With wireless integrated occupancy and daylight sensors in fixtures, Luminaire Level Lighting Controls (LLLC) is a proven and transformative piece of technology for futureproofing and reducing energy use.
When staff returns to the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) office this year, they will experience an especially innovative lighting system. In 2021, NEEA, which researches LLLC as a market solution, installed a fully digital LLLC system from Enlighted. That means no figuring out how to make 0–10-volt light controls and digital controls work together.
Fully digital granular settings give infinite control over color, power, and data collection. The LLLC system will save up to 70 percent of energy each year. NEEA is sharing its project takeaways with those curious about adopting LLLC for their own commercial spaces.
Funding and Collaboration
The LLLC installation at the NEEA office was years in the making, and it came true in part with the support of a large grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that covered about half of the costs. As partners, NEEA collaborated with DOE’s Next Generation Lighting Systems (NGLS) program to make the office a Living Lab location. It’s just one of three Living Lab locations in the United States.
Through NEEA’s everyday use of the LLLC system, NGLS can evaluate, observe, and improve connected lighting systems. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) manages NGLS.
Choosing the Right Product
Multiple LLLC systems exist in the marketplace to fit various budget and building needs. Since the NEEA office would serve as a Living Lab location, the installation team wanted cutting-edge controls.
To find the right product, NEEA and NGLS issued a Request for Interest for manufacturers who could design, install, and configure an inventive LLLC system for a 13,000 square-foot space with intelligent D4i drivers.
NEEA and PNNL chose Enlighted because of the available digital features. The Enlighted system provides full control of the fixtures on all aspects, which is important since it includes color tuning. Additionally, the digital system provides more data because fixtures and controls can communicate with each other.
Once NEEA and PNNL chose their LLLC system, they worked with lighting manufacturers Finelite, Signify, and Kelvix to find lights. The manufacturers helped the team understand how to work with the system.
They also supported the implementation of a new driver, the Dali standard D4i driver, which allows for the digital communications. Signify modified its existing can lights with a special case to fit this driver.
Additionally, the manufacturers collaborated with NEEA and PNNL to secure deals on lighting products to keep the installation within budget. The team purchased 125 two-by-four fixtures, 11 different linear lights in multiple sizes from eight to 16 feet, 58 can lights, and 64 feet of under-cabinet strip lighting.
“We are changing the industry with research that will provide a much better occupant experience and save money in both installation costs and operation costs,” notes Mike Gershowitz, Vice President of Solutions Engineering at Enlighted. “Our work with NGLS at NEEA will be a win-win all around—people will get a better result at a better price point and occupants will be better for it.”
NEEA hired contractor Dynalectric Oregon—who previously installed lights in their office space—given their knowledge of the existing challenges. By already knowing what the team could do, the contractor saved the project time and money.
The team took a zonal approach to the installation, to limit the disruption to the potential office workers. All 125 two-by-four fixtures and linear lights include LLLC sensors, and some linear lights include two sets of sensors depending on their length. The team wanted the ability to zone the office more granularly. The team installed LLLC sensors for every two can lights—along the perimeter of the office and in a main hallway. Additionally, NEEA worked with a local manufacturer in Portland to sync the tape lights with the LLLC system.
“The contractor never installed Enlighted in an LLLC fashion, but they had video calls with them to ensure the installation was being done correctly. They worked with all the manufacturers for both fixtures and controls and did a great job on time,” said NEEA Project Manager Chris Wolgamott. “It took about 30 days to get everything installed. We had a two-to-three-man crew that worked five days a week for four weeks and got it installed.”
After installation, Wolgamott and an Enlightened representative spent about two days programming the LLLC system. They did the initial set up in about a day, and finalized the programming the following day.From here, through its Living Lab program, PNNL will explore gaps and opportunities through daily use of the LLLC system at the NEEA office. One positive difference office-goers may notice is the color tuning throughout the day, which provides a more comfortable lighting environment for everyone.
Recommendations from the field
- Look for grants and incentives for funding support, which could be available from your utility to offset fixture costs.
- Ensure that your team works with a capable contractor who can mitigate issues such as a wrong delivery of a product to avoid project delays.
- Consider inviting a programmer from your LLLC product’s company to train you on your new system.
- Not every LLLC installation needs to be the newest or most cutting-edge system to provide quality lighting and energy savings. Work with a manufacturing representative to find what system works best for your building and budgeting needs.