Classrooms Not Always Great Fit for Wireless Lighting Control Systems

By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Wireless Lighting Controls Market by MarketPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Healthcare Facility Concerns When Using Wireless Lighting Controls Pt. 4: Six Specification Steps: Selecting a Wireless Lighting SystemPt. 5: Product Focus: Lighting

Managers in school districts are more apt to specify wireless lighting controls systems for areas where the type of activity is consistent, such as administrative offices, hallways, and bathrooms. In these applications, the sensors turn lights on and off as occupants arrive and leave.

Classrooms, however, are not always the best fit for wireless applications.

School administrators "want their teachers to be more focused on things that are happening within the school and not the lights," says John Casadonte of Cree Inc. "In K through 12 (schools) especially, you are dealing with younger teachers coming out of school that want simplicity turning on and off a light to see a movie or to do an overhead presentation."

But managers in school districts do have wireless options.

"Basic lighting controls in most K through 12 classrooms could be achieved with a wireless ceiling-mount sensor in the center of the room, or in the corner of the room, that communicates wirelessly to a switch receiver mounted on the wall and connected directly to the lighting loads," Villalobos says.

"After the lights are turned on, they will remain on as long as the sensor detects motion. In this particular example, there is no need to connect multiple classrooms together in a larger wireless network."

Managers in higher education settings find wireless lighting controls appealing in parking lots and common spaces in residential halls. Both areas typically have lights on for extended periods of time.

"In residential halls, the controls tend to be a factor not only in energy conservation but for safety purposes," Casadonte says.

"Just having lights that turn on by themselves in a dormitory where somebody gets in at 1 a.m. during the night and there's nobody staffing the front desk. When we're dealing with higher ed, they typically are looking for traffic areas that are not covered a great deal, and there are not a lot of individuals situated in those environments."

Other spaces on campuses where wireless technology is appealing include lecture halls and stadiums — areas equipped to handle large numbers of people who gather at the same time.

"Your large spaces can be classrooms or sports facilities," says Danny Yu of Daintree Networks. "What happens from a specification standpoint (is), if you want a system that can manage all those different types of applications, you want a system that can adapt to them on the same type of software."

One important product aspect that managers should demand is a fail-safe feature in lighting control systems.

Educators "don't want the lights to go out, and there's a big safety concern when lights go out inside the schools and kids are in there," says Brian Carberry of Leviton Manufacturing.

"It's a key feature in products, built in the processor and software, that if there is a power failure or a problem with the controller or sensor, it will close the relay to assure the lights are always on in the facility. Education looks for a true fail-safe product."

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  posted on 11/10/2014   Article Use Policy

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