Lighting Control Panels as Energy Saving Devices

Electrical energy is one of the foundations of modern life with commercial and industrial districts relying on energy to maintain their day-to-day operations. The consumption of electrical energy however, seems to be increasing exponentially on a global scale, as does the price that businesses are being made to pay for the energy they consume.

Information technology installations in the United States alone are said to have consumed over 4.5 billion dollars worth of electrical energy in 2006, with estimations that the figure is now closer to 7.4 billion. When this is coupled with the fact that, companies may soon also have to consider factors such as carbon taxes relating to their energy utilization, it is obvious that energy consumption of this magnitude is not sustainable.

For this reason regulations such as the ‘International Energy Conservation Code’ have come into place, which outline minimum energy efficiency standards for undertakings such as the design of commercial buildings. Establishments are consequently turning toward more energy efficient models of previously existing devices. One such appliance is the lighting control panel.

Lighting Control Panels Regarding Energy Efficiency

Traditional lighting control panels were a wall mounted device, used generally in commercial or industrial environments. These devices provided functions such as turning the lights on and off using a switch, or adjusting light output via the utilization of a ‘dimmer’. Contemporary Lighting control panel are however, much more advanced, with many specially designed functions aimed at improving facilities’ energy efficiency.

One of the main advantages of modern lighting control panels is that they are fully programmable. This is beneficial due to the fact that in many regions energy standards require that buildings larger than 5000 square feet have some kind of automatic shut off device. This has been imposed, due to the fact that it has been found to generate approximately 5 to 10 percent kilowatt hour savings. Buildings that have predictable hours regarding personnel occupancy, can therefore program their lights, via their lighting control panel, to switch on and off at a certain times as needed.

Another benefit of contemporary lighting control panels regarding energy efficiency is the presence of occupancy sensors. Occupancy sensors can either be utilized in buildings that don’t have scheduled times during which they are utilized, or in tandem with automatic shut off systems. These sensors basically perceive if an area is occupied or not, switching the lights on or off respectively. These sensors are commonly installed in areas such as toilets and storerooms, which see only sporadic personnel traffic.

Integral photosensors are another technological advancement regarding modern intelligent lighting control panels. These sensors realize when a room is bright enough due to sunlight to be utilized without electrical lights and turns the lights off.

Lighting control panels, through the various means discussed in this paper are consequently very able to reduce lighting energy costs. Lighting savings of up to 50 percent have been reported in some facilities. It can therefore be concluded that as the need to save increasing amounts of energy becomes ever more present, these systems will continue to become more prevalent and technologically advanced.