The future of lighting control

- Jul 23, 2019-

 Controls can now be used, for example, to increase lighting energy efficiency, to respond to sound or motion, and to improve moods and productivity, all while shedding the need for hard wire connections into and electrical circuit or network. Most of these lighting control features would not have been possible with traditional incandescent lighting fixtures and systems. LED lighting has unleashed the creativity of designers and engineers, who have created innovative control systems with unparalleled capabilities.

Although quantum dislocations in lighting control systems may be beyond prediction, at least a portion of the future direction of LED controls can be gleaned from some of the features that have been added to those systems over the past several years.

Wireless Lighting with Internet Connectivity

Wireless lighting control boards and systems are already a reality in many large venues. As more companies enter the burgeoning market for Internet of Things (“IoT”) devices, lighting controls will inevitably be included in those devices as add-ons or bonus features that allow end users to monitor and control lights at a location from anywhere else in the world. This can allow something as simple as allowing a homeowner to turn off a light that he neglected to shut down before he left his house, to as complicated as allowing a facilities manager to change lighting conditions at multiple offices around the world.

Advanced Motion Sensor Technology in Public Places

Retrofits to LED street lighting are already underway in many cities around the globe. Municipalities already use sensors to turn street lights on and off in response to ambient natural lighting. Advanced motion sensors that change lighting conditions in response to traffic will add further improvements to street lighting. LED’s already provide substantial cost savings in terms of reduced utility and maintenance costs. LED lights come to full illumination almost immediately after being powered up, making them ideal for motion sensor applications.  Commercial interests can also use motion sensors to control lighting in parking facilities and other public areas that call for lighting when they are in use.

Color Tunable Lighting

Incandescent lighting is inefficient and relatively expensive, but it remains popular because of the perceived warmth of its illumination. Early generations of LED lighting suffered from their brightness and perceived harshness, but new control circuitry has created fixtures that have tunable colors, including dim-to-warm, tunable white, and full tunable color lighting. This tuning capability had been originally confined to special applications that could afford the extra cost of the fixtures and tuning systems. Costs for these systems are now falling, making these systems available to more end users.

Mood Adaptation

Physiologists have used particular wavelengths of light to treat seasonal depression and other disorders. Research into the effects of different wavelengths of light has now revealed that blue wavelength light can improve alertness and productivity, whereas yellow and red wavelength can help individuals to relax. School and office lighting designers are examining how they can use these research findings to create more productive environments and improve student and employee performance. Advanced lighting control systems will make these physiological adjustments possible.