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Save Money with Smart Controls for Exterior Lighting

There are a variety of options to consider when installing or upgrading commercial exterior lighting but the most forward-thinking solutions incorporate smart controls. Smart controls for exterior lighting can tie into existing and new smart building IoT, and they help to further reduce energy usage and maintenance costs. This saves you money while improving lighting conditions through occupancy sensors and daylight controls.

The historical precursors to smart lighting are still available on the market and include photocell controls, timers, and digital timers.


Lighting timers are the earliest lighting controls and the most simplistic. They allow lights to be operated according to a preset schedule and function with push and pull pins on a small plastic 24-hour clock timer. Typically, they used in residential settings to give homes a “lived-in” look for security purposes. Lighting timers can only operate when directly plugged into 120v power, and must be manually reset after any power outages. In commercial settings, these basic lighting controls are typically only seen in old lighting systems as they lack the functionality of the other options.

Photocells, also known as daylight sensors, light sensors or photosensors, are basic lighting controls that offer a dusk to dawn operations based on available light. The advantage to them is that they can resume normal operations after a power outage without needing to be reset. They are limited however in the way that they will only function properly with ideal placement; outside with a view of the open sky and not too close to other ambient light sources. Historically, photocells have been used in commercial settings to save energy during daylight hours while ensuring lighting for nighttime security and wayfinding.

Digital timers are a more sophisticated option than timers and photocells, allowing for more controlled lighting operations. They incorporate the photocell technology of light sensors, while allowing for multiple set ON/OFF points during a 24 hour day and seven day week, and the ability to manually override settings as needed.  Settings can be specified for weekends, holidays, and time of year and many outdoor commercial lighting and signage fall into this category of LED lights controlled by digital timers.


Smart controls for exterior lighting are the newest and most advanced option when it comes to exterior lighting controls. They are programmed with a user-friendly interface on a digital screen. Digital controls incorporate the functions of timers and photocells including light sensors for dusk to dawn operations, and multiple ON/OFF functions set by day and week. They adjust automatically for daylight savings time and have a battery backup to retain the date, time and programming, so they don’t need to be reset after a short power failure.

Smart controls for exterior lighting also offer automatic dimming capabilities to save energy and extend the life of LEDs. They offer occupancy sensors for security and the more advanced smart lighting solutions monitor lighting and produce energy analysis and predictive maintenance in commercial lighting environments.

The latest commercial building energy codes call for advanced control of exterior lighting including dimming capabilities, so choosing smart controls for exterior lighting is not only the most forward-thinking solution for lighting controls but also the solution that will provide the best energy savings and least amount of LED maintenance in the long run.

Relight was an early leader in offering smart lighting controls and we specialize in finding the best products for our clients, offering them the best solutions on an operational level with the maximum benefit of energy savings, thereby increasing profitability.

Contact us to find out more about our smart controls for exterior lighting and schedule your free no-obligation assessment today.

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