Andy Davies, head of business development and specification at Harvard Engineering, considers the exciting opportunities that the latest indoor lighting controls bring to commercial buildings

The move towards having total control of indoor lighting has never been easier and the opportunities that brings are likely to drive a huge take-up of the new generation technology. When used with LEDs, modern wireless lighting control systems can achieve electricity savings of up to 50%, and bring a host of additional benefits.

Harvard has 20 years’ experience in driving forward the best in British design and engineering, and its EyeNut system is the first of the new generation of control systems which are revolutionising the indoor lighting market, by offering a complete and innovative solution for facilities managers, which has overcome problems associated with older generation controls.

The technology enables controls to be wirelessly added to existing lights, with no completely rewiring required, and are so simple to use qualified electricians can commission and operate them so costly specialist expertise is not required.

Limitless gateways

By offering the control of up to 500 light points from one wireless gateway, via a robust and secure ZigBee wireless mesh network - compared to DALI’s 64 - the new wireless EyeNut system can handle more diverse and complex lighting situations. There is no limit to the number of gateways that can be managed by the central hub, based in the cloud.

EyeNut has been developed on the back of Harvard’s hugely successful control and monitoring system for street lights, LeafNut, which controls lamps over the internet using GPS and radio frequency identification. LeafNut has been widely installed by over 100 local authorities across the world. In the UK there are approximately 7.5 million street lights and control technology is helping councils meet their 80% reduction target in CO2 emissions by 2020, based on 1990 levels, which is a requirement of the Climate Change Act.

Street lighting only accounts for a small fraction of all lighting though, so it was important to bring similar technology indoors and make a huge impact by slashing the energy usage of commercial buildings. Not only do new generation indoor lighting controls achieve that – they also actively work to manage a building’s lighting to suit any particular situation, in the most effective way.

EyeNut is highly adaptable and whether through new-build or retrofit applications, managers can utilise the technology to remotely control lamp efficiency and light intensity. The controls map the performance of all lights on the system gathering data on energy consumption and lamp faults.

Monitoring system

The Graphic User Interface or ‘dashboard’ is accessed over the internet, showing all light points, their status and energy spend, over an imported image of a building layout in the mapping tool. This leads to more effective maintenance as engineers can identify high energy usage ‘hot spots’ and obtain a clear view of energy use across the building.

The ‘dashboard’ is an essential element for organisations which need to comply with new mandatory energy audits. EyeNut shares LeafNut’s ability to provide a two-way flow of information to enable informed decisions to be made to adapt lighting to meet sustainability targets using the energy reports and data output provided.

The hub can manage multiple sites and support access from multiple users, allowing organisations and managers of several buildings to benefit from the cost-saving opportunities that follow. Lighting can be dimmed from 100% to 1% of full light output and the profiling feature enables lighting groups to be created and precisely controlled with assigned schedules.

EyeNut can be integrated with sensors, switches and a diverse range of control devices to maximise efficiencies. The implantation of energy saving strategies, include daylight harvesting, occupancy and presence monitoring and PIR technology, which prevents empty spaces from being illuminated, can also help save energy and costs.

EyeNut can also work alongside existing building management systems to collect occupancy data and has built-in emergency integration. This allows users to set up automatic scheduling of tests via the calendar feature in the user interface which run automatically when a building is empty or distributed throughout the building, to minimise interruption to business operations. Once tests are completed, results automatically appear in the EyeNut interface and can be exported to external systems for audit tracking.

The opportunities for lighting management are relevant to all kinds of buildings serving retail, commercial or industrial interests, or schools, colleges and hospitals.

Enormous growth potential

When all the above benefits are considered it’s easy to see why Harvard is excited about the introduction of EyeNut into the market. It has been well received across Europe since its launch in late 2013, where there is enormous potential for growth as only 30 per cent of all lighting in Europe is linked to controls other than the on/off switch.

EyeNut now provides a cost-effective solution to limit expense and carbon emissions. Lighting is the biggest single contributory factor on a building’s electricity bill, accounting for 40% of the total, but now it’s easy to ensure the right level of light is in the right place at the right time, and with the new generation lighting controls, the case for investment is sound - especially as users are finding that the savings gained are resulting in impressive payback periods of around two years.

Besides the financial and operational benefits, EyeNut supports companies in meeting carbon reduction targets for which lighting is a significant contributor. The amount of carbon dioxide produced globally from generating electricity for lighting is around three times higher than emissions produced by aviation. It makes good business sense to take advantage of the lighting control technology now available to ensure commercial buildings operate with optimum lighting at all times.

For more information visit