Lighting Occupancy Sensors

Occupancy sensors detect the presence or absence of people and turn lights on and off accordingly. Used properly, occupancy sensors can be a cost-effective tool for reducing the operating time and output of lighting systems, cutting energy consumption and—usually to a lesser extent—peak demand. They may reduce lighting energy consumption by 50 percent or more in some circumstances, but the savings could be much smaller, so it's important to carefully consider a wide variety of issues before installing an occupancy sensor in any specific location.

Occupancy sensors are used most effectively in spaces that are often unoccupied, including some offices, warehouses, storerooms, restrooms, loading docks, corridors, stairwells, office lounges, and conference rooms. Open-plan office spaces, where one or more people may be moving in and out throughout the course of the workday, are not good candidates for this technology. Occupancy sensors can also be used to meet codes and standards—including ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Standard 90.1—which increasingly require some form of automatic lighting control for new construction and renovations.

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