March 2014

Innovations in Comfort, Efficiency, and Safety Solutions.

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Will LED Lighting Controls Open the Door to the Internet of Things in Buildings?

Will the confluence of the Internet, Wireless Technology and LED Lighting create the perfect storm that opens up the opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) to rapidly establish itself in buildings?

Allan McHale
Allan McHale,

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Each new LED fixture can now be a node on an intelligent network turning off the lights when people aren’t around or dimming them when exterior light can be harvested. But those sensors can also be used to harvest other useful data about temperature, occupancy and their surroundings that have many other applications not associated with lighting but other environmental controls, security and safety; delivering value add services for the business enterprise.

Will the confluence of the Internet, Wireless Technology and LED Lighting create the perfect storm that opens up the opportunity for the Internet of Things (IoT) to rapidly establish itself in buildings?

Having struggled for the last 15 years to get all the environmental services in buildings to work together we have now reached a point where connectivity can be achieved directly through IP allowing the IoT to become a reality. Now having completed two reports on LED Lighting and Lighting Controls we are convinced that LED Lighting controls could now act as a catalyst for the opening up of the Internet of Things in buildings –

Wireless Network

But if that is the case why can’t access control, video surveillance and building energy management systems also be the ‘Trojan Horse’ for IoT. Well they can, provided they all are IP Networked, but that is not the case yet. In addition none of these services have the growth prospect that LED Lighting has over the next seven years when it will be the only source of light going into new buildings complete with an IP Network. These networks will be in every room right throughout the building and wireless communication has the potential to rapidly open up the retrofit market for LED.

The case for retrofitting buildings with LED lighting has become very compelling and wireless technology has negated the need for control wiring so reducing the installation cost. This will result in LED lighting controls being installed in many more buildings that don’t have building energy management systems. Historically, building controls applications have been HVAC centric since that was the element of the building where controls could add significant value, particularly in new construction applications. In many retrofit situations the return on investment rate for HVAC oriented building automation has not been compelling, so the majority of buildings around the world are still waiting to be converted to “Smart.”

contemporary Our report has identified many instances where bus-based lighting controls have taken the responsibility for controlling HVAC services but this has been on relatively small to medium sized projects where heating and cooling has been achieved through a combination of chilled beams and natural ventilation. This has required blinds to control solar gain and this falls into the low voltage category and has been engineered and designed through the electrical contract and not the mechanical, as is the case with BEMS.

The key difference is that for these projects the controls applications will be lighting centric rather than HVAC centric and that could result in the emergence of new players and new application delivery mechanisms, major changes to existing industry structures and a need for suppliers to adopt new business models.

In a commercial building, LED lighting networks can improve security applications, letting people know when someone has entered a room, or they could help with simple administrative functions, such as managing conference room attendance or keeping track of who is using particular areas and resources. Also mobile marketing applications that retailers deliver promotion or offers to prospective customers as they enter or move about a store looks ideally suited to run off the lighting network.


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