Commissioning and Installing Occupancy Sensors

By Craig DiLouie  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Occupancy Sensors Eliminate Energy WastePt. 2: Occupancy Sensors: Passive Infrared, Ultrasonic and Dual-TechnologyPt. 3: Selecting Coverage Patterns and Planning Layouts for SensorsPt. 4: Lighting: Specify the Right Occupancy SensorPt. 5: This Page

To ensure occupant satisfaction with the sensor installation, the manufacturer and manager can collaborate on start-up and field commissioning. Commissioning begins during design with selecting the right sensor and locating it correctly on the plans.

During field commissioning, installers should verify the wiring connecting the sensor or power pack to the power and loads is correct. They also should verify sensor placement and orientation against specifications and drawings.

Installation might require two or even three primary adjustments. Managers should coordinate this phase of commissioning with furniture placement because occupants occasionally move furniture or equipment.

The system’s time-delay setting allows installers or in-house technicians to change the amount of time before the sensor turns off lights after it perceives the room is unoccupied.

Shorter time delays produce higher energy savings, but they also result in shorter lamp life due to more frequent switching. Longer time delays avoid continual on-off cycles because occupants might enter and leave a space frequently. They also help to overcome brief periods when an occupant is moving very little. Manufacturers often recommend time delays of no less than 15 minutes.

The sensitivity setting allows the installer or in-house technician to determine the amount of movement that will trigger the lights to turn or stay on or shut off. If the sensitivity level is too high, the sensor might turn on the lights, even though the space is unoccupied. If it is too low, the sensor might turn off the lights, even though the space is occupied. Because sensitivity relates to coverage, changing the sensitivity changes the coverage area.

The light-level setting is available with models that offer a daylight-switching feature. It allows the installer or in-house technician to delay turning on the lights if the room receives enough daylight.

Managers also might specify self-calibrating sensors, which automatically adjust their delay and sensitivity settings over time. But they should be aware that nuisance switching initially might be common for some time while the sensor is learning.

After commissioning ends, managers should meet with occupants to educate them about the intent and functionality of the controls as a way of ensuring the technology’s acceptance.

Craig DiLouie serves as education director for the Lighting Controls Association, www.aboutlightingcontrols.org, and is principal of ZING Communications Inc., www.zinginc.com.

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  posted on 9/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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