Digital Systems Blog

Did You Know that Lighting Controls are Critical for a LED Retrofit?

LED retrofit OSRAMA building doesn’t have to be new to be energy efficient or to integrate advanced technology.  Buildings can be retrofitted to incorporate the latest advancements in lighting and lighting control technology.  In fact, energy-efficient LED lighting options that qualify businesses and commercial property owners for government/utility rebates and incentives have stimulated a wave of successful retrofits in commercial buildings.  

LED retrofit lighting solutions range from the very simple to the more comprehensive. The option you choose will determine the amount of energy savings realized immediately as well as how well your facility is set up for future smart building applications and optimization opportunities.   

Choosing the Level of Retrofit Solution

When it comes to considering lighting controls as part of your lighting retrofit solution, you have three major options or levels to choose from and each level directly affects the level of benefits you will receive. 

  • Do Nothing/Gain Nothing
    Continue to use traditional lighting technologies such as fluorescent or incandescent and leave energy savings and other valuable attributes of new lighting technologies on the table. Do nothing, but more importantly, gain nothing.
  • Limited Retrofit/Limited Benefits
    Replace lamps with LED versions. Leverage primarily switches and occupancy sensors for lighting controls. This option will provide some energy savings but limited control options and benefits.
  • Full Retrofit/Significant Benefits
    Replace all lighting with new luminaires or LED retrofit kits. Implement a standalone or networked lighting controls solution. This option will provide excellent control functionality and significant benefits. 

Why specify lighting controls in a retrofit project?

Switching out your traditional light sources to LED technology gives you instant energy savings and a lower energy bill. So why add controls to the scenario? Is there really that much more to be gained? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’, with some benefits realized immediately in the way of additional savings, and other real benefits in the way of preparedness for the future. 

Save More in Energy Costs - The most tangible benefit of adding lighting controls to your retrofit project is enhanced energy savings. Up to 80% energy cost savings is achievable when the retrofit solution combines LED luminaires with a lighting controls system. Smart control strategies including occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, time scheduling, and more, offer a comprehensive approach to improving energy efficiency.  For example, when space is unoccupied, a smart lighting controls system will automatically turn lighting OFF. When daylight is available, the system will reduce the artificial light levels as needed. And with time scheduling, lights can be turned ON, OFF or DIMMED according to day, time, holiday and other schedules.

Qualify for Rebates/Incentives - In addition to providing a lucrative way to maximize energy savings, lighting controls also qualify for valuable lighting rebates/incentives. At the Federal level, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) are cooperatively working with more than 60 leading gas and electric utility providers on what they call the National Action Plan for Energy Efficiency. Many states and electric utilities also offer incentive programs. To see if there are programs related to lighting controls and sensors in your area, click here. Another great resource to learn more about which products have been tested for rebate programs is The DesignLights Consortium® (DLC).

Supporting Business Needs beyond Energy Savings - Smart lighting controls provide a number of additional benefits beyond energy cost savings such as better light quality and system flexibility. Although these may not directly hit your energy budget, they do affect the bottom line. With a standalone or networked lighting controls system, lighting can be controlled down to each individual luminaire or by zones of luminaires for ultimate flexibility regardless of how the space may have been wired. When you find your floor plan has to change to accommodate staffing adjustments or additional meeting spaces, for example, a lighting control system can support new lighting requirements easily without rewiring the system or moving every luminaire. The system continuously measures and monitors light levels and usage of the space to optimize lighting where and when needed. When lighting is at the appropriate level for a given task being performed, employees can be more productive. And, having the flexibility to adjust lighting to personal preferences also increases employee comfort levels. 

Latest Controls Technology Offers Simpler Design, Installation and Management - Incorporating controls has traditionally been complex or problematic in existing buildings.  But, with new advances in lighting controls technology, installation in existing buildings is now more cost-effective and simpler than ever. The majority of retrofit projects can include a standalone or networked lighting controls solution fairly easily. The latest lighting controls systems support wireless communications across devices on the lighting network and require less cabling, wiring and disruption during installation as compared to a wired solution. In addition, a network connected lighting control system enables facility teams to remotely manage the system, a feature that offers convenience and potentially more immediate responses, particularly if staff is off-site.  Also, GUI dashboards have become simple and easy-to-use for day-to-day system management. 

Prepare for the Future of Smart Buildings and IoT- Smart lighting is playing a pivotal role in unlocking the power of the IoT. An intelligent lighting system can form the central nervous system of a building, enabling smart lighting and smart building applications beyond lighting.  

Lighting is ubiquitous throughout all buildings and every luminaire is connected to a source of power. By integrating sensor technology in every luminaire, the sensor has access to power and each light point becomes a data node on the lighting network. A sensor-laden lighting network is the perfect conduit for collecting data for applications beyond lighting including workplace optimization, digital wayfinding and asset tracking.


smart lighting

Topics: Lighting Controls