Commissioning Costs of Smart Lighting

According to a recently published smart lighting report from IHS Technology, increasing emphasis on reducing commissioning costs is promoting the use of more distributed lighting control architectures with fixture-level control. 

Traditional control panels that apply dimming and switching to an entire zone or series of fixtures have been the most common form of lighting control. With this option, all the fixtures in the zone are dimmed, or switch on and off, at the same time. Fixture-level control is achieved by controlling the individual ballasts and drivers, which enables users to switch or dim individual fixtures, rather than entire zones. 

Some lighting solutions connect each fixture individually to the controller or control panel; others have the controller and sensor built into the luminaire itself. With fixture-level control, more connected switches and sensors are required to cover each additional area. IHS estimates that almost 9.5 million connected switches where shipped to commercial applications in 2014. By 2018, as fixture control gains in popularity, 18.3 million connected switches are forecast to be shipped to commercial applications. 

The benefits of fixture-level control are predominantly related to commissioning the lighting system,  when it is first installed, and re-commissioning a space in the future. For example, when a building is first constructed, the architect may have designed functional working spaces for the occupants; however, once the occupants move in, they might decide to shift desk locations. A traditionally designed system would be unable to easily cope with this situation, but soft integration (created by fixture level control) allows for highly flexible lighting options. 

The disadvantages of fixture-level control are mainly related to its additional cost and technical requirements, and adding fixture-level control will often add to wiring, equipment and installation time. Some new options on the market have overcome the additional wiring and installation costs, by adding wireless controls to each fixture; however, there is a price premium for adding wireless controls to the fixture itself. The other disadvantage of fixture-level control is the requirement for flexibility. 

Some industry stakeholders back the move to fixture-level control, while others dismiss it as another fad in the industry. Overall, with increasing labour costs associated with installation and commissioning; fixture-level control is likely to have a growing presence in the market.

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