New Era of Energy Efficiency: Lighting
Part 3: New Lighting Controls Help Manage Energy Usage
New Lighting Controls Help Manage Energy Usage
By Lindsay Audin - October 2012 - Lighting
Taking full advantage of microchips, embedded software, sensing technologies and machine logic, new lighting controls are optimizing light levels and minimizing burn hours.
Newer models of occupancy/vacancy sensors are overcoming the commissioning nightmare that previously plagued the technology. Using chips with embedded smarts that "learn" occupancy and movement patterns, they self-adjust to avoid the false offs and ons that caused complaints. Better yet, many are now wireless. Using 10-year lithium batteries and miniature radio transmitters, a sensor may be re-located by building staff as needed.
Even the standard wall switch has become wireless. Using the energy of your finger pushing a switch button (no batteries are involved), a now well-adopted technology sends a radio signal to receivers in light fixtures whose built-in relays handle on-off control. The transmitters can be reset to control different groups of fixtures.
Controls are also being built into fixtures and ballasts. Bi-level fluorescent fixtures with built-in occupancy and daylighting sensors are drastically cutting kWh in stairwells, and skylit or common areas typically illuminated 24/7. Some LED track and spot lighting fixtures come with customizable light outputs using dials with 10 manually settable levels. HID fixtures with electronic ballasts are available with built-in occupancy sensors that allow bi-level control, cutting wattage by almost 50 percent when spaces are unoccupied.
Recent tightening of lamp and ballast efficiency standards has eliminated production and import of old-style T12 fluorescent lamps and magnetic ballasts. As a result, such units may become scarcer and more expensive as stocks dwindle. Utilities presently offering rebates for replacement of the old lighting may drop such offerings as change-outs become mandatory due to lack of supply. Now is a good time to take full advantage of such funding to install new lighting technologies.
Lindsay Audin is president of EnergyWiz, an energy consulting firm based in Croton, N.Y. He is a contributing editor for Building Operating Management. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Navigating the abundance of lighting choices can be dizzying for the facility manager who thought that the lighting upgrade done 10 years ago would be the last before retirement. Fortunately, sources of useful guidance have expanded to assist with that effort.
- For LED lighting, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) sponsors the CaliPER testing program (www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/caliper.html), providing regular reports on what works (and what doesn't) with that technology.
- The Commercial Building Energy Alliance (CBEA), sponsored by both DOE and lighting equipment companies, provides detailed specifications, reports, and other tools for high-efficiency lighting based on input from customers and utilities with hands-on experience. www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/alliances/lighting_team.html
- To see what Uncle Sam is doing in his own buildings, check out www1.eere.energy.gov/femp/technologies/newtechnologies_lightingtech.html
- The Energy Star program of the US EPA continues to review and rate energy-efficient lighting equipment. It offers a variety of tools and procedures for implementing it in commercial spaces. www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=business.bus_index
- Several non-governmental organizations also provide focused guidance in this area, such as: New Buildings Institute's Advanced Lighting Guidelines (www.algonline.org), and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency's standards for "super T8" lighting. www.cee1.org/com/com-lt/com-lt-main.php3
— Lindsay Audin