LED Lighting Drives Efficiency & Control

Switching to LED-based lighting can dramatically reduce energy use and lower replacement costs in a wide variety of lighting installations.

According to recent Energy Star publications, LED-based lighting can use 75% less energy than incandescent lighting. This can dramatically cut energy costs in large installations. Additionally, LED-based lighting can last 35 to 50 times longer than incandescent lighting and two to five times longer than fluorescent lighting. This can significantly reduce service costs related to bulb replacement and disposal.

Even more savings can accrue when inherently efficient LED-lighting is combined with intelligent lighting controls that can adapt and direct light to the precise area where needed and thus eliminate “wasted” light. A familiar example is the control of lighting in a conference room based on occupancy. The light switch can detect movement, perhaps through the use of infrared motion sensors and power switches all under MCU control. Lights can be automatically turned on when people enter the conference room and turned off when they exit. A similar system could be used to adjust lighting levels in an open cubical office environment based on occupancy of a specific cubical, amount of ambient lighting from windows, and even the task the person is doing in the cubicle (perhaps to reduce directed lighting glare on a computer screen). MCUs with a variety of Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) capabilities and low-power communication interfaces, like those in the TI MSP430 Family, can be used to manage remote installations efficiently.

Adaptive lighting can also play a role in the home to improve lighting efficiency. Adjusting lighting for reading or watching TV can make lighting task-oriented. An intelligent lighting system could learn to respond to common tasks with just the right amount of light placed in the precise area of need. As an element in the Internet of Things, LED lighting might even be controlled via distributed intelligence replacing or augmenting a centralized controller. LEDs could communicate directly with each other to “negotiate” the most efficient lighting solution.

Architectural lighting can benefit from adaptive controls as well, with the amount of light directed at a building or bridge based on measurements of ambient lighting, traffic conditions, and perhaps even the real-time cost of power. Architectural lighting, not needed for safety reasons, could be “dialed back” if real-time energy costs are too high or if toll revenue has been too low. Power and cost savings are available once intelligent lighting controls and the associated communications infrastructure are available.

Real-Time Lighting Controls Improve Lighting Efficiency and Reduce Costs

Commercial opportunities for using LED lighting are all around as well. Mood lighting on merchandise displays can be adjusted depending on where customers are standing or walking, drawing attention to items of interest (perhaps even based on their most recent Google searches). Some of the most innovative commercial lighting applications would use advanced MCUs that support multiple serial interfaces, like the LPC1100 Family from NXP, to implement capabilities like wireless signaling, complex sensing and even line of sign communications as an element of the Internet of Things. For example, LED lighting fixtures could send and receive coded messages with consumers, perhaps using Infrared light. This would locate the consumer within the store and allow vendors to offer incentives on complementary purchases. Want a discount on avocados to go with your salsa? The produce aisle is just around the corner.

These are just a few examples of the many possible energy savings available by combining LED lighting, multiple communications protocols and MCU control into an integrated adaptive lighting system. What innovative lighting application do you see in our future?


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