Technology Corner: The Rundown on Basic, Advanced and Networked Lighting Controls

Lighting control systems offer commercial buildings the ability to reduce energy consumption, comply with code, and tap into adaptive occupant comfort. For these reasons, the commercial sector is seeing an impressive increase in the adoption of lighting controls. According to Navigant Research, revenue from networked lighting control systems across all commercial building types globally is expected to have a 14 percent compound annual growth rate over the next decade[1].

Lighting controls offer a wide spectrum of capabilities, and trade allies should make sure they are well-versed on the differences between the various categories:

  1. Basic lighting controls
      • Manual lighting controls. Manual lighting controls have a single function and are turned on by the user. Your basic light switches and dimmers that you turn on by hand are manual lighting controls.

    Manual lighting controls

    • Automatic lighting controls. These have a single control function within their respective sensors. The majority of basic lighting controls are wired. For example:
      • A photocell sensor that can only detect daylight
      • An occupancy sensor that can only detect motion
  2. Advanced lighting controls:
    Advanced controls can do more than one control function at the same time. For example, a sensor that combines a photocell to detect daylight with an occupancy sensor to detect motion. Because of this, these controls can gather data and report on power use, occupancy patterns, system performance, and operating status for specific fixtures, groups of fixtures (zones), or whole floors. These systems can be wired or wireless.Two types of advanced lighting controls are:

    • Networked lighting controls. Networked controls fall within the category of advanced lighting controls—the network capability allows zones or individual fixtures to adjust to changing conditions or usage in the space
    • Luminaire-level lighting controls (LLLC) or integrated controls. A subset of networked lighting controls, they are wireless and require every light fixture to have an integrated sensor to allow for greater granularity of control. LLLCs are an excellent pathway to building enhancement and modernization.Luminaire Level Lighting Controls

The DesignLights® Consortium (DLC) requires these features to be designated luminaire level lighting controls:

  1. Occupancy sensing
  2. Daylight sensing
  3. Continuous dimming, which enables light levels to be raised or lowered over a specified range
  4. High-end trim or task tuning, which allows setting the maximum level for power and light output
  5. Control persistence, which reverts the system to an energy-saving mode in the event of connectivity loss to the network.

The DLC’s Qualified Products List currently lists these systems as luminaire-level lighting controls:

  • Acuity Controls nLight and nLight Air®
  • Acuity Controls Xpoint™ Wireless
  • Cree SmartCast™ Technology
  • Daintree Networks ControlScope®
  • Digital Lumens LightRules®
  • Eaton LumaWatt Pro
  • Eaton WaveLinx Wireless Connected Lighting
  • Enlighted
  • LG Sensor Connect
  • Lutron Vive Wireless Solutions
  • Magnum Energy Solutions Magnum OPUS
  • Philips SpaceWise
  • EasySense Advanced Grouping SNS200