Wall controls provide a user interface that allows room occupants to adjust the lighting. There was very little consistency in the physical format and operation of the user interfaces provided for the NGLS evaluations, with each manufacturer taking a different approach.


Based on the entries submitted, NGLS grouped the user interfaces into four general categories, although within each category there were additional differences in operation:

Factory-configured rocker switches: Functionality of this type of switch is configured by the manufacturer and cannot be changed onsite. As with all types of switches, the installers needed to pair the switch with the appropriate luminaires. Once that step was completed, the switches were operational.

Factory-configured multi-button switches: These switches include multiple buttons, with separate buttons for on/off and manual dimming. Operation of the buttons is configured at the factory and is not changeable onsite, although with a few of the switches, the zones could be assigned onsite.

Site-configurable rocker switches: Each switch of this type can be programmed onsite to provide a different lighting scene in the room. Typical programmed scenes included “all on,” “presentation mode” (lights nearest the projection screen turned off), and “all dimmed 50%.” Two or more switches were provided, and the switches were labeled to indicate the operation.

Site-configurable multi-button switches: These switches include multiple buttons for operation of the lights. Typically, operation of some of the buttons could be configured onsite, while operation of others was preset. A few of the switches were based on the switch design of the manufacturer.

Four photos of various connected lighting system wall switches.
Examples of wall controls (left to right): factory-configured rocker switches, factory-configured multi-button switch, site-configurable rocker switches, site-configurable multi-button switch.
Video Url
Next Generation Lighting Systems Indoor Evaluations — Wall Control Performance
Video courtesy of the Department of Energy

The factory-configured switches of both types (multi-button and rocker) installed quickly, and startup was straightforward. Site-configurable switches took longer to install and start up. The installers needed to pair the switches to luminaires and then perform additional configuration steps to program the operation of the different buttons on the switch. Typically, this involved creating “scenes” for all lights in the room. While more complicated to start up, the configurable switches provide more flexibility in operation of the wall switches.


The variety of approaches employed by manufacturers makes it difficult for users to understand how to interface with the control functions. For the easy-to-install market, it may make sense for there to be some industry consensus on the type and operation of typical wall controls. NGLS is willing to provide a platform for discussion and collaboration in this area, if needed.

The Impact of Wall Control Performance on Connected Lighting Systems (Report, March 2021)