How to Save Energy with Advanced Lighting Control Systems

lighting control systems

Advanced lighting control systems (ALCS) utilize electronic circuits with a programmable logic controller to automatically adjust lighting levels.  Program a number of variables and light requirements to get the lighting just perfect. This helps in providing the right amount of light where and when it is needed, hence improving energy efficiency and savings.

Advanced lighting control systems provide benefits like automatic scheduling and dimming. Turn lights off based on room occupancy and level of daylight. In so doing, the ALCS adjusts the light levels to match the requirements at any particular time. For example, when a room is empty, lights dim or go off completely. This saves on utility costs.

Energy savings using advanced lighting control systems

Advanced lighting control systems provide an effective way of reducing energy use in illuminating industrial, commercial, and residential spaces. Furthermore, they have the potential to achieve energy savings of between 50 and 70%. Studies show consumers realize up to 93 percent energy savings when ALC systems are used in combination with energy saving lights such as LEDS.

In a comparison study of the two technologies, users saw a 53 percent savings from the low power consumption of LEDs. Nearly 47 percent savings was realized due to the use of advanced lighting control systems. This demonstrates that combining efficient lights with the ALCS makes it possible to achieve significant savings. In many cases, expect to double the benefits of ordinary energy-saving retrofits.

Components of advanced lighting control systems

The basic components of an advanced lighting control system include sensors and programmable light controllers. Furthermore, many systems utilize switching devices and communication links. The sensors for collecting information from different input variables include photo sensors, occupancy sensors, motion detectors, hotel cards, etc.

The switching devices include line-voltage controls, solid state switches, shade controls, HVAC and valve controllers. In addition, plug controls, automatic dimming switches, low-voltage relay switches and others may be used.

How the advanced lighting control systems work

ALCS may receive an input signal from the sensors or individual inputs from users. Also, signals may come from a central control center through computer, smartphone, a local area network or internet. The microprocessor then uses the programmed logic to determine what level of lighting to apply based on the input.

For example, if the occupancy sensor indicates an empty room, the microprocessor sends a signal to the switching device to either turn off or dim lights. The same happens if there is no activity. However, if someone comes back into the room, the lighting level will increase to match the required luminescence.

Most of the available lighting control systems are flexible and can be customized.  Expansion is possible through networking to cover wider areas or include more functionality.

Communication between sensors and lighting controls

The sensors communicate with the lighting control system through wired or wireless connections. In some applications, sensors are integrated into the lighting control. While the wired network requires hand wiring of all the devices, the wireless communications use radio frequencies. Therefore several benefits exist over the wired network.

Wireless technology eliminates the need for wiring and is, therefore, cheaper, easy to implement and modify. It provides more flexibility while reducing the planning time for the electrical system. Wireless lighting controls are ideal for hard-to-reach lights. These include places where there are non-accessible or hard ceilings, basements, and other expensive or hard-to-wire areas.

Input conditions that influence the ALC operation

The controller automatically adjusts the level of illumination based on one or a combination of the following variables.

Room or space Occupancy

The controls utilize room occupancy or proximity sensors to check for activity in the room or target area. If there is no activity, the controls automatically switch off or dim the lights. The system will then turn the lights to full brightness when room occupancy sensors detect someone within a defined space.

Activity or task

Different lighting levels are required based on the activity. In some applications such as warehouses, there is no need to keep all the lights on when areas are not in use. The lighting control systems will either turn off or dim most of the lights. Some advanced systems provide just enough light in the open spaces. Yet, more light becomes available near shelves where a worker might be picking up or replacing items.

Time of the day

Additional light is required during office hours when people are working. However, this isn’t necessary during the lunch break, or when offices are being cleaned. A combination of controls may be used here. Take advantage of daylight, dim or completely turning off the lights when more natural light filters into the room.

Scheduled control

The programmable controls can be used to switch individual or groups of lights depending on time of day. These programs run 7 days a week. Consequently, there’s a separate schedule for weekdays, weekends, and holidays. In an office setup, a timer ensures that all lights, apart from security lights, are turned off at night, during the weekends and on holidays.

The age of the lamp

Instead of using the lamp at its maximum rating when new, the controls dim the light in certain cases. This reduces the normal wear and tear. As the lamp ages, its level of illumination will decrease. However, instead of the light level going down, the control will decrease the dimming level and maintain the required level of light.

So instead of powering the light at 100% and wasting energy with excess light that is not required, the controller ensures light is powered at a lower percentage. This ensures that required light is provided, but at a lower power consumption.

The advantages of using ALCS

  • Energy Savings: Helps consumers save energy. Save 50 to 70 percent when using LED lighting technologies.
  • Increased lamp life: ALCS reduce the total number of hours the light is on.
  • Reduced air conditioning: Reduced lighting reduces wasted heat and air decreasing energy costs.
  • Tracking: Track how lighting energy functions in a facility, energy costs, savings, as well as the usage patterns.
  • Control: More control of lighting to suit demand and activities.
  • Multi-functional: Allow users to control the lights on the premises. Control them remotely using local area networks, wireless networks, or the internet using computers, smartphones and tablets.
  • Automatic operation: Enables the lighting to automatically respond to the operations and facility usage.
  • Compliance: Comply with building codes in relation to lighting i.e. ASHRAE 90.1 and IECC

Factors to consider when selecting an advanced lighting control system

Factors considered when implementing a lighting system include the need for flexibility, facility size, floor plans, facility use, daylight hours, and building codes. Other considerations include the cost-effectiveness of the system, the ease of use, visual performance and comfort.


In addition to controlling the lights, the advanced lighting control systems help in determining the occupancy patterns. Moreover, the operating status of part or whole sections and the entire system’s performance is monitored. This provides business owners with an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of the installation and make adjustments.

USESI companies offer a wide range of energy saving products, including advanced lighting controls and energy saving lights for residential and commercial use. We love helping our customers save energy and money.  The family of USESI companies maintains a high level of product quality and service.