Inheriting the DNA of energy conservation and sustainability

Lighting controls are widely applied and accepted today, particularly in office developments, and they are now clearly endorsed by regulations such as Approved Document L2 (A&B) 2006, due to their energy saving capability. In fact it is this specific ability that really established the present lighting controls industry.

In the early 1980s several well researched and publicised demonstration projects fully established the fact that correctly chosen lighting controls could reduce lighting energy costs by up to 70%. However in the intervening 25 years or so they have been delivering much broader and – some would argue – more valuable benefits. Lighting controls have been shown to reduce overall installation costs, to provide real design flexibility and to ease the Facilities Manager’s tasks. Today, though, lighting controls are once more being seen as ‘green’ and one of the key building control components in managing the costs of owning a lighting installation.

So how has Philips’s LightMaster Modular (LMM) system benefited from this circular history of lighting controls? And – more importantly – how does it deliver both energy reductions as well as all the other established benefits?

Lighting technology itself has developed dramatically since the 1980s; it is some 60% more efficient today and modern fluorescent lights are now available with more dimming control gear options than ever before – from 1-10V to DALI – to offer users both comfort and energy efficiency. Of course, if luminaires can readily be purchased with such gear then a control system will be essential to deliver the potential benefits. The LMM system recognises and exploits these lighting developments by offering controllers that have been evolved in the market place to offer both rapid installation, through ‘plug and socket’ connections, and the functionality to ensure only the necessary lighting is in use at all times. Of course all of the current fluorescent dimming interfaces are accommodated and it is a simple matter to connect movement detectors, light sensors and convenient local user controls to the system’s controllers.

So how are today’s lighting controls delivering energy savings while still maintaining good lighting design criteria as well as providing a comfortable working environment? Products like Philips’s LightMaster Modular System provide an interactive, networked solution that can be set up to manage the installed lighting without compromising the design intent. Luminaire outputs can be set to provide the correct illumination from day one and sensors can ensure daylight is properly taken into account and no unnecessary lighting levels are maintained in unoccupied areas. Even the need to maintain background and comfort lighting (as recommended in EN12464-1 Indoor Lighting) can be programmed into the system and tailored to prevent any waste. But it is not just the control system that delivers these results. The advances made in both lamp and gear technology, mentioned above, mean that today when you apply ‘scene setting’ to a fluorescent lighting scheme, whenever you dim the lights you will be making real energy savings. Not only is the power in/light out ratio close to a straight line but the base load of the gear itself is being further reduced with the latest HF-D electronic gear and T5 lamps. This is a real win/win situation. And this technology is now being migrated towards other light sources.

Intelligence and functionality are now effectively moving towards the lamps and the sensors, as witnessed by the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI), which gives ballasts both an address and efficient dimming capabilities that used to be part of the control system. LMM internal light sensors are now more easily calibrated – with the press of a single button – as well as being much better at informing the attached system about the local ambient lighting conditions. Much time and research has been spent on getting the latter right by using carefully designed ‘windows’ and filters that are solely dedicated to this task, and certainly not shared with any other sensor such as a PIR lens.

Designers have traditionally applied lighting control systems in a bespoke manner such that the usual solution has been the provision of a system that needs both engineering and commissioning effort. However, many applications need a simpler, standard, option, which makes it possible to offer complete lighting solutions covering luminaires, controls and interlinking cables, fitted and set to work (or commissioned) by the installer alone. Later this year the Philips LightMaster Modular system will also be offered to the market in a powerful new ‘ready to use’ configuration. This means that any installer will be able to purchase the plug-in lighting control modules, the sensors, link cables and Wieland gesis Twin leads together with luminaires already equipped with the appropriate connectors. All the installer is left to do is to supply power to the LCMs and run a simple two-core bus between them. So long as the simple instructions are followed the end result will be a lighting installation with the latest control technology operating ‘out of the box’.

Such a system could be used in a wide range of project sizes and would be particularly appropriate in a speculative office development, both to help with meeting the obligations of Approved Document L, as well as providing the installer with a complete and really cost effective package. Once installed there are further opportunities to provide additional material as the tenant takes occupation and requires changes to be made. Maybe some more movement detectors are needed, or perhaps a bit of scene setting is required in a boardroom? All this is possible with the standard range of LMM equipment that will be readily available, and still simple to install on site.

Of course, if the tenant later asks for an even more complex configuration, the installed LightMaster Modular (LMM) system can then be upgraded by programming the new requirements using LightManager Modular and uploading these parameters using the installed network. So the original choice of a ‘ready-to-use’ solution is not irrevocably fixed and the customer is always left with the potential to choose more advanced lighting control and management features. Not only is there this option of a software based upgrade but also, because the system is economic to install, it is also very economic to change, which means the client has the flexibility to adapt the building as needs or layouts change.

So what sort of lighting control system can the customer expect from this innovative approach? First of all the original installation will be simplified and much less labour intensive than conventional methods. Next the provision of local switches will be much easier due to the use of extra low voltage wiring. Another feature is the ease with which an emergency lighting test switch can be added. Then there is the energy saving attraction offered by the addition of movement detectors. And all of this can be achieved with just simple switched luminaires right through to the latest DALI equipped models – or, indeed, a combination of these technologies. The answer to the initial question, then, is that the customers can effectively choose the lighting control system that meets their particular needs without compromise.

Because LMM has been developed on a platform that uses an open standard it is also going to be more future proof, with the customer benefit of a longer service life and the continued availability of spares. This effectively ensures that the customers can conveniently acquire and maintain their lighting installations with no worries concerning the continuity of supply. They will also be able to take advantage of future developments and lighting technologies as the range evolves.

In recognising these technology and market trends, tomorrow’s lighting management systems will become much more versatile. Their functionality will be adaptable from pure energy saving right through to the control of dynamic lighting effects involving colour, mood, speed and intensity – all provided from a single, seamless platform like LMM. Such systems will no longer have to compromise between one objective or another, even though the spotlight is once again turning to energy savings. The twin drivers of legislation and much higher energy prices will effectively push people towards the purchase of the most energy efficient lighting solutions.

The only irony of this situation is the fact that we have known for a long time that it was never really necessary to compromise a lighting management system. Even in the early 1980’s it was clearly identified, in the various Demonstration Projects being monitored for their energy savings, that people in workplaces were much happier when they were allowed to control their own local lighting levels. More recently the extended studies by Slater, Carter and Moore showed that this research remained true, when they found that in the several buildings they were examining, the environments reported as most comfortable were also the most energy efficient.

Now that we are being asked to provide energy savings again it seems that we have come a full circle but maybe it is a ‘virtuous circle’ now! Because when a lighting installation is designed today, every component – lamps, gear, optics and controls such as the LMM system – will be working together to give both high quality illumination and a low cost of ownership.

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