A Special Time of Year

Clock Changes and other Autumn Time Thoughts with Jordan Begg, Future Lighting's Technical Director.

As summer starts to lose its grip and autumn leads us to winter, we come to October one of the high points in the Christian calendar and an important time as the long hours of daylight of the summer make way for the shorter days in the winter months. It is a time that many of us don’t enjoy as the clocks changing heralds the start of shorter days and longer nights. But this change, unwelcome as it is, can be a challenge for those who use time clock controls to regulate lighting as those clocks will have to be changed to accommodate shorter daylight hours. Future Lighting can adjust time clocks and can provide a permanent solution to the bi-annual clock change headache. We offer many different solutions to cover any lighting functions that you might need help with.

The Future Lighting “Mini Guide”

The objectives of our Mini Guide are to describe the main benefits of  lighting control systems and provide an overview.  (Although it will not detail the technologies or design methodologies being used in realising a control system.)

The principal benefits of lighting controls are:

  • Energy saving 
  • Maintenance advantage 
  • Safety standard and regulation compliance 
  • Safety and productivity 
  • Control of lighting effects 

Energy saving

Probably the issue of the moment, that burns as bright as an inefficient lamo is the management of lighting controls.  We know that energy savings will provide a real return on investment in a lighting control system, yielding reduced running costs and savings in tax for larger organisations. It is also true that building regulations are currently evolving to require energy saving controls to be installed in both new builds and in refurbishments.  A well-designed lighting control system will not only achieve energy savings it will maintain lighting quality too, all without compromising the users safety or comfort. A reputable controls supplier and system designer like Future Lighting will help you achieve this.  

This is particularly significant when you consider that:

"Seventy per cent of a typical building’s energy use can be attributed to lighting costs"

A control system that makes sure that no unnecessary lighting is left on can significantly reduce commercial lighting bills. 

Some early case studies have shown 80% or even more in savings achieved without movement and light level sensors.  And if these sensors were used, additional benefits would be appreciated.  These are now regarded as standard components.

Occupancy Sensors save money

Movement sensors are used to automatically turn off lighting in any area that is not being used.  In areas with no natural light at all, movement sensors can be used to turn lights on automatically whenever somebody enters the space. To be truly energy conscious it is thought that a lighting control system must operate automatically and that it is the user that wastes electricity. However, this is not always true because fully automatic regimes can sometimes use more energy than regimes that rely on residents to operate local switches. A successful energy reduction control regime might typically be classed as a request ON, auto OFF regime. This means that users must consciously switch lighting on when they require it, while the lighting control system will use movement sensors to turn the lighting off when an area is no longer occupied. Whether this system produces the best energy savings and user experience will be dependent both on the application and on what other lighting control features are employed, e.g. daylight harvesting.

Light level sensors reduce energy consumption by reducing artificial light when there is adequate and suitable natural light. For street lighting and other external lighting, simple ON/OFF operation at dusk and dawn is widely used. In contrast, successful daylight harvesting schemes for buildings are more complex and must operate in a way that is unobtrusive to building occupants. They typically reduce artificial light levels slowly in response to increasing natural light levels. For best results, dimmable light fittings should be fitted. Both fluorescent and LED lighting can be dimmed; dimming is also available for other light sources.

Energy saving Maintained Illumination

Most artificial lighting sources, over time, will lose some of their performance and when a design of a regular grid of luminaires is being undertaken to be used to light a space, there will be a balance between an aesthetically pleasing arrangement that despite looking good, may not be capable of producing the precise light level required with each luminaire on full. Design specifications will, as a result, need to refer to the required lighting levels.  The capability of the lighting installed will be significantly above the maintained level, so that the scheme will be over-lit on day one if there is no control. A control system that uses a dimming control to keep illumination down to the maintained level will save between 10% and 20% of the electricity costs spent on lighting over the cycle of maintenance, cleaning and re-lamping, with larger peak savings being achieved on day one.  Maintained illumination, measured in lux, is the minimum amount to fall on a square metre on the object to be lit, such as the top of a table. A control system with dimming control can be programmed to apply adjustment to light levels to compensate for long-term changes in lighting performance. These changes may be measured manually, by using a light meter during the hours of darkness.

Compensation and automatic measurement by a lighting control system will usually be harder to achieve in an office environment.  This is because the light level sensors will be located in ceilings rather than on the surface that is being illuminated, and items that are placed on that surface will affect light readings.

Food for thought as the autumn clock change approaches. Future Lighting are ready with innovative solutions to perennial problems.

If you have a project that Future Lighting can help you with, or for a free site survey, please contact them for further information on 0203 826 9999, email info@future-lighting.co.uk or visit www.future-lighting.co.uk