NGLS Indoor Evaluations: System Architecture

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Lighting control systems are typically comprised of a variety of physical components, including relays, occupancy sensors, photocells, local area controllers, and wall switches. Connection of these components can be achieved by hardwire, wirelessly, or via power over Ethernet (PoE). The control systems submitted to NGLS varied significantly in the number, placement, and connection of components and could be grouped into three broad categories, based on the degree of installation complexity. 

SYSTEM ARCHITECTURE AND COMPLEXITY

a gradient showing "relatively less complex" on the left, and "relatively more complex" on the right.

Components

Luminaire-integrated sensor and control

 

Wall switch

Luminaire-integrated sensor and control

 

Wall switch

 

Local area network device

Remote-mounted sensor and control

 

Wall switch

Connection

Wireless

Wireless

Wired

Wireless

PoE

Systems

Cree

Philips

Selux (Philips)

Acuity

LG

LumenWerx

Eaton

Lutron

RAB

Crestron

Nextek

CHARACTERIZATION

Not surprisingly, systems with a less complex physical architecture proved easiest to install. Since occupancy and daylight sensors were factory integrated, no additional field installation was required and the wireless wall switches typically installed easily.

The somewhat more complex systems also tended to be easy and quick to install, similarly benefiting from the luminaire-integrated sensors and controls and the wireless wall switch. The additional wireless area network devices added some additional time for installation, mainly related to providing electrical power to the device.

The systems with the most relatively complex architecture required a significantly longer time period for installation of the control components. First, the contractors had to identify and understand the remote occupancy sensors and other components, which required them to consult printed instructions. The devices then had to be mounted and connected correctly using a variety of methods.  Moreover, during the evaluation, these systems failed to operate to the NGLS specification in one or more areas.

Five photos of various connected lighting system components.

TAKEAWAYS

The complexity of system architecture and its influence on ease of installation and use is a direct reflection of system capability. More elaborate systems can do more but often at the expense of being easy to set up and use. Specifiers and end users should assess their requirements carefully and look for systems that do not add unneeded complexity.

Systems with more complex architecture need clear instructions with “big picture” guidance of how all the components fit together. Diagrams and quick setup advice can also be helpful. It is especially important for installers to understand the correct placement and operation of sensors.