Having worked with LED technology since 2006, we have seen great shifts, with huge improvements in light output, colour rendering, reliability of electronic control gear and of course, vast difference in purchase prices.
Whilst these improvements will doubtless continue, other interesting developments are taking place in parallel. Manufacturers are exploiting the inherent controllability of LED technology by designing LED lamps and luminaires with SMART technology like sensors built in or attached.
These allow lighting to be driven by users’ habits. For example, lighting units can be grouped together and communicate with each other so that they perform functions in unison. We are able to programme lights to dim up and down according not only to current but also to anticipated occupancy levels, such as lights being switched on ahead of occupants moving through a long corridor, and dimmed/ switched off behind.
Control of lighting now goes hand in hand with some level of monitoring, to deliver the necessary energy saving benefits. Major energy users are or will be finding ways to monitor their lighting usage not only to reveal patterns which will help reduce consumption, but also to have a better understanding of how their buildings are being used, which can help to identify all sorts of user-related efficiencies.
In the past, lighting controls have been standalone systems, which are deemed quite expensive, delivering payback over decades, and therefore more pertinent for fancy new builds than existing buildings. Integrating the control system within the light itself dramatically changes this model.
SMART LED lamps are already relatively inexpensive, making SMART lighting highly accessible. We expect integrated SMART controls to move from an added extra for a lamp to a standard feature, making energy efficient lighting even more attractive not only to cost conscious landlords, owner occupiers and facilities managers but also to users, who ultimately should have control of the lighting in their surroundings.