On the Calibration and Commissioning of Lighting Controls


F. Rubinstein, D. Avery, J. Jennings and S. Blanc. Proceedings of the Right Light 4 Conference, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 19-21, 1997

Review by Scott Schuetter, Energy Center of Wisconsin: 

Rubinstein et al. discuss commissioning and calibration of lighting control systems. Specifically, they address the importance of both as well as advice for effective performance. In this context, commissioning is a process for ensuring the lighting system performs as the design intended. The authors note that the majority of systems are not commissioned at all. Calibration is defined as the adjustment of a sensor in order to get the desired output from a given input. Specific activities for both calibration and commissioning include:

  • Verifying photosensor placement and orientation. Adjusting sensor and controller to obtain desired light level on the working plane.
  • Verifying occupancy sensor placement and orientation. Adjusting the sensitivity and time delay.
  • Inputting correct start and stop times into the lighting control software.
  • Setting upper and lower dimming limits.

Three tips for calibrating a photosensor are outlined. The first is to place the sensor in the ceiling near the primary working area. The second is to calibrate the sensor at a distance if possible. The final tip is to use a photometer in conjunction with the calibration to provide feedback as to the working plane's illuminance level. The authors conclude by suggesting that an open-loop control systems may be properly calibrated in approximately 30 minutes, while close-looped systems are consistently more difficult to calibrate.