Smart Lighting

As energy prices hit record highs and carbon reduction remains a top priority for organisations, we speak with Rachel Morris, Marketing Manager for OCTO at Ansell Lighting, to explore how smart lighting systems can help organisations reduce energy use and make impressive cost savings.

Exorbitant energy prices are set to put even greater pressure on public sector bodies already struggling to deal with the added financial fallout from the Covid pandemic.

The pressure is on to find new ways to reduce energy bills while ensuring that work and public spaces remain functional, safe and comfortable for users.

Lighting is one way in which energy bills can be reined in and a return on investment achieved. In particular, a smart lighting system, used in conjunction with LEDs, is a highly energy efficient, cost-effective solution. It offers complete control over when lights are in operation, as well as over output levels and colour temperatures, all of which impact energy use.

Smart lighting is automated and designed to ensure that it is only used where and when it is needed, eliminating reliance on human intervention and reducing the risk of employees accidentally leaving the lights on and wasting energy.

It can be installed in almost all indoor and outdoor settings, from hospitals, schools and offices, to recreation areas and car parks. Because it is controlled and hosted on the cloud, it is easy to install, enabling facilities managers to implement energy saving measures with minimal disruption.

There is no hub or wiring involved and many of the units are simply installed like a normal lamp or switch. This makes it very easy to retrofit into existing buildings without the need for expensive upgrades – significant considering that few public sector buildings are new-build.

Smart lighting indoors

LED lighting alone offers energy savings of up to 50-70% on traditional halogen lamps,  and is recognised as one of the most actionable and ready-to-implement energy saving technologies. But, combined with smart automation, these benefits go even further.

Automated systems such as OCTO offer bespoke low-energy lighting provision, with total flexibility over the periods when lighting is in operation and the output levels for luminaires.

Intuitive motion sensors, as well as presence and absence detection lighting, means no area need be illuminated when it is unoccupied, even if that occurs intermittently or randomly.

Where light is required over longer periods, or even 24/7, corridor functionality offers another highly efficient way of reducing energy consumption. Motion sensors increase output to 100% only when somebody is actually using the space. They are perfect for public buildings, schools, care homes and some areas within hospitals, as well as pedestrian underpasses.

Daylight harvesting systems maximise energy saving, responding to the need for less light where natural daylight is available and focusing on areas deeper into the space, where it cannot reach. Ultimate control means lighting can be programmed to operate in areas where just a single individual is working.

Used in conjunction with RGB and tunable white LED lights, which offer millions of different colour settings, luminaires can also be set to emit changing colour temperatures at different times of the day, recreating natural lighting patterns which are accepted as being vital to promoting health and wellbeing. A healthy workforce is one which costs less in sickness absence –  a less obvious benefit of a smart lighting system.

Smart lighting outdoors

Many local authorities have already woken up to the benefits of LED smart lighting externally, updating street lighting across the UK.

In Wolverhampton, more than 7,000 street lights have been transformed under a major scheme to make the city lighting smarter, greener and more cost effective. To date, the council has converted 7,164 older higher energy sodium lamps, used in both residential and city centre streets, into remotely controlled new low energy LEDs. The Smart Lighting scheme has already resulted in savings of £105,583 as well as 350,000 kilowatts per hour of energy and 88 tonnes of carbon compared to the previous period.

A sustainable option

Lighting accounts for almost 5% of global co2 emissions.

The Climate Group has calculated that switching to LEDs, which turn roughly 70% of their energy into light and have a 30-plus year lifespan, could save more than 1,400 million tons of co2 and avoid the construction of 1,250 power stations. The Carbon Trust estimates that automatic sensors alone can cut electricity usage by up to 40%.

When a smart lighting system can deliver low energy use, reduced carbon footprint and quantifiable cost benefits, it is hard to argue against adopting it as a ‘first choice’ solution.