Connected Control: Know Your Options for Commercial Outdoor Fixtures

Among all the factors to consider when buying an LED outdoor luminaire – here is another: connected controls.

Increasingly, commercial building codes are expanding outdoor lighting requirements to include automatic shutoff and modulated light levels based on occupancy or time of day. This level of control, common for commercial interior lighting, may or may not be a code requirement for all projects, but in the future, codes will be in place or user expectations will evolve requiring more sophisticated control of area, street and roadway lighting.

For fixture specifiers and buyers, this means anticipating a future need (if not a current one) at the time of purchase.

What You Need to Know

Seeing the emerging demands for greater control of outdoor lighting, the industry established a control receptacle standard, ANSI C136.41 titled “Roadway and Area Lighting Equipment Dimming Control Between an External Locking Type Photocontrol and Ballast or Driver.” The standard describes mechanical, electrical and marking requirements for this type of control set-up.

TE Connectivity Dimming Receptacle

The receptacle, built-in to fixtures, is compatible with NEMA standard twist-lock photocontrols. With the receptacle, connection can easily be made to DALI or 0-10V dimming controls (drivers) as well as other types of sensors.

Many commercial outdoor fixture manufacturers now offer, as an option, a C136.41 receptacle as part of the fixture. Even if there is no intention to set-up a connected lighting control in the short term, the incremental added cost of including the receptacle in the LED fixture purchase anticipates future needs (and codes) and greatly simplifies the transition to connected control strategies.

 

How does the C136.41 receptacle appear in manufacturer spec sheet options? Often in the list of options available for a fixure, under the Sensor heading, you will find “5-Pin Receptacle” and 7-Pin Receptacle” included along with other options. These are the C136.41 receptacles even if the ANSI designation number is not be shown.

Here are two examples taken from a RAB Lighting and Maxlite area light luminaire specification sheets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These receptacle options are usually available, particularly for area, street and roadway fixtures. However, even if they do not appear on the specification sheets as an option, it’s worth making an inquiry to the supplier or manufacturer.

Built-in Connect Control and Communication Functionality

A recent article published in the LightNOW blog and tED magazine, author Craig DiLouie quotes Jay Sachetti, a marketing manager at Eaton Lighting, “The [C136.41] receptacle allows customers to . . . come back at a later date to update or added connected controls as technology continues to evolve and know that certain functionalities are already built into the system.”

DiLouie also notes the potential functionality will ultimately include wireless controls and communication devices “enabling programming, measurement and monitoring of an outdoor lighting system’s performance.”

While much of this may not be top-of-mind for current projects, an awareness of code trends, the ANSI standard and the availability of the receptacle as an option for LED outdoor fixtures may payoff in the long term as more sophisticated control of LED outdoor lighting becomes the standard.

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Dave Burtner

Dave has been active in the lighting industry since 1994. Formerly a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and certified by the National Council On Qualifications for Lighting Professionals, Dave now writes blog posts, lighting tips and provides lighting product assistance for the Topbulb website.

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