In the years that I’ve been involved in the lighting industry, there have been very few things that I would consider to be simple and straightforward. This particularly holds true for the process of determining the right lighting controls to design, quote, and implement on today’s commercial projects. Many entities are involved, from the architect through engineer, to the contractors and distribution; and the task of understanding and delivering the right controls solution for each project falls to the lighting controls rep. In this article, let’s examine some of the value that the local lighting controls rep brings to the construction process.
A lot of complex steps take place when designing the lighting for a commercial project, and today more than ever before, lighting controls play a substantial role in that process. The key to success is having a good understanding of how the lighting in a space is to interact with its environment and the environment with the lighting. A thorough understanding of the local energy codes and building standards, along with understanding the needs of the specifier and the contractor doesn’t come overnight, and is not easy to manage from afar. With so many different variables and parties involved, it takes a real expert to solve that puzzle. Having a dedicated controls engineer on the design team to bring a complete controls package together for a project is indispensable.
Along with understanding what it takes to put together a controls package that is code compliant and meets the design intent, there is the added complication of understanding what it takes to make sure everyone is satisfied with that deliverable. The specifier wants the controls package to meet the specifications, and at times those are not crystal clear since it’s challenging for specifiers continually stay current with rapid changes in the lighting controls industry. The contractor will want the most affordable solution to the specifier’s intent, as well as the desire to meet the code minimum and have material that will be available to meet the project deadlines. The customer simply wants to be able to turn the lights on and off every day, just like they always have in the past, and know that if there are any quirks with the system, there will be someone there ready to support them. The industry can depend on the local lighting controls rep to bring all of that together!
Today’s commercial standards expect every occupiable space to have automatic lighting controls, and we all know that not all spaces are created equal. Many projects require mixed use spaces with interesting and sometimes challenging controls applications, and these projects can’t always be approached with a single manufacturer. It is common for a lighting controls rep to offer more than just a single controls manufacturer, which opens the door for flexibility and the option to put together the appropriate controls for the space by a single entity. Most controls manufacturers are great at a handful of things, whether budget or function oriented, and this is where the rep can make an educated decision on utilizing the right manufacturer for the right application if a single manufacturer is just not the best fit for the project. A controls package can then be put together by the rep to offer the design team a single set of submittals to review, providing a speedy, clean, and thorough delivery process.
As controls continue to develop, and the industry is exposed to more and more fixture integrated controls, along with human centric techniques such as color tuning, there is a greater need for a close relationship between the fixture provider and the controls supplier, to ensure compatibility. One of the key benefits a larger rep agency has to offer is the ability to handle and manage the entire controls and lighting package in one house. The luxury to coordinate, in person, the right controls for the right fixture, to meet today’s many complex lighting applications, is a must. Having a rep that can bring the lighting and the controls package together, to put a bow on the project, is icing on the cake!
At the end of the day, once all of the rough waters have been navigated, the final step is to make sure everything works as intended, and that the end user is satisfied with the results and functionality of the system as a whole. The lighting control engineer’s job doesn’t end at the submittals, nor the as-built documents. It continues, in many cases, for years to come. All complex systems have their challenges, and monitoring a project, and addressing any issues that might arise months or years down the road, is just another step in the process. A vetted lighting controls engineer will understand the challenges of a complex design, and know how to help propose solutions around those challenges, eliminating or decreasing the chances of a troubled controls system and a failing lighting package in the eyes of the customer.
Through all of the challenges that pave the road to a successful lighting controls installation, a lighting controls rep is a powerful tool to make sure it all comes together in a coordinated and timely fashion. Make sure you have a complete lighting team on your side for your next lighting project and, as always, feel free to reach out to the MH controls department with any of your controls questions!
And, remember, whenever you have a technical controls question on any project or application, simply email email@example.com. This email address is monitored by our entire controls team. During our normal business hours, we are committed to a four-hour response time for all emails sent to this email address!