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November 16, 2012 -
Today's tip is to look at lighting controls for further energy savings after switching to more efficient light sources. Once efficient fixtures and lamps have been chosen, there are really only two ways to further reduce energy use: Reduce burn hours or reduce light output. To perform either of those functions, you need a lighting control.
Commercialization of several novel technologies has expanded ways to apply controls to both existing and new installations. Competition and standardization in wireless communications protocols, for example, now provide options that avoid the usually costly installation of separate control wiring, often a deal-killer when adding controls to existing lighting.
Wireless switching can use power generated by one's finger (when pushing the on-off button) to send a radio signal from the switch to a relay built into (or added to) fixtures in the same room.
Wireless stations, when directed by a control panel, send signals to receivers that control whole circuits of fixtures, or to groups of fixtures based on electronic addresses built into their ballasts.
Reliable power-line carrier control products, using panels and dimming ballasts (either step or continuous), have expanded and become cheaper, offering a third way to retrofit without requiring additional wiring.
These options are competing with the now-standard Digital Addressable Lighting Interface systems that use dedicated low-voltage wiring to control individual fixtures. DALI is often installed in new or heavily renovated facilities while ceilings are open and spaces are unoccupied. Wireless systems are often applied where spaces are already in use.