In 2020, LED (Light Emitting Diodes) lamps are a common sight, very much the norm. Surprisingly, though, the technology was actually first invented in 1907 when Captain Henry Joseph Round discovered electroluminescence; light produced by electrical fields/currents. Of course in 1907, the LED lamps we know were a long way off. For a long time, the technology wasn’t commercially viable, but towards the end of the 1960s this started to change with the production of red and yellow LEDs. It wasn’t until the 1990s when three Japanese scientists invented the blue LED that things really started to change, for it’s actually the combination of red, green and blue LEDs that allow us to produce the bright white glow we all know. Fast forward to now; they are cheaper, widely available and a staple in our homes and workplaces.
It’s well known that LED lamps save energy and reduce costs. However, luminaires are now able to go a step further thanks to the combination of physical hardware and IoT software.
Welcome to the world of Smart Lighting – Lights that do more!
More than just light? Is that something we actually need? Surely the only thing a light is required for is just that; light? In essence, yes, but when you look into the possibilities, going that little bit further is an attractive prospect. Cost and energy savings combined with data collection and sharing allowing improved comfort and security, whether at home or in a business setting is very appealing.
How does it work?
Most smart lamps and luminaires connect wirelessly to each other creating a mesh-network controlled by a gateway which is plugged into a cellular router. This allows communication between the lights and other IoT devices/software. These luminaires can incorporate built-in sensors offering a variety of possibilities; sharing data on activity patterns, occupancy levels, temperature/humidity changes and daylight levels. This information can be used to reduce costs and energy to make organisations and homes more efficient.
What are the benefits?
We’ve touched on cost savings and eco credentials, but what does it actually mean, in practice?
In the home, connected lighting is an excellent tool for increasing security, comfort and adding an extra element to entertaining. Elsewhere, the tech is perfect for offices, industrial and public spaces, especially in the case of new builds. By 2021 it’s expected 25% of all luminaires sold will be part of a connected lighting system and around 70% of new commercial buildings will implement smart lighting.
Everyone can benefit from the energy savings and lower running costs connected lighting offers. In public spaces, lighting can be adjusted automatically to complement natural light levels. Occupancy sensors mean lights are only on when required so that energy isn’t wasted by lighting empty or infrequently used spaces – meeting rooms, toilets or car parks.
Energy and performance reports can be sent to a building’s facility manager. Emergency lighting tests can be automatically completed by the connected system, rather than by labour-intensive, time-consuming physical tests. Self-diagnostic testing is another feature. The system automatically identifies lighting components that are about to fail, providing predictive maintenance that saves time and money.
Smart Lighting offers the benefit of added security whether at home, work, or out and about. Lights can be set to come on both inside and out at chosen times, or when you are returning home. You can even use an app to control lights whilst away from home – much superior to traditional timers which can only come on at the same set times. Lights going on and off at random times is far more of a deterrent than a predictable pattern.
Motion detectors in private or public spaces light up dark areas which can help deter crime, and in many countries, connected LEDs with sensors are replacing traditional street light luminaires. These allow lighting levels and data to be collected wirelessly. The data can include weather, temperature, footfall, sunrise and sunset timings – all highly useful information that is collected directly through a smart street light sensor and can be used by councils to improve urban planning.
Intelligent street lighting systems are a big win for countries aiming to lower carbon footprints. With the link between well lit areas and lower crime levels, councils have been loath to reduce lighting. As the switch to white LEDs has been rolled out, energy savings of over 30% have been achieved. The linked lighting systems mean that far less energy is wasted as they react to the seasons and weather conditions. For many years, faulty street lights have been a common sight, the orange sulphur glow left on throughout the day. Intelligent systems significantly reduce the likelihood, using the combination of predictive maintenance and automatic fault detection.
Helping us during a pandemic
In early September, the UK Government supported furlough schemes came to an end resulting in a return to work for many. For some, work may still be home based, but the return to offices is beginning. Despite this, occupancy levels are still lower. Working patterns have had to become more flexible as we all adapt to living and working during a pandemic. We all know that we work best in comfortable surroundings. As part of a connected network, intelligent lighting goes a long way to improving this. In modern offices, the focus is on four elements: air quality, thermal comfort, daylight/artificial light, and acoustics. Connected lighting systems in conjunction with sensors and other smart tech allows greater control for individuals and building management as a whole. At times like the present, when offices are left empty for long periods of time, or are less densely populated, the lighting levels can be carefully controlled and adapted to suit requirements. A great way to save on funds and energy consumption.
The future is light, bright and better!
It’s corny, but true. Smart buildings are inevitable and any building that fails to become connected, or isn’t built with a smart infrastructure in place will likely struggle to function effectively in the future. With smart lighting, every luminaire is meshed into an intelligent system, delivering precise, high-quality and reliable light along with essential information and services.
Life really is better when we’re connected and Arkessa can help. If you want to learn more about future-proofing, do get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org – with any questions.