Improving Sustainability Using a Photocell Switch

Published by Mattie Elsner

The modern building is nothing like its ancestors. The concept of architecture has seen a myriad of periods and experiences, from the classical and the neo-classical to Roman and Victorian tastes. In the olden times, builders would focus on developing extravagant buildings. Today, however, the idea is to create sustainable and energy-efficient establishments.

The One Angle Square building in Manchester is among the best examples of sustainable construction. This structure makes use of natural resources with the passive solar gain for heating and natural ventilation through its double-skin facade. It also harvests rainwater and has sophisticated water recycling technology.

During construction, power supply and electricity saving are of prime concern. A building that has the right provisions to save electricity is incrementally greener. This is where the photocell switch comes into the picture.

What Is a Photocell Switch and How Does It Work?

The photocell switch is a key invention that helps save electricity in most buildings. It is a simple yet effective device that senses natural light and turns on automatically in the dark. The switch is basically a trigger that allows a light source to set off when natural light fades. As the sun sets, the photocell switch kicks into action and turns the light on. The same function also allows it to switch off the lights when the sun rises again.

A photocell operates on semiconductor photoconductivity. This means that it utilizes the energy of photons that come in contact with the semiconductor, thereby freeing the electrons to flow, which ultimately decreases resistance.

By and large, photocells must be hard-wired right within the light circuits or built inside the light fixtures. The same photocell may not be useful in every situation. If you are building a new project, it is best to consult with an engineer who can advise you on which application requires what type of a photocell switch.

Different Types of Photocell Switches

  • Plug-in photocell: This can work well with a standard outlet. You can use it to control any individual lighting fixture.
  • Photocell with a lamp or candelabra base: In this system, the photocell is incorporated within the bulb socket base itself. This will convert any lighting fixture into an automated system.
  • Wired photocell with a line-voltage: For larger areas, this is the perfect solution. It can control the entire electric circuit. This is what most builders use for lighting buildings, gates, and other high-traffic areas.

Benefits of Photocell Switch:

  • It saves electricity and reduces your energy costs dramatically.
  • It is extremely easy to install.
  • It has a long life span.

In case you are planning to purchase photocell switches, bear the following in mind:

1) Identify the area that you want to be illuminated and measure it in square feet. After that, you will have to count the number of light fixtures to be installed in that space; and determine whether you want them to be illuminated independently or all in one circuit. If you are looking for independent light control, you will have to purchase multiple switches. If you want to control the entire electrical circuit, you will only need one. The type of switch will vary depending on your requirement.

2) Make sure that the switches are compatible with the type of light you are installing. Some photocells are not compatible with LEDs and tend to malfunction. Read the description carefully before making the purchase.

Costs and Payoffs

The photocell switch has been around since quite some time in the market. However, its increasing popularity has not only helped in making the world progressively greener but has also proved to be a platform for cheap knockoffs and mass produced-ill-quality items to thrive.

Constructing a building is an expensive affair and so, many builders who aim to develop a sustainable building are lured in to buy and use cheaper products. These products come with almost no safety guarantee and can fail you at any time.

The best way to make your building sustainable and efficient is to install high-quality photocell switches right at the outset. This will allow you to reduce your overall costs in the long run. When purchasing your product, make sure to go through the brand's details and USPs.

Although the initial investment may seem heavy, you will reap the benefits soon enough. The payoff time for the switch is typically a year of its installation. This means that you get your money's worth (or returns in terms of power savings) within the year of installation itself.

Conclusion

Creating something that reduces your carbon footprint and gives back to the planet is of paramount importance today. It is an approach that an increasing number of modern developers and builders are embracing in order to satisfy their client requirements in the most productive and efficient way.

Moderated by : Izadora Alcanfôr

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