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Automatic light control: Energy-saving, safe and uncomplicated

23-10-2014


Examples abound of automatic light control in everyday use: The outside lamp on the garage that goes on when a car drives up, the light in the stairwell that only switches on when someone goes up or down the stairs, the lights in the office that automatically adapt their brightness to the cycle of daylight. Intelligent lighting systems offer a wide variety of advantages, ranging from significant energy savings to greater convenience.

The simplest and most common light control system worldwide is the motion sensor. Especially outside a home, installing an automatic switching system of this kind can be very practical. Be it on the garage, the front steps or expansive grounds: A motion sensor only illuminates these areas when someone is present, meaning it saves on electricity costs. An automatic lighting system is very helpful in situations where you do not have a hand free to operate the light switch. But motion sensors can also be used inside buildings, for example in stairwells, conference rooms or restrooms. For a motion sensor to function, a passive infrared sensor (PIR sensor) must be installed inside the lamp for example. It does not emit any active radiation, rather it uses the infrared radiation emitted by the object – in this case the human body – to detect resulting temperature changes. This is known as a pyroelectric effect. Another type of light control for outdoors is a twilight switch. Thanks to an integrated light sensor that registers brightness levels, this type of system automatically switches on the lights once darkness has fallen to a predefined level.

Daylight-dependent control
Intelligent light systems that combine a presence sensor with daylight-dependent control go a step farther. They turn on lights only if someone is in the room and the amount of available daylight makes it necessary. The level of light can be predefined, for example so that a brightness of 500 lux is maintained in a room. These systems similarly use PIR sensors. They measure the existing light level comprising daylight and artificial light, and then dim the lamps as necessary to maintain the desired level of brightness. If more or less light is required, for instance during presentations with or without a beamer, the user always has the option of changing the brightness level as needed.

One such intelligent system is the Osram LIGHTIFYTM Pro, which was designed specifically for use in offices and public buildings. The great advantage of Lightify is that apart from operation via light switch, it can be controlled very simply with the help of a mobile terminal device, meaning remotely. All that is needed is a smartphone or tablet PC, a router, gateway and lamp wired to ZigBee standards. The ZigBee wireless standard enables lamps and lighting fixtures equipped with LIGHTIFYTM Pro to communicate directly with special, wireless push-button interfaces and sensors. It is what makes features like brightness detection possible.

Greater convenience with automatic lighting systems
One fundamental advantage of using automatic light control is the energy it saves. Because the lights are on only when someone is in the room, energy costs can be reduced significantly. In addition, automatic dimming of the lights when the sensors determine that a room already has sufficient daylight further reduces energy consumption considerably. For these reasons, intelligent systems increasingly are being installed in heavily frequented public buildings. In terms of home use, it is the improved sense of safety that plays a decisive role: With a lighting system like LIGHTIFYTM from OSRAM, preset function profiles can simulate the presence of people in the house by switching lights on and off at specific times. Additional automatic lighting outdoors is particularly attractive for homeowners with expansive properties. Another big plus is the simplicity of an automatic lighting system and thus the increased convenience for the user. For instance, if you leave a meeting in the conference room together with other participants to escort them to the exit, you need not remember to turn off the lights, because the built-in presence sensor takes care of it.

Future vision of the smart home
Intelligent light management is becoming increasingly prevalent both at work and at home thanks to standards like ZigBee and DALI (digital addressable lighting interface), which are supported and used by numerous manufacturers and user-friendly lighting systems like OSRAM LIGHTIFY™. But automatic light management is just one step towards the intelligent home of the future. Smart home solutions for private homeowners network not only the lighting, but also other systems, such as the heating and air-conditioning.