Connect to Connected Light
By: Craig DiLouie

As distributors become more familiar with lighting controls, it’s important to also become more familiar with connected lighting and its applications.

THE LATEST DOE LED ENERGY SAVINGS forecast estimated LED penetration at 6% of the installed lighting base in 2015, twice what it was in 2013. The DOE forecasted this share would grow to 30% in 2020, about 60% in 2025, and 86% by 2035, representing a 55% reduction in national lighting energy consumption.

The DOE’s forecasters believe energy savings may be even higher—up to 75%—if the industry achieves more ambitious goals, notably faster adoption of connected lighting. The DOE defines connected lighting as an “LED-based lighting system with integrated sensors and controllers that are networked (either wired or wireless), enabling lighting products within the system to communicate with one another and transmit data.”

LED’s controllability, coupled with the explosion in wireless technology; miniaturization of components and sensors; and falling cost of integrating sensors, intelligence, and network hardware, are making connected lighting more accessible. Adoption is expected to grow, but the rate may depend on how well the industry addresses key issues.

Lighting Control
Lighting controls change the state of a lighting system by either raising/lowering its light output (dimming) or turning it on/off (switching), with all lights controlled by a particular control point being that point’s control zone. Certain LED products enable dimming to change color or shade of white light as an additional output.

With manual controls, the input is human interaction. With automatic controls, the input is a control signal and may be based on whether the space is occupied, the time of day, the daylight level, or a signal from another building system. These inputs define the major automatic energy-saving control strategies, which include scheduling, occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, and institutional task tuning (high-end trim). Many systems employ a logic circuit or microprocessor, typically called a lighting controller, to decide whether to change the lighting and by how much.

In a lighting control system, control signals travel along a communication pathway established between sensors and control points and potentially between control points. This pathway may be line- or low-voltage wiring or wireless signals such as radio signals. For communication and true interoperability to occur, the control devices must be designed in accordance with a common protocol or employ a gateway, which may be a device or software function.

Supply drivers such as technological advances and falling costs, coupled with demand drivers such as more stringent energy codes, produced development of new options for lighting control. Major trends include decentralization of lighting and power controllers, integration with luminaires, system-based solutions, easier commissioning, preconfigured sequences of operation, wireless and digital connectivity, programmability, and generation of performance data.

While the right control solution is application dependent, the ultimate option in terms of capability is connected lighting. Although networked lighting control has been available for some time, adoption of dimmable LED lighting has unlocked its full potential, while wireless communication advances have simplified installation.

  • Traditional controls
    These include standalone devices (e.g., occupancy/vacancy sensors) for control of local loads and centralized panels for control of large loads. While simple and familiar to installers, they are limited to control zoning based on switch-legs and often one or two control strategies per zone. Devices are calibrated individually, intelligence is limited, and the devices do not share data.
  • Luminaire- and room-based control systems
    These embed sensors within luminaires for autonomous control operation. Room-based control systems package lighting controllers and input devices for autonomous, plug-and-play, preprogrammed control of room lighting, with the primary benefit being simplicity and out-of-the-box energy code compliance.
  • Luminaire-, room-, and building-based networked control systems
    Controllers and sensors connect using a digital low-voltage bus or wireless network, with each control point represented as a unique address. Control points are assigned to control zones that may be as small as individual luminaires. Control zones are then programmed for one or more control strategies. The systems may operate independently or interface with building automation or other networks. They may be designed to operate as a scalable plug-and-play control system without data or ongoing programming changes, or they may connect to a server or the cloud for control and data retrieval using operating software.

If the system features data retrieval, significant new capabilities come to the fore. These include monitoring of luminaire/zone status with alarm notifications and measurement of energy consumption, occupancy, and other data. The ability to centrally program, measure, and monitor a building’s lighting system and then in tegrate with other sensors and systems may contribute to the foundation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Digital Ceilings
The proliferation of DC-based LED lights, controls, and sensors created opportunities to adopt low-voltage power systems, also called DC microgrids. These electrical systems distribute, consume, and potentially create and store DC power.

The EMerge Alliance promotes the concept by developing standards and recognizing products that meet it. In a typical EMerge-based system, an AC backbone delivers AC power to modules that convert to DC and distribute it to end-use devices. This reduces electrical losses and costs while potentially enhancing safety, installation time, and flexibility.

Specifically for lighting, it would potentially eliminate the need for rectifiers in drivers, thereby reducing the cost and size of LED products and possibly even eliminating the need for a driver at all. An example is Armstrong’s DC FlexZone, a ceiling suspension system that delivers DC power to connected devices and has compatible products available from Acuity, Eaton, JLC Tech, OSRAM, and Philips Lighting.

Eaton went further to develop its own low-voltage power platform, called the Distributed Low-VoltagePower System. It is similar to Emerge except instead of lighting control being layered, it is integrated within a plug-and-play configuration

The ultimate option, which couples low-voltage power delivery with data transfer using the same Ethernet cabling, is power over Ethernet (PoE). Power and data flow through the network in a standardized manner, resulting in harmonization of software-based building control and data retrieval.

This has positioned PoE as a potential infrastructure for integrating building- and enterprise-based connected lighting systems with other systems. With additional sensors added to the ceiling, potentially as part of the LED luminaire, it further becomes a potential infrastructure for implementing IIoT strategies.

A good example of this is Cisco’s Digital Ceiling Partners, which identifies products compatible with the company’s PoE platform. Partners include Cree, Eaton, and Philips Lighting.

PoE is ideal for owners wanting data network integration and has people and infrastructure able to control the building from a single system and process analytics. Demand for standardized lighting and controls that deliver data and services is expected to grow alongside the IIoT. The IIoT faces some significant hurdles at this time, however, including security against hacker intrusion.

Adoption Rates
The DOE estimated in 2015 that connected lighting achieved negligible penetration in the built environment. Adoption is expected to follow a similar trajectory as LED lighting did, with growth driven by the outdoor, linear, and high- and low-bay lighting markets, where networked control is particularly valuable due to high light output and long operating hours. Based on that assumption, the DOE forecasted penetration in the installed lighting base to reach 2% in 2020, 7% in 2025, and 34% in 2035 in the commercial sector; 1% in 2020, 4% in 2025, and 27% in 2035 in the industrial sector; and less than 1% in 2020, 3% in 2025, and 25% in 2035 in the outdoor sector.

The DOE presented the “DOE SSL Program Goal Scenario,” a second forecast that assumes more rapid penetration of connected lighting. This forecast is based on what is technically feasible but would require more effort and funding. Key is DOE and industry cooperation to demonstrate and verify energy savings and develop interoperable and user-friendly solutions. If these program goals are achieved, the DOE forecasts penetration to reach 15% in 2020, 31% in 2025, and 59% in 2035 in the commercial sector; 16% in 2020, 42% in 2025, and 66% in 2035 in the industrial sector; and 9% in 2020, 37% in 2025, and 77% in 2035 in the outdoor sector.

This strong adoption level would result in connected LED lighting and controls accounting for as much as one-third of total LED-based energy savings in 2035. However, it requires further technological development, primarily aimed at improving interoperability and simplicity. Market education and training and energysaving estimates validating the technology are also important to facilitating more rapid growth.

To support this goal, the DOE unveiled the Connected Lighting Systems Initiative in 2015. Through this program, the DOE is working with the industry on four major areas: energy reporting, interoperability, system configuration complexity, and new features. More recently, the DOE announced the Connected Lighting Test Bed, which provides a platform for testing and data provided to industryto help them in these areas.

Rebate Review
In June 2016, the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) began listing the first systems in a new Qualified Products List for Networked Controls (design As of Jan. 17, there were 16 products from 12 manufacturers listed as compliant with the DLC specification. The list presents products with required and reported capabilities, recognizing differentiation among the various types of approaches and features available on the market. As such, it provides a good resource for those seeking to become familiar with networked control solutions.

Utilities are also using the Qualified Products List to qualify networked lighting control solutions for rebate programs. The list is part of a larger Commercial Advanced Lighting Controls market transformation program designed to promote adoption of functionalities attracting new players and specialization.

Connected lighting and IIoT applications present two major functionalities that differentiate and increase lighting’s value. As a result, it is attracting interest from manufacturers.

According to a luminaire manufacturer survey conducted by tED and LightNOW, 86% of respondents reported that their companies offer luminaires packaged with embedded sensors and networked controls, and 70% reported that they expect sales of these solutions will increase in 2017.

While adding value, these functionalities also add complexity to lighting. As distributors become more familiar with controls, they should therefore consider becoming more familiar with connected lighting solutions and their applications.

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