Today on the Bright Ideas series by Acuity Brands®, Catherine Bruce is joined by Mark Lane, Product Market Manager for nLight® AIR; and Dennis Hoskins, Product Market Sr. Manager for SensorSwitch™. They have come onto the show to help examine the growing trend of designing controls and sensors within lighting fixtures.
EMBEDDED CONTROLS CUT OUT THE MECHANICAL COMPONENTRY.
To understand why embedded controls are so valuable to the lighting industry, one must first look at how controls are currently designedand why they’re used at all.
People need controls for both energy savings, and often for code compliance. Controls are made with DC voltage; it’s the easiest, most efficient, and most robust way to make the product. But because the majority of the world’s infrastructure operates on AC voltage, thus, non-embedded controls need to convert AC to DC voltage, which includes having to protect for things such as surge and EMI.
When a control is embedded into an LED luminaire, the driver within that luminaire is already conducting this AC-to-DC conversion automatically, and protecting against any surge in EMI.
In addition to that, most controls require relays to turn the lights on and off. Of all the mechanical components present, it’s the most likely to fail– which makes it a reliability challenge in a lot of control devices. But when controls are embedded into a luminaire, the connection is direct and the relay is eliminated altogether. Since these two products are married into one, this not only lessens the cost of production which passes savings down to the customer, but also saves time for contractors on the job.
EMBEDDED CONTROLS CONTRIBUTE TO INSTALLATION SAVINGS.
It’s important for contractors to have a smooth and speedy installation of luminaires and controls, but that doesn’t always happen.
Almost every contractor in the lighting industry likely has a horror story about a controls malfunction. Perhaps the lights were flickering, turning on and off, or just generally not doing what they were supposed to do.
To make matters worse, the contractor might have called the separate manufacturers of the lights and the controls, only to find them both pointing fingers at each other as the problem. All of this can cost the contractor and the customer valuable time.
Embedded controls can eliminate such issues because now only a single product is getting delivered by a single manufacturer. It’s been tested and guaranteed to work as one product. At Acuity Brands, for example, the controls teams for nLight® and SensorSwitch™ work directly with the luminaire teams of Lithonia Lighting® and Holophane® to make sure that their products work together.
Another reason to combine controls and luminaires into a single product is because the product can be installed the moment it arrives. Typically, most controls and fixtures ship separately. That means a contractor might show up to a job site and get ready to install everything, only to find out that something’s missing.
Embedded controls eliminate that issue too, because everything ships together in one box. Additionally, the installation doesn’t require the hanging of any junction boxes or the laying of wire between fixtures and controls. Once the power is wired in, the luminaire is ready to go!
EMBEDDED CONTROLS PROVIDE CUSTOMERS WITH MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY.
In an office environment, embedded controls offer a lot of flexibility. Motion control sensors might mean that lights only turn on and off based on when rooms are occupied, which can decrease burdens on HVAC systems. This arrangement can also track which rooms are empty so that spaces can be disinfected.
Another excellent example of where embedded controls shine is in hospital environments. While it is vital for medical staff to have a good experience with the lighting in the facility, it is even more important for patients to have a positive experience.
Imagine a room with multiple patients, all of whom can have personal control over their own individual fixtures. With embedded controls, that becomes a reality. Users get the granularity of control to fine-tune and adjust that fixture to the exact level they desire. eldoLED™ drivers can provide an especially high quality of light that is flicker-free, and can dim to very precise low levels.
With other fixtures that have separate controls, individual control is going to be a far more expensive service to implement and so most hospitals may not have that as an option. But in that kind of situation, even small things like lighting can help leave a positive impact and make users feel better.
To learn more about embedded controls, visit acuitybrands.com. Next week, Mark and Dennis will return to dive deeper into how accessing embedded systems wirelessly can save users even more time and money.
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