Lighting controls study results

Study finds high lifetime value for advanced lighting controls, and greatest financial return for wireless technology


Clanton and Assocs. has announced the results of a six-month study analyzing the value and energy savings of a variety of lighting control systems and technologies in typical commercial office lighting control retrofit projects. The overall findings show that wireless lighting control systems offer substantially greater energy and cost savings when compared to conventional localized and centralized lighting control systems. The study was underwritten by Daintree Networks Inc., a provider of innovative wireless control solutions for energy-smart buildings, and a summary report is now available for free download on Daintree Networks’ website.

“The value of advanced lighting controls is unmistakable, especially considering the ever-increasing energy efficiency mandates as well as ongoing initiatives to cut energy costs,” said Dane Sanders, professional engineer, principal and LEED accredited professional at Clanton and Assocs. “Among controls systems, the research clearly shows that wireless controls offer significantly lower life cycle and energy costs, and we are continuing to see the costs of wireless technology rapidly decrease.”

The study, titled “Wireless Lighting Control: A Life Cycle Cost Evaluation of Multiple Lighting Control Strategies,” modeled lighting retrofits for six controls scenarios in two sample office retrofit projects. The study resulted in several top-level findings:

  • Wireless controls solutions available today deliver up to 25% lower lifetime costs than comparable wired systems, while also providing significantly lower initial equipment and installation costs.
  • Advanced controls strategies such as daylighting, occupancy-based control and high-end trim dimming provide lower lifecycle costs and result in up to 49% less energy usage than basic, code-compliant (ASHRAE 90.1 2007) lighting controls.
  • The full wireless controls scenario resulted in the lowest net present cost among all controls scenarios studied, as well as the lowest ongoing energy usage.
  • The basic wireless controls scenario resulted in the fastest payback among all scenarios studied.
  • Addressable, networked lighting control systems (wired and wireless) offer more features for the same or less life cycle cost as the other lighting control systems evaluated.

The goal of the study was to evaluate the cost effectiveness and potential energy savings of lighting control retrofit projects, with a special focus on advanced controls technologies. To this end, Clanton modeled and compared the results for sample retrofitted buildings in two different regions, Los Angeles and Boston, using National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) climatological data for daylighting analysis and current energy costs. The study incorporated a thorough analysis of expected costs and energy savings from a variety of different lighting control systems, including ASHRAE 90.1 2007 and California’s Title 24-compliant localized controls, traditional panel-based, digital wired and wireless solutions.

“Lighting controls hold strong interest for facilities due to their capacity for energy efficiency, but examining their value across technologies has been difficult,” said Danny Yu, CEO of Daintree Networks. “As commercial buildings look to invest in technologies to drive down energy usage, this study proves the lifetime value of wireless controls, not only in terms of increased efficiencies, but also in terms of their rapid financial return.”

- Edited by Gust Gianos, Consulting-Specifying Engineer,

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