Lighting controls may seem like a straightforward topic, but in reality, it is one of the most complex aspects of lighting design, even when paired with the conventional light sources that prevailed prior to LEDs. Owing to its complexity are the basic protocols of how luminaires and system components “talk” to one another, the large number of system components, and potential ambiguities in the user interface.

Prior to LEDs’ market dominance, the focus of lighting controls was often on energy savings. Control systems mostly involved occupancy sensors to turn lights off when a space was vacant, and dimming sensors and daylight harvesting to maximize the use of natural light during daytime hours.

Today, with LEDs’ color-changing capabilities and advancements, lighting controls have a wider range of performance commands than simply on and off. “You are no longer controlling a single filament,” says Lowell Olcott, product manager of controls and networking at Middleton, Wis.–based ETC. Occupants in both commercial and residential projects want a greater level of personal control to adjust lighting to correspond to specific activities at various times of day and night.

No matter the type and size of a project, a system’s ease of use and affordability remain primary concerns of designers and clients. “The greatest challenge for designers when it comes to any lighting controls discussion is managing complexity,” notes Brett Andersen, a lighting designer at Focus Lighting in New York. “There is a big difference between a feature or a capability that would be great to have and one that you absolutely need. The simplest lighting control system is likely the best for clients.”

Keeping the system simple also aids the entire design team in defining the scope of work and the specification process. “It’s important to specify products and systems from manufacturers that will be responsive and provide the best service,” says New York–based Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design (CBBLD) president and principal Francesca Bettridge. “You have to be clear with the client as to who is specifying the system and who is commissioning it so that if troubleshooting is required at some point, it’s clear to everyone on the project team who is responsible for this scope of work,” adds CBBLD principal Stephen Bernstein.

The following lighting controls products provide a snapshot of the latest offerings on the commercial market that help architects and lighting designers address a variety of project types and client application needs.

Courtesy Acclaim Lighting

Aria Wireless DMX System, Acclaim Lighting
Designed for solid-state outdoor lighting applications, the Aria Wireless DMX System provides a wide array of features in a compact footprint. The transceiver is encased in a die-cast aluminum gray housing, measuring 9.1" by 6.2" by 2.2", and functions as both the sending and receiving point. It also provides up to 15 channels at 2.4 GHz. The system consumes 3W of power, runs on 100V to 240V (or 277V at 50/60Hz), and utilizes an internal wireless radio with both mesh networking and signal routing optimization to ensure seamless DMX data reception. A 5-dB omnidirectional antenna allows for transmission up to 2,600' for line of sight and up to 300' between obstructions and walls.

Aria can also be used to make a direct connection to fixtures that have built-in receivers, such as Acclaim’s Dyna Drum spot and floodlights. IP66-rated for wet locations, the system works within a temperature range of -40 F to 122 F.

Courtesy Crestron

Zūm J-Box Sensor Integration Module, Crestron Electronics
This new component for Crestron’s Zūm commercial lighting system enables the integration of hard-wired occupancy and daylight sensors. It mounts directly to a 4"-square J-Box and communicates wirelessly with one or more Zūm dimmers, switches, and load controllers. It also enables the integration of ultrasonic and dual-technology sensors, and sensors for hallways, high-bay or industrial applications, wet locations, and outdoor installations. The module can be configured to work with motion-detecting sensors for occupancy or vacancy-only mode. For daylight harvesting, a single open-loop daylight sensor, photosensor, or photocell can be connected. For network control purposes, it appears as a native Zūm Mesh wireless device in the room, using peer-to-peer radio-frequency communication. The device is UL-2043 listed for installation in an environmental air-handling space.

Encelium Edge, Osram
This stand-alone wireless management system caters to commercial spaces up to 10,000 square feet in which a simplified, code-compliant, energy-savings solution would be more suitable than a complex, networked, light management system. Designed for spaces with up to 100 nodes, the system features individual and zoned scene control and luminaire addressability; control of an entire circuit of plug loads (20A) at the receptacle level; and demand response controls for automatic light-level reduction. The system works with any manufacturer’s zero-to-10V dimmable ballast or LED driver, and operates with a mesh network using Zigbee standards. Luminaires and control scenes can be reconfigured using the system’s mobile app. The system complies with ASHRAE Standard 90.1-2016 and California’s Title 24-2016.

Courtesy Hubbell Lighting

SpectraSync, Hubbell Lighting
One of the newer control systems to address color-tuning technology, SpectraSync works with control systems from Hubbell or third-party manufacturers. Available in three different color ranges—dim to warm (2200K–3000K), tunable white (2700K–5000K or 2700K–6500K), and scheduled white (2700K–6500K), the software works with standard zero-to-10V dimming protocols as well as DMX and preset/scheduling through any lighting control system. The key feature of SpectraSync is its single-driver approach that allows occupants to adjust lighting preferences according to time of day and activity. When SpectraSync is paired directly with Hubbell Control Solutions’ NX system, luminaires can be commissioned directly out of the box before installation, according to the manufacturer.

Courtesy ETC

Unison Paradigm 4.0, ETC
ETC’s Unison Paradigm energy management control system supports a range of facility lighting and building systems integration needs. Incorporating energy management, daylight harvesting, and occupancy sensing, the system works across devices from one or more manufacturers. This latest software release features options for monitoring peak, partial-peak, and off-peak consumption, including demand response for individual and group channels, or entire spaces when the system receives notification from a utility. The software also calculates energy usage for all equipment loads, regardless of manufacturer. Version 4.0 provides enhanced support for tunable-white and color-changing luminaires. One Paradigm processor can support up to 62 stations and sensors, 18 touchscreens, and 1,024 circuits and parameters.

Courtesy ETC
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