Q&A: A Smarter Luminaire - The Benefits of Embedded Controls

Mark Lane, Acuity Brands Product Market Manager, reconciles the rewards of a smarter luminaire with embedded controls.

  1. What is a Smart Luminaire?

Many devices we’ve used for years are getting smarter, and a luminaire is no different.  The LED transition has afforded us an opportunity to upgrade our traditional lighting needs with technology that autonomously makes decisions to produce the right amount of light, only when needed, to minimize energy consumption and allow for future capabilities that expand beyond just lighting.   That technology can be integrated in the factory today in the form of an embedded control.

  1. What is the greatest benefit of having a luminaire with embedded controls?

With any integration, there is opportunity to not only expand on capabilities, but recognize efficiencies.  This is certainly true when embedding controls into a luminaire, as you can eliminate duplicate functionality.  Since a control device only requires DC voltage, you can eliminate AC to DC conversion and associated protections required for AC voltage, such as surge or EMI protections.  This produces a simpler device with not only less components with the potential to fail, but reduced cost per device providing a total lower cost to the customer.

  1. How do embedded controls help save on installation costs?

When considering a control device, it’s important to not just consider the cost of the product, but also the labor to install it.  With embedded controls, you eliminate the labor of controls installation since it is integrated in the factory. You also eliminate any risk with disparate systems since you’re purchasing a completely functional unit, controls and lighting.  Plus, with a wireless control, there is even greater savings as you eliminate the material and labor expense of installing low voltage wiring.

  1. Do embedded controls provide more flexibility with lighting control operations?

By embedding controls at the fixture level, you gain complete flexibility in how a space is configured and how the lighting responds to the inhabitants.  You can choose specific luminaires that will dim and save energy based on daylighting in the space, while others can be at full output to ensure task lighting levels are achieved.  But this goes beyond just lighting control. With sensors at each luminaire, you can gain critical information on how specific areas are utilized by those inhabitants, leading to further insights for your operation.

  1. With technology changing rapidly, should I be concerned that the technology embedded will be obsolete quickly, rendering my fixture out-of-date?

Absolutely not.  Today’s embedded controls can be wirelessly updated, allowing for more features to be unlocked in the future.  With a networked control system, you can expose and capture data that supports IoT applications throughout the life of your LED luminaire.  Not only does Acuity Brands nLight® AIR provide networked wireless lighting control, but it includes Bluetooth® Low Energy (BLE) sensors that can be used by our own Atrius IoT solutions.

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