By November 6, 2014 Read More →

Lighting controls: Achieving efficiency doesn’t need to be difficult or expensive

PaulThe current drive towards energy efficiency means that there are numerous opportunities for wholesalers who sell retrofit lighting controls. Paul Mans of CP Electronics explains why these products are so popular with installers and end users alike.

You may well be fed up with hearing about the need to reduce the energy that we use but as energy bills continue to soar it is an issue that is not going to go away any time soon.

In October, the International Energy Agency (IEA) identified energy efficiency as the ‘invisible powerhouse’ that is improving energy security, lowering bills and helping to reach climate goals in many of the world’s most developed countries.

This report estimates that the global energy efficiency market is now worth $310 billion per year and significantly, it shows that energy efficiency is an achievable goal that we should be taking seriously. The report also suggests that energy efficiency is moving from a niche interest to an established market segment with increasing interest from institutional lenders and investors.

However, here in the UK where buildings are designed and constructed, or refurbished, things are moving a little more slowly and in spite of government legislation and incentives, the barriers to energy efficient buildings still seem to be in place. In fact even though we have some of the best technology available on the market for monitoring and controlling our energy use, it is still proving a challenge to get the message across.

Working harder

The key to achieving energy efficiency is to make the building work harder and smarter, which basically means that you need to take stock of what you already have in place and assess the best way to make improvements. This, however, is often where the problems start.

One of the best ways to achieve efficiencies is through the introduction of building controls but many people still believe that they are an expensive option and completely out of their price range. But there are also other barriers to installation where the installer believes that they need to have specialist skills for the installation of these types of products or where the building owner cites the disruption, which is believed to occur whilst retrofitting controls in a building that is occupied.

There are, however, options available that remove all of these barriers and a good example is our GIMB and EBMPIR-MB Batten Mount PIR Detectors that provide a cost-effective way to make any T5 or T8 batten an energy-saving light fitting. The batten mounted luminaire miniature PIR detectors are very simple to install and as a result you can be achieving energy savings instantly through the automatic control of lighting loads throughout the building.

Quick payback

One of the great things about these products is that they are suitable for a wide range of applications, both indoors and out, but more importantly they provide that all important quick payback which many building owners require. In addition, because they can be fitted onto the LED, T5 or T8 tube directly, they are ideal for installations which demand minimum disruption or where it isn’t possible to disturb the fabric of a building (such as where asbestos is present).

For many companies this is the way forward because retrofitting this type of product is a quick win and it plays a key part in improving the energy performance of a building with the minimum amount of investment and disruption. There are also further savings which can be achieved if the products are used with a high efficiency light source such as an LED which is becoming increasingly more common in linear style fluorescent fittings.

But it isn’t just the building owner that these products will find favour with because they are also proving to be very popular with installers. One of the key benefits is that they do not require any further specialist skills that a qualified electrician does not already hold and as a result, it is a product that is perfect for many of your customers.

But another factor that shouldn’t be overlooked is the time it takes to install them – or should I say lack of time. For the installer, time is money and therefore this type of factory-set retrofit lighting control is perfect because it is ready to fit straight from the box and doesn’t require any time consuming or complicated commissioning or set up.

Take advantage of technology 

Saving energy can be a simple or a complex task because there are a lot of products on the market which will go some or all of the way to cutting your energy bills. Unfortunately the complex products that are expensive and require a time consuming installation are putting people off and as a result they are wasting money on excessive energy bills on a daily basis.

The key message that the market needs to understand, therefore, is that there is a wide range of products available to suit every budget and building and just because products are easy to install and simple to use it doesn’t make them any less worthy.

In fact, it is completely the opposite because it is this type of product which is proving to be at the top of the popularity stakes – not least because any qualified electrician has the necessary skills to carry out the installation.

So let’s keep the issue of energy efficiency simple. We all need to make savings but we don’t need to break the bank to achieve them. What we do need to do is take advantage of this type of technology and grasp the opportunities with both hands. This may only be a small example of the technology that is on the market but it does highlight the fact that it is possible to improve a building’s energy performance with the minimum amount of investment and disruption. It also highlights a perfectly good opportunity for you to introduce a new range of products to the trade counter so that you and your customers can make the most of the energy efficiency boom.