Project 2: Occupancy Sensing for Lighting Controls in Outdoor Applications

Background: Occupancy-based lighting controls are an effective strategy to mitigate energy waste and light pollution during long periods of inactivity, generally associated with illuminated outdoor environments. The UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center (CLTC), with the support of the California Energy Commission and Investor Owned Utilities, has repeatedly and consistently demonstrated 50 to 60 percent energy savings with the use of occupancy-controlled, adaptive lighting for parking lots, parking garages, building perimeters and other related outdoor lighting applications.

In practice, most sensor-controlled, exterior, adaptive lighting approaches use the integration of dimmable, LED lighting technology with passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors that allow the luminaire to adjust between 100% and 50% power depending on occupant activity. However, existing PIR sensors applied in outdoor applications are simply indoor devices transferred to the outdoor environment. Many of these sensors have a fairly limited range of motion detection, usually up to distances equal to the mounting height of the sensor. While this detection range is effective for indoor applications, it is very limiting for outdoor applications, such as parking lots, which typically have much larger luminaire spacing and mounting heights. Moreover, traditional PIR sensors are often unable to accurately and consistently detect occupants under very hot or cold outdoor conditions, when the outer temperature of moving people is close to the temperature of outdoor objects.

Project Goal: The goal of this project is to develop new, improved strategies and technologies for occupancy sensing in outdoor applications, which will address the shortcomings of existing solutions.

Project Details: Researchers will review existing strategies and technologies, including a variety of occupancy sensing proxies, such as passive and active infrared sensing, ultrasonic sensing, and microwave sensing; and create new strategies that consider sensing approaches from other industries that could be used to sense pedestrians and vehicles, such as video cameras and lasers. Once the most promising new strategies and/or technologies are identified, we will develop laboratory prototypes and test them at UC Davis facilities.

Lead Research Unit: UC Davis California Lighting Technology Center

Principal Investigator: Dr. Konstantinos Papamichael

Associated Staff/Researchers: Keith Gruber, Cori Jackson