Lighting Control 101

Lighting control motion sensorLighting control systems are a smart lighting technology used for a variety of lighting applications including industrial, commercial, and also residential uses that often results in energy savings, may satisfy building codes, and comply with green building programs. These systems are essentially networks where there is intelligent communication between system input and outputs to provide the appropriate amount of light when and where it’s needed.

Types of Lighting Controls

Occupancy sensors are suitable for spaces where people move in and out more frequently and unpredictably. There are fixtures in these sensors that turn on and off or even dim light according to occupancy. It works like this: when occupancy sensors are specified, the lights are turned on when a person enters the space. The lights turn off after some time, if occupancy is not detected. In short, occupancy sensors sense human motion. They can easily be mounted on ceilings, walls or light fixtures.
Vacancy sensors and occupancy sensors are the same control type, aside from the manual on versus automatic on. When using vacancy sensors, you must manually turn on the lights, but if occupancy isn’t noticed it will go off after some time.

Regardless of occupancy, lighting control panels can turn fixtures on and off when you need it. They have the ability to control large spaces, such as entire floors, and they are very useful for spaces where occupancy control is set from a well-defined pattern. You can use mechanical control equipment or more sophisticated electronics that can handle several operations at the same time. Buildings with computerized energy management systems can also be used as control lighting.

Photocells or photosensors on the other hand, can sense changes in light levels. Depending on light levels, fixtures can be turned on and off. They can also “recognize” when light levels return to a preset level and determine if artificial light is needed or not. Photocells are usually used to control outdoor lighting.

The same type of technology is used in daylight sensors. Daylight sensors are used to monitor an area and adjust the lighting according to the amounts of light hitting the photo sensor. They adjust artificial light output by using a dimming ballast.

Light Control Basics Summary

Light control systems can be an effective tools to reduce overhead and environmental impact. You’ll need a variety of system components working together to get the greatest efficiencies from this lighting efficiency strategy depending upon your needs:

  • For areas with plenty of people, occupancy sensors are the most suitable. Their sensors are constantly detecting if someone is at the specified area, and turn on or off lights according to the presence of human motion.
  • Lighting control panels turn fixtures on and off when you needed and they are also suitable for big spaces with many people. 
  • Photocells decide if artificial light is needed by sensing the levels of light. Daylight sensors do the very same, and they use a dimming ballast to adjust the artificial light as the daylight disappears.