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Three photos of the Connected Lighting Test Bed.

Connected lighting systems (CLS) comprise an emerging class of lighting infrastructure that does more than just light spaces. Through the incorporation of distributed intelligence, network interfaces, and sensors, CLS become data collection platforms that enable a wide range of valuable new capabilities as well as greater energy savings in buildings and cities.

However, CLS technology is currently at an early stage of development and many questions remain about how well it will work, whether it will actually save energy, and whether it will offer enough benefits and value-added features to justify the investment. That’s why the DOE SSL Program is partnering with industry to identify and collaboratively address the technology development needs of CLS. In 2015, DOE launched a Connected Lighting Systems Initiative, which works closely with industry and targets six focus areas: 

  1. Energy reporting accuracy: Data-driven energy management can significantly reduce energy consumption, but effective test methods are needed to characterize reporting accuracy.
  2. System-level energy performance: While CLS promise to improve lighting and energy performance and also provide myriad other value-added features, the energy impact of the requisite intelligence, network interfaces, and sensors is largely unknown.
  3. Interoperability and system integration: System performance is a function of how well devices work together, and common platforms and protocols are needed to enable the exchange of usable data between lighting systems, other systems, the internet, and cloud services.
  4. Key new features: Although CLS can deliver greater energy savings compared to traditional lighting systems, the financial savings achieved by reduced energy consumption do not currently justify the additional cost; evaluation of non-energy benefits, enabled by key new features, is needed.
  5. Cybersecurity vulnerability: Increased connectivity introduces cybersecurity risks that are new to the lighting industry and that must be addressed if next-level energy savings are to be fully realized.
  6. Electrical Immunity: The integration of CLS with today’s electrical infrastructure raises new risks and opportunities; more exploration is needed to understand if CLS are compatible with various grid systems, and can aid in managing and maintaining them.

Another key issue with CLS is configuration complexity, which makes these systems difficult to install and commission, and can lead to user frustration and less than full utilization of the system capabilities. Reducing configuration complexity increases the likelihood that deployed systems will satisfy occupants and be able to accommodate their changing needs, which is key to achieving their energy-saving potential. DOE seeks to identify and address configuration complexity issues through Next Generation Lighting Systems evaluations in real-world installations.


Central to DOE CLS efforts is a connected lighting test bed (CLTB) designed and operated by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The results of technical feasibility investigations in the CLTB increase visibility and transparency on what does and does not work, and create tight information feedback loops to inform technology developers of needed improvements. The results also contribute to the development of industry standards and model specifications.


DOE engages with industry stakeholders through active participation in voluntary standards development committees (including ANSI C137, C136, and C12) as well as key industry consortia (including the Open Connectivity Foundation, the Industrial Internet Consortium and the Bluetooth SIG).

A lengthy list of industry partners are collaborating with DOE in various test bed setups, including Cisco, Cree, Current powered by GE, Digital Lumens, enlighted, Hubbell Lighting, Molex, NuLEDs, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Itron, SoCe, Telematics Wireless, and Xicato.

DOE also collaborates with early adopters such as the City of Chicago to ensure that lessons learned are widely understood and shared. Learn more about Outdoor Connected Lighting Systems.

Three DOE Connected Lighting Systems Workshops, held between 2015 and 2017, drew more than 550 participants from the lighting, semiconductor, and IT industries. Workshop discussions and attendee inputs helped to shape DOE focus areas.


2018 Report: Connected Lighting Systems Efficiency Study — PoE Cable Energy Losses, Part 2

2018 Presentation: What Can We Learn in a Connected Lighting Test Bed?

2018 Video: What Can We Learn in a Connected Lighting Test Bed?

2017 Report: Connected Lighting Systems Efficiency Study – PoE Cable Energy Losses, Part 1

2017 Report: Connected Lighting System Interoperability Study: Application Programming Interfaces, Part 1

2017 Report: PoE Lighting System Energy Reporting Study, Part 1