Three photos of NGLS connected lighting installations.

NGLS required the control systems to provide a minimum set of capabilities that were established as appropriate for “easy” systems. All of the submitted systems had at least the minimum required control capabilities. 

Operational complexity appeared in two interrelated areas: system functionality and start up methodology. The NGLS evaluations identified a clear relationship between system capabilities and ease of operation; the larger the set of control capabilities, the more complex the system was to operate. 

Several systems provided additional functionality, such as energy monitoring and building-system integration, with access to control settings for adjustment through a computer front end. In general, the installers found these systems to be more challenging to use and understand when trying to adjust control settings. For ongoing system operation and to change control settings, simpler systems used either an app or a handheld tool, which installers generally found easier to use.

Video Url
A video from the Next Generation Lighting Systems Evaluations showing manufacturer assistance for installers.
Video courtesy of the Department of Energy

Initial start-up methods ranged from completely preconfigured for out-of-the-box operation, to requiring onsite configuration of external daylighting and occupancy sensors.  Systems that provided relatively fewer control capabilities and included default operational settings were generally easier for the installers to understand and configure, leading to a higher success rate for system operation.

Initial Startup Approach

Preconfigured out-of-the-box operation

Onsite pairing of luminaires to wall switches

Factory-set default operational settings

Onsite pairing of luminaires to wall switches
Additional configuration steps
Factory-set default operational settings

Onsite pairing of luminaires to wall switches

Onsite configuration of external daylighting and occupancy sensors






Selux (Philips)









The variety of approaches to initial startup and variation in system capabilities presented different benefits and drawbacks. Systems that arrived preconfigured were generally easy to set up, but this advantage was more than offset by a complicated computer front end that caused difficulty when changing the settings.


Specifiers need to find the appropriate balance between simplicity and functionality for each application. It’s important to consider whether these additional features will be clearly understood and implemented, or whether they’ll create complexity, cause frustration, and eventually be disabled.