Utilizing lighting controls will make a great lighting project even better because lighting controls can be used to turn off interior and exterior lights or electrical devices that were left on unintentionally for extended periods of time. Taking advantage of lighting controls can result in longer device life and additional energy savings.
Interior Lighting Control – Wall Mount Switches
The most common type of interior lighting control are wall mount switches. They were designed to replace existing toggle or rocker style switches that are already in a single gang or double gang electrical box. Installation is fairly simple and can be accomplished within 30 minutes or less.
Eco-timers are 7-day programmable wall timers that are primarily used to control exterior lights such as wall packs, flood lights, area lights, or interior hallway lights. Eco-timers are easy to program by entering the location’s longitude and latitude which will track the sun’s movement. This will turn on the lights when the sun sets and will turn off the lights when the sun rises. In case of a power outage there is a rechargeable super capacitor that will protect the programming.
This makes the Eco-timer the perfect replacement tool for the 1970’s era mechanical timer that has to be constantly adjusted for changes in daylight savings time, power outages and sunset and sunrise times. With an Eco-timer installed you can “set it and forget it.”
Occupancy sensors as they are technically known are motion detectors that are used to make sure the lights are turned off when the room is unoccupied. They can be set for manual on and auto off, or auto on and auto off. In occupancy mode which is the most popular mode, the lights will turn on automatically when someone enters the room and the lights will stay on as long as the room is occupied. As soon as the room is empty the sensor will automatically turn off the lights.
When a certain mood or ambience is needed and the lights need to be lowered, dimmer switches are the perfect tool. By having the ability to create an atmosphere with less-intense ambient light, the result is a more relaxed environment that has the added benefit of lower energy consumption. The lower the light levels the greater the savings.
When it is important to ensure lights, exhaust fans, or motors are only operating for a specific period of time, countdown timers are your best option. Countdown timers can help you save money by automatically turning off electrical devices at a preset time. The most energy efficient countdown timers will turn off devices after 30 minutes, however there are timers that will allow electrical devices to run up to 4 hours.
Interior Lighting Control – Ceiling Mount Switches
Ceiling mount sensors are ideal for rooms where wall mount sensors will not work because they are blocked by cubicles, desks, cabinets, refrigerators, or some other large objects. They are also better suited for ‘T’ shaped hallways. By placing the sensor on the ceiling, any time a person enters the sensor’s 360° field of vision, the lights will come on automatically and turn off automatically once the area is unoccupied.
Exterior Lighting Control – Motion Detectors
Instead of simply leaving on outdoor lights from dusk to dawn wasting energy, an alternative is to have motion activated lights or motion detectors. Motion detectors can turn on exterior lights for security purposes or for the added convenience of having enough light to find the right key while balancing an arm full of groceries. Coverage area is 180° and they will automatically turn on the lights when motion is detected and will turn off the lights after a pre-selected time delay of up to 12 minutes. Integrated photocells will prevent lights from turning on when motion is detected during daylight hours which also saves energy.
Exterior Lighting Control – Photocells
The most popular residential and commercial exterior lighting control to make sure the lights are on overnight is the photocell which utilizes dusk to dawn technology. When the sun sets photocells will turn the lights on and when the sun rises it turns the lights off. This is an easy way to “flip the switch” without physically flipping the switch.