Intelligent Lighting Systems


Intelligent lighting systems cost you less to run, save the planet, and soon the law says you have to have them! At the time of writing, the Part L regulations coming in to force in April 2014 will allow you to use less efficient lights, provided you have lighting controls systems in place.

In this article we talk about some of the simple and more advance ways you can add some control to your lighting systems. Our other article about smart lighting control looks at creating moods and scenes for amazing lighting effects.

Anyone looking at lighting control, or even low energy lighting, will surely have come across a phrase along the lines of: “The easiest and cheapest way to save energy is to make sure that you switch off lights when they are not being used.” If everyone could do that, then there wouldn’t be too much of a need for smart lighting control systems. But they don’t. If you can get your employees, children, ‘better halves’ to do this all the time then you won’t find the cost of adding intelligent control to your lighting viable.

So, assuming that not everyone you share the building with is as energy (or cost) conscious as you are, what can you do?


Dimming As Well As On & Off:

In some cases, dimming the lights is a better option than just switching them on and off. It’s not so good for energy efficiency, but it can make the occupants feel uncomfortable.

Imaging being the only person working in a factory or office area, and all of the lights around you are off, with just the lights in your immediate vicinity illuminated. Not a very nice feeling. Instead, the lights could be dimmed, which will save energy and make any occupants feel better.

Dimming is also better than simply leaving lights on, as the life of the lamps will greatly increase.

Motion Detection:

This is as basic as it gets. Usually using a PIR detector. If it detects a change of heat (hot or cold) within it’s range.

There is little intelligence, although sometimes the sensitivity can be adjusted.

These are great for corridors and stairwells where there is only a little activity within a 24hr day.

Occupancy Detection:

These have more intelligence than ‘motion detection’. These sensors can turn on (or brighten lights) when motion is detected, but then may only need small amounts of motion to keep them on (such as the small movements of people working at a desk). Perhaps, in order to switch lights off they need a significant amount of movement followed by no movement (someone leaving the room).


Another simple system, especially for lights which don’t need to be on at all in daylight hours. Once light levels fall below a certain (adjustable) level, it switches lights on. When the light levels are high again, it switched the lights off.

The sensor can’t be located in the same area as the lights it switches on/off. They are often located outside.

Daylight Saving:

When you get daylight beaming in through windows, you don’t need your lights fully on. Daylight saving can automatically dim down lights near windows on sunny days, and raise internal lighting levels on dark cloudy days.

Chronological Scheduling:

As simple as a time clock on a power socket. It switches lights on at a certain time, and off at another. Disadvantages are that dusk and dawn are not at the same time everyday, so you often end up with lights coming on early and going off late. Also, very few, if any, time clocks automatically change time when the clocks go forwards in the spring and back in the autumn.

Astrological Scheduling:

Provided the controller knows the longitude and latitude of the site, and at some point the date and time, then it can calculate when dusk and dawn is for every day of the year. Those times can be used as triggers to switch lights on/off.


This is applying a bit of intelligence and linking building management systems together. Many intelligent lighting control systems can receive inputs or alerts, and be programmed so that:

  1. If the fire alarm goes off, it could automatically put on all/most of the lights, and flash outside lights to help the fire brigade identify the house.

  2. If the burglar alarm is activated it could turn all the lights off – as you would know your way around a building better in the dark. Or however you choose the system to react.


There are several different systems and several different programming protocols. Some are more robust than others. Our many years of experience helps us select the right intelligent system for different projects. Some are very simple, and some are more complicated. Please ask us to take a look at yours.