March/April 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 2
by Mike Stone, West Coast Field Representative, NEMA
NEMA Member companies have provided essential lighting control equipment such
as photocells and timers for decades. The basic concept behind these devices is simple: turn the lights off during the day when you don’t need them! NEMA successfully got this concept into the 2021 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) residential requirements, while other codes have had this requirement for years.
Manufacturers have embraced greater efficiency and other advantages of creating advanced lighting controls, but technology has moved beyond the concept.
The advent of solid-state lighting technology, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), has dramatically advanced our ability to provide energy-efficient lighting controls, especially in outdoor applications. Older lighting technologies, such as high-pressure sodium and metal halide, do not lend themselves well to lighting controls other than simple on-off applications.
Modern energy codes require that we reduce parking lot lighting by 50 percent until it is triggered to increase by an occupancy sensor. Solid-state lighting easily allows for this type of control. Current technology enables parking lot luminaires 24 feet or shorter to use individual occupancy sensors for luminaire control to achieve many lighting density levels.
One of the more promising and exciting applications of advanced lighting controls is their ability to help cities become more connected. “Smart” cities use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors installed in conjunction with street lighting to provide better communications and data collection.
Street lighting is ubiquitous, and manufacturers can easily install IoT sensors in what is known as the “NEMA socket.” This socket has been used for decades to install photocells for nighttime control, but manufacturers can now use them as a receptacle for IoT sensing devices and relays. The applications are many, from analyzing gunshot origins inhigh-crime areas to detecting traffic patterns in potential business locations. One of the more practical applications is being able to track maintenance requirements for municipal lighting installations. Municipal authorities have typically tracked maintenance requirements manually, which necessitated considerable effort. Addressable IoT devices can now accomplish this task easily.
There are many applications for advanced outdoor lighting controls that go far beyond just energy efficiency. As always, NEMA Member companies are at the forefront of the technological innovations that make societal improvements possible. ei