Smart buildings – Smart solutions


Many smart buildings use motion and light sensors to reduce energy consumption of the buildings lighting. Understanding the pitfalls in design and installation leads to lower installation costs and lower energy consumption.


The introduction of a sensor into every luminaire can have a positive effect on the total cost of installation and help reduce the buildings energy consumption.


Some common issues related to design, cost and operation are detailed below.

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Motion sensor issues:

Achieving accurate detection

The placement of motion sensors in room is important, however due to cost (limiting the number of sensors used), installation (the cost of installing more than one sensor) or placement of the sensors, the way the sensors operate may be undesirable.

False detection

Installation too close to a doorway can trigger a false detection as people walk past. This results in unoccupied rooms being turned on, effectively wasting power. Additionally, the lights will remain on until the idle time has expired because of the false trigger.

Late detection

In some cases, obstructions on the ceiling grid caused by air-conditioning vents, smoke detectors, speakers or other lighting, means the placement of the sensor is not ideal. This can lead to an installation where the occupant is detected well after they have entered the room.


A sensor per fitting

An installation where a motion sensor has been installed in every luminaire solves many problems.

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

As the lighting is installed in a uniform grid arrangement the placement of the sensors is reasonably guaranteed and would typically be located above workspaces. Where previously an employee sitting in a corner or a person behind furniture, large monitors and plants would not have been detected, a sensor per fitting arrangement helps to ensure movement detection at all workspaces.

Higher detection resolution

Having multiple sensors produces a higher detection resolution and sensitivity within a workspace and as they overlap the chance of a sensor detecting movement is increased.

Finely tuned

When installed in every luminaire, a sensor which is still placed close to a doorway can be tuned via its sensitivity settings or setup as an absence sensor. This sensor will continue to work in unison with the other presence’s detectors used in the room but will not turn the lighting on.

Higher accuracy

Additionally, a sensor designed for per fitting installation can have a smaller detection area with better sensitivity within the detection zone which allows for the detection of smaller movements.

Single sensor in the room, with limited detection beams

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Sensors in each luminaire increase the number of detection beams

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Reduce idle timeouts

A bad sensor setup can easily be masked by a long idle time. In these types of installations an installer relies on a large movement during the idle time to restart the process and keep the lighting on. For example, a sensor with a 20-minute idle time only requires a single trigger within 20 minutes to reset the count.

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Sensor per fitting benefit

A direct advantage of having a sensor in every fitting is the ability to reduce the idle time allowing for higher energy savings and better return to the customer.

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

The cost of long idle time

When installed in every luminaire, a sensor which is still placed close to a doorway can be tuned via its sensitivity settings or setup as an absence sensor. This sensor will continue to work in unison with the other presence’s detectors used in the room but will not turn the lighting on.

Smart buildings – Smart solutions

Light level sensor issues:

Daylight harvesting

Modern buildings utilise daylight harvesting to save energy. This technique uses light level sensors in a building to detect the lighting level and dynamically reduce the artificially lighting levels to maintain a desired minimum lux level. When daylight floods the building, the lighting around the windows dim as the natural light is enough to meet the desire lux levels. The effectiveness of daylight harvesting depends on the arrangement and setup of the light level sensors.


The placement of the light level sensors and the control of the lighting are often met with cost issues. To save on the deployment costs installers use a minimal number of light level sensors, and control groups of lighting together. This leads to a poor outcome, as changes to the environment close to the sensor can affect light fittings placed further down the row in a room.

Too dark/light

If an occupant closes a blind next to the sensor, the lighting further down the building has its brightness increased, reducing the energy saving benefits. Even more problematic is when an occupant seated away from the sensor closes their blind, the sensor does not detect any change leaving the light levels too low in some areas.

Dependant placement

The light level sensors position is quite often dictated by where the motion sensor is installed, close to doors and workstations, as they normally are contained in the same product. The result is that the sensors are often installed in the centre of an area and not directly under the lights needing control.


A sensor per fitting

An installation where a light level sensor is installed into every luminaire is an ideal solution.

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When controlled together in a group, all light level sensors must be satisfied before the light levels are reduced, which ensures the light levels do not drop below the desired minimum.


If an installer is looking for the best energy savings, individual control on a per fitting basis allows for every light fitting to achieve their optimal light levels without over lighting other areas.

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However, having a light level sensor in every luminaire using traditional control methods can be problematic due to bandwidth constraints on a DALI line, which most control systems are not able to properly deal with and therefore a better solution is required.

Improved solution:

A zencontrol Smart driver

To solve all the above issues, zencontrol has developed a smart driver built on IEC62386 V2 and other smart technologies.

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zencontrol has perfected “sensor per-fitting” technology with its Smart driver. Its an LED driver for connected luminaires designed to make the most out of leading technologies in control, automation and connectivity.


Developed as a factory fitted, standardized, plug & play driver, it’s a IEC62386 V2 compliant solution that offers a lower overall cost of installation, reduced purchase price and lower commissioning cost linked to each individual light fitting and sensor, now operating as a single unit.

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Factory installed

The benefit of using a sensor per fitting is that the installation of the sensor can be performed in a factory environment where the costs can be reduced due to scale and repeatability.

Additionally, as the sensor is pre-installed into the luminaire the number of points an electrician or installer needs to wire is greatly reduced, minimizing installation time and wiring complexity.

DALI-2 / IEC62386 V2

IEC62386 V2 known as DALI-2 allows for the combination of lighting and controls into the same installation without adding an additional bus system, both the luminaire and the sensors are connected to the same bus.


The standardisation provided by IEC62386 V2 allows for interoperability of products from many different vendors, increasing innovation and competition while reducing risk. Wiring is simplified using IEC62386 V2 to combine light fittings and sensors, as it results in only one installation plug on the luminaire.


Installation cost is further reduced as control devices are now controlled by the same wiring as the lighting. This typically saves on the cost normally associated to wiring control devices. The removal of the second control protocol also results in lower control cost and the installation cost associated with gateways or additional controllers.

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No DALI bus power

Power limitations, installation cost and hardware have all been limiting factors when previously deploying a sensor into every luminaire. DALI bus powered devices consume too much bus power to allow the cost-effective use of sensors in every luminaire. Typical deployment would mean a dramatic increase in the number of DALI lines to meet these requirements (at least 4 times) which increased the cost and complexity.


The zencontrol Smart driver solves this problem by powering the sensors directly from the driver and not requiring the DALI bus power. This solution makes it possible to install a sensor into every luminaire without increasing the number of DALI lines and therefore keeping the cost low.

Advanced analytics

As a benefit of a  IEC62386 V2 solution and the smart technology found in the zencontrol Smart driver, high resolution data can now be used in a range of analytics. The driver and sensor can record several key elements, which when sent to the zencontrol Cloud provide valuable information.


Some of the data available include:

  • Per fitting power usage
  • Lamp life and emergency lamp data
  • Lifetime data of the product including reliability
  • Activity and occupancy heat mapping
  • Lux level readings (avg/min/max)
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Find out more

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