“Improving Efficiency of Commercial Lighting with Advanced Controls”

Improving Efficiency of Commercial Lighting with Advanced Controls


As a facility manager, I am always looking for ways to improve efficiency and reduce costs in our commercial buildings. One area with significant potential for energy savings is lighting, which can account for up to 40% of a commercial building's electricity use. By upgrading to more advanced lighting controls, we can achieve greater efficiency and flexibility with our lighting systems. In this article, I will provide an in-depth look at how advanced lighting controls can optimize commercial lighting and reduce costs.

Lighting Control Strategies

There are several key lighting control strategies that can be implemented with advanced lighting control systems:

Occupancy Sensing

Occupancy sensors automatically turn lights on when a space is occupied and off when vacant. This prevents lights from operating in unoccupied spaces, saving energy. Occupancy sensors can reduce lighting energy use by 10-50%. They are ideal for spaces with intermittent occupancy like offices, restrooms, and warehouses.

Daylight Harvesting

Daylight harvesting uses photosensors to dim artificial lighting when sufficient daylight is available. By reducing electric light output when daylight is present, energy savings of 20-60% can be achieved. Daylight harvesting works best in spaces with windows and skylights like perimeter offices, classrooms, and lobbies.

Tunable White Lighting

Tunable white technology allows the color temperature of LED fixtures to be adjusted, ranging from warm white to cool daylight. This allows lighting color to be customized for different uses and gives users control over their environment. Tunable white lighting also enables color temperature tuning strategies that can improve employee productivity and engagement.

Task Tuning

Task tuning involves programming different lighting settings for specific tasks performed in a space. For example, higher light levels at work stations, lower levels in circulation areas, and different settings for cleaning or maintenance. Task tuning provides the right amount of light for each application, improving visibility while reducing energy use by 10-20%.

Personal Control

Personal control systems give individual users the ability to adjust lighting in their workspace through interfaces like web apps or wall stations. Personal control increases occupant comfort and satisfaction. Allowing lighting adjustments close to the point of use can also improve space efficiency.

Lighting Control Systems

To implement these lighting control strategies, advanced lighting control systems are required. While there are various options on the market, these are some of the most common systems used in commercial buildings:

Centralized Control Systems

Centralized systems use a central server or gateway to connect to fixtures and sensors throughout a building. Lighting can be controlled through wall stations, software, or a dashboard interface. This provides whole building control and monitoring through one platform.

Standalone Systems

Standalone systems contain control devices like occupancy sensors, photosensors, relays, and switches packaged into products that can operate lighting independently. They offer localized control without requiring a centralized system.

Networked Lighting Control

Networked lighting systems connect fixtures digitally using protocols like DALI, wireless mesh networks, or PoE. This enables advanced control strategies like personal control and task tuning by integrating lighting with IT networks and software.

Hybrid Solutions

Many facilities use a hybrid approach combining elements like centralized gateways, networked fixtures, and standalone sensors/switches based on needs and budget. This provides a balance of control and flexibility.

Benefits of Advanced Lighting Controls

Implementing advanced lighting control solutions offers numerous benefits for commercial facilities:


Implementing advanced lighting controls like occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, tunable lighting, and networked systems can significantly improve the efficiency, visibility, and flexibility of commercial lighting. While upfront costs can be higher than basic lighting, the long-term savings and benefits are substantial. By taking an incremental approach and choosing the right technologies for each application, any commercial facility can realize major improvements in lighting performance, occupant experience, and energy savings.