LaFace & McGovern Associates
Controlling News
Winter 2014
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Daylight Autonomy 101 Daylighting

The term "daylight autonomy" is much more than just a fad. It is a daylighting design concept which allows designers to quantify the amount of usable daylighting in a space and how it is impacting an interior environment.    


According to IES RP-5-13 (IES Recommended Practice for Daylighting Buildings), daylight autonomy (DA) is the percent of occupied time throughout the year when the target illuminance levels are met or exceeded at a specific point by daylight alone. High DA percentages are not achieved without the controlled admission and management of daylight. In general, daylight enters a building either through sidelighting (windows) or toplighting (skylights). However, daylighting is a dynamic source of light whose quality, quantity, and distribution of light in space changes dramatically from one minute to the other.  


Through a range of daylight management products, higher DA percentages can be achieved in order to meet LEED standards and ultimately reduce the electric lighting usage in a building. One daylight management product to utilize to achieve DA is operable shading devices from Lutron. Automated shades with Hyperion solar tracking software are designed to maximize the available daylight in a space when there isn't an immediate need for electric light. According to a study from University of California Berkley, automated shades can help balance DA more than 75% of the time compared to manual shades. Another daylight management product available to achieve DA are prismatic skylights or tubular skylights from Acuity's Sunoptics. Prismatic skylights, as opposed to translucent generic skylights, help deliver greater penetration of quality daylighting into a building as compared to traditional side lighting methods. Yet another daylight management product to utilize through Laface & McGovern are passive light shelves from LightLouver. LightLouver daylighting systems are designed to capture all sun above a 5 degree altitude angle and redirect upward onto the ceiling of the daylit space, providing ambient lighting and eliminating direct sunlight on work surfaces.

Ultimately, daylight autonomy is achieved with the intentional use of the products listed above, as well as the proper lighting control devices and light fixtures.  Click here for a short video from Lutron on Daylight Autonomy.




New LED Stage Lights - Old Stage Lighting System 

In our last article we discussed why ETC's LED stage lighting fixtures with their x7 Color System are the best solution for LED based theatrical lighting. So, now you are ready to add some LED stage lights to your existing lighting inventory. Unlike traditional tungsten/halogen stage lighting fixtures you cannot simply plug a color changing LED stage light in to an outlet that is wired to your dimmer rack. Most color changing LED stage lighting fixtures require a constant (non-dimmed) power source as well as a DMX low-voltage signal for control data.

There are several factors to consider for power control of LED stage lights. In this article, we will discuss two of the most important factors; 1) color changing LED stage lights need a constant (non-dimmed) power source and 2) This power source should be controlled by the same lighting control system that is controlling other stage lighting fixtures. Constant power is very important for the electronic components that drive LED's and these components can be damaged if subjected to dimming. For this constant power requirement, plugging color changing LED stage lights in to the nearest outlet not wired to the dimming system might seem to be the easiest solution. However, this solution does not allow for full control of the lighting fixture. On a color changing LED stage light even if the LED's are set to zero via the DMX control signal the fixture is still drawing power. If your lighting control system is not controlling the power to your LED stage lights than the fixtures are not achieving their full "power saving" potential.

There are two primary methods of adding properly controlled constant power to an existing stage lighting system for the control of color changing LED stage lights. The first and simplest solution is to swap dimmer modules for non-dim modules. This can be done with different circuits at different times depending on when and where you are using color changing LED fixtures. The second, more involved solution is to add a DMX controlled relay panel to your existing system and distributing the circuits throughout your venue. Electronic Theatre Controls (ETC) has some great products for either solution depending on your needs. If you already have an ETC Sensor or  Unison dimming system you can purchase non-dim Relay Modules to swap with your existing dimmer modules and create the necessary controlled non-dim power circuits. An even better solution for Sensor dimming system owners is ETC's Thru-Power Module. This module allows circuits to be individually and remotely set to dimmed, non-dim or uncontrolled constant. The Thru-Power module eliminates the need to physically swap modules within your dimmer rack and allows you to own a single module that serves multiple purposes. ETC also has some great products if you need to add a DMX controlled relay panel to your existing stage lighting control system. The SmartSwitch relay panel from ETC is a feed-through (individually fed from a breaker panel) relay panel with up to 48 circuits in a single enclosure. The ETC Echo relay panel is a main feed relay panel with breakers and a number of options including flush mounting, main breaker and 0-10V dimming.

As you can see there is a lot to consider when taking the LED stage lighting plunge. For more information and help with your specific project needs please contact our LED stage lighting experts at LaFace & McGovern.

ControlsWireless Lighting Control Technology - Friend or Foe?

Here are the questions that often get asked when considering wireless lighting controls:  

Why would you consider wireless lighting controls?

Are you considering them for a Residential or a Commercial project?  

Is your project new construction or a renovation?

What is the cost difference between wired and wireless controls?

When discussing wireless technology, you need to first be discussing 'why would you consider wireless?' when wired controls are amply available and very reliable today. The reality of the matter is that people choose wireless controls for many reasons but mostly for these: flexibility, reduced installation costs and areas that are difficult to wire. When wireless lighting controls first entered the market, their primary project types were outdoor site lighting , warehousing  or residential. Though the past few years, solution for all lighting projects have become reliable and viable,


Flexibility is important because wireless control devices can be placed where they are needed without limitation imposed by wiring, including areas that are difficult to wire. More flexibility can be provided in unique applications. Electrical planning may also be shortened because the controls can be relocated in the field without additional labor or material costs. After installation, devices can be moved and the system expanded with relative ease. This seems to make more sense in renovation work or existing building retrofit. This benefit is important in both residential and commercial applications.


Reduced installation costs are realized from wireless controls eliminating the need for dedicated control wiring and associated switch legs, traveler wires and other raw materials. The system installs quicker, producing reduced installation costs. Again, this lends itself well to existing buildings with no damage to walls or ceilings, and little to no disruption to business operations. When wireless controls are considered for new construction, the material cost and reduced labor being estimated are still a viable advantage to a project. In addition, field commissioning is less complicated due to the fact that sensors can be relocated upon need in any space without rewiring.  



Some areas of both commercial and residential projects are virtually impossible to run wire, thus wireless controls in these scenarios become the best option.


Is the project you are working on a residential or a commercial project? The decision to use wireless or wired lighting controls follows the same guidelines in either application. If the residential project is a renovation, the selection of wireless controls would be the right choice. You would be able to utilize existing rough in dimensions and reduce the need to open up walls and ceilings any further than your construction project demands. If the residential project is a new construction, your option to use wired or wireless is wide open. In this scenario, the labor to install wireless devices would be drastically reduced than wiring long home-runs of low voltage wired throughout the home but the material cost would be approximately 20% higher than a wired solution. If the project is a commercial project, the selection of control options would again be solely based on your desire to reap any of the benefits listed above.


New Construction or Renovation? The choice of wireless controls is much easier when doing a renovation project or an existing building retrofit. In this case, wireless controls clearly would offer your project the vast benefits of both flexibility and reduced installation costs. In most retrofits, a wired control solution simply isn't an option at all due to the inability to run wire to the necessary locations. When doing a new construction project, the choice of using wireless controls over wired controls becomes a broader discussion. The traditional means in a new construction project would be to design around wired controls utilizing digital low voltage wire between all devices. Walls and ceilings are wide open and running of this cable is fairly easy. Typically, the cost of a wireless system over a wired system (material only) varies from equal in value up to a 20% premium on devices depending on the system and manufacturer chosen. The installation estimate for installing wireless controls instead of wired controls should realize your project a sizable reduction in labor costs depending on the number of devices and the distances in the locations and bring the delta between the two options closer to equal in installed value.


Is there a substantial difference in cost between wired and wireless controls? There are so many products and manufacturers offering wireless controls today and the simplicity or scalability of these devices/systems varies. In the simpler devices (occupancy sensors / wireless wall stations / daylight sensors) that are designed to be installed as a standalone solution, in both of the scenarios of Lutron's Energi Tri Pak devices and LC&D Xcella wireless controls, the material cost is equal to the cost of a wired system without the additional labor time for installation.   When wireless control devices are designed into a more expansive scalable system, the wireless system cost is greater than a wired system due to additional devices being required such as system gateways, routers and signal repeaters. Even in these global systems, the pricing of the wireless system may exceed the wired system material cost by as much as 20% but the realized installation time reduction of the wireless should bring the two system options closer to equal in installed value. When the wireless system is installed the intangible benefit to the end user is the ability to relocate any of the devices in the future to allow for their churn of business in their spaces without additional electrical labor costs. 


To learn more about wireless controls in general, sign up for the Lunch & Learn or for more specific wireless control product offerings from LaFace & McGovern, click on any of the following links and feel free to ask for a product demo on any of them:  






TopIn this Issue
Daylight Autonomy 101

Entertainment Lighting & Controls

New LED Stage Lights - Old Stage Lighting System


Winter Lunch & Learns


Wireless Technology    

with Brian Miedel

LightLouver: Daylighting Basics 

with Valerie McKee
Theatre of the Future: Support for Emerging Technology  
with Pete Neal 

Education Units
Available Upon Request

Click here to inquire.
Green Fact

With more than 30 certified green buildings including the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh has the most certified "green" buildings in the U.S. The convention center was the first LEED certified convention center in the world.


Who's Who in Controls


Brian Miedel



Pete Neal

Specialty Lighting Manager


Valerie McKee

Daylighting Specialist 


Cindy Miedel   

Controls Project Manager 


Bobbi Lofstrom  

Inside Support /Scheduling


Jim Mock

Inside Technical Support


Jen Dillon-Michaels 

Entertainment/Theatrical Support


Mike Brusco  

Controls Field Technician  


Mike Howard

Controls Field Technician


Industry Quick Links 

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Representing Lighting & Control Manufacturers and Providing the Finest in Service Since 1977


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