December 7, 2021
It’s 2021 and it’s time to face the facts: If your building doesn’t have a smart lighting system or, even worse, doesn’t use 100% LED bulbs or fixtures, your building is wasting energy.
You might be aware of how popular “smart” lighting systems have become in the past few years, and maybe you’ve been told that they conserve energy. In this article we’ll be giving you a more clear picture of what smart lighting looks like, and answering these questions for you:
If you’re trying to figure out if smart lighting is worth it, you’ve come to the right place! In this article we’ll discuss the main benefits of implementing smart lighting in your building, and give you an idea of how simple it is to get started.
Here are the 3 main benefits we’ll be covering, click on each link to navigate to different parts of the article:
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this article, here’s a simple explanation of smart lighting and how it works.
Simply put, smart lighting allows your LED lights to be controlled remotely. Here’s how it works: before power is distributed to an LED fixture in a smart lighting system, the connected software communicates with the fixture to let it know what it should be doing and when. This software is controlled by an app or a smart home assistant, so you can control or automate your lights remotely.
Lighting consumes about 15% of power in commercial buildings. Smart lighting reduces energy consumption with automation and LEDs, bringing our commercial buildings closer to net zero. Less energy consumption also means lower operational costs, as well as improved eligibility for a green building certificate, and the rebates that come along with it (view potential green certifications here).
Here are a few ways that smart lighting conserves energy:
Ever since we were little, our parents would tell us to make sure we “turn off the lights”, and now we understand why. Having the lights on when they don't need to be, wastes energy. Wasting energy, in turn, increases electrical bills and our carbon footprint.
With smart lighting, you can monitor and track your lighting usage. This allows you to understand peak times that your lighting is being used in different areas of your building. You can compare this energy use data with the digital calendars for people in your building, and see where energy is being used when it doesn’t need to be.
The next level up from understanding your building’s lighting use, is being able to control and automate your lighting based on data. To continue with the example above, you could connect your lighting system to the digital calendars of staff, and automate lighting based on meeting times and locations. This means that no one has to remember to turn the lights on or off before or after a meeting; the lights will automatically turn on for a meeting and they won’t be turned on if a meeting is cancelled.
You can base your lighting on many different variables such as room occupancy, natural light, preferred colour temperature, preferred brightness and much more.
If you have motion sensors installed, you can connect your lighting system to them, and base your lighting off of room use in real-time. This saves energy in comparison to the unintelligent solution of putting lights on timers.
Daylight harvesting not only helps to optimize energy use, but also improves employee comfort and productivity. With smart lighting, you can harness this technology. Put simply, daylighting harvesting essentially uses sensors to monitor natural light in real-time, and automatically adjusts the lighting brightness and colour temperature in response to the natural light available in a space.
For example, if it’s the middle of the day and there’s lots of natural light flooding through your office windows, less artificial lighting will be used. Whereas if you’re working late and there’s no natural light, the brightness of artificial lighting will be increased, and the colour temperature of the light might be warmer depending on the preference of the worker.
Smart lighting requires LEDs, which conserve energy intrinsically. But if you invest in a smart lighting system that also changes the power distribution in your building from AC to DC, implementing smart lighting could save you an additional 20% in energy costs for lighting. DC power distribution saves energy because it eliminates the need for individual lighting fixtures to convert the AC power that your electrical panel distributes, into the DC power that your lighting fixtures need. These conversions waste energy in the form of heat, and this heat damages the drivers in your LED fixtures, shortening their lifetime.
The solution is to switch to a DC power distribution system, and you can read more about your options to do this in our recent article: How to Decide on a Smart Lighting System.
Smart lighting systems require LED bulbs or fixtures, which use at least 75% less energy in comparison to incandescent or fluorescent lights. In fact, not only do they use less energy than these other lighting options, but they also last longer, and contain no glass or mercury, thus negating the risk of exposure to glass shards or toxic metal.
The rule of thumb is that artificial lights should mimic natural daylight. Smart lighting allows for buildings to optimize lighting brightness, wavelength, intensity and colour temperature to mimic natural daylight. According to Superior Lighting, this can lead to many benefits such as improved productivity, alertness, mood, blood pressure and even a person’s physical core temperature. In fact, according to a study referenced by Forbes, air-quality and natural lighting have the biggest impact on employee wellbeing, and “67% of employees said they are more productive in workplaces that promote a healthy environment”.
Smart lighting allows you to control your lights remotely through an app or smart building device. Imagine this, you’re on a remote island and you realize you left your garage lights on. As long as you have a hub from which to control your lights, you can turn them off and stop worrying about your home’s energy use while you’re away.
Here’s another example that (as someone afraid of the dark) I’m especially excited about: smart lights allow you to turn all the lights in your house off from the comfort of your bed. This means no more running through the house as you turn off lights strategically to avoid walking through darkness as much as possible.
Your lights can also notify you of events if they’re connected to other building systems. For example, if your smart lighting system is connected to your doorbell, or security cameras, it can turn the porch light on as someone approaches the front door. Lights could also turn off in a child’s bedroom to signal bedtime. Lights can even be connected to your calendar or social media, and you can set them to blink a certain colour when you get a notification, such as a reminder or a message. Of course, these examples are all entirely optional, and you might not want the additional notifications. These examples simply demonstrate the power of smart lighting; possibilities are only limited by creativity.
If you were Macaulay Culkin in the hit holiday movie Home Alone, you would’ve had a great reason to use smart lighting: you could automate your lights to turn on and off randomly to give the impression of an entire family at home.
Of course this is even more practical when everyone in the family gets taken on the vacation and the house is left truly vacant. While you’re away, you can remotely automate the lights to turn on and off randomly, so potential intruders assume someone’s home.
Smart buildings are the future. Their power to conserve energy, as well as provide comfort and convenience, can’t be ignored. And now, with implementation costs decreasing, and operational cost benefits increasing, smart lighting is more affordable than ever.
If you’re interested in implementing a smart building system, but you don’t know where to start, smart lighting is a great gateway into it. As mentioned previously, lighting consumes about 15% of power in commercial buildings, so conserving some of that energy by implementing a smart lighting system, is one way to cut down on energy costs without committing to retrofitting an entire building with various smart components.
Your building will save even more energy if this smart lighting system is powered with direct current (DC) power.
Argentum Electronics provides an all-in-one low voltage DC power distribution system. This system can also include intelligent components, such as sensors and a user-friendly, cloud-based interface, which enables users to monitor and control building systems (like lights) in real-time. Argentum can take the guesswork out of implementing a smart lighting system, and provide you with all the benefits that come with smart lighting. Contact Argentum today to book a demo and ask any further questions that you might have about how to get started.
We improve the value of commercial and multifamily buildings with an intelligent DC power distribution system that's pain-free to install. It combines the benefits of low-voltage wiring practices with voltage capabilities of up to 400 Volts DC.