Challenges of Lighting Controls

Lighting Controls

The challenges for lighting controls are as varied as the controls themselves, but the most important aspect to achieve and maintain the highest energy savings is proper installation, commissioning and calibration. If your facility had sensors or dimmers installed and the resultant savings were less than expected, it's entirely possible that they weren't properly commissioned or installed, not necessarily a fault of the control.

To discuss your lighting control challenges, contact a Graybar Lighting Consultant or search for your nearest Graybar branch.

Start small but think of the future.

Think beyond the selection of lighting controls for one office or floor of your facility. Select lighting controls that have the ability to scale or expand to other areas of your facility or campus. Ask the manufacturer or installer if the controls will be able to talk to one another or a central lighting control system.

Training is crucial.

Allocate the appropriate amount of time and resources for training your maintenance staff or technicians for the proper operation and maintenance of the controls. A total building automated system (BAS) with integrated lighting controls requires more in-depth training to fully understand the reports, readings, alerts and options available.

Location is everything.

Before you begin the installation process, careful planning of sensor location and orientation is essential, as obstacles such as walls and furniture can block the sensor's field of range. Some sensors need "line of sight" in order to correctly control light fixtures. Others rely on sound waves, such as ultrasonic occupancy sensors, which can travel around obstacles but are susceptible to false triggers by HVAC air movements.

The proper control for the proper area.

Occupancy sensors are well-suited to areas with unpredictable occupancy such as offices, conference rooms, bathrooms and warehouses. For facilities with set times of occupancy, time scheduling is often an effective energy saving control. In areas with strong daylight through skylights or large windows, daylight sensors with dimming ballasts would provide better energy savings.

Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors should be installed so they can "see" all occupants in the area they are meant to control, without triggering "false-on" or "false-off" incidents from adjoining hallways. The sensor manufacturer should provide coverage diagrams for the device, indicating the sensitivity to minor motion – sitting at a desk, versus major motion – half step or walking. Set the sensitivity on the sensor too high and it could fail to save energy, but set the sensitivity too low or have too short a delay time and occupants could be sitting in the dark when the lights shut off unexpectedly due to low movement.

Daylight Sensors

Sensors to control daylight dimming should be installed near the desktops or work areas they are meant to control. Improperly adjusted daylight sensors can dim the lights too low or could fail to dim the lights at all, causing occupants to manually override them and reduce or eliminate any energy savings potential.