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What benefits could smart lighting bring to the modern building?

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Smart lighting is energy efficient and can support building occupants in reducing their energy use. In this article, Anthony Parkinson, Technical Manager at Ansell Lighting takes an in-depth look at the technology and its cost-saving benefits.

The lifting of the energy price cap has further heightened market demand for highly energy efficient products and systems, including lighting installations.

This comes as no surprise when you consider that in domestic settings lighting accounts for 15% of all energy use, whilst in more commercial buildings this figure is nearer to 40%. The installation of energy efficient lighting products can undoubtedly translate to huge ongoing cost savings and of course lower carbon emissions for building occupants.

From switching all lamps to LEDs, through to installing sensors, there are many energy efficient products installers can specify to support property owners and users in reducing their bills, but none come close to the effectiveness of a smart lighting system.

Capable of reducing lighting energy use by up to two thirds, a well-designed and operated smart lighting system can harness significant savings thanks to its ability to optimise and automate lighting use, improving efficiency and eliminating unnecessary wastage.

Enabling factors such as duration of operation, output levels and colour temperature – all of which impact energy use – to be automated, smart lighting systems ensure power is only used where and when it is needed. It also eliminates reliance on human intervention, reducing the risk of energy wasting due to lights being accidentally left on.

With an ever-increasing number of smart lighting products and systems available, knowing which systems and products to incorporate in a new lighting project can be complex to navigate.

Careful layout and product planning, as with all lighting installations, is key but with smart lighting systems, consideration should also be given to the fabric and the structure of the buildings themselves. Smart lighting systems utilise technologies such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to operate, so factors such as the layout of the building, size of the spaces involved and the thickness of walls should all be taken into account as they can have an impact on signal and functionality.

Product interoperability is another key consideration. Smart lighting is all about added convenience and most tech savvy users will prefer to use one interface that can control all installed smart devices – not just lighting – to operate. Selecting products that work across a variety of ecosystems will make the scope of illumination possibilities and functionalities wider, not to mention any future product additions much easier. With this in mind, it is worth specifying electrical products that are compatible with a wide array of modules, drivers, sensors and switches that can be paired with any ecosystem on the market.

When it comes to selecting the luminaires themselves, there are a myriad of products available that have smart technology embedded within. From fire rated downlights, to wall and ceiling lights, outdoor lights, LED strips and smart bulbs, every type of product required to create a fully connected system for a residential or commercial space is available. As long as a product is embedded with smart technology, users will be able to link luminaires together to create the different scenes, groups and schedules of lights they require. The technology will also give users the ability to control how they operate their system, whether by app, remote control, motion or eco systems such as Hey Google, Apple Siri shortcuts on iOS 12, Samsung SmartThings or Amazon Alexa.

Maximising the energy saving potential of a smart lighting system, there are a wide range of smart lighting products available that have corridor functionality or intuitive presence and absence detection sensors within them. Effective in spaces where lighting is required infrequently, they automatically reduce the amount of time lights are on and the energy used. Smart technology-enabled daylight harvesting systems can also be used to optimise energy savings, allowing buildings to take full advantage of any natural lighting available, reducing and increasing the artificial lighting as and when it is needed.

Considering all of these benefits, perhaps what is even better news for installers is that smart lighting systems are simple and straightforward to install. Systems are controlled and hosted on the cloud, so there’s no hub or wiring to fit, and the majority of the units are simply installed like a normal light bulb or switch. Similarly, one of the major benefits of smart lighting is that it can easily be reconfigured after installation so as rooms or functions change, so too can the lighting arrangements.

Anthony Parkinson

Technical Manager at Ansell Lighting

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