Upgrading to LED lighting is one of the smartest steps your business can take to reduce its energy costs. However, that step would be even smarter if you incorporated lighting controls into your LED retrofit. Installing lighting controls gives you the ability to regulate the level and quality of light in a given area so that the right amount of light is always available when and where you need it.
Lighting controls can take many different forms and can range from something as simple as a timer that turns lights on and off at pre-set hours to sophisticated programs built into building energy management systems. Let’s look at some of the more popular types of lighting controls to see which might be right for your business.
- Dimmer Controls: Dimmers are a basic and inexpensive form of lighting control that help save energy by lowering the level of light – and the wattage needed to produce it – when full brightness isn’t necessary. Before installing dimmers, though, make sure that your LED lights are dimmable and the dimmers are compatible with your LED lighting products.
- Occupancy Sensors: Not everyone remembers to turn off the lights when they leave a room – and that’s where occupancy sensors come in. These devices will automatically turn off the lights when they detect that no one is present in a room but turn them on again the moment someone enters. Many businesses use occupancy sensors in areas where people frequently move in and out, like restrooms and storage areas. You’ll also see them used in hotel rooms.
- Motion Sensors: These devices are second cousins to occupancy sensors and are often used for safety or security in outdoor areas. When a motion sensor identifies movement in an area after dark, it will turn on the light and keep it on for a set amount of time. For example, quick service restaurants may find motion sensors useful in aiding workers who must take out the trash at night, while office buildings can use them to guide late-staying employees to their cars.
- Daylight Harvesting: This is a lighting control strategy in which your interior lighting automatically adjusts to compensate for the sunlight coming into your building. Daylight harvesting uses photosensors to identify the amount of natural light coming in through windows or skylights and adjusts the level of artificial light to maintain the desired brightness.
- Energy Management Systems: Lighting controls can be integrated into energy management systems that automatically regulate the heating, cooling, and ventilation of a commercial building. Just as the EMS system controls temperature and air flow levels in various zones of the building, it can also adjust lighting levels based on input from occupancy sensors, motion detectors, and photosensors that are linked to a centralized computer.
Installing lighting controls to supplement the benefits of an LED retrofit is the smartest way for businesses to maximize their energy savings. The energy efficiency experts at Ecology Action can identify the best and most cost-effective lighting control strategies for your business.