May 15, 2017

Growth in controls may hinge on the proliferation of connected lighting
By Gary Meshberg

In its latest LED energy savings forecast, the U.S. Department of Energy estimated LED lighting’s penetration at 6 percent of the installed lighting base in 2015, doubling from 2013. Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications forecasted market share will increase to 30 percent within five years, nearly 60 percent by 2025 and 86 percent by 2035. This represents a 55 percent reduction in national lighting energy consumption.

Savings may be higher—up to 75 percent—if DOE’s more ambitious goals are achieved, notably through adoption of connected lighting. Connected lighting means networked intelligent LED-based control systems with integrated sensors and controllers.

Traditional controls include standalone solutions such as switches and occupancy/vacancy sensors, and lighting control panels such as low-voltage relay panels. They are relatively simple to install but require individual calibration, are limited to control of switch-legs, and layering multiple control strategies on the same load can result in complex wiring.

Two more advanced options are luminaire-and room-based control systems. Luminaire-based systems integrate occupancy and/or light sensors into luminaires. They provide individual luminaire control for good energy savings and responsiveness but do not connect, integrate with other building systems or provide data. Room-based control systems bring together a package of lighting controllers and input devices to provide plug-and-play installation and instant energy code compliance through preconfigured sequences of operation. Some systems permit connectivity and scalability from room to building.

Connecting the lighting—the next step in this (r)evolution—enables communication to the luminaires, notably programming, and from the luminaires, notably performance data, expanding flexibility, capabilities and energy savings potential. Luminaires may be individually addressed or grouped within the network for programming, including multiple control strategies and flexible zoning/rezoning. In this controls space, we have luminaire-, room- and building-based solutions. These solutions may operate autonomously or permit interfacing with building automation systems and other networks. They may be designed to operate as a plug-and-play control system without data or ongoing programming rezoning and programming changes, or connect to a server or the cloud for control and data retrieval using operating software. Potential data capabilities include monitoring of luminaire/zone status with alarm notifications, and measuring energy consumption, occupancy and other data for analysis. Adding design and installation flexibility, room and centralized systems are available as hardwired, wireless or hybrid network topologies.

While basic connected lighting capabilities have been available for years, the proliferation of dimmable LED lighting has unlocked their full potential, while the explosion in wireless communication implifies installation particularly in existing buildings. Remarkably, DOE estimates that connected LED lighting may account for as much as ⅓ of total energy savings by 2035. The key is growth in the linear, outdoor, and low- and highbay luminaire markets, where high light output and long operating hours makes networked control capabilities particularly valuable.

Connected Lighting Market Penetration
Source: DOE

DOE’s view of the future offers two very different paths for connected lighting (chart), which was covered along with the impact of lighting controls for the first time in the forecast. Under the market’s current trajectory, connected lighting, estimated at less than 1 percent penetration in the installed base in 2015, increases to 1 percent in 2020, 4 percent in 2025 and 23 percent in 2035. The leading submarket is the commercial building sector, where connected lighting is forecasted to achieve a 2 percent share in 2020, 7 percent in 2025 and 34 percent in 2035.

However, under the DOE SSL Program Goal scenario, more rapid penetration and additional energy savings are possible. This scenario assumes penetration growth along the same trajectory as LED lighting. It is based on what is technically feasible but would require additional efforts and funding, notably DOE and industry cooperation to 1) demonstrate and verify energy savings and 2) develop user-friendly and interoperable solutions. Under this scenario, connected lighting penetration increases to 15 percent in 2020, 31 percent in 2025 and 59 percent in 2035. Again, the commercial building sector leads the way, with 28 percent penetration in 2020, 52 percent in 2025 and 73 percent in 2035.

While numerous organizations are now emphasizing controls, two in particular hold promise for promoting connected lighting:


Gary Meshberg

Gary Meshberg

Gary Meshberg, LC, LEED AP, is chair of the Lighting Controls Association and director of sales for Encelium Technology. He also chairs the IES Lighting Commissioning Committee. Craig DiLouie, LC, acting education director for the Lighting Controls Association, also contributed... More info »