As a source of illumination, the benefits of LEDs have been justly recognized. They are efficient, using about one-fourth of the energy consumption of incandescents. They have a long service life – and it’s steadily growing longer. They generate less heat and thus reduce cooling loads. They offer a host of control options, including dimming for daylighting, remote control, and ability to mimic the changing quality of daylight through the day, which supports a sense of circadian well-being that promotes occupant productivity. LEDs are a simple and cost-effective upgrade for existing interior and exterior lighting, as shown in this month’s feature articles on real-world retrofits, which begin with advice to Supercharge Your Outdoor Lighting.
But as a source of connectivity in the internet of things, LEDs may transform building controls. Given their solid-state circuitry, LEDs can take on the role of integrating control networks and wireless capabilities for all building systems. Artificial lighting is already located everywhere in buildings where mechanical equipment and sensors are deployed to gather data on occupancy, temperature, traffic and space usage. As a result, controls applications in buildings are likely to move from being HVAC-centric to lighting-centric. We won’t think of lighting as mere illumination that flicks on and off.
And it’s even likely that, due to LEDs, jokes about the number of people it takes to change a lightbulb will become obsolete. Will your grandkids understand the one about how many facility managers it takes to replace a lightbulb? (One to hold the bulb and two to rotate the ladder.)