LCMS vs. Mesh Network Systems
Are you retrofitting your high wattage parking lot lights with lower wattage LEDs? Congratulations, those LEDs can save you a ton of energy and money! How are you going to control them? In other words, how are you going to turn your new LEDs on and off?
There are three options:
1. Keep using your timers or photocells. This is a bad idea. It’s like buying a brand new Porsche but ordering it with manual roll up windows and a Yugo motor. Why would you spend all that money for state of the art LEDs and then shorten their lifespan with your old timers or photocells? Why would you go to all the trouble and expense of retrofitting your old lights and still have the headaches and hassles that you get with timers and photocells?
2. Install a mesh network system with wireless nodes on every fixture and a base station to handle all the scheduling. While this sounds good in theory, in real life it is very expensive, complicated, can be prone to problems, and has a bad ROI. If an electrical contractor or lighting company is trying to convince you to get one of these systems, be sure to do a thorough ROI analysis of the mesh network system separately from the LEDs. This is very important! The LEDs are probably going to cut the energy bill drastically on their own without adding an expensive control system.
You should figure out what the savings with LEDs will be first. Then, and only then, should you do the analysis on the energy savings from the mesh network control system. You will probably find that the ROI is not so good and can take many years to pay for itself by which time it will probably be outdated and need to be replaced anyway. If the person selling you on the LED retrofit insists on doing the ROI calculations as a bundle and won’t do the mesh system calculations after the LED savings calculations then you should get a second and third quote on the job. The bottom line is that these systems are expensive and their ROI is often not very good. Be sure to consider whether the complication and expense is actually worth it or is overkill.
The next thing to consider is how complicated is the system? How many nodes, base systems, controllers, timers, photocells, parts and pieces are needed? What happens if one of the nodes goes bad? Does it shut down the whole system? Who pays for the bucket truck and labor to replace it? How long is the warranty? What happens if the power goes out or there is a power surge and the system needs to be reprogrammed? Are you going to do that? Do you have to read their voluminous manual and have a PhD in Electrical Engineering to figure it out? Will you have to send someone to the site to do it? How much does that cost? Can they do it immediately or do you have to wait until next Tuesday? Do you really want all this hassle?
And finally, is this expensive, complicated system going to make your life better? Will it save you time, hassles, and headaches, or is it just going to add to the already long list of things you have to worry about every day as part of your job? Do you really need to control every bulb and driver individually in your parking lot or do you just want to have your lights on auto-pilot so you don’t have to worry about them? If so, then the third option is for you…
3. Replace your old timers and photocells with a Wireless Telematics Lighting Controller (LCMS). The Wireless Telematics Lighting Controller is simple and easy. It puts your lights on auto-pilot so you don’t have to deal with them. Our controller is the middle ground between timers/photocells and mesh systems. It has the best of both worlds. It is simple and easy to use AND it saves a bunch of electricity (and money). The ROI is often less than six months. It will also prolong the life of your new LEDs and drivers by about 20% or more.
Our controller is a direct replacement for timers and photocells so it controls the whole parking lot–it is not a fixture by fixture device. Any electrician can install it in about an hour. Each controller comes with an installation kit and is preprogrammed for your specific location so it is essentially plug and play. Also, one controller can easily replace numerous timers if they are located in the same meter room. And unlike timers, photocells, and mesh systems, our controllers have a lifetime warranty so you won’t get stuck with a dark parking lot and expensive repair bill.
If you ever need to change the schedules you can go online at your office and do it yourself or better yet, give us a call and we will happily do it for you for free. The nice thing is that our controller automatically adjusts everyday to the changing sunrise/sunset times, daylight savings time, and after power outages so you do not need to touch it or think about it. Your lights are on auto-pilot. You would only need to change the schedule if you have a special occasion like a Black Friday sale or some other event where the lighting schedule is different.
Our controller is simple and it works. If you want to save money and prolong the life of your bulbs and drivers without hassles, dinner-time phone calls, and complications, then a Wireless Telematics Lighting Controller is the answer.