Controlling Lighting Systems

occupancy sensors, lighting controls   April 1, 2008

This is Chris Matt, Associate Editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today’s tip is taking control of your lighting systems.

Occupancy sensors have become the lighting control of choice for reducing wasted lighting energy in common-area applications. Sensors can save energy and extend the life of lamps and ballasts. Using occupancy sensors lowers energy use by reducing:
• the kilowatt hours of use
• the power used during the peak demand period, either by automatically dimming lights or turning them off when they’re not needed
• and a building’s internal heat gains; cutting lighting use lowers the building’s cooling needs.

The challenge of effectively specifying occupancy sensors involves selecting the right sensor technology. Examples include: ultrasonic, passive infrared, sound, or combination-dual technology. Standard occupancy sensors also require manual adjustment of their sensitivity and time delay to avoid false triggering.

Sensitivity controls determine the level of movement that will cause the sensor to activate the lighting system. Setting the sensitivity too high increases potential false-on triggering, while setting the sensitivity too low increases the possibility for false-off triggering.

Here’s the bottom line: Using sensors to turn down or turn off lighting systems can reduce energy costs. And when applied correctly, they can improve working conditions and comfort for building occupants.


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