Vendors now offer more inclusive smart lighting services

Vendors now offer more inclusive smart lighting services
Of all the indoor electronics we use everyday, lights lead in quantity. Therefore, when it comes to conserving energy use in office buildings, replacing standard lights with smart lights can be a wise decision. Using them in the most efficient manner, like turning lights on only when an area is occupied, can bring substantial savings in energy use and expenses.

Given the potential of smart light in saving energy, many vendors have come up with solutions utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT). The idea is to connect the lights with sensors that can detect human presence and other ambient conditions, such as natural light and temperature.

The sensors play a critical role in this regard. Installed in different locations around an office, they can tell if an area is occupied, and then have lights in that area switch on or off accordingly. If there is enough sunlight in the room, it will hold the lights off from being switched on.

The occupancy data collected over time by sensors can be turned into big data to allow for intelligent analytics. This will enable facility managers to predict how people use the office space. In the end, the sensors will provide information on the flow of people in an office.

It is unlikely that such intelligent lighting can be provided by the device manufacturer. Besides providing the lighting hardware, the vendor must have the software expertise, since the big data and AI must run on an IoT platform.

As vendors diversify their offerings, ABI Research believes a new business model called lighting-as-a-service (LaaS) will become more popular. It will also address concerns relating to the smart lights’ higher price tags.

“Commercial buildings are extremely cost-sensitive and any capital expenditure that goes beyond immediate necessity or provides ROI over a longer term faces severe pushback from building owners,” ABI Research said in a report. “Challenges like these can only be solved by a fundamental transformation in the existing business models of lighting suppliers, and the transition to smart lighting is being accompanied by innovative lighting-as-a-service business models seeking to alleviate these key pressure points.”

Integrating with building management system

Smart lighting may also be integrated with the building management system to work in concert with other elements in a building, like the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system, which is the no. 1 energy consumer in most buildings. Their integration is natural since making HVAC systems smart is a popular choice. Besides, HVAC requires occupancy data in order to function more efficiently.

“Sensor-rich LED bulbs are an entry point for smart building technology,” ABI said, adding that the lightbulbs may help to enable other smart building applications. Data gathered from the sensor can cover occupancy, humidity, temperature, among others, “and has the potential to act as a backbone network for wider smart building applications,” ABI noted.

Adoption of LED keeps growing

LED lights are known to be more energy-efficient compared with other lighting choices. As such, more offices are expected to switch to LED. Paul Bremer, Senior Analyst at IHS Markit, said only 8 percent of the total installed base of luminaries were LED last year, which leaves 92 percent of lighting fixtures for potential upgrades. “The energy savings made by switching to LED will continue to finance the growth of smart lighting systems for the foreseeable future,” Bremer explained.

According to Bremer, vendors are likely to provide more and more “future-proofed” LED lights that allow for “plug-and-play connectivity of sensor module.” This enables end users to install the latest LED fixtures, while keeping the option for easy addition of sensors to their systems in the future open.

Looking into the future, vendors may also leverage existing lighting infrastructure to offer Li-Fi, a communication protocol that passes data via light with speed much higher than Wi-Fi. Philips has already piloted its Li-Fi network services this year.
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