Friday, January 10, 2014

One type of occupancy sensor doesn’t solve all your problems

The use of occupancy sensors is a very good energy efficiency solution for your building lighting automation. That being said some solution providers and building managers tend to use a simplistic approach to this solution. They try to automate all areas of their building with the same type of occupancy sensor. Not only this is a wrong approach, it is one of the main reasons that occupancy sensors get discredited. The main reason is that you can’t solve all your lighting automation solutions with one type of occupancy sensor.

Let’s stop and analyze this for a moment. For starts you have three main technologies in occupancy sensing. These are passive infrared, ultrasonic and dual technology (a sensor that combines both passive infrared and ultrasonic technology). This gives you a very good hint as to where a sensor applies and where it does not. Second, if you look at a catalog of any of the mayor manufacturer of lighting controls, when you get to the occupancy sensor section you will find more than three sensors. Not only that, you will find a range of occupancy sensors, all with different characteristics as of sensing area, technology and mounting or installation. They also give you examples as to where they recommend that you use this sensor, specifically the area. 

That is why you have to first survey each area with the manufacturers catalog. With the specs of the occupancy sensor try to select the appropriate one. The following are some recommendations for the selection of occupancy sensors in an area:

1.    Identify the area where you are going to use the occupancy sensor. This is the first step and will guide you well as to what occupancy sensor to use. Define if it is an open office, an area with cubicles or a closed office. Also hallways, bathrooms and closets demand other types of sensors. 

2.       Size the area. You need to know the size of the area, to select the best occupancy sensor that has the best coverage area. 

3.       Identify all the fixed objects in the area. This will determine line of sight. Remember that there are always objects that can be move in a specific area. These objects can block a wall switch eliminating the possibility of a wall switch sensor to be used. 

4.       Know where you are going to mount the sensor. If it is in the ceilings, take in to account what type of ceiling it is. This will determine which tools you will need to install the occupancy sensor.

5.       Find out what is the main activity that is going to be done in each area. You have to know if it’s computer work or an activity that involves people moving frequently. In areas where you are going to have little movement we recommend ultrasonic or dual technology. In high traffic areas it is better and more cost effective to use a passive infrared occupancy sensor. 

6.       If it is a new or an old building try to get the plans. If it is a new building, there is no way you can specify a sensor without an architectural plan view. Try to get one that has all of the furniture that they are going to use and where it is going to be placed. 

Again it is very uncomfortable for the occupants when the lights go off when they are working. This can not only discredit your occupancy sensing solution, it will also discredit you. Follow these and other recommendations and you will be off to a good start. Also if you need additional help always go to a trusted source. For any questions you can email them to: or use the comment section below.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Let sunlight in

In an office building there are lots of ways to save energy. One that is not often taken in to account is the use of sunlight during the day. Most offices have windows and sometimes the only things blocking the sun are shades and curtains.
There are various ways to use sunlight to your advantage. One of them is by the use of occupancy sensors. Some are equip with a photo sensor that can measure sunlight levels and compare them to a preset that is appropriate for optimum light needed. If sunlight is enough, the sensor automatically turns off the lighting fixtures that are not needed. This saves you energy because you are only using artificial lights as needed during the day.
Another way to save is to install a daylight dimming system. This system uses sensors in combination with dimming ballasts. These adjust light levels automatically as needed during the day, depending on how much sunlight enters the office.
Also if you install a building automation system, you can have sunshades open and close automatically by sensing sunlight levels. They can be adjusted so they let as much sunlight as possible for you to use less artificial light inside. You can combine them with your daylight dimming system, occupancy sensors and lighting control panels. When you combine the use of these technologies you will have the most energy efficient solution working automatically for you, so you stop wasting money on your electrical bill.
These solutions may look difficult to implement. The truth is that with the right solution provider you can stop energy waste in your office building.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

No le confíes tu dinero a una sola foto celda

El encendido y apagado de tus luces exteriores debe ser controlado. Pero muchas veces, se termina colocando un simple foto control para este propósito. Para una residencia este control es más que suficiente (Y a veces dependerá ¿qué residencia?). Para un edificio de parqueos o para un parqueo abierto mediano a grande (20 o más luminarias de 400W), esta opción es muy simplista.
Lo que sucede es lo siguiente, los primeros meses trabaja muy bien (dentro de su alcance), pero luego de un tiempo el sistema empieza a fallar. Esto provoca que tengas luces exteriores encendidas, cuando deberían estar apagadas. Lo cual hace que pierdas dinero innecesariamente de tu presupuesto mensual de electricidad. El problema persiste hasta que días después (a veces semanas), es corregido colocando una nueva foto celda.
Adicional a esto, no puedes afinar el control del encendido y apagado de tus luces mediante una foto celda. Lo cual hace que tus luces permanezcan encendidas horas del día en que podrían estar apagadas. Y tampoco puedes alternar tus circuitos de iluminación. Areas de tu parqueo donde las luces podrían estar apagadas en horas de la noche. Donde no necesariamente deben estar encendidas. Este mal uso de tu iluminación también te hace perder dinero de tu presupuesto.
Para eliminar estos y otros inconvenientes costosos, la solución correcta es automatizar tus luces exteriores. Y lo puedes lograr utilizando un panel de control de iluminación inteligente. Preferiblemente que tenga un reloj astronómico. En este le puedes programar tus coordenadas y calcula automáticamente la hora exacta en que amanece y anochece.
Los paneles de control de iluminación son una solución sencilla y eficaz. Además puedes utilizarlo para el control automático del encendido y apagado de tus luces interiores. Todo va a estar programado según el horario laboral de tu edificio. El uso de estos paneles te puede ayudar a ahorrar hasta un 30% en el consumo de tu iluminación.
En este caso y como en muchos otros lo barato sale caro. Esta solución tiene un costo, pero también proporciona ahorros que te ayudan a pagar la inversión que realices. Confiarle tu dinero a una foto celda, hace que pierdes más dinero del que ahorras al principio.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

A more energy efficient year

In this New Year that is just starting out our biggest challenge is to be more energy efficient. Even though we have all the technology available, we are reluctant to take the next step. We have the opportunity to improve the old with the new. The great majority of the buildings are old ones. According to research new construction only accounts to 1% of existing buildings. It is just not energy efficient to demolish them and build new ones. The more efficient solution is retrofitting them. To use what we can from the old and furnish with the new. It seems a daunting task, but at the end the reward is greater and it also has the fastest return on investment. The first step you need to do is to hire a company that can give you a fast assessment on the condition of what you have in your building and the retrofit solution. The second step is to discuss the solutions proposed by the company that was hired and design an action plan to implement this or these solutions. The third step is to accommodate the solution to your budget, if it is little, take baby steps. That means that if you have a 5 story building, start with the first floor and move your way up. You can use the energy savings from your first investment to do the rest of the building. But the important thing is to start. Get a move on, the time is perfect for doing new things.

So this 2014 you have a choice that can impact you and the world. Be an example of energy efficiency and start your year with the right foot.

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