Digital Lumens promises 90% energy savings via networked LED lighting

March 16, 2010
Start-up company will target industrial environments such as warehouses and rely on network control and efficient LED fixtures to achieve savings.

Tom Pincince, Digital Lumens President & CEO, states, "We can provide 100% of the light at 10% of the energy cost." The new entrant into the industrial-lighting segment believes that the combination of LED fixtures, network control of each fixture, and lighting-management software can deliver on the promise.

Digital Lumens will target applications such as high-bay lighting in warehouses. For instance the company uses a cold-storage warehouse as an example. According to Pincine, only about 10% of such a facility is occupied at any given time, and lights in the remainder can be dimmed or even extinguished.

In the cold-storage case study, a trial installation provided a 95% reduction in energy usage. The 268,000-square-feet facility energy costs dropped from $225,000 to $10,000 annually. Pincince claims that a thrid of the enrgy used by tarhet customers is presently used for lighting.

Digital Lumens Intelligent Light Engine

Digital Lumens' initial product offering is an Intelligent Light Engine fixture that integrates three removable LED-based light bars, a custom AC/DC power converter, a microprocessor, and a Zigbee wireless controller for network connections. The fixture is designed as a direct replacement for legacy AC-powered fixtures.

The Digital Lumens software allows a facility manager to control lights in zones or on a fixture-by-fixture basis. For example, the software could simultaneously dim lights on an aisle in a warehouse or in a specific manufacturing cell in an industrial plant.

The software can be set to adjust lighting in accordance with daylight, other ambient light sources, and occupancy sensors. Moreover, the software can read real-time energy usage rates from each fixture and monitor characteristics such as operating temperature and current drive.

The energy savings come from the system-level approach that starts with efficient LEDs. The Digital Lumens fixture also concentrates the light where it's needed – for example into the aisle in a warehouse. Pincince proclaims that legacy lights such as metal halides "provide 2 to 3 times the raw lumens, but the lumens are splayed all over the facility."

According to CTO Brian Chemel, the custom power supply delivers 94% efficiency – better than most off-the-shelf supplies. The remainder of the energy savings come from intelligent control.

The savings don't come cheap. The fixtures carry a list price of $1250. Digital Lumens claims that on average a move to its technology will offer a two-year payback. The payback comes primarily through energy savings but also in part from the preventive maintenance that can be implemented via software and monitoring of the operating characteristics of each fixture.

Ironically, the Digital Lumens story is the second networked LED lighting story to break in a week, although the two technologies and target applications couldn't be more different. Redwood Systems is targeting the office space and using a DC power distribution scheme. But both companies share the network control vision and the same two-year payback claim.