SWARM MENTALITY IN THE OFFICE

When lighting groups communicate with each other intelligently

There are lots of buildings where people already benefit from lighting systems featuring ESYLUX Light Control ELC. One reason for their popularity is the range of configuration options that allow for a wide design spectrum to accommodate specific customer requirements. Another useful feature is that the control units can communicate with each other.

Not just for open-plan offices: When dealing with more spacious rooms and varying levels of daylight, individual light control in different room zones becomes an ever more preferable option.

»Grouping, scaling, networking: All via plug-and-play«

With possibilities such as time-dependent control, scene control or individual light control in different zones of a room, basic »light on/light off« options are rarely the choice these days when modernising lighting. Some customers have very precise ideas, while others have rather vague ideas. In any case, it is highly advisable to be well-versed in the potential of a particular solution – such as the ELC lighting systems.

Lighting systems always ready for immediate use

Many ESYLUX customers are already familiar with compiling basic versions of the systems comprising ELC control units, ELC sensor systems and ELC ceiling lights. Only the SMARTDRIVER control unit needs the involvement of an electrician to connect it to the 230 V mains voltage. The systems, which meet safety extra-low voltage (SELV) requirements, are then installed via plug-and-play; the intelligent factory settings mean that they are instantly ready to use with no programming needed. The system also recovers quickly from power cuts – the lights will be back on in four seconds at the latest!

But just how do I set up the promised individual light control in different room zones? The advantages for users are obvious: Firstly, comfort is increased when lighting automatically reacts to different levels of daylight and selects the optimal brightness in each zone. Secondly, lighting control based on room zones improves energy efficiency as artificial light is only turned up as much as is actually required.

Grouping via plug-and-play

To understand how to do this with the ELC lighting systems, you first need to know how to build and scale groups. Ultimately, each room zone needs to have a group that automatically controls the light within its area. Forming a group is remarkably simple: The smallest possible ones consist of a sensor, a control unit and the main lighting connected to this. Everything operates via plug-and-play.

This also applies when scaling a group, which uses the C0 bus – one of two options for connecting a system's control units. Scaling via C0 is a good option when more lights are needed in a room than is possible with a single ELC control unit. The C0 socket enables one control unit to be connected to another via a connector plug. Additional lights can then be attached to the second control unit using an RJ45 connector.

The C0 bus and the ELC bus provide two ways of connecting the control units in the ELC lighting systems with each other: Groups are scaled via the C0 bus and networked together via the ELC bus. The example on the left shows a room containing two zones. A group is formed and scaled in each zone. Connecting the groups via the ELC bus enables both room zones to be intelligently networked.

Scaling groups via C0 bus

Connecting components via the C0 bus offers more advantages than just a greater number of lights – it allows the entire system to be overridden using the same buttons. Furthermore, up to 10 presence detectors can be connected per group, which extends the detection range of the system accordingly. If one of the presence detectors within the group detects a human presence, all control units connected via C0 register this – and therefore switch on the lights, or keep them switched on, in their own zone too.

Once a group has been formed and scaled as necessary, more precise configuration options can be set using the ESY app and the ESY-Pen. For example, the RJ45 outputs on the control units (and therefore also the connected luminaires) can be assigned to one of up to four light channels offered by the system. These light channels are used both for basic configuration in standard mode and to form individual scenes.

SMARTDRIVER, the ELC control unit, facilitates simple grouping, scaling and networking via plug-and-play, enabling error-free and quick configuration.

Intelligent networking of groups via ELC bus

At first glance, we seem to have solved the task we set ourselves earlier of setting up individual light control in different room zones. As mentioned, this requires a group for each room zone. Now that we know how to form and scale groups, the obvious solution is simply to install and commission groups independently in all relevant zones. However, when implemented in this way there is no connection between the individual groups, which prevents a collective manual override and communication between the groups!

This is where the second option for connecting ELC control units comes in: the ELC bus. Whereas the C0 bus is used to scale groups, the ELC bus allows these groups to be intelligently networked with each other. This is also achieved via plug-and-play, specifically using an RJ11 connection. The groups then each automatically control the lighting in their zones but can be overridden using the same buttons. This configuration also allows scenes to be formed and switched across groups.

A dimmed orientation light in unoccupied room zones makes working in open-plan offices more pleasant and protects the eyes when twilight descends.

Swarm function for extra comfort

There is one more technical feature of the ELC lighting system that only becomes available when the system is communicating via the ELC bus: the swarm function, the name of which refers to the concept of swarm intelligence. This is a subject of research into fish, bird and insect behaviour, and is the ability of groups to interact intelligently by communicating with each other. By contrast, the swarm function offered by ELC lighting systems focuses on people and on increasing their level of comfort in open-plan or large-capacity offices.

Anyone who has worked in this type of office will be familiar with the situation. Very often, the room is not fully occupied and might even be empty. As the lighting around your own workstation is switched off, you soon find yourself in an isolated pool of light. Most people find this uncomfortable and the larger the room, the lonelier it is – especially in the evening when it's already dark outside.

Intelligent communication between the lighting system groups via the ELC bus provides greater comfort thanks to the swarm function. If only one of the four zones in the example room is still occupied, the lighting in the other three zones is dimmed to the orientation light.

Avoiding strong light contrasts

The swarm function, which is activated automatically by default, prevents strong contrasts in lighting. When a single workstation or only a few workstations are occupied, this function ensures that a dimmed orientation light remains on in the unoccupied areas. This is much more pleasant for those who are still working, and it is also more gentle on the eyes. Once dusk falls, the orientation light prevents strong light contrasts in the room that could fatigue the eyes in addition.

When the office finally empties at the end of the day, the collective intelligence of the ELC lighting system kicks into action for the last time. Now that there is no human presence, the switch-off delay time begins before the orientation light illuminates the area once more. Only then does the lighting system turn off for the rest of the night – saving money and energy until the start of the next working day.