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Modern Lighting Management


Lighting Management – is that even necessary? From a purely mathematical standpoint, yes. Because every lighting system is over-dimensioned on day one so that it will also provide the minimum lighting demanded on day X. However, without controllers, the potential savings simply vanish. This is especially true with modern lights, like LEDs are used, which have long lifespans. From a user’s point of view, no one would want to go without some type of regulation or control – being limited to switching lights on and off is so last century. Despite these reasons, it is not an easy feat to find a suitable lighting solution for new construction or for a renovation. In addition to energy consumption goals, legal requirements, costs, lighting quality, and user convenience all have parts to play in the decision. A simple yes-no question transforms into a complex field of topics.

Artificial light illuminates living spaces, office buildings, and manufacturing halls; it lights up the streets at night and establishes landmarks with their own limelight. According to studies by the European Commission, lighting accounts for around 19% of electrical use today. In workshops, for service providers, and commercial enterprises, the percentage is significantly higher, namely around 30%. It is therefore quite clear that light not only influences our feelings of comfort, but it also affects the bottom line.

In addition, the energy consumed for lighting plays an important role in environmental quality. Energy-related emissions are responsible for around 80% of air pollution and thus are of central importance with regard to damaging environmental influences. Therefore, increasing regulation of lighting efficiency is appearing from the political side. The European Ecodesign Directive, for example, defines minimum levels of efficiency of so-called energy-related products (ERP), such as lighting units and drive gears. Conventional lightbulbs have already been banned from the European market. Standards have not only been defined for individual components, but also for the entire “building” system. In Germany, the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV) implements the various EU directives regarding building efficiency. It considers energy consumption values for heating, ventilation, cooling, hot water supply, and, naturally, lighting.

Lighting Management – Leveraging Greater Efficiency

The potential savings in the lighting sector are great because almost two-thirds of the lighting systems in Europe are more than 25 years old. Transitioning to modern lighting technology can quickly and easily reduce energy consumption. Just replacing the bulbs makes economic sense, for example, as modern fluorescent lights with electronic ballasts use 55% less energy. Adding a lighting management solution opens the door to other potential savings: presence controls and daylight-based regulation can lead to savings of 80%.

Planning Goal: Quality

At the center of every lighting design stand human demands for configuring their work spaces. In Germany, DIN EN 12464-1 covers the requirements for lighting work environments in interior spaces. It defines minimum values for all quality features in lighting technology that must be considered during design. These are then totaled to find the lighting quality.

However, the actual quality of light is hard to define. Aspects like incident daylight, glare, intensity, or external environmental influences affect our perception of light. Quality lighting is therefore not merely defined by parameters, like illuminance or limits on glare, which influence our visual functionality, but also by factors affecting visual comfort and optical ambiance. A harmonious light distribution in the space and good color reproduction properties of the lamps, for example, create a sense of visual comfort, and thus, general well-being. Light orientation, shadowing, the color of the light from a lamp: all influence light’s effect in a space. This spatial atmosphere is essential for the lived experience.

Improved Work with Good Lighting

Lighting is a critical factor in industrial and manual labor. Optimal production results depend on the performance of the employees. The correct lighting helps to increase motivation, reduce fatigue, maintain health, and prevent accidents. Poor visual conditions have the opposite effect: if it is too dark, productivity drops, we tire easily, and errors quickly accrue.

Studies have confirmed the connection between illumination and human performance. More light demonstratively leads to better results in tasks with difficult viewing situations. How much light is needed also depends on age. Over the years, the lens of the human eye becomes blurry, the pupil width increases in response, and visual acuity decreases. Older people therefore require higher lighting levels than younger in order to have the same impression of brightness.

The color of the light is also decisive in questions of quality, because humans don’t simply view the world in shades of gray, but in color. High quality lighting management foregrounds the individual adjustment of color temperatures to certain purposes or, ideally, a targeted approximation of daylight throughout the day. When the color of the lighting can adjust from warm to natural white, the character of a room can be changed, and natural lighting qualities can be imitated in an interior room. These measures are effective, because light is not only required for visual acuity, it also sets our interior clocks. For these reasons, modern lighting designs consider the biological effects of light by transferring the dynamics of daylight to artificial illumination.

Consistent Cost Reductions

From the business side, another aspect is always under consideration: economics. The largest influencing factor here is the cost of energy, which, at around 70% of the total costs of a lighting system, are reflected in the budget. Energy optimization of each lighting system, whether through upgrades or purchased new, will be apparent in future savings. However, the goal is also to reduce investment costs, without having to sacrifice high-quality hardware. The key lies in a solution which is easy and flexible to configure during commissioning. To assist with this, modern lighting management systems offer user-friendly software applications with graphic user interfaces that can be used to adjust the system. Programming knowledge is no longer necessary for this task, as the relevant functions have already been implemented. Adjustments are carried out with the click of a mouse; hardware components can be assigned to their respective spaces, or operating parameters can be entered. Qualified staff can quickly carry out the commissioning, and the documentation generally takes place automatically.

Systems like this also have numerous advantages during operation and maintenance, since they are not only easy to maintain, but also provide comprehensive information about the system status. Impending failure of individual components can often be detected early, and, if a fault does occur, the identification of the error is substantially simplified. An additional advantage: when the use of a space changes, the lighting system can be flexibly adapted to the new spatial characteristics and the company’s facility management team can carry out the changes.

In sum, it should be clear that modern lighting management offers more than mere reductions in energy and costs: it unites economics and efficient use of resources with comfort and flexibility for the users. The foundation is an intelligent control, which ensures that the correct light is available in the right amount at the right time by using daylight sensors, presence sensors, and well-conceived lighting scenarios.

Text: Julia Ockenga, WAGO