5 Guidelines for Contractors When Evaluating Lighting Controls

December 28, 2021 Tonia Hoy

Demanding energy codes and the desire for reductions in energy consumption make advanced lighting controls a common feature in many current spaces. As a contractor you want to deliver a high-quality solution to your customer that is also easy to install and configure for operation.

We’ve created the following five guidelines to help you evaluate the various lighting controls solutions available  in the marketplace to determine the best option for your projects.

1) Three Solution Types

The desired functionality of the lighting controls will typically drive one of the following solution types:

Standalone - Devices installed in a fixture, wallbox, or ceiling that can turn lights on, off and/or dim them based on occupancy, daylight or by a manual switch. Standalone devices control the lights they are wired to, and do not share any information on a network.

Local Networked - Locally networked controls simplify installation and offer zoning flexibility, especially when combining multiple control strategies. Devices in a room, open area, corridor, warehouse, or parking lot communicate via a wired or wireless network to share sensor information, respond uniformly in a group, and can be re-zoned and re-configured via programming tools.

System-Wide Networked - Connecting local zones to a network backbone and gateway provides a complete solution that can be managed from a central software interface. System-wide networked controls provide capabilities such as schedules and global overrides, and they are often integrated with other building management systems.

2) Ease of Installation and Configuration

Selecting controls enabled luminaires reduces the number of devices to install, therefore dramatically reducing controls installation time. Choose a system that is easily networked with a wired solution of daisy chained plug-and-play connections or eliminate control wires and network via wireless grouping through a mobile application.

Mobile apps make programming and configuration even easier when comparing to push-button and dip-switch programming, programming through remotes that can be easily lost or broken, or complex software programs that require training.

3) Look for Luminaires with Embedded Controls

Another evaluation criteria is the availability of a broad portfolio of controls embedded luminaires for you and your customers to choose. Selecting a manufacturer that offers controls integration into enabled luminaires eliminates mounting of control devices and reduces wire terminations, resulting in less installation labor, fewer wiring mistakes, and confidence in fixture and control compatibility.

4) Indoor and Outdoor

The ability for a lighting controls system to easily go from indoor to outdoor on one lighting controls platform is another critical consideration. Integrating together two different systems on a job could cause considerable extra time and effort. Selecting a lighting controls platform that scales from indoor to outdoor provides a consistent user experience for both the installer and end customer.

5) Is the Controls System Scalable?

     Application Specific

Networked systems for luminaire-level lighting control are often application specific, such as for indoor office environments. Extending a specific solution to other applications, while seeking to deliver the same control strategies can present a wide range of challenges. Compromises are made in control capabilities or by integrating multiple networked systems, adding to the complexity of the system to overcome limitations. One can avoid these constraints and save time during design, specification, and installation by selecting a solution that enables a complete set of networked application capabilities without having to compromise.

     Complete Application Set with a Single Platform

Combining all lighting applications under a single networked platform provides easier specification, installation, maintenance, and improved user experience. With a single platform, the need for using specialized integrator and cloud-based services is removed, thereby reducing startup costs.

Using these five criteria to help you evaluate one lighting controls solution against another will help you make an informed decision on elements that matter to you. Selecting a high-quality solution for your customer that’s easy to install, simple to configure, and quick to get you off the job makes all the difference to your projects and your business.

For more information please visit Acuity Brands’ controls enabled lighting options and to stay current on all the latest product news and industry information, please sign up for our monthly Contractor Corner newsletter today. Looking forward to continuing helping grow your business!

David Errigo, Director of Renovation Sales


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