Luminaire Level Lighting Controls for Smarter Spaces

October 26, 2023 Tonia Hoy

How Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) Came About

The lighting industry is constantly evolving in response to the needs of the marketplace, especially when it comes to how luminaires and controls interact from a fixture design and manufacturing standpoint. One of the requests that has been consistently voiced to manufacturers, from both contractors and end-users, is to make controls easier to understand, easier to install, easier to commission, and easier to maintain across the life of the lighting system.

As a result, manufacturers started to embed controls seamlessly into luminaires, allowing for the creation of dynamic energy-efficient environments. Acuity Brands began offering luminaires with embedded nLight® in 2011 and today there are over 500 luminaire families with embedded controls from nLight.

Eventually, these types of solutions came to be known as Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC), which is a networked lighting control system in which the occupancy sensors and/or controls device are installed within the luminaire to enable individually controlled luminaires. LLLCs offer a solution for upgrading existing lighting systems, or new construction designs, that achieves additional energy savings through the individual control of the fixture, while simplifying the lighting design of the space.

Defining LLLC

The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) defines LLLC as: The capability to have a networked occupancy sensor and ambient light sensor installed for each luminaire or kit, and directly integrated or embedded into the form factor during the luminaire or kit manufacturing process.

The International Energy Conservation Code (2018, 2021) defines LLLC as: A lighting system consisting of one or more luminaires with embedded lighting control logic, occupancy and ambient light sensors, wireless networking capabilities, and local override switching capability where required.

The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) defines it similarly as: A type of networked lighting control (NLC) system with integrated sensors and controls in each luminaire that are wirelessly networked, enabling the luminaires within the system to communicate with each other and transmit data.

The Advantages of LLLCs in Upgrading an Existing Lighting System

Retrofitting with a luminaire level lighting control (LLLC) system offers several advantages compared to traditional lighting systems. LLLC systems provided enhanced functionality and energy efficiency while also offering more flexibility in lighting management. Below is an outline of a couple of key advantages that an LLLC system offers:

Energy Savings: LLLC systems enable precise control of individual luminaires, allowing for better energy management. The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) has provided independent verification of energy optimization with networked controls, and the energy reduction increases to a significant 63% when each luminaire has the capability of individual control.

Increased Efficiency and Compliance with Building Codes: The ability to control lighting at the luminaire level allows for more granular adjustments, optimizing lighting levels based on specific needs and space requirements. This fine-tuning leads to improved lighting efficiency and reduces over-illumination. LLLC systems include features like dimming and occupancy sensing, which can help buildings comply with energy efficiency codes and standards.

Scalability and Flexibility: Retrofitting with LLLC systems is relatively easy and scalable, it can be implemented incrementally, and additional luminaires or controls can be added later without major infrastructure changes.

Demand Response Capabilities: Some LLLC systems can integrate with demand response programs, allowing building to participate in energy-saving initiatives and receive incentives or rebates from utilities.

In addition, a lot of utilities are offering higher incentives for LLLC lighting systems over traditional lighting systems either through increased control incentives or increased LED incentives. According to Encentiv Energy, one example out of many for increased control incentives is Ameren Illinois. They offer incentive programs for Networked Lighting Controls (NLC) with LLLC. You can find their website here:  Ameren Illinois Energy Efficiency Program.

Additional Resources on LLLCs

Acuity Academy offers a variety of courses on demand in lighting controls. Video Course: A Standard for Lighting and Lighting Controls is a recorded webinar and provides an overview of the 2019 version of the ASHRAE 90.1 energy standard, plus compliance details on the lighting and lighting controls-related provisions. The course Video Course: The Value of Networked Lighting Controls demonstrates the importance of networked lighting controls focusing on design and installation, delivering significant value to customers. The Value of Embedded Lighting Controls (CEU) is also located on Acuity Academy and available on demand.

The NEE/DLC report on NLC has shown that there are significant statistics on NLC with and without LLLCs. Savings derived from NLCs exhibiting the LLLC trend are notably greater compared to those without. The average control factor for NLCs with LLLC stands at 0.63, in contrast to the 0.49 control factor achieved by the entire spectrum of NLCs. This substantial increase in the average control factor is attributed to enhanced savings originating from premium trim levels and additional control strategies. Buildings implementing NLCs featuring LLLC prominently occupied the realm of significant savings. Within the uppermost quartile of savings, an impressive 70% of NLCs were equipped with LLLC functionality. This outcome can be attributed to the increased prevalence of self-directed and localized occupancy detection controls, along with luminaire-level daylight harvesting.

In addition, BetterBricks an initiative by the Northwest Energy Alliance dedicated to commercial building solutions, has created a course Video Course: Selling LLLC as a Retrofit ( on selling luminaire level lighting controls for retrofits. The course is video based and helps companies to better understand how to articulate the installation advantages of LLLC, communicate the value proposition of LLLC to influence sales, and build trust by delivering value and meeting customer needs.

How Acuity Brands’ Design Select™ Portfolio Can Help When It Comes to LLLCs

Acuity Brands new Design Select portfolio offers a variety of embedded controls options for all types of retrofit projects. Design Select offers the most popular, readily available to ship in 15 days or less, and configurable products to capture opportunity business and meet tight project timelines. Also, the Design Select portfolio of over 18,000 product SKUs meets energy codes, lowers total installed cost, and provides an easier lighting control design with embedded control options available.

I look forward to continuing to bring you strategic topics, like the LLLC for retrofits that will help you grow your business. Stay current on the latest products news and industry information by signing up for our monthly Contractor Corner Newsletter today.

David Errigo, Director of Renovation Sales

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