Personal Dimming Controls

Preferences for lighting levels vary widely in commercial buildings. Workers who use computer display terminals typically prefer relatively low lighting levels to minimize glare and reflections on their display screens. On the other hand, workers who read, write, and draw on paper typically prefer relatively high lighting levels so they can see small letters and fine details. Older workers, and others with weak vision, also need higher lighting levels. The ability to adjust lighting levels is especially important for workers seated near windows, who must adapt to varying levels of sunlight during the day, and workers who require different lighting levels for the different daily tasks that they perform.

Until recently, it was impractical to provide different lighting levels for different workers, except by using task lighting. In recent years, technological advances have produced personal dimming systems that make it feasible for individual workers to control lighting levels in their personal workspaces. These systems offer the potential to save energy through their dimming capabilities and to reduce electrical demand during peak hours. However, they will rarely pay for themselves on that basis alone. Instead, most companies justify them based on the dimming systems' effect on employee morale and performance.

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