Education sector switching over to lighting control savings

Large buildings are starting to enjoy huge savings and operational benefits from the high-spec lighting controls now on the market. Here Andy Davies, business development manager for controls at Harvard Engineering, explains why.

Lighting is the single highest contributory factor on a building’s electricity bill, typically accounting for 40% of the total, and with 75% of all controllable lighting sold in Europe today not currently being controlled, it is an area of great opportunity.

Advancements in lighting control technology have come on in leaps and bounds and are encouraging more customers to switch to controls and cut costs and carbon emissions. These developments have resulted in world-class products overcoming many of the drawbacks which have delayed the adoption of indoor lighting controls.

Harvard’s own solution, EyeNut, is a unique web-based, wireless control, monitoring and management system for indoor lighting. It gives users the freedom to commission, configure and completely control their own lighting depending on room or building usage, maximising energy savings and reducing carbon emissions. The system can be fitted to existing lights and is also simpler to use than the earlier generation of controls, so in-house maintenance teams can commission, operate,and re-commission with ease.

Via the intuitive user-friendly dashboard or Graphic User Interface users can manage and customise their lighting schemes. It is accessed over the internet and shows all light points, their status and energy spend, over an imported image of the building layout. The dashboard can be displayed prominently on TV screens and is potentially a valuable tool to incentivise staff and students to change energy use behaviours.  Personal control can be implemented with different users having access to different features within the system.

The savings that can be made with EyeNut are impressive, for example, when used with LED controls, electricity savings of up to 50% can be achieved.  For those tasked with balancing the books and cutting emissions lighting controls are now, more than ever before, an exciting proposition.

The fact that they can be fitted to existing lights should also drive take-up and give a speedy return on investment, In the UK, 80% of all buildings expected to be in use in 2050 will have already been built and conversion to lighting control systems is necessary to reap the benefits now available.

Lighting controls and educational establishments are well suited. Time scheduling and scene setting allow for the lights in different classrooms or rooms of a school, college or university to be tailored to the activities taking place at any time, allowing flexibility. Multiple buildings, such as across a university campus, can be controlled on one system, resulting in ease of use for the facilities manager.

The additional features of daylight harvesting and presence detection allow for energy and cost savings to be achieved. There are few buildings which need full light brightness 100% of the time and without lighting controls education establishments across the country are wasting light energy by over lighting.

EyeNut is managed through the intuitive ZigBee protocol giving users the freedom to commission, configure and completely control their own lighting to maximise energy savings. This allows for example, the control of 500 EyeNut devices from one wireless gateway, via a robust secure ZigBee wireless mesh network compared to DALI’s 64 per controller.

There is no limit to the number of gateways, and therefore the number of devices which can be managed by the central hub, which is also capable of controlling multiple sites and supporting access from multiple users.  The central hub is managed by Harvard in the cloud.

Through ZigBee, luminaries can be controlled, managed and dimmed wirelessly. Dimming is from 1% up to 100% (depending on driver capability) and can be controlled remotely. Devices such as PIR or wireless wall switches can also be used.

Early generation lighting controls provided energy savings but were difficult and expensive to fit retrospectively, requiring specialist engineers.  Once installed, they were difficult to alter and not well suited to respond to changing occupancy patterns in buildings.

With the difficulties removed from commissioning early generation controls such as DALI and Analogue 1-10V, and eliminating the need for specialist expertise to program the hardware, both at the installation and later re-commissioning stages, there are also substantial savings on consultancy fees.

The team at Harvard, which is a UK company leading the world in lighting control technology, was determined to expand the adoption of indoor lighting controls by overcoming the problems which put the brake on take-up. For over 20 years the company has been designing, developing and manufacturing electronic HID ballasts, LED drivers and control products and the award-winning EyeNut has now brought lighting controls to the mass indoor market.

EyeNut is easy to install and easily configurable and controllable through a graphic user interface. Users are now given a clear view of energy consumption through a monitoring and reporting capability with sophisticated energy mapping. EyeNut can also be integrated with building management systems. 

The solution was developed from the company’s LeafNut system which controls street lamps over the internet using GPS and radio frequency identification, and also provides a two-way flow of information sending data on energy spend and faults to the user. LeafNut has now been rolled out across the world by local authorities keen to slash street lighting costs and now the technology is here and ready to also transform the indoor lighting market and bring huge savings both financially and environmentally to the education sector among others.

There is now an affordable and practical solution to retrofit into an existing system, lighting controls which give managers a clear view of lighting-related energy consumption through a comprehensive monitoring system and then the power to control it. The case for installation is now watertight with the development of the latest generation of indoor lighting controls.

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