The emergence of smart lighting controls for emergency lighting is something that many asset and safety professionals in the housing sector are switching on to. With improved capabilities, efficiency savings, and peace of mind that human error is out of the equation, it’s easy to see why so many registered providers are turning to this new tech. Ben Brunton of Prime Light, one of the UK’s largest lighting solutions companies, tells us more about this technology, and how it’s revolutionising the way housing providers fulfil their regulatory responsibilities.
The statutory responsibility to check all emergency lighting can be a costly one for social housing providers. The requirement to perform a ‘flick-test’ every month and an annual full discharge test, where batteries are discharged for at least three hours, has a massive impact on budget and resources, particularly if it’s a larger RP that operates over multiple UK regions. However, it’s something that can’t be overlooked as the repercussions of not doing it are even greater.
Many asset or facilities managers and safety professionals within the housing sector are now exploring new smart lighting technology to undertake emergency lighting testing for this very reason. Easy to retrofit, with no additional wiring, an integral smart controller enables you to see the status of your emergency lighting across all housing stock on one online dashboard at the touch of a button, with no requirement for time-consuming and costly on-site testing.
Integrated into each of your emergency luminaires, the DALI nodes request a status update from each emergency module every five seconds, so you are immediately informed via email about any issues rather than waiting for the next manual test. Should no data be received within 24 hours you are also notified of a potential issue so that loss of power to either devices or the online gateway is not left unchecked and can be rectified. The system automates the monthly and annual testing requirements at a time that works for the occupation of that building, ensuring that no two lights in the same area are discharged at the same time. And with no human intervention, you can be assured that all lights have been tested to full compliance.
The responsible person can choose how and who is notified of any exceptions, they can run a desktop diagnostic on units that fail, and you can even integrate it with other facilities management software to schedule the repair, all providing greater efficiency, proactive management, and peace of mind.
Security is something that we get asked a lot about with this technology as the housing sector becomes an increasingly popular target for cyber-attacks. The mesh system means every device can pass its data onto the next one, to pass it back to a gateway that sends information to an Amazon Web Server, so no information is ever held on-site. The mesh operates on 128-bit encryption, it changes its key 10 times a second, so it’s incredibly secure and like banking-grade security. And even if someone does manage to hack into an individual node and get into the firmware it’s got something called an HSM it will immediately wipe itself so no one can access it. It is very reliable and very secure.
Whilst emergency lighting tests are the driver for many asset managers considering this smart technology, due to its adaptability there are also energy savings to be made across social housing portfolios as they potentially give you control over other elements of lighting such as daylight harvesting or reducing the lighting output to say 80%, which is virtually undetectable to the human eye. Due to the simplicity of the operating systems colleagues can be trained to control this in-house, giving you full management without ongoing consultancy costs to make changes.
Smart lighting controls are a definite area of growth in the UK. Many large shopping centres and retailers with multiple units have already switched on to the many benefits and we are seeing an increasing appetite within the housing sector. We are currently in talks with a medium-sized southwest housing provider, and we plan to completely eradicate the cost of manual testing for them.