Smart Lighting? Software-Controlled Networked LED Lights Save Tons of Power


Photo: Digital Lumens
A Bright Idea for the Lighting Industry
According to the US Department of Energy, lighting represents about 12% of energy consumption for residential buildings and 25% for commercial ones (presumably because commercial buildings are kept much brighter than residential homes on average). That's a lot of energy, and despite recent improvements thanks to CFLs (check out the safer ArmorLite CFLs) and LED lights, a lot more can still be done. That's the mission of a two years old startup called Digital Lumens.
Photo: Digital Lumens

Digital Lumens makes networked LED light fixtures that, it claims, can save up to 90% compared to regular HID lights typically used in warehouses and commercial buildings. It does that with sensors and software that control precisely how and when the lights are used.


  • Intelligent Light Engines - Intended as one-for-one replacements of 400W HID, HPS and T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures, Digital Lumens Intelligent Light Engines (ILEs) are white-light LED-based luminaires that provide desired light levels on the target surface, while minimizing kWh consumption. Easy to install, each ILE has a built-in Digital Light Agent - an on-board computer - as well as sensors and wireless mesh networking capabilities that share key information across the system.

  • Smart Light Grid - Digital Lumens Intelligent Light Engines form a Smart Light Grid - a lighting network - that enables all fixtures in the system to communicate with each other, respond to a neighboring fixture's state and/or system-wide programming, and provide usage and occupancy data to the Light Rules management system.

  • LightRules - Digital Lumens' intuitive control and energy management software gives facility managers the tools to effectively manage their lighting resources and energy use. They are able to specify system behavior, receive up-to-the-minute kWh consumption details by fixture/zone/day/shift and control the entire system for maximum energy efficiency. LightRules also provides the ability to respond to demand response calls and integrate with warehouse management, energy carbon accounting or other third-party systems.

So if more daylight is available, less artificial light will be used. The system can be programmed to know when certain zones need more light during the day, or to sense when people enter a room and adjust lighting accordingly.

Another way to extract further savings from LED lights is described by Technology Review. A company called Redwood Systems uses centralized power supplies for their LED lights, removing the need for redundant AC/DC converters at each fixture (LEDs use low voltage DC current, while what comes out of the wall is AC).

"The new system converts alternating current to low-voltage direct current at a central location, rather than at each light. This more efficient method cuts energy consumption by 10 to 20 percent, according to Jeremy Stieglitz, vice president of marketing for Redwood Systems, which will start selling its systems this summer."

So in the future, expect to see smart LED lights that are networked and running on low-voltage DC (which Lloyd wrote about it).

See also: Illumitex Wants to Make Your Lightbulbs Square (and More Efficient)

Via Digital Lumens, CNET
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Tags: Energy Efficiency | Lighting

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