With technology coming on leaps and bounds since the early noughties, it’s probably no surprise that the global lighting controls market is growing at a rapid pace, being swept along with the technology current. A recent Market Research Future report forecasted that the industry will grow at 18% CAGR between 2017-2023. By the end of this period, the market will be worth USD 39 billion (£25billion) to the global economy.

This has coincided with the rising popularity of energy-saving bulbs like LEDs, increasing public awareness on sustainability, and major efforts from across the world to reduce carbon emissions. It is easy to see why the lighting controls business is looking so bright, particularly considering the extensive environmental benefits that lighting controls can offer.

Smart technologies are becoming more sophisticated and allowing building occupants to better control and manage lighting usage. It is not just about simply switching lights on and off anymore, there is now plenty of choice on detection modes, wiring options, programmable settings and more.

As a result, electrical consultants are coming under increasing pressure to provide better, more tailored solutions that add value for end users which comply with BREEAM guidelines for sustainability. However, it is more important to select the right lighting control solution and product for each project, rather than specify the first innovation you come across. There are a variety of factors to consider when choosing lighting controls.

Making a scene

The first consideration when specifying lighting controls is often determined by the use, scale and prestige of the building. Typically, the larger the project, the more money has been invested into it by the developer. Therefore, lighting controls need to suitably complement the aesthetic and also be fit for purpose.

For example, mixed use buildings like leisure complexes, shopping centres and hotels must be able to cater for daily changing activities and still impress visitors. Such buildings would benefit highly from fully addressable scene setting, offered by systems like RAPID by CP Electronics. These systems can set the scene in single or multiple rooms across multiple floors and the lighting control can be operated via a tablet or smartphone, with voice recognition available too.

Of course, if the project does not require this type of functionality, but still needs programmable controls, there are other suitable options available too.

What’s your type?

The type of building involved in the project will also help to determine whether specific scene setting features will be required in the lighting control system. This harks back to the theatre industry, where different lighting effects are required for different scenes. There is a direct correlation between the amount of time people spend in a space and the type of illumination required.

A good example is a conference centre or meeting room, for which special dimming and brightening controls are often required, to alter the intensity and mood of the environment. Likewise, in hospitals, operating theatres will have specific scene setting requirements.

If you are installing controls in a school or university, the building will likely have a fixed layout with fixed usage patterns and will not require a great deal of flexibility from the lighting control system. However, if you are specifying lighting controls in a commercial office block, this block may be rented out to various tenants over time. In this case, it is best to provide a more flexible solution which can be adapted and configured accordingly.

A Digital Addressable Lighting Interface (DALI) control system, such as CP’s RAPID system, links over an Ethernet network to enable building occupants to scale a lighting system from a room, to a floor, to a whole building. For buildings without a fixed layout, a DALI system can often provide maximum flexibility.

It is also important to consider which type of DALI application is required, specifically between broadcast or addressable. If the building is likely to require a lot of maintenance, for example, it is a commercial office being rented out to different tenants over time, you will require a fully addressable DALI system. However, for buildings which require less maintenance such as hospitals, a broadcast system is more appropriate.

Function follows form

The individual design intricacies of a building will also have a bearing on the type of lighting control system that you will need to install.

Take buildings without suspended ceilings as an example. These are best suited to a hardwired lighting control system, because the wiring is accessible. For suspended ceilings however, a pluggable solution such as CP’s Vitesse Plus is required as there is no accessibility to install wiring. Vitesse Plus can be installed in four ways; channel nut mounting, clip mounting, slab mounting and drop rod mounting, with a spacious wiring compartment for easy accessibility.

Again, this will be dictated by the type of maintenance that the building requires. Hardwired solutions need a specialist electrician to configure and maintain, a pluggable solution does not require this level of expertise.

Another decision to factor in is whether to opt for a system with microwave sensors, or passive infrared (PIR) sensors. This can often be determined by the type of lighting coverage required.

A microwave sensor emits pulses of microwave frequencies and measures the reflection off objects such as walls, when the waves are reflected back to the sensor. It records when these reflections change in the event that a person is in a room and adjusts the volume of light accordingly. This is most suited to classrooms and corridors in educational facilities, where small movements need to be picked up.

A passive infrared sensor on the other hand, measures infrared signatures from objects in its field of view, before triggering a pre-set action in the luminaire fitting. They are more suitable for defined areas such as workstations.

Different solutions for different applications

When it comes to lighting controls, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits all solution. Everything from the intended use, design and layout all plays a key role in the specification process.

With rising scrutiny over sustainability, developers face increasing pressures to demonstrate energy efficiency savings on both new build and retrofit projects. This means electrical consultants are also expected to quickly specify the correct lighting controls to win the business. However, if systems aren’t well thought out then costs will rise in the long term, while users suffer too.

CP Electronics has always worked closely with specifiers and installers on the basis that successful lighting control installation is not about the latest innovation you can put into a building, but the most suitable solution for the application.

To help share CP Electronics’ 45 years of expertise in lighting control, a new CPD programme, certified by the Construction CPD Certification Service, is available. This CPD is aimed towards giving installers a comprehensive overview of lighting control designs and applications.