Digital Systems Blog

Why Every Smart Building Needs a Sensor in Every Luminaire

SensorToday, most facility managers are looking to increase building efficiencies while also preparing for the Internet of Things (IoT). Maintaining or increasing building efficiencies is no small task in its own right. When you add the impending explosion of IoT and smart building applications that ‘every facility manager should be prepared for’, the knowledge level and number of decisions required by facility management increases exponentially. What IoT applications should you launch and what infrastructure will need to be in place to support them?

Let’s cut through some of the clutter and focus on technology that will help increase building efficiencies today and set you up for smart building applications tomorrow: wireless integrated sensors that are individually addressable as part of a larger networked lighting system.

Wireless Integrated Sensors

Wireless integrated sensors in luminaires are a key part of a smart lighting solution. The technology is also a critical piece of the enabling infrastructure for IoT. Sensors in each luminaire make each light point a data node on the lighting system network, enabling you to harvest meaningful data at a granular level that can be used in lighting as well as non-lighting applications.

Today, lighting system data is used to implement simple control strategies such as adjusting light levels in response to daylight as well as dimming and switching lighting depending on occupancy status. In the future, this treasure trove of data from each wireless integrated sensor will be used for a range of operational activities including emerging non-lighting smart building applications such as space optimization, wayfinding, asset tracking and more.

Why have a wireless integrated sensor in every luminaire? The benefits are many from both a current and future perspective. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Precision – With wireless integrated sensors in every light fixture, you now have granularity of data and control like never before. With granularity, you are able to precisely implement and fine-tune flexible lighting control strategies such as daylight harvesting and task tuning to create the appropriate level of light for particular activities or uses of a given space. Task tuning can easily save a significant amount of energy and is used to avoid over-lighting a space – a common problem in commercial spaces.  The ubiquitous location of lights enables more reliable occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting since sensors elsewhere on the ceiling or on walls are not always ideally placed.  Accurate data about a specific space will be required for many non-lighting smart building applications as well.
  • Accessible Power - Because these sensors are integrated in luminaires during the manufacturing process, they are powered directly off the auxiliary port of an LED driver in the fixture. Direct access to power eliminates concerns about battery lifespan and required replacement schedules, as well as the inherent expense including maintenance labor costs.
  • Integration Simplifies Installation; Reduces Project Costs – By integrating multiple functions in one device (sensing, individual/zonal control of fixtures, and wireless communication), manufacturing, design layout and installation activities are greatly simplified. For luminaire OEMs, there are fewer pieces of individual hardware to integrate into a fixture and this translates into less design and assembly time. Lighting designers don’t need to determine the optimum placement of sensors within their floor plan layout, eliminating this time-consuming task. For contractors, onsite installation is simplified translating into lower project costs for the end customer. In addition, because the luminaires are now under software control, there is less upfront planning required and adjustments or changes are easy to make after installation through commissioning.
  • Flexibility – Each luminaire with an integrated wireless sensor is a node on the network providing actionable data at your fingertips. You are able to determine exactly which areas need or don’t need light, are fully occupied throughout the day or used sporadically, and much more. Since fixtures with wireless integrated sensors are individually-addressable, you can restack your space as the floor plan or occupancy requirements change by making adjustments in software.
  • Maintain a Streamlined Look -- External sensors and devices no longer need to be installed on ceilings and walls. This creates a less cluttered look, preserving the original interior design of the space.
  • More Sensors = IOT – In addition to collecting data for lighting and related energy strategies, sensors in every luminaire are critical pieces of the technology infrastructure that enable a wide range of smart building applications beyond lighting. An intelligent, sensor-laden lighting system network acts like a central nervous system of a building, continually collecting data about the space and how it is being used. You gain better insight and can match building characteristics with occupant needs beyond lighting. As an example, sensors in every luminaire could provide granular data such as the number of individuals that use a particular space. If the data from fixture-integrated sensors in a 12 person conference room space shows only 6 people use the space 80% of the time, and meeting space is at a premium, splitting the space into 2 rooms may optimize space and better support occupant needs. 

The SensiLUM Wireless Integrated Sensor enables occupancy detection, daylighting harvesting and individual or group control of luminaires. Compatible with the ENCELIUM EXTEND Networked Light Management System, it fits into an industry standard ½-inch knockout in any luminaire. SensiLUM sensors offer 0-10V dimming or Osram DEXAL™ (Data Exchange for Advanced Lighting) control options. The DEXAL interface option enables bi-directional communication and power between the driver and the SensiLUM sensor making it ideal for smart building applications that require exact luminaire-specific data, including power consumption, temperature profile, operating hours and diagnostics.

The SensiLUM wireless integrated sensors together with the ENCELIUM EXTEND system, creates a sensor-rich smart network that customers can leverage as their technology infrastructure for entry into smart building and IoT applications. Existing ENCELIUM Networked LMS sites can be upgraded quickly and easily.

To learn more, download the whitepaper below.


sensor in luminaires





Topics: Connected Lighting & IoT, Sensors