Understanding Smart Lighting Control Strategies

Smart cities need a smarter integration strategy - Smart Cities World

In the past, integrating building systems and lighting controls was done separately. However, the concept is no longer viable in today’s smart building technology era. Facility managers and building owners have since learned that merging lighting controls and a smart building management system effectively enhances performance and cuts down energy costs. In this article, we cover some of the smart lighting control strategies every building owner should know. 

Smart Lighting Control Strategies

Advanced intelligent technologies such as machine learning analytics and IoT sensors have revolutionized the capabilities of smart lighting systems. A recent report released by California Energy Commission suggests that daylight dimming and occupancy-oriented modifications can reduce energy consumption by more than 70%. This percentage is more than traditional time-oriented lighting programs. 

Some earlier studies found that new lighting regulation strategies cut down lighting-based energy expenses by 24% to 28% on average lowering the overall operation cost. Apart from energy efficiency, merging lighting controls with an intelligent building management system has numerous benefits. Robust control strategies boost safety allowing building managers to develop a cozy environment for building experts. Some of the standard control strategies are:

  • Manual Controls

Users can leverage manual controls to select illumination levels. In the past, this approach was the least efficient. However, new manual controls that change lighting levels in phases or simple adaptation offer up to 31% in energy savings on average.  

  • Dimming Control

Dimming controls can reduce energy consumption more than ON and OFF regulators. Dimmers lower the intensity and brightness of the lights as needed, cutting energy usage. Today’s popular dimming technology is the digital addressable lighting interface (DALI) dimming system and the analog 0-10v. 

  • Task Tuning

Also known as institutional tuning, this strategy is ideal for people looking for considerable energy savings. The advanced trim feature facilitates the reduction of energy consumption by up to 20%. Task tuning involves configuring the light intensity to the preferred level for overly illuminated areas. 

Building owners can reduce the highest light output based on the occupant’s preferences. For instance, if the highest light intensity in a room is not needed, you can tune it at 60%. The magnitude won’t surpass the configured level should someone else attempt to switch on the light fixture. Further, there will not be a noticeable intensity difference, making task tuning an ideal solution for people who prefer working under minimum light intensity.

  • Time Scheduling

Time scheduling is a good strategy that focuses on lowering lighting use when light is less required. Studies suggest that building owners can save up to 24% in energy consumption from this strategy. 

The ON input can either be automatic or manual, while the OFF input is automatic. The latter is usually merged with a manual OFF’ON override. The automatic input is a sign from intelligent time clock software inbuilt in a control system, a physical time clock, or a building security or automation system. The output may be dimming or switching based on whether lighting is required during unoccupied times or whether reversing the light source to total output.

Time scheduling is ideal for large and open regularly occupied areas and intermittently occupied areas where lights must stay on during the day for security reasons. Manual wall time extension controls are usually fitted to facilitate the irregular occupancy of the space. 

Timer switch is a component of the time scheduling strategy that switches lights off is a scheduled period lapses after an individual has entered a room. This control gadget is ideal for various applications like storage and utility closets. 

  • Occupancy Sensing

Occupancy sensors play a vital role in intelligent buildings. They are also popular lighting control approaches for energy consumption savings. These sensors are specially designed to notice human presence and switch lights on when individuals enter a building. These systems will either dim or switch off the light after the individual leaves the room. 

Occupancy sensors are ideal for offices, shared spaces, and workspaces. The low-end feature is a minor light level configured to an above zero percent. Once you select this feature, lights will dim to the configures intensity instead of going off. For instance, you can use a light fixture with the lowest dim capacity in a corridor or restroom. Should somebody attempt to switch the light off manually, the light fixture never goes off, but it remains dim. This strategy is ideal in areas where visitors frequent.  

  • Vacancy Sensing

Vacancy sensors switch lights off when an individual leaves a building or room. However, they don’t switch them on automatically because they have to switch on manually. This strategy can prevent false triggers, and the individuals can switch lights on when needed. Vacancy sensing cuts down energy consumption because individuals will only switch on the lights when necessary. 

  • Daylight Harvesting

Daylight harvesting involves increasing or reducing output to retain a configured light level depending on the time of day. As daylight progresses, electric lights rise and drop to save energy and offer a suitable light level. 

Following daylight changeability, applying this strategy in spaces can be complicated. However, building owners stand to gain up to 28% in energy savings, according to experts. Output and input are automatic even though experts say that separately locating lights beside a daylight vent and manual switch can be a form of daylight: the input gauges daylight or a combination of daylight and electricity via a light sensor. 

The output could be step-dimming, switching, or continual dimming. Daylight harvesting is ideal for areas close to clerestories, windows, under roof monitors and skylights, or other outdoor sections with consistent and abundant lighting. 

  • Color Tuning

Color tuning is popularly used for entertainment venues and signage. This strategy dims colors in LED lights generating distinct lighting effects. Color tuning can reduce energy consumption by up to 40% and more. It can also be used to emulate incandescent dimming, conventional lighting sources, combine daylight with artificial lighting or trigger circadian rhythms. 

Wireless Lighting Sequencing and Control

Advanced analytics and internet of things devices ease the development and implementation of effective lighting strategies. However, wireless technology is one of the most crucial innovative lighting system components. 

Wireless lighting systems integrated with automated BMS (building management systems) reduce installation and consolidation costs because they do not require wiring. That allows building managers to develop and customize control strategies based on their occupant’s goals and needs. 


As technology advances and the smart building industry evolve, smart lighting control concepts will become more diverse. Always work with a professional because they understand the latest systems in the market. They will also recommend the best system that meets your individual needs. 

Stacee R. Grigg

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