Currently overseeing a retrofit at Fay Herron Elementary School in Las Vegas, Clark County School District Project Manager Dennis Miller has two primary goals: Conserve energy and increase the learning level of the student population. Square D Clipsal area lighting panels from Palatine, Ill.-based Schneider Electric are helping Miller achieve both objectives.

According to Schneider Electric, Clipsal area lighting panels offer a straightforward way to realize daylight-harvesting schemes in a classroom, office, individual conference room, or suite within a commercial building. By integrating natural light with artificial light, they meet energy code requirements related to reducing lighting loads.

For many customers, the key benefit of daylight harvesting is reduced energy costs. In addition to this advantage, a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Washington, D.C., revealed that daylighting in schools may improve students' test scores by as much as 20% to 26%, and promote better health and physical development.

In the making for approximately one year, the units are an evolution of the Square D Clipsal system, says Scott Jordan, Clipsal product manager. “Our customers asked for a flexible, easy-to-install lighting control system that also provided daylight harvesting capabilities, and this product is the result,” he says.

The devices can be used as a standalone system or connected as part of a larger network. In addition, they provide the ability to integrate keypads as well as light level and occupancy sensors without the intricacy of line voltage wiring connections. The company says that in most applications, a single Cat. 5 cable is all that is needed to connect the inputs to a panel, which can be mounted in either an electrical closet or ceiling space. Power is distributed to the panel from a single home-run connection to the power source.

By equipping a room or suite with a light level sensor, the area lighting panels can automatically dim lights to take advantage of natural light. Incorporating occupancy sensors allows the panel to automatically turn lights off if the space is unoccupied. Moreover, a variety of pre-programmed lighting schemes can be automatically run by the panel via a lighting control keypad.

“To me, the largest advantage of the system is that a technician can troubleshoot it firsthand, which makes it a more maintainer-friendly piece of equipment,” says Miller. “Each room is independent of one another, so if one goes down, the entire building doesn't go down. Also, the area lighting panels are helping the school reduce its electrical consumption by using sunlight in place of fluorescent light.”

Indeed, electricity accounts for a considerable chunk of a building's energy bill. Generally, the biggest consumption of electricity in commercial buildings is lighting — anywhere from 30% to 50% of the total connected load. “By using Clipsal area lighting panels, you could save another 20% to 35% of the cost associated with lighting,” says Jordan.

Area lighting panels consist of a NEMA 1 enclosure with DIN rail-mounted microprocessor-based output modules. Available options include a 4-channel relay output package, an 8-channel relay output package, and 4-channel relay and 4-channel 0V to 10V dimming packages. Available in 120V and 277V ratings, relay models have four or eight 20A relay outputs. Dimming models are also available in 120V and 277V, and include four 20A relay outputs and four 0V to 10V outputs for control of dimmable fluorescent ballasts. Compliant with NEC Article 409/UL 508A requirements, all configurations are available with a power supply, which provides extra power to the network when multiple keypads or sensors are needed.

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Product Specs

Short-circuit current rating: 65kA (120V), 14kA (277V)

Network connections: Class 2 (RJ45)

• 4-channel relay panel 12.78 in. × 9.09 in. × 4.0 in.
• 8-channel relay panel 14.50 in. × 14.94 in. × 4.0 in.
• 4-channel 0V-10V dimming panel 14.50 in. ×14.94 in. × 4.0 in.

Operating environment: 32°F to 113°F (0°C to 45°C) 10% to 95% RH, noncondensing