Brightening Trends: Controls Manufacturers

Lighting-control systems can only develop as far as their components take them, making the role of manufacturers in lighting control an important one...


Lighting-control systems can only develop as far as their components take them, making the role of manufacturers in lighting control an important one. So what do our panelists think are the most important new developments in controls technology?

"The latest innovations in controls are smart controls in which the controls sense patterns of occupancy," says Nancy Clanton, P.E., of Clanton & Associates, Boulder, Colo. "At night with lower occupancy, the controls are less sensitive, during the day they are more sensitive." Clanton also mentions control combinations such as infrared and ultrasonic occupancy sensors that minimize false on/off triggering.

Mary Alcaraz, P.E., of Ewing Cole Cherry Brott, Philadelphia, Pa., mentions other design components that she has recently used-and the trend toward interoperability. "Innovations in lighting controls.include panelboards with controllable circuit breakers, dual-technology occupancy sensors, DMX controllers and T5HO dimming ballasts," she says "Also, the future trend is toward interoperable, intelligent building controls where the controls for the lighting are interfaced with the BAS [building-automation system]."

This ability of lighting-control systems to better communicate with other building systems is also mentioned by Scott Easton, Affiliated Engineering, Inc., Madison, Wis.

"Some manufacturers, for instance, are developing systems that combine architectural dimming, daylight harvesting, motion sensors, low-voltage control inputs and building-systems integration," he says. "The end-result is single-manufacturer responsibility and support for the entire building, or even campus lighting-control system. Now that is exciting."

Still, there are some areas where manufacturers apparently can continue to develop-or improve.

"We would like to see more advancement in wireless controls, individual occupant controls and open-protocol BAS-integrated lighting controls," says Alcaraz.

"While the control-system manufacturers seem quite capable of managing the new technologies in their product, we have found that most are not intuitive enough to the end-user to make them user-friendly," says Ron Kurtz, IALD, of the St. Louis-based Randy Burkett Lighting Design.

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