Smart Office Lighting Begins with Switches and Sensors

As my brother and I grew up in rural Indiana, our mom was very concerned
 about us leaving piles clothes, toys, and other sundries around our 
room and strewn about the house. She was constantly after us to pick up 
after ourselves.<br><br>Dad was different. Hubbell Lighting

Steve Maurer, IME

As my brother and I grew up in rural Indiana, our mom was very concerned about us leaving piles clothes, toys, and other sundries around our room and strewn about the house. She was constantly after us to pick up after ourselves.

Dad was different.

Probably because he was as big a mess as us boys. Mom never said much to him, though. I guess it was because he worked hard everyday to put food on the table and a roof over our heads...

And electricity to run the appliances, the television, and of course... the lights.

That was his pet peeve: the lighting and how it affected the electric bill.

We slapped on the lights in every room we were in as we chased each other around, playing cops and robbers, or acting out military campaigns against each other.

So Dad was constantly on us about turning off the lights when we left the room. His stern look and the scary, even tone of voice always worked... for about three days.

It was a constant battle to remember to shut off the lights. I know, he'd gripe about how much we ran up the electric bill by lighting the place up like a casino. But we weren't the ones paying the bill, so it was hard to understand.

Now that I've raised my own kids... and hosted our grand kids a lot, I understand how much you really can save by controlling the lights properly.

And within the commercial setting of a office building, those saving can really add up fast.

You can do more than just shut them off at the switch when you leave a room. In fact, you can pretty much eliminate the human factor for lighting control.

Maybe not completely... but to a large extent with "smart" office lighting.

Lighting is not just off or on anymore

Not only that, but you really don't have to light up a whole office area if you don't need to.

And wouldn't it be grand if we could talk good old Mother Nature into helping us cut our utility bills?

It would be... and you can.

Now, we all know about timers and sensors for lighting control. Timers are pretty good for outdoor lighting, with minor adjustments made for seasonal daylight changes.

Photo sensors are better as they automatically adjust for the seasons... and unseasonably dark events, like thunderstorms bringing in dark, gloomy clouds.

And vacancy or occupancy sensors can turn on the light when someone enters a room and shut them off when they leave, NHIN (no human intervention necessary... a cool acronym I just thought up).

With a little careful planning, you can even light up zones in a large cubicle populated office area. Set up fixtures to light the path to their desks, and only brighten up the occupied cubes.

But... now we can tap into Mother Nature's full generosity with a concept called daylight harvesting. All you need are luminaires with lamps that are dimmable, and some daylighting photocell sensors.

The sensors can be used outside. But a major cost savings is possible with indoor usage, particularly in office areas. These sensors can also be zoned, ensuring that lighting is adequate for those window gazers and for those stuck farthest away from the windows, back in the shadowy inner sanctum.

The sensor measures the light on the work surfaces below it, and adjusts the light accordingly. The sensor's sensitivity are usually set for range measurements of 750, 2,500 or 7,500 foot candles.

The Fresnel lens looks downward to reference the actual light, then makes appropriate adjustments, usually through an energy management system.

Outdoor models, for atriums and such, will have a weatherproof covering with a visor for shading and lens protection.

Now you can partner with nature to help drive down those energy bills.

Dad would've been proud of that.


Photo courtesy of Hubbell Lighting