The economics of dimming

Australia, 4th March 2010

Today I would like to highlight the importance of applying dimming control systems in our projects. We often focus on energy saving purely from the point of view of the actual light source itself when we compare halogen lighting to equivalent LED lighting for instance and then calculate the return on investment to justify the difference in capital costs. Generally professional clients such as hotel operators and developers will consider the extra investment if it is recovered inside 2-3 years, some even accepting 5 years.

With even more pressure now put on lighting designers to further reduce the energy consumption (and related carbon emissions…) we find ourselves studying  further ways to do so and dimming control is definitely one of them. In summary, the more you use dimming control systems the more energy can potentially be saved and the shorter the return on investment. Considering that dimming installations can be quite costly (like U$ 50 to 100,000 for a decent size/star hotel), showing the client that the additional investment can pay off sooner rather then later is very important to get the client on our side.

Dimming helps in several ways. We can adapt artificial lighting levels to daylight situations and we can program lights to be off when not needed. A study by Lutron showed that dimming lighting levels by 20% can already achieve a return on investment within 2-3 year. Increasing dimming levels further and switching of lights were not required will improve these figures even further.

With our focus turning more and more towards reducing the environmental impact of lighting, dimming and managed lighting control will more and more become an important and integral part of our lighting design considerations in time to come.

PS: I would like to acknowledge Lutron for providing some “facts and figures” on the economics of dimming.

04. March 2010 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: going green | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. Hi Martin

    Forgive the unannounced email, but I just came across your blog post about the economics of dimming, and I have seen that you have acknowledged Lutron. I am contacting you on behalf of Lutron UK and wondered if you would be happy for us to quote some of the information you have used throughout your blog?

    Also, would you mind letting us know which department helped you with this post?

    All the best

    Lutron UK

  2. Dear Martin,

    may I give a comment to your blog:
    We at Insta tend to say, our biggest competitors are the Light switch and the ignorance of investments in new technologies. Stared as Dimmer manufacturer, we grow on control systems up to complete buildings. We have lanced via different channels economy calculations about payback of investment when lighting is controlled. I think, even in schools and Kindergartens, children must be trained in adjusting light to the actual demand, making light more aware to the daily use. As long as light is only switched, we ignore one of the biggest hidden sources of energy saving – the dimming of light. Of course, quality must also here be the rule for dimming means saving energy in the same grade as the dimming grade. What do you think?

    Kind regards

  3. Hi Thomas, good to get your comments, thanks!
    I assume you speak with your “dimmer” hat on understandably. I agree with your point that we need to create awareness about using just the light we actually need. Though some people don’t know what they really need :). However we need at times to be realistic in terms of dimming. Though I am a big fan of dimming, not all situations necessarily call for dimming solutions. Clever alternate switching and use of sensors, whether movement or daylight sensors can also contribute a lot to achieve this at much lower costs. There is a place and time for everything!

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