Installing and Commissioning a Lighting System

By Stefan R. Graf  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Choosing a Design Philosophy for the Lighting SystemPt. 2: Lighting Systems and Specification DocumentsPt. 3: Lighting System Bids: What Facility Managers Need to KnowPt. 4: This Page

Staying involved throughout construction is important to help the contractor with questions that may arise. Lighting locations are very important and should be verified during an early walk-through. The installing contractor plays an important role in the success of the lighting plan. They should be made to feel part of the design team, so be available and encourage them to ask questions. It’s a good idea to meet with the contractor early, before equipment is ordered, to review the design intent, specifications, locations, etc.

Such a meeting has several benefits. It establishes an early positive relationship and facilitates an exchange of information about the design intent. The meeting allows for a review of lighting location requirements, such as where lights need to be located on the plan to achieve the best results, and can help determine where to purchase unusual or custom equipment and what to do if a question comes up in the field.


The final element of the design specifications is commissioning. This will include:

  • Review of the equipment and installation to be sure it meets the design criteria.
  • Aiming and adjustments of lights that need to be focused to accent areas.
  • Testing and programming of lighting control systems.
  • User training of the lighting and control system.
  • Maintenance training.

Many of these tasks can be performed by outside firms. However it is important that this be listed and required in the initial specification documents. The success of the lighting design over time will depend upon how it is programmed and how well facility staff is educated for long-term operation. Lighting is maintenance-intensive so without good maintenance training, improper lamps may be installed or control systems bypassed or disabled by users.

A quality lighting design can be responsible not only for tremendous energy savings over time but also can have an impact on productivity, occupant satisfaction and absenteeism. A life-cycle cost analysis will show that the return on investment of better lighting is very short when it is done properly.

Stefan Graf IALD is principal of Illuminart lighting design in Ypsilanti, Mich.

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  posted on 10/1/2008   Article Use Policy

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