Wireless sensors, integrated systems, temporary lighting and OLED technology are resolving long-standing lighting limitations

Jan. 5, 2011
Sheila Kennedy, contributing editor, says industrial lighting is getting smarter, stronger and more energy-efficient.

Wireless occupancy/vacancy sensors automatically turn the lights on when occupants enter an area and extinguish them when the space is unoccupied, but with improper sensitivity, the sensor’s operation could be premature. Lutron addresses this productivity and safety concern with its algorithm-driven passive infrared sensors. “With XCT technology, Lutron sensors can distinguish the difference between actual motion in a space and background interference or noise that typically would cause performance problems for sensors without this technology, such as turning lights on or off at the wrong times,” says Erin Bednarek, product manager for Radio Powr Savr Sensors.

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“Occupancy decisions using XCT technology are made solely on the basis of actual movement, while background interference and noise are disregarded. This helps to reduce performance problems for sensors equipped with XCT, called ‘false on’ and ‘false off’ events, because of Lutron's advanced signal processing.”

Intelligent system: Reducing energy costs radically is the goal of a new industrial lighting system from Digital Lumens that integrates clean, low-Watt LED-based fixtures with wireless mesh networking, software and controls. “This is a fundamentally different approach with far greater benefits than a some-assembly-required field integration of fixtures and third-party controls,” says Brian Chemel, chief technology officer. “The Intelligent Lighting System enables our customers to reduce lighting energy use by up to 90%. The system provides highly directional light when and where needed, typically improving the number of foot-candles delivered. It turns the lights off when not needed and provides detailed operational reports so facility managers can monitor lighting usage and expenses in real-time.”

Suitable for retrofits and new construction, the Intelligent Lighting System can be programmed by fixture or in zones with operation and dimming rules. It streams kWh details by fixture, zone, day and shift, enabling demand response, energy carbon accounting and other proactive energy management strategies.


Temporary options: The standard metal halide portable lighting system powered by a diesel generator is loud and energy-intensive and offers little directional control. Sandia National Laboratories developed an alternative system using Luxim’s patented Light Emitting Plasma (LEP) technology to alleviate these concerns. Because a hydrogen fuel cell provides electricity for the LEP system, it’s emission-free, energy-efficient and quiet. The small, portable lighting system generates additional, auxiliary power (up to 1.5 kW) for electrical tools or other equipment needed in the vicinity illuminated.

Luxim’s solid-state, high-intensity plasma light source has a much longer life and uses about 50% of the energy of conventional mobile lighting systems. “With plasma, the light floats inside the bulb without touching the bulb wall. This characteristic, plus the ability to dim to as low as 20%, allows LEP bulbs to last as many as 50,000 hours,” explains Randy Reid, vice president of marketing. “With such a small point source, the light output is directional. There’s almost no light degradation, even after 10 years, because the system uses plasma instead of gas.”

Extreme durability is a requirement for some portable lighting applications. Mobile lighting fixtures billed as durable commonly incorporate metal cases and rubber housings. K&H Industries took a different, three-pronged approach to designing temporary lighting that can survive being dropped, kicked or stomped on accidentally.

“The Quad Light has a K&H-designed shock absorber for the bulbs,” says John Herc, vice president of technical service. “There’s a laminate coating on the fluorescent bulbs to prevent shattering, and, if a break occurs, the cracked glass, powder and mercury stay contained inside the bulb. The third design element is an aluminum backbone through the center of the fixture that provides structural support.” The Quad Light comes apart quickly with just a thumb screw, and, because the bulbs won’t shatter, cleanup is easy compared to conventional alternatives.

OLED opportunities: Prospects for organic LED (OLED) lighting have improved since this column first addressed the technology in 2010. The integration of Universal Display’s phosphorescent OLED (PHOLED) panel technology and Armstrong World Industries’ TechZone ceiling system was demonstrated to the U.S. Department of Energy, marking the completion of a $1.9 million lighting product program that brings the technology closer to commercialization.

E-mail Contributing Editor Sheila Kennedy, managing director of Additive Communications, at [email protected].

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