Luminaire-Level Lighting: How It Works

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Tired of gigantic heating bills and endless complaints from your staff about eye strain and glare? Luminaire-level lighting, a new technology that allows individual lights to sense power needs, might be the answer you’re looking for.

How Most Offices Are Now Configured
Most offices are currently configured as a one-size-fits-all solution. The lights, heat, and ventilation are all set to a standard level. While each factor can be adjusted — usually at a control-room level and by one person or team — there’s very little in the way of individualization. In other words, if the boss likes the temperature at 60 degrees and the lights turned down low, we generally all have to get used to working in cave-like conditions.

In addition to being less comfortable and failing to provide even the illusion of control over one’s surroundings, the old-school lighting and HVAC scheme wastes power. Since the building has no idea whether or not a room is occupied, lights blaze and the heat cranks away, whether it’s needed or not.

How Luminaire-Level Lighting Is Different
Luminaire-level lighting is one aspect of the trend toward smart energy technologies. Jeff Harris, Director of Emerging Technology at NEEA, describes it as “turning over the keys to the occupants.”

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“This emerging technology allows each individual lighting fixture in a commercial building to individually sense its surroundings and nearby occupants,” he writes in an article in Sustainable Business Oregon. “This allows it to decide whether it needs to turn itself on, at what level, and for how long.”

The system relies on wireless communication within a mesh network and is web-accessible, making it easy for users at any point in the network to communicate with the system. It’s usable right out of the box, which means that it’s easy to retrofit to existing systems and doesn’t require a lot of programming and customization.

Users will like the fact that they can set their lighting and heating to their own preferences, without having to worry that their neighbor’s needs will affect their comfort. Bosses and business owners will like the fact that they don’t have to worry about wasted power; since the system senses when rooms are occupied, and adjusts accordingly, there’s no unnecessary expenditure of energy.

The degree of customization can be tweaked to a company’s specific needs, Harris says, making it possible to allow for customization in certain zones of the building, while maintaining steady temperatures and lighting levels in other areas.

No matter how you chose to deploy it, a system like this would result in happier employees and reduced energy consumption, which means more productivity and lower bills … and ultimately, a healthier bottom line.

Images: andybee/Flickr, jepoirrier/Flickr

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