How Lighting Control Systems Work for Businesses

How Lighting Control Systems Work for Businesses

Lighting control systems are advanced network-based solutions that automate, analyze and control lighting in real time.

Small and medium-sized California businesses from every industry have realized that these systems can significantly reduce energy costs and increase efficiency. For this reason they are widely used for both indoor and outdoor applications for commercial and industrial spaces.

To understand the advanced capabilities and full potential of today's lighting control systems, let's examine how they function, how they can inform energy management decisions and the benefits they can provide to California businesses.

How lighting control systems function
As the diagram illustrates, lighting control systems use several components that operate in unison to help create a more efficient work environment. Working together, these components transmit the energy management information that allows a business to optimize their energy efficiency and savings.

Smart Sensors, Gateways, Energy Management Device, Data Dashboard

Smart sensors are the first components in the system. Ideally, smart sensors are installed for each fixture. These sensors are extremely advanced and can automatically adjust energy consumption by responding to light, motion, heat and other environmental factors. Once this data is collected, it is transmitted wirelessly to the gateway.

Gateways are the information conduits between smart sensors and the energy management device. In this role, they wirelessly gather data from individual sensors and send updates and commands to the sensors.

An energy management device stores, analyzes and provides visual reporting of smart sensor data. It does this via a browser-based data dashboard.

The data dashboard provides real-time occupancy and energy consumption information. Business owners can view historical data per fixture or building-wide and adjust the settings of the system for their needs. In addition, custom settings can be profiled and sent to specific fixtures.

As the interface between the user and the system, the data dashboard empowers business owners to make more efficient energy management decisions. The information it provides helps them take a holistic approach to energy that incorporates total building energy use. This allows them to pinpoint simple actions that can increase energy savings and optimize efficiency for their businesses.

Business owners can also use "behavioral" information to see how energy is actually used by their company and reveal areas where efficiency can be increased. For example, knowing which areas of the business are unoccupied during certain business hours will allow them to adjust the energy that is used in those areas.

Types of lighting controls
There are numerous types of lighting controls available today, and the benefits they bring to businesses have expanded greatly as lighting technologies have become more advanced. For example, occupancy sensors perform a much greater role than merely turning lights on and off. Some are now equipped to detect the space temperature along with occupancy and provide feedback to the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system and/or Energy Management System. Bi-level switching is another option. It provides simple manual control of lamps connected on two separate circuits to achieve lighting levels of 0/50/100% or 0/33/66/100%. Many businesses use task tuning to set lighting levels to meet the needs of particular tasks. For areas with abundant natural light, automatic daylight dimming is a wise choice because it controls a room's lighting level based on the amount of daylight in the space.

These are only a few of the types of lighting controls that a business can implement. To learn more about lighting controls for commercial energy efficiency projects, download "PG&E's Guide to Lighting Controls and Occupancy Sensors." This guide was developed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to help California businesses capitalize on the many benefits of lighting controls and find the resources to implement them correctly.