The Advent of the Third Generation of Smart Lighting Controls

The three generations of lighting control:

  • First Generation – N+1 signal control: cables consists of multiple wires (origin of the N+1 designation), emphasis on dual access control from both local and central, complicated signal wire wiring, and unable to expand.
  • Second Generation – evolved into digital trunk: wiring method changed to full 2-way system consisting only of 2 signal wires, all controllers are now addressable, with configuration groups and patterns. Digital switches have also changed much compared to first generation. Application capabilities can be programmed through software.
  • Third Generation – evolved into energy saving, touch panel and networkable: integration of classic switches and ordinary sensors, controllers have built-in interactive energy saving logic programming, controller programs are designed to be easy to setup, centralized control have touch panels to replace walls of digital switches.

Viewing a Lighting Control System in the Proper Light

A lighting control is not merely a high technology ornament to be placed for showcasing the technological sophistication of a building, but rather it is a very fundamental part of the building. For the following reasons:

  1. It is the most practical method for wiring the lighting circuits in any large open public space.
  2. It satisfies the building owner’s need to save on energy, at the same time allowing for ease of use by the local user, without contradicting each other.
  3. Intricate control of lighting greatly improves the quality and stylishness of any space.
  4. The correspondence of the switches to the lighting can be reconfigured to match the varying needs of the space.
  5. To match the energy saving policy of a country, a smart energy saving lighting control system becomes the most important player to fulfill such a mandate.
  6. In order to save on costs, having a lighting control system is a must have with its ability to reduce the needed wiring, less manpower needed, and saved electricity bills.

Requirements for Centralized Control

  • Realtime feedback: The status of the lights at the central control should be synchronized with the local site.
  • Ease of Management: With a touch panel, management is easier than ever, expansion is also easy as there is no need for additional wall space nor wiring.
  • Multiple central control: A single system should be able to allow for multiple centralized control locations for multiple access and mutual redundancy.
  • Networkable: Being able to connect the system to a network and to the Internet means that distance is no longer an issue and the user can control the system from anywhere whether it be through a computer of a mobile phone.

Digital Switches

  • Local switches: these are switches located in near the lights that they control and are placed for the benefit of the local user, and not the other way around.
  • Simplified and reduced wiring: by using digital signal cables; and results in ease of expansion.
  • There is no conflict between central and local control; both have equal access.
  • Multi-function buttons: these can be used for single, group or pattern modes of operation.

Adaptability of the Terminal Units

  • Suitable for all types of luminaires: especially for LED lamps, with the capability to handle high inrush currents.
  • Control for dimming, roll up doors, curtains, shade blinds, air conditioners and others.
  • Can be used in conjunction with ordinary sensors, card readers and classic wall switches.

Lighting Control System For Hotels

Main Lobby

The customer creates their first impression of the hotel based on the reception lobby. The atmosphere created by the lighting is very important and key in elevating the stylishness of the space and creating a good first impression.

  • The lobby would be divided into several sections, each section would have its corresponding electrical panel with the modules installed.
  • Each section would have its own control board.
  • All the electrical panels would be linked through the main bus trunk, which would then be connected to the touch panel at the reception desk.
  • Brightness control: Different periods would have its own combination of brightness.

Conference Halls, Multi-function Halls & Meeting Rooms

  • Meeting rooms would have multiple touch panels installed.
  • Various combinations of lighting and AV, as for example, with the touch of one button, the lights dim, the projector screen lowers, the curtains close, the projector and DVD turns on, all done instantly.
    • Up to 8 scenes can be set, a single touch can change the lights and the projector screen at the same time.
    • A handheld remote control or a tablet can also be used to select a scene.
  • A few typical examples. Control of the lights, the projector and its screen, the curtains, these can all be controlled in tandem. When its time to show a movie, the lights would gradually dim, the projector screen lowers, the curtains close; after the showing, the projector is turned off, the lights gently return to the appropriate brightness, the projector screen is raised and the curtains are opened.
    • Reporting
      • Stage lit at 70 to 100%.
      • Audience seats and downlights lit at 80%.
      • Wall lights are all turned off.
    • Presentation
      • Stage lit at 50%
      • Front audience seats and downlights are off then gradually brightens toward the back.
      • Wall lights are all turned off.
    • Seminar
      • All lights at 90 to 100% brightness.
    • Exiting
      • Audience seats, downlights and post lights are all fully lit.
    • Standby
      • Stage and audience seats lights are at 70% brightness.

Hallways and Elevator Lobbies

  • Daylit hallways may use dual motion and lux sensors, when natural light is sufficient, the motion sensing portion is disabled, when the natural light is insufficient, then the motion sensor kicks in to turn on the lights when the space is occupied.
  • Timer combined with sensor.
    • The lights are turned on by the timer during busy periods and the sensor is disabled.
    • During quiet periods, the timer relinquishes control to the sensors. The lights remain at 70% brightness, but when the sensor detects an occupant, it will bring the brightness up to 100%. When the occupant leaves, the sensor automatically turns the lights off after a certain delay. Energy is thus saved.
  • The system would be preset with patterns for “morning”, “noon”, “dusk”, “night”, “weekend” and so on, each would be activated by the time schedule accordingly.
    • At noon, the system will dim the lights up to a level that is the most comfortable for people. For windowed areas, the system will take advantage of the natural light, when it is sunny, the lights will automatically dim; when it is gloomy, the lights will brighten to compensate. The system will always try to maintain a level of suitable indoor brightness.
    • When it grows dark, the “dusk” mode kicks in, the lights in various places will increase in brightness. The system can even work together with the local controls for the hallways and elevator lobbies.
    • At night the lights are dimmed, when someone comes, the lights gradually brighten; when they leave, the lights gradually dim.
    • The scheduler adjusts the lights for the public areas depending on the time of day and on what place it is being applied.

Hotel Guest Room

A pattern control board is installed at the headboard of the bed that controls or dims the various lights within the room and can also close/open the curtains, and can control the main lights, the bathroom lights, and can activate various scenes including relaxing, watching TV, welcome guest, entertaining visitors, reading a book, sleeping, make up room, turn all lights off and others.

Guest inserts card

The lights in the room and curtains are adjusted to conform to the welcome guest scene.

Guest removes card

After a certain delay, the lights are automatically turned off and the curtains are closed.

The guest can adjust the lights according to their preference using the headboard controls or through a remote control. The preset scenes would be realized by turning the lights on/off or adjusting the dimness to achieve the desired effect.

  • Welcoming Guest Scene
    • The pendant and wall lights are adjusted to 40% brightness.
    • The various lights are adjusted to make the guest feel welcome and bring out elegance of the room.
  • Rest and Relaxation Scene
    • The main lights are all dimmed
    • The side lights are adjusted to a suitable level to give a relaxing atmosphere.
  • Reading Scene
    • The main lights are all dimmed
    • The side lights are all dimmed
    • The standing lights are turned off
    • The reading lights are adjusted for reading

Matching Equipment

  • One dimming channel for the pendant lights; one channel for the wall lights; one channel for the showcase lights; main lights one channel;  one channel for the column edge and fixed direction wall lights; one channel for the room center depression lights; wall wash lights one channel; balcony lights one channel; total of nine channels.
  • A controller module is installed beside the entranceway.
  • A smart control panel is installed at the headboard with the various scenes preset.

How to Plan Smart Equipment with the Lighting Control System

  1. The usage and character of the space will determine what type of user control interface is to be used and how they will interact, this can be the local switch, the local sensor and centralized control.
  2. Peak or off-peak periods: the method of control method will be determined by the type of space and the time period.
  3. Centralized control: centralized area control, reception centralized control and control room can all coexist and operate at the same time.
  4. Equipments serviced include: lighting, air conditioning, ventilation fans, shades.
  5. Serviced space: public areas, rooms, halls, daylit or windowed areas, outdoor areas.

Capabilities of a Lighting Control System for the Meeting Room

Whether a small meeting room for up to ten people, or a conference for thirty or a hundred people, every one of them would need to have its own lighting control system.

Meeting Room Role

Every company needs to have a meeting room, and a place to showcase their products as well. A meeting room is more than just a place to exchange ideas, it also serves as a place to receive customers, talk business, and so on. It is much like the living room to a house, it is place where much is invested in its furnishings and ornamentation to make it as appealing as possible. The larger the company, the larger the space needed for the meeting rooms, they can come in all sizes, but the larger the space, the more demanding they are in their requirements, since they can be put to use to more kinds of uses.

Scene Recall

The ambience of a meeting room is not just made up of the furnishings and decor, just as important is the lighting scene that is created for each type of event and at each stage of the event. Different activities require not just different lighting but may also need to have the projector screen lowered and curtains closed. To transform a plain meeting room to a technologically sophisticated meeting room needs only a modest budget.

Technology, One Touch

One can make use of various types of user interface control devices such touch panels, pattern touch switches, and even third party devices such as IR remote controls, mobile phones, tablets, or any combination thereof. But regardless of which device is used, a single touch can recall a preset scene that will set the lights, raise or lower the projector screen and open/close the curtains all at once to transform the entire atmosphere of the room and set the stage for the next phase of the event. Contrast this with the traditional approach wherein everything needs to be activated individually and the presenter have to wait until the operator finishes setting the scene after fumbling with the switches and remote controls. One looks professional, classy and so seamless as to be unnoticeable, while the other looks clumsy and can disrupt the flow of the entire event.

Classy But Not Expensive

It would not be surprising that one would be given the impression that the equipment needed to achieve such an effect would be prohibitively costly. But nothing could be further from the truth, as the digital technology becomes more pervasive and mature, such a system can be attained with a very modest budget that even a small company can afford.

Building Types for Lighting Control

Type 1: Public Buildings

Such as shopping centers and bus stations. No local control switches, since the user has intention of operating the wall switches anyway.

Solution: Centralized control for all lighting, and install staff only switches near the entrances and equipment rooms.

Type 2: Mixed Type Buildings

Such as school campuses, office buildings, factory buildings.


  1. The user operates the local switches as needed, the switches would have some form of local energy saving control.
  2. Controls would also be centralized.

Type 3: Large Halls & Rooms

Such as conference halls, multi-purpose halls, stadiums, distribution warehouses, data centers, open offices.

Solution: Digital switches or touch panels are installed near the entrances and strategic locations (such as the podium), which can be preset with patterns for quick scene recall, and allow for multiple access points. Sensor control can also be implemented.

Accessing the Value of a Lighting Control System From its Wall Switches

The core value of having a lighting control system is the flexible and powerful local switches and it is not in the centralized control computer. This is because if all that is wanted is a centralized control system, then any BAS or a PLC based system could do just as well. Thus it is only the digital switches that make a lighting control system unique.

The point of having digital switches is not simply in it being in vogue because it is the latest in technology. But rather because this an advancement over classic mechanical switches, in that it can do what cannot be done with classic switches. Thus there is the need to examine what are the limitations and weakness of classic switches and see how they are overcome by digital switches.

  1. Classic wall switches are used exclusively as local control switches, when it is hindered by space limitations then they are unable to be used.
  2. Classic switches is based on a physical one to one wiring, and it must be connected to the actual electrical power wiring. There are many restrictions to how wiring can be physically laid out, and the cost for doing a one to one wiring is high, thus in a public space, wiring length is minimized by placing the switch close to the light that it controls. If it later desired that wiring changes need to be made for repurposing or due to poor initial location choices, then renovations would be difficult and expensive.
  3. Classic switches and the wiring circuit are bounded together, but the switch is meant to be close to where the user does their job. These two considerations are often in conflict.
  4. It is difficult to implement multiple access with classic switches. For big flat open spaces, it is very difficult to have duplicate access.
  5. It is impossible to implement any grouping or pattern. Groups and patterns are not only valuable for being able to simplify usage, but at the same time they can also greatly reduce the number of switches and amount of wiring needed.
  6. Only after making all the other considerations should attention be given to whether or not to have both digital switches together with centralized control in the same system. Then also consider whether an automated schedule control is desired.

Six Types of Sought For Value From a Lighting Control System

Different customers have different views on how a lighting control system adds value to their application. They can grouped into five main types:

First Type: Extravagance, to add luster to a building through technology

In order to show off how upscale a building is, having a lighting control system is like the adornment of smart technology.

Second Type: Highlight energy saving and intelligent building

This is the typical smart green building, everything is made to emphasize intelligence and energy savings. Striving for both intelligence and energy saving in order to gain prestige and accolades. Whether or not the system is effective is beside the point, to emphasize its uniqueness is what its all about.

Third Type: Emphasis on energy savings

This type implements a lighting control system for its practicality in effecting energy savings, but in addition it seeks to achieve labor savings for the facility management, ease of maintenance, and the reliability of the system. They don’t care much for the prestige and is not for showing off and care most for the cost to performance ratio.

Fourth Type: Mood lighting

The emphasis here is in how the lighting would be able to create the desired ambience and the ease of which any transition (scene recall) can be made.

Fifth Type: Technology benefits

Fanatic of technology, the focal point is in the fancy benefits that technology can bring. Everything should be controllable from a mobile phone, a computer, touch panel or any high technology user interface device. They especially wants to deemphasize the use of any form of wall switches.

Sixth Type: Bid tender specifications

The focal point is on specifications, on having specifications that are unique to the system to give the bidder an edge over the competition.

Unique Qualities of DAE’s Lighting Control System

At its core, DAE’s lighting control system is an “energy saving lighting control system” in contrast with plain “full 2-way lighting control system.

Most customers have appraised DAE’s system as being: practical, easy to use, helps to save energy, economical, reliable and durable.

  1. Utility

    In addition to large open spaces, DAE’s lighting control system is also well suited for the energy saving control of enclosed spaces, and can also work with classic wall switches and ordinary infrared sensors.

  2. Engineering
    1. No Achilles heel. Not reliant on a central processor and no need for system power supply means that there is no single point of failure that can cripple the entire system.
    2. Top-notch safety backup capability. Easy to maintain.
    3. Installation setup is very easy to do, no special tools nor software needed. It can be done by the user themselves.
  3. Integrability
    1. Can be integrated into third party systems through either Modbus or Modbus TCP/IP.
    2. Touch panel user control interface: easy to use and affordable; can even be linked to a mobile phone, computer or tablet.
    3. Synchronize multiple hosts. Fast response, mutually redundant.

Objective Evaluation of a Lighting Control System

Black cat, white cat, any cat that catches mice is a good cat. The point of this quote is that the color of the cat is irrelevant, the way to judge a good cat is whether it catches mouse or not. In the same way, a good lighting control system should be judged objectively.

  1. Feature evaluation
    1. Can the lighting control system effectively save energy?
    2. Can it be combined applications that require dimming?
    3. Can it be used with regular sensors and classic wall switches?
  2. Cost considerations
    1. Material cost
    2. Setup service
    3. After sales service cost
    4. Future expansion of additional circuits
  3. System safety
    1. System failure
      It should be able to avoid having a single component failure causing the collapse of the entire system.
    2. Backup
      When a failure does occur, there should be a means of backup control which would not affect normal operations.
  4. Maintenance and reliability
    1. Maintenance cost
      This is a big point. One should avoid being able to afford the initial cost but not the maintenance cost. It should not be such that once the warranty period is expired, the entire system becomes a fancy but useless ornament.
    2. DIY maintenance should be simple and easy
      Maintenance shouldn’t be reliant on the vendor, the building manager should be able to do replacements or perform maintenance by themselves, setup should likewise be easy to perform.
    3. Reliability
      Portions involving high voltage electrical power should be internationally certified. It should be designed to match the special characteristics of certain lamp types.
  5. Operation and management
    1. Operation
      A lighting control system is equipment that needs to be operated, it should be able to satisfy the needs and be convenient to both the local user and the remote administrator.
    2. Real time response
      The response time from when a command is issued from the centralized control touch panel to its execution and feedback response should be fast and in real time.
    3. Schedule should be easy to set up
      Setting up the automated control schedule should be simple and easy (almost as straightforward like setting up a digital alarm clock)
  6. Third party integration
    1. It should be possible for third parties to integrate into the system.
    2. It should be able to accommodate both the safety and alarm capabilities.

Lighting Control Systems: Energy Saving vs Full-2Way

Comparing an Energy Saving Lighting Control System with a Full-2Way Lighting Control System
Full-2Way Lighting Control System: Replaces a traditional switch with a centralized control and local controls which are connected through a digital trunk bus, allowing control to be made from both the local site or remotely.
Energy Saving Lighting Control System: A further advancement which incorporates sensors into an energy saving system. Creating a system that can be controlled from local switches, central control and motion sensors.
A more complete definition would be to include safety, lighting, small room fans combined into one system. A concrete example would be a hotel guest room control system.

  1. When the guest leaves the room, the lighting and air conditioning will all turn off or will enter energy saving mode.
  2. At any time, the central control system can determine the status of the safety, lighting and air conditioning in the room.

A. System Architecture 

  1. Multiple touch panels can be used in the same system, not only are the status of the lights shown, but the execution and response is very fast, they are low cost and high reliability.
  2. Pattern switches work differently. Unlike in a full-2way system, they do not need an MRS (Main Remote Station) to work, and they don’t require any special programming. They can issue both pattern and group commands independently.
  3. Integrates both lighting and safety at the same time on the same touch panel screen.
  4. Easy to set up schedule, allowing the end user themselves to make any changes without the need for special software or qualified technician.
  5. Can be integrated into third party systems. It communicates the industry standard Modbus protocol, which allows it to be linked (via either RS485 or TCP/IP) to any system that supports it.
  6. The touch panels can be uplinked to a network and synchronized with multiple types of devices including PCs, mobile phones or tablets for the purpose of remote control.

Installation, Maintenance and Reliability

  1. With a Japanese branded full-2way lighting control system, once the MRS unit containing the CPU fails, then the entire system collapses and all the patterns and groups that have been set needs to be reconfigured. Contrast this with DAE’s system where there is no CPU to worry about, and hence there is no central point of failure.
  2. Each of the controller modules in DAE’s line up contains manual control buttons on board that can be used as backup control that can directly control the lights that is connected to its channel. These can also be used after installation for verifying the installation, or for diagnosis and testing during repair.
  3. Since there is no need of a unit such as the MRS, then the entry level cost is greatly reduced as this unit is the single most expensive unit when adopting a Japanese branded full-2way lighting control system. Thus even a small establishments such as restaurants, libraries, offices can adopt this system with a small budget.

Lighting Control Modules

  1. There is no need for the prohibitively expensive proprietary TR system power supplies that is needed by the Japanese branded full-2way lighting control system.
  2. Three forms of controller modules available for every kind of situation: Controllers specially designed for contactor use, controllers with built-in relays, and controllers with external relays.
  3. Smart TUs, each controller is equipped with manual control buttons for each lighting channel that it controls, and the auto-learning logic built-in that enables each controller to learn patterns and groups. Which make them easy to configure, test and maintain. They do not need any special device for configuration, and can be done by a non specialized personnel.
  4. Smart interactive energy saving control modules:
    Can accept sensors and classic wall switches, they have special energy saving logic built-in. They are inexpensive and easy to maintain.
  5. DAE’s lighting control system includes modules for LED dimming, with more channels that those available from competing full-2way lighting control system.