Article
When dimming technology first came to the mass market in the early 1960s, ambience-setting was a major motivator. With a simple turn of a dial, a brightly lit restaurant or home dining room could take on the appearance of a candlelit retreat. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, energy savings became a big sales driver, as lower light levels helped to drive down rising utility costs.

How Today’s Dimmers Are Getting Smart

Chuck Ross
When dimming technology first came to the mass market in the early 1960s, ambience-setting was a major motivator. With a simple turn of a dial, a brightly lit restaurant or home dining room could take on the appearance of a candlelit retreat. Then in the 1970s and 1980s, energy savings became a big sales driver, as lower light levels helped to drive down rising utility costs. Today, dimmers are seen as one element in a move toward dynamic lighting systems that both improve aesthetics and save energy, and new integrated wireless systems are helping them do just that.

Lighting science has made major progress in the decades since dimming switches first became widely available. Now we know that over-lighting spaces can do more than waste energy. For example, too much light can make today’s screen-focused work tasks more difficult. Researchers also have learned that opening more spaces to natural daylight can do more than reduce the need for artificial lighting – it also can help us stay alert. So, especially in commercial settings, dimming has become a key component in systems that can respond to interior lighting conditions in real time to support occupant needs.

These integrated designs bring together light sensors, occupancy sensors and dimming controls to provide appropriate level of light where – and when – it’s needed. More recently, system manufacturers are going wireless, which can make it easier for facilities to modernize their lighting operations without opening up ceilings and replacing existing equipment. Wireless approaches are also future-proof, to some extent, because devices can be relocated easily to accommodate moves and changes, as they happen.
Photo courtesy of WattStopper
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