In a typical large office, a few light switches control all the lights. That means if one person is working in the office, all the lights are on.
This system is inefficient and wasteful, and it is exactly the kind of lighting that Crestron Electronics is changing in offices, homes, hospitals and commercials buildings.
With Crestron’s adaptable and hyper-specific lighting control, every light in an office can be controlled individually, so that one employee working late might use one or two lights, not 20.
Crestron Electronics has been offering lighting control solutions to offices, homes, hospitals, schools and more for over half a century, but this past year was its best year yet for selling its lighting control products. In large part that’s due to new green building standards that emphasize automatic light sensors, daylight harvesting and timeclock control, which times lights to dim as natural daylight increases.
“Those are three things we’ve been doing since we started in the lighting control environment, but now there’s finally a requirement to include those in your space,” says Crestron National Design Manager Andrew Gross. In other words, the industry has finally caught up with the company.
Started in 1969 as a slide reel projector business above a deli in New Jersey, Crestron is now a billion-dollar company and one of the largest privately held companies in the world with hundreds of international offices.
Over the years, Crestron has grown in size and sophistication so that it now builds technology to manage technology. It provides automation and control systems for buildings and homes that allow users to control everything from lighting to A/V, window shades, IT, security, HVAC and more, all from one integrated platform.
For building owners and property managers who use Crestron to control lighting, this can mean major energy savings and compliance with ASHRAE’s (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Standard 90.1 and the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), both of which emphasize lighting control as a means to energy savings.
Dynamic lighting with DALI
Crestron’s lighting control solutions do more than ensure lights are not left on unnecessarily. Crestron’s platform can control each individual light fixture and is easy to program and reprogram as lighting needs change—for instance, with the changing of seasons or office configurations. It does this using an open-source DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) protocol—programing that is free and available to anyone.
Whereas with analog lighting control, one light switch controls one light or strip of lighting, DALI allows digital control so that each light can be controlled via one interface. Instead of having a light switch for every light fixture, one sleek computer screen acts as the “switch” for all of the light fixtures and can still control them each individually.
Creston introduced the wall mounted touchscreens that are growing more common for this purpose. However it also allows lights to be controlled through a computer application, iPhone or iPad.
“When you give the customer the ability to control light on a much more granular level, you’re not forced into keeping certain lights on unnecessarily,” Gross says. “That’s really the overarching theme behind DALI.”
The other benefit is what the company calls dynamic rezoning.
“With the advent of these large, open spaces again, everybody’s got an open-plan, shared workspace,” Gross says. “If you want to add some sort of private office or maybe add a conference room, the ability to rezone and reconfigure the space is done via programming and not via rewiring.”
Another popular application of Crestron’s lighting control systems is in retrofits, where Crestron’s wireless lighting control capabilities mean property owners can offer automated lighting control without any rewiring.
Building with Crestron
Crestron doesn’t only make the technology—it comes in at the design level, working with architects, engineers and designers. It doesn’t leave until everyone on the site has received hands-on training and knows how to use Crestron’s technology to control the lighting and other building management technologies.
On a given day, Crestron might work with tenants in a major complex of five or six high-rise towers that won’t be completed for four years. Or, it might go so far as to spend a summer working with a school to upgrade its classroom lighting controls.
Crestron worked with Salt River Electric, one of the largest power utilities in the U.S., to create a new energy-savings and efficiency model. Salt River Electric renovated a three-story, 85,000-square-foot building next door to its Phoenix, Arizona, headquarters and used Crestron’s lighting solutions and facilities management technologies to make a case for the energy-savings that these technologies can provide.
Salt River used Crestron’s Fusion® Cloud dashboard to integrate all of the building functions that are normally operated in silos, such as lighting, video technology, digital signage, voice and data communication and building management systems.
In addition to lighting, “it’s really about integrating all of the other pieces of technology in a building to allow it to operate and breathe and live as its own creature almost,” Gross says.
Playing nice with other manufacturers
A major benefit of DALI is that it allows Crestron to integrate lighting systems from any manufacturer that uses the DALI protocol.
“Really the reason we showcase DALI is it is the most advanced control system out there,” Gross says. “It’s an open standard that can be integrated with other systems that Crestron doesn’t manufacture.”
In any dimming system, the light ballasts and controllers must speak the same language. That language is either proprietary or open source, like DALI. Crestron makes its own lighting products, but it wanted to make sure that its control system would be able to control lighting products made by other manufacturers too. Because Crestron’s lights and control system speak the open source DALI language, they work well with lights made by other companies.
“We like to integrate with other people,” Gross says. “We like to manufacture products, but we also like to have good partnerships.”
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