Lighting controls effectively reduces energy usage. It goes beyond the energy savings you receive with efficient bulbs, manual switches, and sensor-operated controls. A lighting control system can operate multiple fixtures simultaneously from a central location. These systems use energy-saving methods like occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting. Add in digital communications and the possibilities of these modern lighting systems are virtually endless.
While there are multiple lighting control methods electrical engineers can employ, the four most common are panelboards, relay-based systems, dimming, and addressable controls.
Lighting Control Panelboards
These types of panel boards use circuit breakers to control lighting. The difference is lighting control panelboards are electrically operated. The panelboards can be networked or standalone. The primary difference between lighting control and standard panelboards is the voltage used to operate the circuit breakers. Lighting control panelboards use low-voltage or digital controls. You get the same overload and current protection while reducing energy usage.
Lighting control panelboards do have disadvantages. You will not have dimming capabilities and the panelboard is not as durable as a relay-based system. However, placing the switch and overcurrent protection in one unit saves space and installation costs.
Central and modular dimming controls allow you to control light levels. Central dimming controls require complicated wiring, but it allows you to control individual and groups of lighting fixtures. Think of the system as a combination of a wall-box dimmer and theatrical lighting. You can control the lighting across large spaces with the installation of remote dimmers.
Modular dimming controls are less expensive, but they are also not as robust. Both systems can interface or be controlled by a BAS or BMS.
An addressable digital control uses an interface to control lighting. Typically, separate cabling connects the light fixture to the control unit. Addressable controls are the most flexible type of lighting control system, but they will require the help of an electrician. Technical advancements in this type of system can make it difficult to draw specifications for lighting without help from a professional.
The advantage of the system is the power can be connected to the lighting fixture and controlled by either addressable controls or the main system.
Relay-based systems use mechanical held relays in the control panel to switch the lights on and off. The system is similar to panelboards. It can be networked or stand-alone. Low-voltage relays turn circuits on and off without dimming the lights. However, individual lighting fixtures and relays can be controlled by dimmers, as long as the switch is correctly wired into the circuit.
With a relay-based system, you get reliable lighting control with endurance ratings often exceeding 50,000 operations at full load.
Learn More About Lighting Controls from Action Services Group
These are only four types of lighting controls commonly used in facilities. Choosing the right one for your facility depends on your facility’s unique needs. Flexibility, energy savings, and type of control are only a few factors to consider.
Talk to our lighting specialists to discuss the pros and cons of each system to determine what is best for your facility. Call 610-558-9773, emailing [email protected], or schedule a call that fits your needs by clicking the button below.