Easy In, Easy Out
Jerry Smith just finished installing new lighting systems in four areas of a medical office plaza in central Tennessee, but he's already talking about what it will take to redo them. Radical shifts like that so late in a project are usually reserved for instances when either the lights fail to impress or the owner submits a last-second changeorder, but in this case the project went smoothly and everyone was happy. So what gives?
As it turns out, when Smith, the project superintendent for Nashville, Tenn.-based Pan American Electric, talks about rearranging fixtures that have already been wired, he's actually gushing about the ease with which they can be moved when and if the owner should decide to reconfigure. The fixtures are part of Juno Lighting's ModuLight lighting system, a modular power-limited package that makes it possible to move ceiling lights almost as easily as if they were floor lamps. “When the next tenant comes in and wants to tear out some walls and reconfigure his office, instead of taking the lights all out, all he'll have to do is have an electrician unplug them, put them somewhere else, and plug them back in,” Smith says.
The lighting system uses Class 3 power instead of line voltage to power the lamps, a concept developed more than 25 years ago by a Chicago-based engineer, who later sold his patent to Juno Lighting when it became clear he couldn't bring it to market. The package includes everything from the light fixtures to the power converters that drop line voltage to the lower — and safer — Class 3 power referenced in Art. 725 of the NEC, but what it doesn't include are the rigid components that have at times made designing traditional lighting systems so difficult. “The idea was that you shouldn't need all this pipe and wire and intensive cost and intensive labor to run lighting,” says Don Pannier, general manager of the ModuLight product line. “There should be a more efficient way of doing it in a power-limited manner.”
Pannier points out that the system can reduce energy costs by as much as 4%, but for Smith and Pan American, increased efficiencies have come in the form of vastly shortened installation time. Smith says that in the days of running conduit and connecting junction boxes his crews would install six lights per hour. On the job at the medical office plaza — where they only had to install the power converters, connect them to the fixtures, and install the lamps — they did 20 per hour. “I had three people taking these lights out of the box, putting lamps in them, laying them in the grid and hooking them up,” he says. “And we did 57 lights in 2 hours and 45 minutes.”
Energy efficiency and the ease of reconfiguring may be the selling points for Smith and the medical office building's owner, but for the Pan American electricians, it's the easy installation procedure that has them requesting the system for future jobs. “My whole crew says they want to try to put these in every building we work on now,” Smith says. “It's a piece of cake.”
- One, two, or four ports per converter
- Each port provides 100W, 75V (nominal) power at 48,000 Hz, with a constant current of 1.3A
- 14 AWG ground and 18 AWG nonpolarized twisted-pair conductor
- Up to 135-ft cable length per port
- Instant and rapid start lamp drivers operate one, two, or three F32T8 straight and U lamps
- Programmed start lamp drivers operate one or two CFQ26W/G24q, CFM26W/G24q, CFM32W/G24q, and CFM42W/G24q lamps
- Made of fire-retardant Lexan 950 and Valox 365
- Meets 30-lb strain relief requirement
- Insulation-piercing design eliminates the need to strip all wires