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The Retrofit Companies Blog

The Future of Lighting Controls

Lighting controls range from fully automated control systems managed by computer programs, to less technological, manual methods. The most direct savings come from actual wattage reduction, but adding controls to your lighting retrofit project can dramatically impact energy savings. There are several proven  ways to successfully control a lighting system; we're going to share some thoughts today on the future of lighting controls. These considerations and innovations are things you should be aware of when considering a new or updated lighting system.


Control systems of the future will utilize multiple technologies to achieve savings. Lighting manufacturers, designers, and installers will pair photocells with motion controls, and employ dual-end trimming capability. These innovations will not only save energy and money, but they can extend the useful life of your lighting technology. The end goal of successful lighting design, aside from increased energy efficiency, is to get the light you need, where you need it, when you need it.The future also includes sustainability as a priority of successful design. One way to achieve that is to use technology pairings, like those mentioned above or others, to your advantage when designing a new system.


Because so much new technology is at our disposal, control systems have become increasingly end-user personalized. Some can even be controlled with your mobile phone. Lighting manufacturer Philips has embraced this trend with products Hue, Spacewise, and Simpleset. While some of these products still seem like novelties, they have become more prevalent, more affordable, and easier to put into use than ever. We expect to see these products more widely available from more manufacturers.


Finally, we know that legislation will continue to impact and increase the need for controls in new construction and existing facilities. The Energy Efficiency Building Improvement Act of 2015, California Title 24, and ASHRAE, are examples of legislation or rules that impact lighting efficiency. There are various standards existing for energy conservation ranging from federal to municipal rules. Some municipalities have their own lighting regulations. Bloomington, MN for example has strict restrictions on light pollution for outdoor projects and specific fixtures must specified to do a lighting project there. Control systems will become more and more prevalent as a result of legislation and as the desire to conserve resources remains a priority.


There are virtually endless ways to control lighting and many help to maximize energy savings. Most of the technologies are relatively easy to implement alongside your lighting upgrade to increase savings. Most of them can even be installed or carried out after a lighting project is completed. We foresee "control retrofitting" for existing energy-efficient systems for users that are looking for additional ways to increase savings and who want to gain more control over their lighting.


What does this all mean for the consumer of lighting products and those buying upgraded lighting systems? The two primary impacts we see are,

1) it has become increasingly difficult for lighting designers and other electricians, architects, or contractors to specify lighting projects, and

2) buying off the shelf will not work. Modern lighting technology can be configured in endless ways, literally hundreds of thousands of different light bulbs exist, and no one can know them all. Consumers should be wary of one-size-fits-all solutions, and look for knowledgeable lighting designers, or speak to multiple product representatives to educate them on available lighting solutions.

Finally, consumers must remember that everything comes with a cost. More features generally means a higher expense. You may not need all the bells and whistles, and the investment in lighting controls may be less than you think once you have a good design in place. Knowing your options before you purchase any type of lighting project or products will help you get the light you want for the job you're doing, now or in the future!

Need to know more about how to talk to lighting contractors in order to get the project or products you need? Get our guide, 11 Questions to Ask a Contractor.

11 questions to ask a lighting contractor

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