Lighting Controls ●From previous page Should they answer negatively to the first two questions, or positively

to the latter three, then clients should consider controls as part of their projects.

Clients will be reassured to know that, whatever the current trends in lighting control are, the lighting control industry is not new. Actually, this industry was born in the US when Joel Spira invented the first solid-state dimmer in 1959. Spira’s initial target market was the homeowner, with a unique

promise of efficient lighting and… romance! Since then, the list of applications made possible by lighting control technologies has grown fast and lighting control is now frequently used in the commercial, residential and hospitality sectors. In the commercial sector, smart buildings are being heavily promoted

regarding the benefits of energy saving, staff well-being and productivity. In the residential sector, smart home integration for lighting, heating and security has been driven by the uptake of voice control through Alexa, Siri and Google Home devices. And in the hospitality domain, lighting control is everywhere spanning guestrooms, back offices and public spaces. All of the above are tangible opportunities for electrical wholesalers to expand their position as a knowledge resource to contractors and installers, resulting in added revenue and customer retention.

The benefits of a lighting control strategy against light switches are all the

One main competitor: the light switch Since the early days when Joel Spira and Lutron invented the category, other brands have entered the lighting control industry, some specialising by sector, application or project size. Still, the whole industry has one main competitor: the light switch. Each time a light switch is being used, there is a missed opportunity to provide a better solution thanks to lighting control. When working with a client, wholesalers need to be able to explain lighting controls benefits over the traditional light switch. This means that they should be able to answer the question of ‘Why does the light switch still exist?’ The answer comes from a mix of reasons including budget, awareness, solutions knowledge and maintenance charges. On new installations, lighting is typically one of the last elements to be installed, so is value- engineered out to save on over expenditure elsewhere. There is a lack of knowledge on the benefits that controls can add to the space flexibility, staff productivity and energy saving. The capabilities of control solutions to go wireless, bringing speed of installation and flexibility of placement supported by contractor-focused solutions, are not well-known.

Some lighting control systems still rely on manufacturer commissioning

and tweaking only, resulting in some clients feeling ‘ransomed’ to call out charges. New solutions are contractor and user friendly, eliminating this risk.

What types of controls exist, and where can they be used?

1. Standalone Simple – from a simple dimmer to control LED lights or combined with a presence detector to control lights with motion, can incorporate ‘daylight harvesting’ 2. Standalone Scene – Creating scenes through combination of lighting circuits, ideal for boardrooms, restaurants, residential applications, where lighting improves the performance of the space, adds ambience etc.

3. Area / Floor – Simple building systems are now being designed and commissioned by the contractor as use wireless technology so can be retrofitted. Allow for switching, dimming and integration with HVAC, via BACnet 4. Building Wide – Larger scale, cover integration with other systems and often now ‘Big Data’ collation 5. Home Controls – Smart devices and integration with thermostats, security, heating, voice control devices etc.

32 | electrical wholesaler January 2018

more noticeable in commercial buildings, where lighting accounts for approximately 20% of the energy bill. It has been estimated that simple control strategies such as presence detection, timeouts, ‘daylight harvesting’ and ‘high-end trim’ (i.e. trimming the excess light) can save over 60% of the energy used for lighting, which combined with LEDs, can result in significant cost savings.

The benefits of a lighting control

strategy against light switches are all the more noticeable in commercial buildings, where

lighting accounts for approximately 20% of the energy bill.

Other benefits of controls are that dimming extends maintenance

intervals. In commercial environments, ‘auto emergency’ testing which saves the labour of checking the battery life and integration with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can deliver huge additional system energy savings. Contractors see wholesalers as a key source of knowledge, expertise and

advice. This means that the wholesaler’s role is crucial to unleash the business potential of lighting control for contractors. The role of the manufacturer is therefore to support their wholesaler branch partners at the country level, through training covering sales strategy, technology and product knowledge.

Legislation and building best practices The UK Government is driving the market through building requirements and incentives along with independent ‘best practices’, all impacting the market. Each of them supports lighting controls, providing opportunities for wholesalers to train, add value and sell products to deliver client value. These important initiatives are covering multiple topics such as:

requirements on installations, tax offset on energy efficiency products that meet specification guidelines, best practices to build better buildings, lightbulb phase-out or energy efficiency for property rental. For all of the above, wholesalers can add value and increase the value of their clients’ projects. If unsure, there is always help at hand from the Lutron side.

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