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    Light Your World Blog

    Schools looking to evolve to the next level should start with networked lighting

    October 31, 2019
    classroom lighting
    No one will dispute the importance of good lighting in a school environment. Better light quality has proven to lead to improved productivity and behavior. However, there are so many competing priorities on technology upgrades for schools that lighting can easily be overlooked.

    But what if you changed your perspective to where you view a lighting upgrade as a way to fund new initiatives? In fact, installing a new lighting system can help realize significant operational cost savings, freeing up funds for other endeavors. LED lighting is an obvious choice for today’s school upgrades, not only for the superior energy savings, long life and light quality it offers, but there are several studies that show LED lighting can improve concentration and comprehension1,2,3. And the ability to control and connect LED technology makes it a viable choice for modernization.

    That’s where a completely wireless IoT connected lighting system like Interact Pro can be a game changer. Interact Pro is a system that features an intuitive software platform, and an easy to use app, which work seamlessly with Interact Ready LED lighting products and sensors. The system allows for control and personalization of lighting, and it can provide insightful data that opens a whole new world of opportunities.  Every required lighting component to build the system is from one manufacturer so you don’t need to be concerned about cross-compatibility. It’s time-saving to install and saves on energy, but also offers functional benefits beyond cost savings.

    The Infrastructure Challenge

    The infrastructure in many schools is often very old – you could be looking at a 40, 60 or even an 80+ year old building. When considering a lighting upgrade, you need to factor in that the lighting may not be looked at again for another 20 years, so not only do you need to modernize in an efficient way, but the solution has to be long term. Interact Pro offers a flexible system that evolves the school to a new level with the integration of controls and access to data.

    The added value of controls and data

    Because of their aging infrastructure, most schools today still only have the option to turn all lights on or off. The Interact Pro system allows a school to create lighting groups and zones, and then apply dimming schedules to these groupings to be more energy efficient. From there, adding wireless  Daylight Harvesting & Occupancy sensors onto the system can generate more energy savings. A great example of this is in school hallways where traditionally the lights are left on full power 24/7. With zoning, grouping, and occupancy sensing, schools could power off every few lights, and dim others down the hallway to save energy while the space is unoccupied, while still leaving some illumination for safety. All lights would be triggered to full power when movement in the space is detected. Research has shown that by adding dimming and occupancy sensing, lighting energy consumption can be reduced anywhere from 27 – 63%.

    school hallway

    Control can also be extended to the individual teacher in the classroom through a wireless kinetic switch, or by using the Interact Pro app. This has a huge impact for teachers who are accustomed to only on/off control. Now they would be able to adjust the light levels of individual lights or grouping of lights to better suit the desired mood or activity, such as calming the class by dimming, setting a presentation mode, or increasing brightness to provide more focus or energy. And again, adding a daylight harvesting sensor (which can translate into an additional 20 – 40% energy savings), allows the lighting to automatically adjust down as natural daylight floods into the classroom. And because these switches and sensors are wireless, they can be easily, and cost effectively added to the system at any time without the need to hardwire.

    This increased functionality in a classroom is an amazing value add for the teacher, but school energy managers love it even more because the energy savings realized can be even greater than they anticipated. We have seen this in actual classrooms where Energy Managers have been able to measure using the Interact Pro dashboard that teachers are reducing light levels by about one-third over the presets due in large part to the quality of light output. This has been an enlightening “behavioral control” which previously they wouldn’t have accounted for, but now are able to quantitatively measure through the Interact software.

    school classroom lighting

    The significance of system flexibility

    A wireless connected lighting system like Interact Pro offers flexibility in terms of installation and scalability. The breadth of Interact Ready products that are available for the system can allow a school to undertake a major upgrade or a simple retrofit. And its wireless setup is practical for facilities where accessibility can be an issue.

    Open plan, high ceilings are an example where complicated wiring could be a barrier and a wireless solution can help. And if there is asbestos, then the costly undertaking of an abatement can be averted by simply retrofitting the existing fixture with smart TLED lamps or a retrofit fixture like the Interact Ready Philips EvoKit. In fact, the ease of install with a retrofit solution means reduced downtime for a school where we’ve seen an entire school turned over in 10 days, compared to the 4-6 weeks which would have been typical for the scope. It is also very easy to adjust lighting schedules through the app right on site, or via the portal in the comfort of your office. And once you’ve set up the system, you don’t need to worry if the network connection is dropped because the system will remain operational and maintain the saved settings.

    As mentioned, the ability to measure through the software is powerful not only for the data it provides on lighting usage, but because it also provides performance data and alerts. In particular, a Healthcheck feature in the app would allow an energy manager to address maintenance or failure issues even before they get a call from the school. And there is the ability through an API integration with the Utility signal to deploy demand response via the portal across multiple schools automatically.

    Overall, Interact Pro offers a ton of functionality for a very simple system. It’s cost effective and can be installed and commissioned quickly without any additional wiring or IT support. It provides schools way more control of their environment than they’ve traditionally had, and it’s very easy to keep adding to the system.  Schools looking at a lighting upgrade should look at a future proof solution like Interact Pro and evolve their schools to the next level.


    Sharon MacArthur
    Sharon MacArthur

    Post tags

    Interact Pro, networked lighting, lighting upgrade, lighting system, operational cost savings, energy savings, wireless IoT connected lighting system, controls, sensors, daylight harvesting sensor, Interact Ready, Interact Pro App, school lighting

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