Lighting Controls FAQs
Q: [NLC] What is the Networked Lighting Controls Qualified Products List?
The Networked Lighting Controls QPL is a list of networked lighting control systems that meet annually-updated performance and efficiency specifications. The list is designed to facilitate the widespread adoption of the technology by equipping utilities to optimize energy savings and integrate control systems into their incentive programs. The QPL is also a tool for architects, specifiers, engineers and contractors to evaluate and compare control systems for their projects and programs. Download the full QPL here.
Q: [NLC] As a manufacturer, why should I submit my system for qualification on the QPL?
There are many advantages to listing your control system on the QPL.
Product differentiation: Qualified systems are independently reviewed to meet a minimum performance level and will gain a clear advantage over systems that do not meet the Technical Requirements.
Incentive eligibility: Starting in 2016 and growing in 2017, QPL-listed systems will pre-qualify for incentives and rebates from utilities across North America and gain access to the multi-billion dollar energy efficiency program market.
Visibility: The QPL serves as a system comparison tool for architects, specifiers, engineers, and contractors – your brand will receive excellent visibility as lighting controls penetrate the market.
In addition, qualifying your system with the DLC will help build traction for lighting controls in the market. The DLC has aggressive goals for promoting widespread adoption of control systems in the coming years. The more products qualified on the QPL, the better utilities can build robust incentive programs to promote adoption of the technology.
Q: [NLC] Are listings on the NLC QPL independent of the type of luminaire or lamp connected to the qualified control system?
Yes, the DLC NLC QPL is currently independent of the DLC SSL QPL for luminaires, lamps and kits. The DLC is beginning to explore how the two lists could be connected in the future.
Up to this point, the DLC has not accepted DC or PoE control systems because there was no category for the luminaires on the SSL QPL. That will change in September 2018 when the DLC publishes requirements for qualifying DC and PoE luminaires on the SSL QPL.
Q: [NLC] My qualified system was recently upgraded with new capabilities. How do I publish this information on the QPL before the annual re-application in June?
For every qualified system, the DLC will update three cells in the QPL per year at no cost to the manufacturer, and additional cells at $200 per cell. The DLC is committed to providing accurate, up-to-date information on the QPL; and therefore must review the documentation for each requested change.
Q: [NLC] How is cybersecurity relevant to a networked lighting control system?
Here are a few examples of relevant cybersecurity capabilities:
- Is there a secure way to update the firmware, to patch security holes, and to upgrade system capabilities?
- Many devices use source code from open sources. Has the source code been checked for known vulnerabilities?
- Are security best practices followed for adding new devices to an existing network (to deter hackers from adding inappropriate devices)?
- Does the setting and management of passwords follow best practices (for instance, no global defaults such as "password1234")
System Eligibility and Technical Requirements
Q: [NLC] Why is zoning required in cases where each fixture has an occupancy sensor?
In some situations, such as a small conference room with a few luminaires, or a small group of cubicles within a large open space, it is important to be able to group luminaires for occupancy even when each luminaire has an occupancy sensor.
Q: [NLC] Is the ability to disaggregate energy saving feature usage time a requirement for energy monitoring? (e.g. dimming feature was used for x hours, daylight harvesting for x hours, etc.)
No, not specifically. However, the application form does request the following:
- What data is collected by the energy monitoring?
- What is the format of the data output?
- Does this data follow an industry standard for file format and/or contents? If so, what standard(s)?
If a system does have the ability to track data on energy savings feature usage time, then please provide that information to DLC when completing the application form.
Q: [NLC] Daylight harvesting is a required capability. Does this mean every single luminaire in the system must have daylight harvesting, or does daylight harvesting only need to be an option with the system?
The latter. The system must have the capability. In the field, daylight harvesting does not need to be implemented on every luminaire.
Q: [NLC] Why do I need to provide a system overview presentation to the DLC?
The purpose of the system overview presentation is to give DLC additional information about the manufacturer and systems that are being qualified beyond what could be ascertained from product literature. While the information provided in this system overview presentation will not be used to determine whether or not a system qualifies, it will be used in aggregate by the DLC and Member utilities and energy efficiency programs to understand the manufacturers that are applying to have their systems eligible for rebates, the markets and applications they are targeting, and to provide insight on key technical issues that may not be ascertained by product technical literature.
Q: [NLC] Can I submit an application for a system planned for release in 3-4 months?
Systems must be commercially available to be qualified. A rough definition of “commercially available” is that orders are being accepted with an estimated delivery lead time of fewer than two months. If you want to get a head start on the review process, you can submit an application a month or two early. Most of the review process can be completed, but the system will not be qualified until it is commercially available.
Q: [NLC] Can a lamp with integrated sensors and wireless networking qualify as LLLC (Luminaire Level Lighting Control)?
Not at present. The DLC follows the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA)'s definition of Luminaire Level Control, in which each luminaire has a networked occupancy sensor and ambient light sensor installed and directly integrated or embedded into the luminaire form factor during the manufacturing process. This definition was written for luminaires prior to the development of replacement lamps with integrated controls. The DLC will engage NEEA on whether and how the LLLC definition could be modified to accommodate replacement lamps, and if/how the DLC should make changes to how products are listed. This issue will be considered in the 2019 update of the Technical Requirements.
Topics of discussion are likely to include:
- Controllable LED lamps can minimize the lost opportunities for energy savings and improve customer satisfaction when compared to retrofits using uncontrolled LED lamps.
- Lamps with integrated photosensors and occupancy sensors can work well in lenseless luminaires. However, for luminaires with lenses, remote occupancy sensors may offer better performance than integrated occupancy sensors.
DLC NLC Technical Requirements: https://www.designlights.org/lighting-controls/qualify-a-system/technical-requirements/
NEEA LLLC program: https://betterbricks.com/solutions/lighting/luminaire-level-lighting-controls
Q: [NLC] Can a system qualify if some capabilities are available through one user interface and other capabilities are available through a different user interface?
Yes, multiple user interfaces are acceptable. Several qualified systems offer some capabilities via a mobile app, and other capabilities via a webpage or a different mobile app. For example, one app might be used by occupants, and another app by a facility manager.
Q: [NLC] To be eligible to submit to the DLC, a system must be installed and operated successfully in at least one field installation. Are there criteria for how big or small the facility should be, percent of energy savings, or customer reference?
The facility can be of any size where all of the Required Capabilities are functional. The required capabilities are listed in Technical Requiremens Table 1 for Interior systems, and Table 2 for Exterior systems.
Ideally, all of the Required Capabilities should be operational at a customer’s site. Multiple sites can be used; for instance, occupancy sensing may be installed at one site and daylight harvest at another.
The DLC will need to contact someone who is familiar with the system operation and not employed by the manufacturer. For instance, this could be the customer’s facility manager or an independent lighting contractor who installed and commissioned the system. A phone interview will confirm that the system actually achieves all of the required capabilities. If one or more case studies have been published describing the functionality of all of the required capabilities, then an interview is not necessary.
If daylight harvest is not available at a customer’s site(s), then it can be demonstrated in an installation at a building owned by the manufacturer, in a live webinar.
The DLC will also need to verify that the system is currently available for commercial purchase. For instance, a manufacturer can provide the DLC with a distributer’s contact information so that DLC can get a quote with price and delivery date for a system from the distributer.
There is no requirement for percent of energy savings, or quantity of order.
Q: [NLC] What qualifies as a customer reference document (as it pertains to required capabilities documentation)?
For the main question about each capability ("Yes or No" does the product support that capability?) a public document with instructions is needed. If the system is not actively marketed with that capability, along with instructions for use, then the DLC will not list that capability on the QPL. This is a new requirement in V3.0 of the Technical Requirements, which will be implemented in June 2018. (There are exceptions for "Continuous Dimming" and “Startup and Configuration Party”).
Whenever possible, the DLC prefers to receive a public-facing marketing document, such as might be posted on a product website or sent to a potential customer. For some technical questions, an acceptable alternative is an internal document such as a spec sheet for an RF antenna chip that shows its communications protocol. For some questions, the answer may be a screenshot or short video clip showing how to use an app or software program to achieve a particular result.
A "public document" is either available online, or readily available to customers upon request. For a longer definition of a "public document", please see the Technical Requirements.
Q: [NLC] Are systems that are sold as separate components eligible for qualification?
The Technical Requirements are system-level, not component-level. Only systems that are packaged, marketed, and sold as a system solution are eligible to be listed.
Q: [NLC] Are exterior control systems eligible for qualification?
Yes, exterior control systems are eligible for qualification under the Networked Lighting Controls Technical Requirements V2.0. For a single system to be qualified for both an Interior AND an Exterior listing, two applications must be submitted, one for the Interior listing, and one for the Exterior listing. A reduced fee is offered for the second listing.
Q: [NLC] For continuous dimming, do you require the ability to set the transition time or simply that it needs to dim in more than 100 steps?
There is no requirement for transition time. The Technical Requirements require only that the system has the capability to dim in more than 100 steps for at least one mode of operation.
Q: [NLC] Why am I required to report so much additional data beyond my system meeting the Technical Requirements?
The DLC Member utilities and energy efficiency programs require this additional detail and understanding of systems to be able to provide rebates or incentives for them. The utility program customers, vendors, and partners also value this additional information to better understand and evaluate the systems they are considering for use on their projects. Finally, the DLC will use this more detailed information to inform future Technical Requirements revisions.
Q: [NLC] Is a covered parking garage considered Interior or Exterior?
Covered parking garage systems can be included in either an Exterior system, or an Interior system that has appropriate sensors rated for damp locations.
Q: [NLC] Are manual switches (e.g. wireless switches) required for system qualification?
No. However, the DLC does require manufacturers to report whether their occupancy sensing capability is available with a vacancy or manual-on functionality.
Q: [NLC] What is the minimum number of fixtures/devices connected together to meet the Networked Lighting Control System definition?
There is no minimum number of fixtures/devices connected together to meet the Networked Lighting Control System definition as long as the Technical Requirements are met.
Q: [NLC] Who should submit a system application, The LED luminaire manufacturer or the lighting control manufacturer?
In the case where the control system manufacturer is different from the luminaire manufacturer, either company can apply to have a particular control system name qualified. However, it may be advantageous for the control system company to submit the application so that any third-party manufacturer that does not rename or rebrand the system can use it as an already-qualified system.
Q: [NLC] What is the definition of a "multi-vendor" system? Does this mean that the luminaire and additional controls peripherals need to be marketed by a single vendor?
The DLC recognizes that some manufacturers and/or vendors may combine different systems or components from multiple manufacturers. If such a combination is marketed under a new system name as a system solution, it must be qualified separately under that system’s name. In this case, the system should be qualified by a “Prime” applicant that has named the system. Multi-vendor systems must be sold together and have literature to support the integration to be qualified in the above manner.
If a multi-vendor solution is not marketed under a new system name as a system solution and the combination of products is only implemented in the field on a project-by-project basis, it is not eligible to be listed on the QPL. These types of systems will be eligible for DLC Member utility rebates at the sole discretion of the individual utility.
Q: [NLC] Can a manufacturer outside North America apply to have their system listed?
Yes. Ther are no geographic requirements for where a manufacturer or applicant must be located.
Q: [NLC] Are there any UL or safety certification requirements to submit a system?
No. The Specification does not currently include specific UL or safety certification requirements.
Q: [NLC] Are there any lab testing requirements to submit an application?
The only laboratory test required at present is for occupancy sensor coverage pattern(s) as defined in NEMA WD7-2011. This is typically not presented as a formal lab test report. Rather, it is confirmed through one or more diagram(s) in the operating instructions, that meets the NEMA WD7 guidelines.
Q: [NLC] Does the DLC have a pre-review process in place for controls applications?
When the DLC receives a controls application, a quick initial scan determines whether it is ready for a detailed review. This includes confirming the following:
- All of the essential “Required” capabilities have a “yes” (Sometimes there are issues with continuous dimming, individual addressability, or grouping)
- Most (preferably all) answers have reference document numbers with page numbers
- A 5-year warranty is available
- A case study or customer reference is available, to confirm that the product has been installed and is functioning successfully in the field, in a facility that does not belong to the manufacturer or a manufacturer's rep*
- A source contact is available to confirm that the product is commercially available*
*If topic 4 and/or 5 is the only outstanding issue, it is possible for the comprehensive review to begin early, with the understanding that the product will not be qualified until the DLC has confirmed field installation and commercial availability. This can save a few weeks of time to qualify a product more quickly after commercial launch.
Q: [NLC] Is it possible to qualify a system as Interior now, and then add Exterior later?
Yes, that is feasible. If the two products are closely related, then the second application will be eligible for a reduced fee.
Q: [NLC] How do I pay the application fee by check?
Send a check made out to "Efficiency Forward" to the following address:
DLC Accounts Receivable
10 High Street, Suite 10
Medford, MA 02155
Q: [NLC] I just submitted a new application. What should I expect next, and how long will it take?
The DLC will perform an initial brief review, to either confirm the application is complete enough for invoicing, or return for modification. This should take approximately one week.
Your reviewers will then schedule webinars over the next two to three weeks: first a presentation by the applicant, and then a line-by-line review of any questions that the reviewers have about the application.
Length depends on completeness of the original documentation and promptness of the applicant in addressing any remaining concerns. The timeline for these webinars varies from a few days to a few weeks, occasionally over a month.
The invoice must be paid before final listing on the QPL. Once webinars are completed, products are usually listed within one to two weeks.
In general, the DLC aims to keep the whole process within four weeks whenever possible. However, competing events such as the DLC Controls Summit, DLC Stakeholder Meeting, and summer re-applications, may stretch this timeline, due to the DLC's limited resources.
Q: [NLC] How can I expedite the acceptance of my application?
To ensure timely review of your application, ensure that the following steps are taken:
- Provide appropriate references for all answers, with document number and page number(s)
- Provide clear information in the original application, or soon thereafter, for contacts who can confirm field site operation and commercial availability
- Timely scheduling of webinar(s) with the DLC
- Timely responses to requests from the DLC for more information
- Timely invoice payment
Q: [NLC] How is a private label application reviewed?
A private labeled product might use the original reference documents. Or, the documents from the parent product might be re-labeled with a new logo (but the same document names and page numbers). In either case, a copy of the references should be included with the application.
If a product has new documentation, with different page numbers, titles and content, then it does not qualify as "private label". One or two different references might be acceptable, but a set of different references will require a complete review, so the "private label" price does not apply.
Q: [NLC] How do I pay the application fee by EFT?
Please email email@example.com to request the DLC's EFT data.
Listing Fees and Technical Requirements Revisions
Q: [NLC] How much does it cost to list a system on the QPL?
The DLC requires an annual qualification and listing fee for each system to be qualified and listed on the QPL. Systems must be submitted for review and requalification each year and the fee must be paid annually for the system to remain on the QPL.
Because all listings expire in June, fees for new system applications are prorated based on the time of year that the system is submitted.
See the Revision Schedule and Fee Structure for full information about listing fees.
Q: [NLC] Is the listing fee a one-time cost, or an annual payment?
The listing fee is an annual payment and coincides with the annual release of the revised Specification on June 1 of every year.
See the Revision Schedule and Fee Structure for full information about listing fees.
Q: [NLC] My control system can be integrated with luminaires or other components (such as sensors, switches, or interfaces) from other companies. Is there an additional fee for each variation of the system?
The application fee is only paid once for the control system. The Specification does not include requirements for luminaires or drivers within luminaires and therefore which luminaires the control system works with is not relevant from a qualification or qualification fee standpoint. However, the Specification does include requirements and reporting parameters for sensors and interfaces. Therefore, information on system options for sensors and interfaces from other companies should be provided with the application, as known and available.
Q: [NLC] How was the listing fee developed? What does the money go toward?
The annual listing fee was developed based on the estimated number of eligible control systems on the market and the budget required by the DLC to implement system testing and achieve the objectives of the Networked Lighting Control Specification program. Collected fees will be leveraged with grant funding and additional funding provided by DLC Member utilities and energy efficiency programs to continually drive energy efficiency through the QPL and achieve widespread adoption of lighting control systems in the market.
Backed by financial incentives of DLC Member utilities, qualification on the QPL creates new opportunities for product differentiation and delivery of customer value. The DLC aims to support market expansion and to provide a single point of entry for manufacturers to participate in energy efficiency programs.
Please see the Revision Schedule and Fee Structure for full information about qualification fees.
Q: [NLC] How often are the Technical Requirements updated?
The DLC revises the Technical Requirements annually with final revisions completed and released on June 1 of each year. Manufacturers must requalify and relist their systems each year inline with the annual requirements revision schedule in order for their systems to remain qualified on the QPL.
A one year listing grace period will be provided for systems qualified under a previous version of the Technical Requirements but do not meet the most recent revision. This will allow manufacturers a period of one year to revise their current system or offer a new system that qualifies according to the most current requirements.
Q: [NLC] How can I get more involved in the requirements development process for networked lighting controls?
Each Technical Requirements revision will be distributed through the DLC Stakeholder Input Process and comments will be considered for each revision. This process will begin in February of each year to allow sufficient time for stakeholder input for each proposed revision.
Stay up to date with progress on the current revision here.
To see what's happening, check the DLC news page for updates and upcoming events.
If you want to be on the DLC's e-list for announcements related to controls, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The DLC Controls Summit in March is a one-day annual event with in-depth discussions about policy revisions. Sign up for the DLC mailing list to be notified about Controls Summit registration for next year.
The annual DLC Stakeholder Meeting provides an opportunity for engagement and networking each summer. There are some discussions about controls, although in less depth than at the Controls Summit.
If you want to get even more involved, the DLC has an Industry Advisory Committee. Representatives are elected every two years. If you’re interested in applying to represent a controls manufacturer, talk with DLC staff and current representatives at this year's Stakeholder Meeting to learn more about this opportunity. The next IAC elections will be in fall 2019.
Q: [NLC] If my system is on the QPL and still meets the new Technical Requirements when a revision takes place, do I need to take action or will the system automatically be requalified?
Upon the annual release of the revised Technical Requirements, qualified systems will not automatically remain on the QPL, even if the system meets the new requirements. Manufacturers will need to submit a new application according to the revised requirements to requalify the system. There are likely to be new questions and updated requested information about the system on the revised application form.
Manufacturers that have system(s) already listed on the QPL will receive an application for Version 3.0 in early June 2018. For questions that are identical to Version 2.0, the answers will have been pre-populated by the DLC, based on the V2.0 application. The submitter can leave these answers as-is, unless the system has been upgraded and the answers need to be updated. For questions that are similar to Version 2.0, but not identical, some answers may be pre-populated, but the submitter will need to check them for accuracy. In addition, submitters will need to answer any questions that are new for V3.0.
Please see the Revision Schedule and Fee Structure for full information about annual system requalification.
Utility Incentives for Control Systems
Q: [NLC] Have you explored the option of different levels of qualification for different levels of rebates or incentives?
DLC Member utilities and energy efficiency programs are open to offer different incentive levels for systems that meet certain reported capabilities at their discretion. For example, some utilities may offer a bonus for Luminaire-Level Control or Energy Monitoring.
Q: [NLC] Rebates are often unavailable for systems that were installed before being qualified on the QPL, but products cannot be qualified on the QPL until they are installed in at least one location. Isn't this a Catch-22?
Q: [NLC] How will rebates be handled on projects installed before the system is on the QPL?
That will be determined by the individual energy efficiency program that administers the rebates.
Q: [NLC] Will the DLC define the interface between the lighting control system and utility company?
Not currently. The DLC may work with utilities to define the reporting of energy monitoring data in the future.