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Part 2: Lighting Controls: How to Optimize Performance
By Denise Fong
July 2010 -
Depending on the control devices, it often is necessary to recalibrate them annually. Because devices such as photocells and occupancy sensors do not have parts that fail and that technicians must replace regularly, managers often assume once contractors install the devices, technicians never need to touch them again. But that belief is not true.
Lenses accumulate dust, and occupants can knock some adjustable devices out of alignment. Also, departments often reconfigure the physical space, prompting technicians to reposition or relocate devices. Checking these devices annually assures the system continues to perform as designed and saves energy.
For more complex lighting systems, the control system can provide ongoing monitoring. It tracks whether lamps and ballasts work, as well as the amount of energy they use. Technicians can pull reports detailing performance deficiencies, and they can make changes efficiently without the need for troubleshooting. This benefit saves labor costs and reduces occupant frustration over slow response times.
Energy reporting can track periods in which lights are dimmed or off, and patterns often emerge. When a report does not fit an established pattern, the incident indicates something in the system is failing.
Sometimes, problems identified in commissioning are simple fixes technicians can perform. For instance, a photocell could be facing the wrong direction and, as a result, never detect the changing light conditions nor trigger lights to dim.
This scenario might seem obvious, but it is surprising the frequency with which this happens, with neither the contractor nor the person doing the punch list noticing it.
Taking Control of Lighting
Part 1: Lighting Controls: Punch Lists, Commissioning, Recommissioning
Part 3: Lighting Controls: Five Key Maintenance Practices