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Control the Controls Urge, Part 1

Your client’s facility is lit mostly by fluorescent lamps, and your client wants to reduce energy costs. Many areas have significant incoming daylight, and some (e.g., conference rooms) are rarely occupied. Install some lighting controls, and everybody’s happy, right?

If everything goes right, probably yes. But,

  • Ballast incompatibility can mean high lamp failure rates.
  • Dimming isn’t always appropriate.
  • Cycling of fluorescent lamps can use more energy than just leaving them on.
  • Any control scheme must account for lamp warm-up.
  • Area-based control schemes can reduce productivity and safety.

These “gotchas” don’t mean that lighting controls are a bad idea. On the contrary, almost any lighted space can benefit from lighting controls. The caveat is you must engineer the control system for the specific application.

But don’t view this as just a lighting controls job. Your client’s motivation for this project is to save energy. Yes, installing a proper controls system will accomplish that. However, this project presents the opportunity to provide your client with even more energy savings (and your company increased revenue) by also looking at:

  • Lamp matching. Mismatched lamps in an area not only look tacky, they probably result in energy waste and poor lighting.
  • Voltage drop. The 5% recommendation isn’t optimal, it’s a recommended minimum. Lower is more energy-efficient.
  • Shared neutrals, harmonics, and bonding deficiencies. Correct these types of wiring infrastructure concerns and you reduce energy waste.

We’ll look more at controls planning in our next issue.

Part 2 » | Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection