The Internet of Things is an idea that has been in circulation since the late 90s, which involves creating an internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, allowing them to send and receive data. In 2016, however, the convergence of several technology made this idea a reality, with companies around the world beginning to integrate these technologies into their business plans. One field that has yet to fully adopt IoT design is the field of lighting, particularly natural lighting. While it is not as immediately apparent how skylights, as opposed to LED lamps, can benefit from IoT technology, there are many possible applications.
The energy efficiency of skylights is primarily dependent on two factors, light quality and consistency, and heat transference. If the light is consistent, and heat transference is kept low, these systems can reduce overall energy costs for HVAC and lighting by 50-80%.Light and heat sensors integrated into each lightwell could communicate with each other and an analytic system to determine a system’s efficiency, and to help diagnose problems. If there is a sudden increase in heat loss, these sensors could help identify a potential leak far earlier, saving the business money.
The other possible analytic use is more directed at building occupants. Particularly in large warehouses or commercial facilities, sensors could be used to track how people move, to optimize the way the space is organized. This movement data can be combined with sales records in commercial buildings to gather information on shoppers’ habits and potentially lead to a store being reorganized for greater efficiency.
One possibility for utilizing these sensors in skylights is for ensuring light quality. An issue skylights commonly face is that they create glare which can hurt occupants eyes, contributing to repetitive eye strain and stress induced migraines. Sensors could be programmed to automatically use blinds to reflect the harsh light when the sun is directly overhead.
Natural/Artificial Light Integration
While this is an idea we have discussed before, internal sensors and skylight to skylight communication would make its execution especially intuitive. Combining daylighting with LED technology to provide energy efficient lighting 24 hours a day would not only drastically reduce energy bills, it would also create a far healthier work environment. Full IoT integration means that not only can the LEDs increase in intensity slowly, to replace the dimming sunlight, it also means they can communicate between each other, compensating for one another to ensure a seamless transition from natural to artificial light.