The Future of LEDs and Smart Lighting Controls

by | Jun 17, 2024 | 0 comments |

LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, were first invented in 1924, but weren’t used until 1962, thanks to a patent by Texas Instruments for “Semiconductor Radiant Diodes.” Initially used for indicator lights due to their limited brightness, LEDs evolved significantly over the decades with contributions from companies like GE, HP, and Monsanto. The technology gained mainstream potential in the early 2000s, culminating in Philips Lighting North America’s award-winning LED bulb in 2012. Since then, LEDs have become a dominant lighting technology, accounting for a significant share of global lighting sales and drastically reducing energy consumption worldwide.

Despite these gains, the potential of LEDs extends far beyond energy savings. Networked lighting systems, integrated with smart lighting controls, offer a transformative approach to building energy management. By connecting lights to a control system, intelligent software can optimize lighting, reducing waste and enhancing the overall environment.

In workplaces, networked lighting systems allow employees to customize lighting levels and color temperatures to suit their tasks and preferences. This personalization can improve focus, reduce eye strain, and increase comfort. Moreover, smart LEDs can simulate natural daylight cycles, aligning with our circadian rhythms and promoting better mood, cognitive function, and sleep quality. For instance, brighter, cooler light in the morning can boost alertness and energy, while warmer light in the afternoon can foster relaxation and concentration on detailed tasks.

Beyond enhancing well-being, smart lighting systems offer significant energy management advantages. These systems can participate in “peak shaving” by reducing power consumption during high-demand periods, thereby stabilizing the grid and reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Integrating LED projects with networked lighting controls can amplify energy savings by about 50 percent on average.

Furthermore, smart lighting systems provide granular energy reporting, crucial for achieving sustainability goals and obtaining certifications like LEED. They enable buildings to engage in demand response programs, dimming or turning off non-critical lighting during grid strain, earning financial incentives in return.

Despite the myriad benefits, networked lighting controls remain underutilized, comprising less than one percent of the U.S. market. The primary barriers are the costs and complexities of installing communication wiring necessary for large-scale lighting networks. However, these systems should be seen as a strategic investment. The same infrastructure that connects lighting can support various sensors, such as thermometers, occupancy sensors, and air quality monitors, creating a comprehensive smart building ecosystem.

LEDs have revolutionized lighting, but their full potential lies in networked systems with smart lighting controls. These systems offer more than just energy efficiency; they enhance employee well-being, provide critical energy data, and serve as the backbone for intelligent buildings. As building owners consider upgrades, prioritizing networked LED lighting can yield long-term benefits in sustainability, operational efficiency, and human-centric design. Investing in these advanced lighting solutions is a step towards a more efficient, intelligent, and future-ready built environment.

Click here to read the full article, originally published March 24, 2024 by Propmodo.

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