Selecting the Right Smart Home System For Real Estate Developers

How should real estate developers select the right smart home system?
Many real estate developers have the impression that simply having a touch panel or mobile phone controlling the lights and curtains make up a smart home, they have completely neglected future considerations regarding actual use and maintenance. This essay means to address this subject from this point of view as the starting point.

  1. Classic switches as the basis for smart lighting control
    The classic switches installed within each room can be used not only for controlling single lights but can also be made to control entire groups or even activate patterns. There is no need to rely on the fixed touch panel in the living room, nor on the remote control, this is because:

    1. It is more practical for the user to be able to control the lights directly from within the room itself rather than having to go to the living room nor look for the remote control.
    2. There are a greater variety of choices when it comes to design and materials with classic switches, some motifs even come in an entire series with power outlets, phone outlets and even network outlets. The developer can select the appropriate switches depending on the purpose, environment, quality and budget, smart lighting control can be achieved regardless of the switch that is chosen.
    3. No training needed, so easy to use that even children and elders can do it. Which completely eliminates the dilemma of “Affordable but unusable, or usable but unaffordable”.
    4. With the aid of electricians, installation is easier than ever.
    5. Switches will need to be eventually replaced, with classic switches this is not a big concern.
  2. When the controller malfunctions, it should be possible to retain basic operation of each individual switch.
    Only with such a capability would the contractor, system integrator, and proprietor be reassured. Consider that the lights are used primarily at night, if for any reason a component or part of the system fails, then there would be great tension as there is no way to turn the lights on. But with the failsafe switch control mechanism of DAE’s lighting control, this is no longer a point to worry about, this is because basic manual operation is always guaranteed.
  3. The more the circuit wiring and switches is similar to the traditional approach, the easier and simpler it is expand the circuit and reduce the problems associated with eventual servicing.
    When the user will repartition the space or perform some lighting renovation, they should be able to expand or adjust the switches by themselves and should not necessitate the involvement of the original vendor. In addition, the wiring should be as similar to traditional wiring as much as possible, to make future servicing easier. At the same time, classical switches are already very familiar and easily accepted by the old and young alike.
  4. Other factors that should also be taken into consideration:
    1. It must be attractive
    2. It must be convenient and easy to use
    3. It should be affordable
    4. Maintenance and repair should be easy, especially for smaller proprietors who may need to do their own expansions or renovations.
    5. The product and the system must be reliable.
    6. It should not be that the failure of the central processor will cause problems for the contractor.

Energy Saving Control for Outdoor Lighting

Energy saving control for street lighting, parking lots, daylit hallways and building facade lights.

Public outdoor lights are on for long periods of time, they cover large areas and are very bright, and thus they often enormous amounts of power. But since they are in the public, they are very visible and noticeable, oftentimes they are already on even when there’s still light, which gives the public the impression that there is no effort to save on energy, and management is ineffective. Hence, this is a focal point for energy management.

Most traditional approaches to energy saving for outdoor lighting is by making use of automatic control to turn the lights on or off, which works in conjunction with light and dark to automatically turn the lights either on or off, but this approach has several shortcomings.

  1. The lights should come on when it becomes dark, but it doesn’t mean that the lights should remain on up until it is light before turning off. The best approach is to have a different time schedule for each light post depending on its location to turn the lights on at a designated time and to turn it off early. But if automatic control is dependent entirely on a daylight sensor, then the lights would only turn off when it is light. The correct approach would be to turn on at a certain time depending on the venue, and turn off at a designated time, it should not be that the  lights only turn off when it is light. This is not something that can be easily done using a simple daylight sensor. But if a timer is used, it cannot adjust its time to match seasonal changes, and can either turn the lights on too early or too late.
  2. It can often be seen in sidewalks, that even though it is already daylight, the street lights are still on, this is often caused by the daylight sensors when their calibration skews over time. Or it could also be caused by having its receptors obscured by trees, nearby buildings or plant overgrowths, which causes it to malfunction. This results in much wasted energy and also in reducing the lamp lifespan, constantly maintaining the street lights to ensure that they are operating in peak condition is labor intensive and costly for both its labor and materials.
  3. The sensitivity of daylight sensors can vary widely, which can be seen in some areas wherein a segment of lights being turned on, while another segment in the same vicinity remaining off. This appears inconsistent and gives a bad impression to the public and reduces the quality of service.
  4. Daylight sensors do not gauge dimness in the same manner as people do, which causes the daylight sensors to turn on the lights even though people still think it is still light. This of course results in unnecessarily wasted energy. The administrator is unable to make adjustments to and is entirely at the mercy of the daylight sensor in deciding when to turn on the lights.
  5. The location in which to install the daylight sensor is very finicky, if there are objects or structures close by that could potentially block its receptors, then it could cause it to make faulty decisions. If the daylight sensor is in an ideal location, it could be far from the switch that controls the lights, which means that additional wiring need to be laid out from the sensor to the switch, which of course means additional labor and material costs, not to mention the difficulty in the actual construction job.

Improved Approach

  1. Make use of the K40 monthly adjustable controller, each month would have its own turn on time, which solves the problem of indeterminate turn on time, and won’t turn on too early nor too late. Since there is no longer the need to install a daylight sensor, it also eliminates the problems associated with the laying of the conduit wiring. Thus, costs are reduced. Turn on times are not determinate and all lights could now be synchronized.
  2. Depending on the place and purpose, it is not always necessary to have the lights all turn off at the same time, as for example, the circuit could be arrange so that the light posts alternate, or grouping could be made into primary and secondary circuits, and each group could have their own turn off time. Applications for this such as for billboards, exterior building wall wash lighting, pathways, streetlights, parking lots.
  3. Late at night, when few people are about, such as in parking lots, one could make use of the LT3000 with motion sensors, so that instead of leaving the lights on all night, they will only turn on when there are people about. Which also helps to reduce wasted energy.

In Conclusion

Daylight sensors are simple in principle, and they are inexpensive. But the difficulties that they cause results in much energy wasted and also in reduced lamp lifespan. With the use of the K40 and the K90 in combination with push button wall switches can be used to adapt to the routine and also helps to reduce energy use at the same time. In addition, they can be adjusted to the venue and seasonal changes, with the ability to change the turn on and turn off times which allows the administrator to be in control at all times.

Energy Saving Control for School Computer Rooms

Some schools have computer rooms that are open for the students to use, after peak hours most of the students have left, and so most of the time the room is unoccupied, but the lights and air conditioning all remain on, which results in much energy wasted.

Computers rooms are divided into multiple sections and each section would have their own lighting and air conditioning energy saving switch.

  1. The student can manually operate the buttons to turn on the lighting and power outlets in a given section.
  2. The air conditioning would be restricted: only when a certain temperature threshold is reached would the air conditioning be allowed from being turned on.
  3. Once the students have left, there will be a period of time where the room is being observed by the sensor to make sure that everyone has truly left, then it will automatically turn off the lights and the air conditioning.

Energy Saving Control for Small Rooms

Most small rooms such as pantries, copy rooms, smoking rooms, restrooms have people coming and going frequently but staying only for a very short time; they only a single circuit and the K15 or K24 smart sensor switches would be suitable for delayed auto off control.

  1. The K15 or K24 is recommended for such applications.
  2. Operate using the occupancy mode; lights will turn on when people come, lights turn off when people leave.
  3. Since these spaces have small areas, the lighting load is also low; hence, the internal relays of the K15 or K24 can be directly connected to the lighting without reducing the lifespan of the relays.
  4. It is recommended that the delay time be set to about 10 minutes or so.
  5. The sensor should not be installed near windows or ventilation openings as to reduce the false triggering.

How Does the K15 Differ From an Ordinary Motion Sensor?

The K15 is a sensor with its own microprocessor, in addition to its infrared sensor and photo sensors, with the ability for delayed auto off, it also has the capability for vacancy mode and occupancy mode; it can also be used in conjunction with classic wall switches through its dry contact input. The output of the K15 is can be connected to an ac power source so that it can be used to directly control the lights, or it can be used connected to the dry contact DI of another device. The vacancy and occupancy modes of operation are introduced below.

K15 Occupancy Mode

The occupancy mode is most often used in places that are high traffic areas, such as restrooms, hallways, pantries, storerooms and so on. The basic operation is people come, lights turn on; people leave, lights turn off. But manual operation can also be used to turn the lights on or off in advance.

The Purpose of the Manual Switch
  1. Turn the lights off manually before the auto delay off kicks in.
  2. Augment the blind spot of the sensor, enabling the lights to still be turned on manually when needed.
  3. For the purpose of saving energy, the photo sensitivity is set to its lowest level, at this time, even though it has detected the occupant, it still won’t turn the lights on. However, when there is a special event, a long button press can activate the prolonged on mode which allows the light to remain on indefinitely up until it is turned off manually (at this time, the sensors are ignored).
  4. The push button switches are low voltage switches, and thus there is little danger of current leakage.

K15 Vacancy Mode

The vacancy mode is most often used in places of work, such as small offices, labs, lounges, meeting rooms, workshops and so on. In the past, these places would have classic rocker switches, but the problem with these is that when the occupant leaves, they often forget to turn the lights off which leads to wasted energy. The K15 in conjunction with push button switches can effectively reduce wasted energy.

  1. The lights need to be turned on manually.
  2. The lights can be turned off manually, but if the occupant leaves and forgets to turn the lights off, the sensor will detect that the occupant has left and will turn the lights off automatically.
  3. There are times when the lights need to be turned off even there are occupants, such as when the projector screen is being used, in which case the lights can forcibly be turned off.
The Purpose of the Manual Switch
  1. For use within the room to manually turn the lights on and off, the sensor is used only as a backup to turn off the lights in case the user forgets after they leave.
  2. As much as possible, when leaving the room, the lights should still be turned off manually, and one shouldn’t depend on the sensor to activate the delayed auto off.
  3. Since the push button is low voltage, then there is little danger of electric shock from leakage currents.
  4. Even when the power is supplied, the lights will still not turn on, it will only turn on when the button is pressed. This behavior is different from regular wall switches.

Unique Features of Classic and Digital Switches

The purpose of a switch is to enable the local user and the administrator operate the lighting more easily.
Each type of switch, including classic mechanical switches, digital switches, to touch panels; all have their own indispensable values. Each must be utilized to their fullest to fulfill their value.

  1. Classic switches
    1. Great variety: When the interior design needs to be fancy and sophisticated, plain looking switches will not do, so this rule out most digital switches, and only high-end classic switches will do.
    2. Manual operation is frequent, and it is sometimes unavoidable that the switch is roughly handled, mechanical switches are more durable. Classrooms, restrooms, hallways, meeting rooms, reception rooms and other public places all have wall switches and they must be reliable and durable to withstand the rigors of constant use.
    3. Maintenance considerations
      When it comes to materials and labor costs, mechanical switches are more practical, as replacement parts are more easily available and the maintenance technician are already trained on how to replace them.
    4. No training needed
  2. Digital Switches
    1. Simplified wiring
      All of the digital switches can be linked together through a digital bus.
    2. Multiple switches control the same lighting circuit. (Especially useful for large areas)
    3. One switch can control multiple lighting circuits. (Especially useful for simplifying operation)
    4. Equipped with status feedback indicator for remote operation. (Enables operator to know the status of the local lights even when the line of sight is blocked)
    5. Even when there are lots of circuits, each would be labeled clearly and there is no confusion.
    6. The switches can be packed tightly together to occupy little space.
    7. Each individual switch can dynamically be reconfigured for different operation; they are not constrained by the physical layout of the circuit wiring.
  3. Touch Panel
    1. The touch panel is a very user friendly type of digital switch. Among the unique features are: the button names can be user defined, type management is easier, and they are well suited for large number of lighting circuits.
    2. User adjustable schedule control
      An automated schedule is not fixed throughout the year, and needs to be adjusted for seasonal changes and for special holidays and occasions. The interface and operation should be simple enough that this can be independently made by the operator on the fly, otherwise it wouldn’t be used because it is too complicated.
    3. Remote operation over the network
      When it is necessary to control the lighting afar. Even the schedule can be changed thusly.
    4. During expansion, there is no need for additional switches nor the wiring needed for those switches, as additional buttons can simply be assigned from the same touch panel.

Energy Saving Lighting Control Through The LT3000/LT3384

The LT3000/LT3384 can be connected to classic switches for the multiple access and can also be used for delayed auto off, group control, and pattern control; and they can also be used for schedule control and sensor control.

  1. Multiple access for hallways and warehouses
    Multiple classic push button switches are installed along the length of the hallway to allow for multiple access.
    This is applicable not just for hallways but can be used for stairwells. Nowadays, the stairs are used less often as people tend to prefer the elevators, as such stairwell lights should only be turned on when people are using them.
    All the lights in the stairwell would be divided into circuits consisting of 5 floors each. Each of these five floors would have push button switches installed along their entrances which are connected in parallel. The switches are connected to the LT3000 input terminal, which allows the switches to control the lights indirectly through the LT3000. This will allow the group of lights to be controlled from any of these switches. In addition, the building manager can also monitor and control the same lighting circuit remotely through the IS45 or from a touch panel.
  2. Daylit hallways and restrooms
    During the day, it is desirable that the lights are restricted from being turned on, and only at night would they be allowed to be free to use. How can this be achieved?
    In order to achieve this, the LT3384 is used at the local site, the LT3384 has a special feature that allows its channels to be either forced on/off or authorized.
    When the lights are forcibly being turned either on or off, then the local switches are disallowed from being used, but
  3. Split type airconditioning
    There are many classrooms and offices that make use of split type air conditioning and the building administrator would desire that there would be some way to save energy from them as well. If the LT3000 is used, then one can choose to have a manual switch included or not, either way will work.

    1. Method 1: Equal Access
      There would be an LT3000 installed locally with a local manual switch, the building manager would have a touch panel.
      The air conditioning can be controlled locally as desired by the user. The building manager could turn off all the air conditioning after classes or work. If some is working overtime, they can still turn the air conditioning back on as needed. This is a kind of soft central control whereby local control is given as much leeway as possible, but still allow for energy saving to be achieved.
    2. Method 2: Central Only
      Locally the LT3604 would be used, but there would be no local switches, control would be exclusive to central control.
      This way, the air conditioning can only be turned on from the control center.
    3. Method 3: Authorization
      Just like in method 1, central control turns off all the air conditioning after classes and work hours. Then it can be decided whether or not to allow local control. If allowed, then the local user can turn the air conditioning on if they wanted to.
  4. Routines
    Pattern switches would be installed near the entrance, every section would have LT modules installed.

    1. The pattern control capability of the LT3000 could be used to match the routine; a button press could instruct all the lights in the area to turn on during office; another button press after office would then turn off a portion of the lights, while the last person to leave would press the “all off” button to turn off all the lights.
    2. Small private offices, showrooms, storerooms, meeting rooms and other small rooms, are places that are not always in use. Each of these rooms would have a set of switches connected to the LT3000 which would allow the user to control the lights as desired. When the user leaves, a single button press at the entrance would then turn off all the lights in the room.

Unique Features of the LT3100 When Used With High Power Equipment

  1. When is the LT3100 needed?
    Ventilation fans, pumps, large lamps and other equipment that has large currents usually make use of magnetic contactors to control them. In this case, the best companion would be the LT3100.
  2. What are the unique aspects of the LT3100 when it comes to control?
    The LT3100 can directly control a magnetic contactor without the need for an intermediary relay, and it can accept the feedback signals from the auxiliary output of the contactor, including its on/off status, trip/overload status and auto/local status.
    When the auto/manual switch is in the local position, the LT3100 will automatically switch off the control relay.
    When the auto/manual switch is returned back to the auto position, the prior state is restored.
    When the contactor trips, the LT3100 will also automatically turn off the control relay, and will ignore any control D-Bus commands from central control as safety protocol.
  3. How can one keep track of the status of the magnetic contactor from the remote digital switch?
    The LED on the digital switches shows the status of the auxiliary contacts of the contactor, it does not show the control relay status. The LEDs will blink to indicate that control is now local or when the contactor has tripped.
  4. When is the remote digital switch needed?
    Most contactors are installed within the control panel which resides in the equipment room, for the operator this is extremely inconvenient, when they need to operate the equipment they would need to leave their post and go to the panel. Not only is this inconvenient, but it can also be hazardous. Having remote control is the better solution. Better yet, control can now even be automated with a scheduler.
    It is also worth mentioning that having remote control means that there is also the possibility of multiple access, this is different from having a single central control system which allows access only from the central control itself.

Combining the Lighting Control and Safety Alarm System Into One

A public lighting control system should be combined with the safety system into a single unified system.

Public lighting control and safety systems pretty much uses the same type of controllers and signal cabling, and are quite compatible. Both of these systems are actually quite dependent on the bus line for for control, the SLCS has combined both of these systems into one. They share the both terminal unit, the same bus, and even the same sensors. This way, an even greater cost savings can be attained during construction, even the central host can be shared.

There are 5 different types:

  1. Responsive System
    One of the unique features of architecture of a lighting control system is that it has a fast response, a button press will immediately elicit a response from the lighting that it controls, this feature is similar to the safety system. Once the safety system detects an alarm signal, it will immediately alert the control center, this is one reason why these two systems are very compatible.
  2. Shared I/O Modules
    The LT3000 and the LT3384 modules of the D-Bus system are the most commonly used models in a public space. Both of these model have input signal ports, and input ports even outnumber the output ports. Thus, most of the time there would be extra input ports that are left unused, when used in combination with some other modules, these ports are just right for use by the safety alarm signals. Coincidently, both these systems are for use in pretty much the same living space and can thus can even share the bus wiring.
  3. Shared Sensors
    The sensors used for the safety alarms are widely spread out, each floor requires them, but they are not numerous, and they include infrared sensors, escape door reed switch, emergency button in bathrooms and fire alarm switches. The use of these sensors may overlap those of the lighting control system, such as the infrared sensor for example, which can be used for the safety alarm system or as the motion control sensor in a lighting control system. When a fire alarm does occur, not only is the safety alarm system alerted, but it could also be activate the emergency evacuation lights.
    The emergency help button, can be monitored for safety, but can also be used to activate the lights and sound the loudspeaker.
  4. Good Integration With The Central Host
    Even with the control center, there is overlap. Both the lighting and safety alarm systems make use of the floor or elevation diagram, if both of these systems are combined into one, not only will it save on costs but at the same time they can share the same diagram for both monitoring and control, everything is more efficient and effective.
  5. For the security post, a simpler touch panel could be used
    The safety alarm system, other than having to provide feedback to the control center, should also do the same for the security desk, allowing them both to keep track of the real time status of the system.
    If the multiple access capability of the smart lighting control system is applied to the safety alarm system then the end result would even be better. This is achieved simply by having the host computer be in the control room, and a touch panel be at the security post. This particular advantage, as compared to before when no touch panel is installed makes the system more practical and increases the cost effectiveness of the system even more so.

Dimming for Various Lamp Types

  1. Incandescent bulb and halogen lamp

    These types of light can basically be dimmed using triacs. The dimming response curve is quite smooth and very apparent. But since incandescent lamps are being phased out by law, most of these are being replaced instead by CFL, whilst halogen lamps will be replaced by LED lamps.

  2. Fluorescent lights

    These are very common and can be found in a plethora of places such as offices, retail stores, factory floors, classrooms and many other public places.

    Rarely are they found as dimmable lights, and they being replaced by T5/T8 energy saving fluorescents, and also being replaced by LED fluorescents.

    T5/T8 fluorescents can be dimmed using electronic dimming ballasts, the most common type are those adjustable from 0 to 10V, often these types of ballasts will not turn off completely even at 0V, and a faint glow will still be visible. If one wants to truly have the lights off, then a switch is still needed to completely cut of the power.

    Fluorescent lights that are dimmable in this manner is very rare, and even when present, their main purpose is to save energy and not for use as mood lighting.

  3. CFL – Energy Efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps

    These are commonly found in residences, and used to replace traditional incandescent lights, they are not very rarely used in dimming applications, but still they do exist, and the method used is by using triacs. Situations like this require that the CFL type specifically be marked as being “dimmable”. Otherwise, using a triac is not guaranteed to be able to dim the lamp.

    In practice, the dimming effect is quite weak, and at low levels, the light will flicker. When dimmed to its lowest level, it will turn off completely.

    Of course, having this dimming capability versus one without will increase its costs quite significantly.

  4. LED lamps

    These are used to replace all sorts of traditional lamps including incandescents, fluorescents and halogens; and may even replace strip lights and mercury lights (street lights, park lights). The form that LED lamps can take are innumerable and they come in all shapes, sizes and color temperatures. They have a wide variety of power supplies (a/c, a/c dimmable, d/c constant current, d/c constant voltage, d/c constant current dimmable, d/c PWM dimmable); and they need to come with a wide range of wattages and d/c voltages. Some have the power supply built in (outwardly appearing as a/c), while others require an external power supply, and some emphasize that they are dimmable, or there may be any number of combinations of the above. Faced with such a multitude of possible choices, making sure that one obtains one that is dimmable and the matching type of dimming power supply becomes a job for an expert.

    Purely from the point of view of control, one type is a/c dimmable using a triac, while the other is 0 to 10 VDC. Each requires the appropriate type of lighting controller, as these are very different technologies.

    With dimming, the emphasis may be for mood creation, or it can be mainly to save on energy.

As can be surmised from the above, when dimming is desired, selecting the right type of lamp is the first step, and the second step is a matching dimming driver, the third step is to get a controller that will work with the driver. If a non dimmable lamp is used, then no dimming is possible even if both the power supply/driver and controller having dimmable features.
What venues are suited for dimming?

  1. For setting the ambience such as the chandelier of a great hall. The numerous smaller lights use energy saving lamps which are on/off controlled only.
  2. Also for setting the ambience. The lights are meant to either be fully on or off, but with the capability to switch the lights by a gradual transition instead of an abrupt change, the purpose of which is also to create a more elegant and classy atmosphere. Halogen lamps are mostly used in this situation, if LED lamps are used instead then the cost increases substantially.
  3. Energy saving fluorescent lighting: Fluorescent lighting for large spaces, sometimes of the LED type, which require different lighting levels at different times to save on energy.