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Comparison of Wired and Wireless Lighting Controls for Single Rooms
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Title:  Comparison of Wired and Wireless Lighting Controls for Single Rooms
Date:  2015
Author(s):  Andrew Bierman, Jeremy Snyder, Leora Radetsky
Number of Pages:  31
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The National Lighting Product Information Program (NLPIP) investigated the performance of wireless occupancy sensors and photosensors, focusing on control systems designed for a single room in a commercial building such as an office, classroom, or conference room. NLPIP tested wireless and wired control systems from Lutron, Leviton, and WattStopper because these are the brands of controls most frequently selected by specifiers according to an NLPIP survey. The investigation included:

  • Occupancy sensor and photosensor features and performance
  • Wireless communication performance
  • Compatibility with lighting products
  • Energy harvesting and storage capabilities
  • Capital costs of control systems

NLPIP found that:

  • Wireless occupancy sensors from the evaluated brands were available with only passive infrared detection technology. The lack of wireless ultrasonic and dual technology occupancy detectors should be taken into consideration where furniture may block motion detection.
  • The wireless occupancy sensors and photosensors tested had similar performance as equivalent wired sensors from the same manufacturer.
  • NLPIP found little difference in the occupancy sensors’ and photosensors’ performance compared to that seen in previous NLPIP studies of these types of products.
  • The wireless communication was robust in a typical office environment.
  • For controllers that don’t make use of a neutral wire and/or are installed in a switchbox without a neutral wire, operation could be an issue for lighting with electronic ballasts or drivers, so verification is needed.
  • Photovoltaic energy harvesting by the tested occupancy sensors is likely to be insufficient at some ceiling locations. Installing a battery in the sensor will circumvent this problem.
  • The tested wireless occupancy sensor systems had 54 to 128% higher capital costs than the equivalent wired systems from the same brand.


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