The commercial lighting controls market has exploded in the past decade. Building managers have experienced firsthand the numerous bottom-line advantages lighting controls bring to any space: flexibility, comfort, safety, efficiency, and, perhaps most important, energy savings. Naturally, this has forced lighting controls manufacturers to stay on their toes, continually re-thinking, re-designing, and re-evaluating in hopes of coming up with that one product or technology that completely alters the course of commercial lighting control. And, very quietly, a system has emerged recently that may just do that: integrated lighting automation.
A legitimate breakthrough in lighting control solutions for commercial buildings, integrated lighting automation is the industry's first web-based lighting control technology. It was designed to address five distinct lighting-related needs: employee comfort, office space flexibility, personal security, fire- and life-safety, and operational efficiency. Combining cutting-edge technology with a unique software design, integrated lighting automation easily augments and interfaces with any type of building automation or management equipment.
Specifically, the technology provides automated on/off light switching and full-range dimming capability, precise real-time monitoring of a building's entire lighting system, load shedding for peak energy demand reduction, and seamless integration with card access security systems. That means the system can automatically turn on office lights when someone walks into a room, monitor overall usage and life expectancy of individual light bulbs, and automate lights through locally stationed PCs or remotely through the Internet.
In addition, the technology allows numerous devices - like lighting, HVAC, life-safety, card access, and security systems - to share and communicate information, thereby reducing duplication of effort, increasing accuracy and efficiency, and reducing initial costs associated with the installation of multiple devices. Plus, its intelligent embedded software connects analog devices, making them "smarter." This means building owners and managers get the best of both worlds: use of existing analog components (retaining reliability and reducing operational costs) along with the added value of digital technology.
The technology also offers a highly intuitive, web-based graphical user interface that is based on Internet protocol technology, which means it can be operated from anywhere in the world. In effect, a building manager could log onto his home PC before going to bed at night and see what lights are on in the building, how much power is being consumed, and even how long it will be before certain bulbs need to be changed.
Okay, so all of this sounds great - but what's the bottom line? What can integrated lighting control technology really do for your building, and how does it actually address the five lighting-related needs for which it was allegedly designed? Here's how:
• It improves employee comfort with virtual switching and dimming functionality
and accommodates any individual's long hours or irregular work schedule.
• It increases office space flexibility by allowing point-and-click lighting alterations.
• By seamlessly integrating with interior and exterior lighting schemes, it enhances the total performance of personal security and fire- and life-safety systems.
• Its web-based automation is specifically designed to cut labor and maintenance costs and reduce energy consumption, which increases operational efficiency.
• Each of the above, then, ultimately improves a company's overall profits.
William Sandoval is Lutron's Digital microWATT system product manager at Lutron
Electronics Co., Coopersburg, PA, a leading designer and manufacturer of lighting
control systems markets. For more information, contact Lutron's Digital microWATT
website (www.lutron.com/digitalmicrowatt) or the Lutron hotline at (800) 523-9466.