external light in that area. This type of control system is relatively inexpensive, and depending on usage, utilizing this system can result in substantial savings.
Independent control fixtures are easy to install and just as easy to maintain. Each sensor is self-contained, so there is no complicated software to monitor or a centralized system accounting for the entire area. With the improved return on this type of set-up, it’s difficult to find many negatives, but independent control fixtures aren’t for everyone. The drawback to this type of configuration is in its lack of customization. The sensors cannot be tweaked individually to the personal tastes of the occupant, which may not always provide a satisfactory level of lighting. However, the cost savings and ease of use can make this drawback an even compromise.
Whole System Circuit-Level Controls
In this type of system, all of the fixtures are linked together, which means they respond in a zoned area as one unit. Movement in one smaller part of the zone will still trigger the entire zone to respond appropriately. This type of system will also cost more to install and maintain and will take longer to reach the same level of return as independent fixture controls will.
The main benefit of this configuration is in occupant satisfaction as automated fixtures can be mixed in with standard fixtures for more manual control of an area. This type of system is best for a project where occupant satisfaction is just as important as savings.
Connected Individual Fixture Level Controls
Also known as “smart lighting,” this system is nearly limitless in its level of customization. While each fixture is fitted with a sensor, these fixtures are all networked to a central control for more advanced configurations. A worker at a workstation may not require an entire zone to be illuminated. With smart lighting, the central control can turn on one light at maximum brightness over the workstation and then set surrounding areas at half capacity to provide enough illumination to navigate without wasting energy. Being able to control the lighting on such a sophisticated level can improve satisfaction immensely while still netting significant savings.
The drawback of this system that seems to anticipate the needs of its occupants is in its cost. Installation can be very complex, and maintenance can be equally demanding. While the energy savings will add up over time, the initial cost will delay the return for a much longer period of time. Smart lighting options also used to be limited by manufacturer, meaning each system was only compatible with its own parts. This meant that choosing a manufacturer was, in essence, marrying a business to that manufacturer for the life of the system. With universal protocols now in place, this issue has been laid to rest, and those interested in smart lighting can choose whatever products best suit their needs. For a company with a high retrofit budget and where employee satisfaction is a major concern, smart lighting is the optimal choice.
While there isn’t a perfect lighting solution that works for everyone, there is a perfect lighting solution for each client. Every system can be the right choice depending upon the needs of a particular business. The fact is that anything a business can do to reduce energy costs and limit its environmental impact is a smart decision right where it counts: the bottom line.

Moving Head Stage Light Uses LED Technology


A manufacturer of stage LED lighting equipment, has rolled out the energy-efficient LED MS700PE moving head light, designed for use in bars, clubs, concerts or the theater.
The light is three times more efficient than comparable discharge lamps and has a life span of 30,000 hours, 10 times that of comparable lights.
With the dimensions of 435 x 344 x 568mm, the light can be used for passively controlled background lighting in bars or pubs as well as an active factor creating and reacting to events in concerts or theater performances.
By connecting the 180W LED light to a 16/17 channel DMX 512 control, users are able to manually control the wide-ranging functions of this moving head light.
The motorized focus function of the DMX control allows the shape of light formed by the gobos to be crisp and clear at long distances. Alongside the DMX mode, the other operation modes of LED MS700PE include master/slave and sound active. The built-in programs of the master/slave operation mode offer users the option of automatizing the light to react to background music in combination with other light sources. Similarly, sound active mode is designed to change lights and movements based on sound.

Schools Roundup: Duke LED Streetlights, Sweetwater School District 3.3 MW Solar, McKinney School District Half-Watt Wednesday


Duke University in North Carolina has begun a year-long project to replace 1,460 existing streetlamps with new, energy-efficient LED bulbs. The effort will reduce replaced lights’ energy use by about 75 percent, according to Duke Today. The installation of LED bulbs has the potential to save Duke as much as $188,000 in energy and operational costs. The new LEDs are expected to last about 40,000 hours, four times longer than the old bulbs. The retrofit is part of the university’s 2009 Climate Action Plan, which calls for the school to become climate neutral by 2024. In addition to saving energy, the lighting retrofit brings a uniform lighting scheme across the campus.

In McKinney, Texas, the McKinney Independent School District board adopted an energy-consciousness campaign, which will kickoff in April, to encourage energy-efficient behavior of students and staff, according to the McKinney Courier-Gazette. The school board adopted the plan based on a student-led model that has been a success at its Evans Middle School, where students created an energy-efficiency website and implemented Half-Watt Wednesdays and Watt-Watchers programs. On Half-Watt Wednesdays classrooms use just half their lights. And for Watt-Watchers, students patrol the school, reminding teachers to turn out lights when they’re not in use. A school energy manager will prepare a yearly energy use report so all the campuses can see their results. The Evans school earned a $10,000 prize when it was selected in January as one of 16 teams nationwide for the first-level Lexus Eco Challenge grant. The team is now competing for the $30,000 grand prize, with plans to spend the money to purchase Pavegen Energy Tiles. The tiles use people’s footsteps to power low-wattage hallway lights.

Wisconsin Walmart Neighborhood Market Uses Cree LEDs


Walmart has selected energy-efficient LED lighting to illuminate its Neighborhood Market store in Mt. Pleasant, Wis.
Interior lighting products, including more than 400 LED linear luminaires, will fully illuminate the Neighborhood Market – from the sales floor and pharmacy to restrooms, vestibules and backroom areas. LED lighting also will be installed in the parking lot and exterior areas of the store.
Walmart estimates the luminaires, designed for low maintenance and long life, will save the company about 30 percent in energy costs compared to interior fluorescent lighting.
Walmart’s deployment of LED lighting will help the company achieve its sustainability goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy. According to Walmart, the retailer used enough renewable energy last year to power 78,000 homes.
In December 2012, Walmart Canada announced it had retrofitted all of the overhead sales floor lighting at its Brampton North store in Brampton, Ontario, from conventional fluorescent lighting to LED 4-foot retrofit lamps, resulting in savings of up to $26,000 per year.

Walgreens Builds Net Zero Energy Retail Store


Walgreens plans to build what it believes will be the nation’s first net zero energy retail store, producing energy equal to or greater than it consumes.
Walgreens plans to achieve that by utilizing solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal technology, energy-efficient building materials, LED lighting and ultra-high-efficiency refrigeration.
“We are investing in developing a net-zero store so we can learn the best way to bring these features to our other stores,” said Thomas Connolly, Walgreens vice president of facilities development.” Walgreens operates 8,000 stores nationwide.
The first net-zero store will be located in Evanston, Ill., at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Keeney Street, where demolition of an existing Walgreens store now is under way. The Chicago-area location will allow convenient access for Walgreens engineers based at the company’s headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., to measure the store’s performance for an entire year to determine if the store reaches its goal of net zero energy use.
The store will include:
• more than 800 roof-top solar panels,
• two wind turbines,
• geothermal energy obtained by drilling 550-feet into the ground below the store, where temperatures are more constant and can be tapped to heat or cool the store in winter and summer,
• LED lighting and daylight harvesting,
• carbon dioxide refrigerant for heating, cooling and refrigeration equipment,
• and energy efficient building materials.
Engineering estimates, which can vary due to factors such as weather, store operations and systems performance, indicate the store will use 200,000 kWh per year while generating 256,000 kWh per year.
Some of the earliest attempts at being net zero have struggled. The Adam Joseph Lewis Center for Environmental Studies on the campus of Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, was built to be a net zero energy building, but it still needed to pull energy from the grid for 11 years.
Walgreens will attempt to have the store achieve LEED Platinum status from the US Green Building Council, and plans to enter the store into the International Living Future Institute’s Living Building Challenge. The store will be Walgreens second showcase project in the Department of Energy Better Buildings Challenge. Through the Better Buildings Challenge, Walgreens has committed to a chain-wide 20 percent energy reduction by 2020.
The Better Buildings Challenge is gaining momentum. Recently, Sprint became the first telecommunications company to join the program. And more than 100 companies have joined the DOE’s Better Plants program.
As for Walgreens, its net zero project is the latest of several green initiatives for the company. Walgreens currently operates two stores that have achieved LEED Gold certification; 150 stores utilizing solar power; a store in Oak Park, Ill., using geothermal energy; a distribution center in Waxahachie, Texas, that generates energy though the use of wind; and 400 locations with electric vehicle charging stations. Walgreens stores use 25 watt fluorescent lamps, LED cooler and freezer lighting and energy management systems in more than 5,000 locations. In addition, 15 Walgreens distribution centers have achieved net zero waste, which means revenues from recycling exceed waste expense.

Supportive Legislation Leads to LED Market Growth


The North American LED lighting market earned revenue of $1.15 billion in 2012, and will reach $3.63 billion in 2017, according to analysis from Frost & Sullivan.

The research says the market is primarily segmented into indoor and outdoor LED lighting.
Lighting account for about 15 percent of the energy consumed in the US building sector, and the need to conserve energy by upgrading older systems to LEDs is key driver for the market, according to Frost & Sullivan analysts.
Energy and environment Industry analyst Alejandra Lozano says there is higher adoption of energy efficient lighting in the outdoor segment because of government funding for such upgrades
The North American LED lighting market will also get a leg up from supportive legislation, such as the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which mandates greater energy efficiency of general service incandescent lamps. The legislation also hastens the market introduction of efficient and high-performing solid-state lighting products, including LED lamps.
However, despite backing from the government, the higher initial costs of LED lighting products compared to that of competing technologies restrain their adoption. The economic downturn of the last few years has made end users particularly prudent as they demand cost effective systems that also offer energy savings.
Although the operating costs of an LED lighting system are low, the capital expenditure of LED lighting products is often prohibitive to end users that do not have a clear vision of the short- to medium-term return on investment from energy savings. The technology will experience wider uptake as ongoing research helps lower costs of production, making LED lighting more affordable.



High-Mast LEDs Cast Plenty of Light on Highway


The goal of an Idaho highway lighting project was to light a new interstate interchange with LED fixtures and utilize high-mast poles to minimize the number of poles needed in the design.

State officials were already familiar with the benefits of LED lighting, having used LEDs on previous interchange projects around the state, but using LED fixtures in combination with high-mast poles was uncharted territory.

The state chose LED fixtures for its Chubbuck, Idaho, project. Cooper Lighting worked with state officials to install LED luminaires, which provide the required high lumen output and distribution for the 80-foot installation. The luminaires also met the need to match the color temperature of existing LED fixtures on surrounding roadways, and they offered improved energy efficiency.

There are three major benefits from the LED lights: reduced power usage while still maintaining similar light levels, a much higher color rendering index (CRI) and longer time frames between required maintenance.

  1. The four LED fixtures mounted on each pole consume 1,140 watts, versus 1,872 watts, a reduction of 732 watts or 39 percent.
  2. The LED luminaire has a much higher CRI of 70, versus the traditional high-pressure sodium (HPS) fixture with only a 20 CRI.
  3. HPS fixtures are rated for 24,000 hours or approximately 5.5 years before complete failure of the lamp and because of this they are relamped on a three to four year schedule. The LED fixture is rated for 60,000 hours of life. This allows the potential to extend the luminaire maintenance intervals by more than three times their current rate – replacing current three to four year cycles with up to a 14 to 16 year intervals.

Since this application represented a first in the use of LED fixtures in high-mast lighting, state officials needed to ensure that the product would provide proper illumination compared to the HPS alternatives, and so a field test site was created at a nearby rest area. This site allowed for an easy comparison of the light output and distribution between 100-foot high-mast poles with 400-watt HPS fixtures and those with the 285-watt LED fixtures.

Wastewater Treatment Facility Switches to LEDs, Cuts Energy Use 50%


The city of Santa Cruz, Calif,. wastewater treatment facility, which processes an average daily flow of 10 million gallons, has reduced its lighting energy use and cost by more than 50 percent.

The facility recently upgraded its exterior and site lighting from high-pressure sodium (HPS) and mercury vapor (MV) fixtures to LED fixtures in an effort to reduce energy use and improve visibility. The HPS and MV fixtures required constant maintenance, generated poor light quality and were more expensive to operate.

The lighting upgrade project, which took five days to complete the installation, is expected to pay for itself in a little more than three years through efficiency improvements, reduced maintenance costs and a local incentive that provided a $5,000 rebate based on energy savings.

The LED lights are expected to last more than 10 years. LED fixtures draw, on average, less than half the wattage of high pressure sodium and mercury vapor.

The lighting upgrade is part of a citywide Climate Action Program to reduce energy use. The wastewater treatment facility replaced 82 fixtures in its solids dewatering building, pre-aeration and tricking filters with LED fixtures.

8 LED Factoids You May Not Know


1. In 2012, about 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. — saving about $675 million in annual energy costs. Switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades could save the U.S. $250 billion in energy costs, reduce electricity consumption for lighting by nearly 50 percent and avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions.

2. The first visible-spectrum LED was invented by Nick Holonyak, Jr., while working for GE in 1962. Since then, the technology has rapidly advanced and costs have dropped tremendously, making LEDs a viable lighting solution. Between 2011 and 2012, global sales of LED replacement bulbs increased by 22 percent while the cost of a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb fell by nearly 40 percent. By 2030, it’s estimated that LEDs will account for 75 percent of all lighting sales.

3. Since the Energy Department started funding solid-state lighting R&D in 2000, these projects have received 58 patents. Some of the most successful projects include developing new ways to use materials, extract more light, and solve the underlying technical challenges. Most recently, the Energy Department announced five new projects that will focus on cutting costs by improving manufacturing equipment and processes.

4. LEDs contain no mercury, and a recent Energy Department study determined that LEDs have a much smaller environmental impact than incandescent bulbs. They also have an edge over compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) that’s expected to grow over the next few years as LED technology continues its steady improvement.

5. From traffic lights and vehicle brake lights to TVs and display cases, LEDs are used in a wide range of applications because of their unique characteristics, which include compact size, ease of maintenance, resistance to breakage, and the ability to focus the light in a single direction instead of having it go every which way.

6. Unlike incandescent bulbs — which release 90 percent of their energy as heat — LEDs use energy far more efficiently with little wasted heat.

7. Good-quality LED bulbs can have a useful life of 25,000 hours or more — meaning they can last more than 25 times longer than traditional light bulbs. That is a life of more than three years if run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

8. A light-emitting diode, or LED, is a type of solid-state lighting that uses a semiconductor to convert electricity into light. Today’s LED bulbs can be six-seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lights and cut energy use by more than 80 percent.