6 Integration Tips for Wireless Lighting Controls

10/01/2013 | By Janelle Penny

How to ensure a smooth deployment and optimal performance from your new system

Are you using an energy dashboard to analyze the data from your lighting control system? Decide how much detail you need from your lighting data early in the deployment process to ensure a smooth rollout.

They may advertise a quick installation, but there’s more to wireless lighting controls than checking to make sure the devices are working.

For a truly successful launch and optimal performance, consider these six tips as you adjust to your new wireless control system.

1) Plan the Initial Rollout
Before installation begins, you should have a comprehensive plan for how you’ll phase in wireless controls. Few choose to retrofit an entire building with wireless controls in one shot, so pick a logical place to start – a room, a stairwell, or even a larger open office space – and expand from there.

“A lot of people will put in a system for a classroom or one part of a building, evaluate it for a certain period of time, and then look at putting it throughout the entire building after they gain a higher level of confidence,” explains Eric Lind, vice president of global specifications with Lutron Electronics, a developer of lighting control and shading solutions. “In buildings like high schools or colleges, if you have the opportunity to do one space, it’s usually very straightforward to move on to other spaces like it throughout that building or potentially the campus.”

If your wireless rollout includes a central management system, the expansion process will be fairly similar, but requires a solid plan for the relationships between each sensor and control, adds Antony Corrie, vice president of Harvard Engineering Americas, a designer and developer of HID ballasts, LED drivers, and control products, including a central management system for lighting.

“You can’t eat an elephant in one bite,” Corrie explains. “A logical approach is to choose the location where the team will start deploying wireless, determine how the nodes will communicate with each other, and then commission to make sure everything’s working. Then you’ll turn on the lighting points in waves.”

2) Calibrate, Commission, and Maintain
As you install each successive wave of wireless lighting controls, you’ll have to program the devices to communicate with each other per the manufacturer’s instructions.

“Often that can be a very straightforward 10- to 15-second process,” explains Lind. “Then, with things like daylighting, there will be a step to calibrate. That also tends to be a rapid, automated process, but it is a step that needs to be done. Then you’ll be up and running.”

Wireless controls are designed to be fairly hands-off, but you still need to make room for them in your preventive maintenance program, Lind adds.

“Some of the wireless technologies use batteries, so you have to be conscious of how long those will last,” explains Lind. “Many buildings have had hands-free toilets with batteries for years, and they change them out based on their use every three to five years.”

That same usage pattern can be used for your wireless system once you know the battery life and have a rough estimate of how often the devices are used.

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