Editorial Feature

Intelligent Lighting Systems - An Introduction

The need for more energy-efficient, and cost-efficient, lighting systems is increasing everyday. The use of movement detection, daylight equalization, and control technology for scheduling power management, via dimming and control of lights, can effectively improve efficiency of lighting systems. Considering the cost of electricity, old style lighting does not save money by any means. However, some recently developed intelligent lighting systems are exceptional in all aspects.

Intelligent lighting systems combine smart LED fixtures, having built-in occupancy and daylight harvesting sensors, that sense when natural daylight is available and automatically reduce the use of artificial lighting. It also features wireless controls, which allow facility managers to easily adjust lighting settings, web-based reporting of the facility operating patterns, and lighting usage.

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It no longer uses existing data cabling, and is extremely flexible. Just like certain existing devices, it can also be turned on by motion. It is considerably more intelligent in detecting changes in temperature to be aware of someone’s presence. It can be programmed with various light combinations, such as light on one side and dark on the other side. Intelligent lighting can be integrated with security systems, as it operates better at detecting people than detecting motion.

Saving Energy with Intelligent Lighting

One of the easiest methods to save energy is to turn off lights when not in use. However, the advanced lighting controls market has remained small, in spite of the benefits of control technology, due to the fact that frequently turning lights on and off reduces the span of light bulbs by three times, and thus increasing maintenance costs. Intelligent LED lighting systems are changing these limitations and helping rapid growth in the market.

With lighting commonly accounting for 20 to 30% of an industrial or commercial building’s total energy use, controlling consumption can result in good energy savings. Adding daylight to a building is one way to achieve an energy-effective design. Intelligent lighting systems ensure natural daylight harvesting. A large sum of money can be saved on energy with the reduced need for electric light. These lighting systems are designed to dim with the availability of daylight. As a result, up to 80% of lighting energy consumption can be saved. In addition, controlled lighting, resulting from minimizing solar heat gain, also reduces the air-conditioning load of a building.

Domestic Intelligent Lighting

For both domestic and commercial premises, intelligent lighting is becoming a major factor in the drive for energy efficiency. When compared to a conventional lighting system used at residential homes, which consists of a manual switch or dimmer, the intelligent lighting system is as simple as automating a single light, such that it can be controlled by a timer or remote control device.

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This lighting system can be programmed for a particular mood and can be controlled automatically, or detect the presence of someone in a room. Lighting can be operated using a cellular phone or over the internet. It can also control the lights that are linked to a security system or home cinema system.

Intelligent Lighting Systems in Commercial Facilities

Intelligent LED lightings are transforming the energy footprint of industrial facilities. Reports from the U.S. Department of Energy state that lighting consumes 29% of the electricity produced in the country. In addition, traditional lighting used in industrial facilities makes use of 38% of the energy in a typical warehouse, and 15% of the energy in a refrigerated warehouse. However, the use of an intelligent lighting system in industries reduces lighting energy use by up to 90%. Hence, the intelligent system delivers unmatched savings and complete flexibility.

Warehouses are one of the most important, expensive, and challenging environments for lighting. Most warehouse lighting is wasted, as the lights are left on all the time, thereby increasing costs without improving safety or productivity. It was estimated that an average warehouse spends around $1 per square foot, per year on lighting energy and maintenance. By reducing unused lighting, and switching to more efficient, intelligent LED technologies, facilities across the globe can achieve energy savings, and protect their organizations from rising energy prices. These intelligent LED technologies monitor the warehouse during the day, and turn off or dim the lights, saving significant amount of energy and money.

On the other hand, as manufacturers seek lighting alternatives, a large number of manufacturing facilities are being upgraded with intelligent LED lightings, which maximize energy efficiency and provide light when required. Similarly, cold storage facilities require high-quality light in aisles when the operators are present. At the same time, leaving lights on all the day could add heat to the chilled environment. Hence, intelligent lighting systems are the best alternative for cold storage lighting.

Conclusion

Intelligent lighting systems are capable of detecting variations in the facilities, and compensating for those variations. Daylight equalization systems, or daylight compensation systems, enable the automatic adjusting of the brightness of lights, for providing a comfortable and energy-efficient environment. The unique dimming characteristic of intelligent lights saves energy by dimming the lighting down to 7% of the brightness. Motion sensors with intelligent lighting also ensure that lights are only used when required, thereby reducing electricity wastage. In addition, the intelligent lighting system allows a user to easily customize the systems for optimum performance. Hence, intelligent lighting systems are greener, cheaper and more flexible, which makes them the future of lighting.

However, low levels of product awareness, in addition to the initial costs associated with the components, installation, and design of intelligent lighting systems are limiting their entry into new markets.

Sources and Further Reading

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