Upgrading Exterior Lighting To LED?

Don’t overlook opportunity for monetary and operational savings through a lighting control system.

By Mike Crane
From the April 2019 Issue

Once a facility manager decides to upgrade existing lighting to LED technology, the path toward related energy and cost savings begins. Securing significant cost savings from reduced energy use and maintenance efficiencies is often the primary objective of a lighting retrofit. And, replacing legacy HID and fluorescent lighting fixtures to LED can cut energy costs by 50% or more. However, what if I told you can get event more value out of this type of lighting upgrade? Changing out the lighting fixtures is also an opportunity to add occupancy sensors and daylighting controls. For instance, in parking decks it is common to see fixtures operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Adding occupancy sensors to each fixture could save an additional 50% to 75% in energy costs, and using daylight-dimming controls could save 10% to 20% more at the perimeter or rooftop.

lighting control system
(Photo: Tonda)

There’s a significant opportunity for facility managers to achieve additional energy savings using LEDs and controls technology. This article will address how facility managers can use data from lighting to better manage, monitor, and measure the system and address the greater focus on safety and operational savings.

Show Me The Money

A leading reason to consider a LED lighting system with controls is for the energy savings. But how do you quantifiably show those savings? Almost everything is available with some kind of wireless network and intelligence, and modern lighting controls are no exception. In addition to the LED retrofit energy savings described above, intelligent controls gather information about the operation of the lighting, including on/off times, power consumption, and the status of each light. With the data from these reports, facility managers can generate comprehensive energy reports that show what the energy usage is per luminaire, per site or network of sites.

It’s All About The Data

When selecting a lighting control solution, look for one that offers “actionable intelligence”—which is the ability to provide necessary information immediately to deal quickly and efficiently with a particular situation. Beyond energy savings, advanced lighting controls afford facility managers the opportunity to collect and access robust analytics, further empowering them to drill down to the smallest detail, and organize, and manipulate the lighting system. This level of information allows the facilities team to accomplish tasks they previously couldn’t. The value in this data grows as managers can anticipate maintenance needs, fine-tune the energy savings, and ensure consistent performance across the lighting system, no matter how large the installation footprint.

For example, municipalities with miles and miles of roadway lighting require maintenance crews to drive around during the day looking for “day burners”—luminaires that are on in the daytime when they should be off. Those same crews are also required to drive around at night, looking for luminaires that are off when they should be on. A lighting control system that provides actionable intelligence can monitor every luminaire, recognize any changes, and send an immediate notification via e-mail or text message when the unexpected occurs—enabling crews to go to the exact light that requires servicing. With the data provided by the system, it’s much easier to ensure a safe environment and reduce maintenance costs.

A User Interface That Works For The User

The most intuitive Graphical User Interface (GUI) systems use one or more of the popular mapping services to display icons representing luminaires on a map. Look for a system that provides a functional map view that provides the on/off status of luminaires and identifies luminaires that are experiencing problems.

lighting control system
(Photo: Blyjak)

This is an example of visual actionable intelligence—an icon of a luminaire experiencing a problem turns red and a notification and/or report can be generated to address the situation. In addition to utilizing mapping services to display information, it is helpful to choose a system that can also import layout images of areas that are not accessible from a mapping service (e.g., Parking Deck/Level 2).

The Module Is The Thing

Another key component to consider when selecting a lighting control system is ease of installation. You may want to look for a system that uses a plug-in module that goes on, or in, the luminaire. Ask about modules that feature extensive configuration settings which will enable you to set up the system to meet all lighting needs. Here are a few configuration settings you might look for, and why:

  • High/Low Trim Settings. Enables the module to make automatic adjustments to highest and lowest light levels needed to maintain a safe environment while maximizing energy savings. Some systems also maintain a set light output even as the luminaire ages over time, called lumen maintenance.
  • Power-Up Settings. On power-up, either at a scheduled time or after an event (e.g. after a blackout) the modules can be configured to go to an “on” state, “off” state, or “last” state, so the system behaves consistently across large areas. A module that has the extra feature of a random start delay, which prevents all luminaires from powering on at the same time, is essential for those customers concerned about power surge charges when hundreds of luminaires all turn on simultaneously.
  • Multiple Set Points. Not all luminaires provide identical light output. Modules that have multiple configurable dimming setpoints enable fine tuning of the light output to achieve consistent desired light levels.
  • Ramp Up/Ramp Down Rates. The speed at which the light level ramps up and ramps down should be configurable based on the lighting application. For example, when motion is detected, the light level should increase quickly for safety, but when the area becomes vacant, the light level can be programmed to decrease at a slower rate in case someone re-enters the area.
  • Multiple Input Types. Input control devices such as motion sensors, external photocells, and master override switches should be configurable to control either a single luminaire or a group of luminaires. These connections could also be used to exchange information with a building management system (BMS) for additional functionality.

Let’s continue to explore the example of a parking deck. There’s an opportunity to reduce light output and energy consumption strategically during periods of time when the parking decks are not being used or when daylight can complement the electric lighting. However, calculating the savings of a facility operating 24/7 is much more challenging than one with a regular schedule.

With an advanced system, the basic energy-saving strategies of occupancy sensing and daylight dimming are set up, along with any known schedules. The system would use a graphical management software platform to configure each level or even multiple garages or sites to control, monitor and meter the lighting systems in multiple parking garages.

With the software up and running, data from the lights is gathered, presenting the facility manager with insight into how effective each strategy is, and where improvement could be made. This could include astronomical (sunrise/sunset) schedules instead of simple clock timing, shortening the delay times before turning off when most of the decks are empty, or increasing the length of time the lights stay on to improve safety during special events. This software can empower facility managers with real-time monitoring, instant alarm notifications from faulty lighting equipment, and increased network efficiency and maintenance operations. The more data the system collects the more intelligent it becomes, minimizing manual intervention.

Here are some additional considerations:

  • What data/information is needed from the system?
  • What actionable things should the system automatically do?
  • Who in the organization should receive the data?
  • What additional lighting controls should be implemented?
  • How will the new system overlay with legacy management systems already in place?

Ask detailed questions about the controls installation. You will want to ensure everything will be addressed and to ensure a successful installation and start-up.

Installing exterior LED luminaires with standard lighting control devices will reduce energy costs and provide monetary savings. However, LED luminaires with an advanced lighting control system that provides actionable intelligence, not only offers monetary savings but also provides the necessary data that allows facility managers to more effectively manage and monitor their outdoor lighting, save on maintenance costs, and correct unsafe lighting conditions quickly.

Crane is senior product manager at Hubbell Control Solutions, a Hubbell Lighting brand, a lighting fixture manufacturer based in Greenville, SC. Hubbell Lighting features a suite of brands that provide a range of indoor and outdoor lighting products for the commercial, industrial, institutional, and residential markets.

Do you have a comment? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send an e-mail to the Editor at acosgrove@groupc.com.