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Troy, N.Y. -  6/3/2008

Lighting Research Center paves the way for commercially viable, high efficiency demand response ballast

Office Lighting

A technology developed by scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC) was honored last week with a Technical Innovation Award at LightFair International (LFI) 2008, North America's largest annual architectural and commercial trade lighting show.

In 2002, the LRC developed a prototype for a device known as a “load-shedding ballast,” which is designed to reduce power use by dimming the lighting in a building when peak electric demand is high or when the available supply is tight, thus reducing the need for additional power generation facilities and transmission corridors. With support and assistance from the LRC, OSRAM SYLVANIA modified the LRC load-shedding system design and incorporated it into the QUICKTRONIC (R) PowerSHED(TM) High Efficiency Demand Response Ballast, which garnered last week’s Technical Innovation Award.

LRC’s prototype was designed to reduce power use by dimming the lighting in a building when peak electric demand is high or when the available supply is tight, thus reducing the need for additional power generation facilities and transmission corridors.

“Electric utilities often face periods of peak demand that exceed available supplies, especially during the summer. This can result in blackouts that can affect entire regions of the U.S.,” said Peter Morante, the director of energy programs at the LRC.

A team of researchers led by LRC Senior Lighting Scientist Andrew Bierman designed and built a system to control peak demand using common instant-start ballast technology already used in 80 percent of commercial lighting installations. A signal injector on the building’s lighting circuits controls the ballasts, eliminating the need for extra wiring. The ballasts respond to a signal sent by the utility or the customer’s energy management system, reducing power to the lighting by one third.

Funding to develop the load-shedding ballast was provided by Connecticut Light and Power Company, the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) Program, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The ballasts, manufactured and modified by OSRAM SYLVANIA, were evaluated in demonstration projects funded by NYSERDA and PIER. The LRC found that reducing the light output by one third does not significantly affect lamp life, and it is acceptable to most building occupants. LRC studies also showed that 90 percent of the occupants accepted even higher reductions in light levels when they were told that it was being done to reduce peak demand.

“Load management, energy-efficient lighting, and reduced energy consumption and costs are critical in achieving electric energy independence,” said Dr. Mark Rea, LRC director. “ We are pleased to partner with companies like OSRAM SYLVANIA to develop such innovative technologies, and we are very excited to see those technologies transition from the lab to the marketplace.”

"The PowerSHED load-shed ballast system is a solution for those seeking to prevent costly peak power generation, as it can immediately and predictably reduce power consumption in response to peak demand alerts," said Jim Frey, OSRAM SYLVANIA ballast product marketing manager. “The Demand Response program will help cities conserve and monitor energy as well as help protect themselves from major blackouts or brownouts.”


OSRAM SYLVANIA is a leader in lighting solutions and specialty products that feature innovative design and energy saving technology. The company sells products for homes, businesses and vehicles primarily under the SYLVANIA brand name, and also under the OSRAM brand. Headquartered in Danvers, Mass., OSRAM SYLVANIA is the North American operation of OSRAM GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens AG. For more information, visit

About the Lighting Research Center
The Lighting Research Center (LRC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is the world's leading center for lighting research and education. Established in 1988 by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the LRC conducts research in solid-state lighting, light and health, transportation lighting and safety, energy efficiency, and plant pathology. LRC lighting scientists with multidisciplinary expertise in research, technology, design, and human factors, collaborate with a global network of leading manufacturers and government agencies, developing innovative lighting solutions for projects that range from the Boeing 787 Dreamliner to U.S. Navy submarines to hospital neonatal intensive-care units. In 1990, the LRC became the first university research center to offer graduate degrees in lighting and today, offers a M.S. in lighting and a Ph.D. to educate future leaders in lighting. With 35 full-time faculty and staff, 15 graduate students, and a 30,000 sq. ft. laboratory space, the LRC is the largest university-based lighting research and education organization in the world.

About Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, founded in 1824, is America's first technological research university. The university offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in engineering; the sciences; information technology and web sciences; architecture; management; and the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Rensselaer faculty advance research in a wide range of fields, with an emphasis on biotechnology, nanotechnology, computational science and engineering, data science, and the media arts and technology. The Institute has an established record of success in the transfer of technology from the laboratory to the marketplace, fulfilling its founding mission of applying science "to the common purposes of life."