The lighting at Circleville City Schools appeared to be haunted. Hallway fixtures in the school system would randomly turn on and off. Classrooms would suddenly go dark. Sometimes the three schools in the district school system would be ablaze with light in the middle of the night.
The cause, however, wasn’t supernatural. It was more mundane: The control system wasn’t doing the job.
There were other issues too. Many of the fixtures at the three district schools, all built in 2014, were outdated fluorescents. Moreover, the gym lighting consisted of metal halides that put out a “dull, dark look,” in the words of Circleville High School/Middle School Athletic Director Brandon Wright.
The new lighting in the Circleville City School system hallways.
In an effort to resolve these issues, the district, situated approximately twenty-five miles south of Columbus, Ohio, turned to Energy Optimizers, USA, an Ohio-based energy services company. The schools made the decision to not only upgrade their outdated lighting to energy-efficient LED systems but also address the malfunctioning control system. This new control system needed to be capable of handling essential functions like daylight harvesting, occupancy sensing, and scheduling.
However, when Circleville Facility Director, Jay Darland, initially considered replacing the legacy brand’s control units with their latest models, the cost far exceeded his budget. Despite his needs, it seemed there was no other viable option within reach.
It was at this juncture that Energy Optimizers, USA, introduced Keystone as a potential solution, and it turned out to be the perfect fit. Keystone met all the required criteria, providing a cost-effective solution.
“Keystone and Energy Optimizers, USA, not only met but surpassed everyone’s expectations when it came to pricing,” he stated. “After conducting thorough research on past projects, customer references, and Keystone’s product performance, it became evident that Keystone was the obvious choice, a true no-brainer.”
Lighting in the classrooms is much improved.
Commencing in December 2022, the contracted work kicked off with a comprehensive lighting upgrade. The outdated fluorescent lighting in classrooms and public areas was replaced with state-of-the-art Keystone T5 LED tubes and their compatible LED drivers. Meanwhile, the gymnasium lighting received a significant overhaul, with Keystone LED linear high bays installed to provide improved illumination.
In terms of lighting control, the district made the strategic choice to implement Keystone SmartLoop, a versatile wireless solution. The installation at Circleville City Schools featured the use of screw-in Bluetooth mesh wireless SmartPort LED controllers for SmartLoop, which incorporated integrated daylight and PIR motion sensors.
In classrooms, a total of three fixture controllers were strategically mounted above the ceiling within each room. These controllers were efficiently commissioned through the SmartLoop mobile app, offering the ability to customize light levels by row. This allowed for grouping of lights, enabling specific lighting configurations to be activated with a simple push of the scene button and facilitating scheduling for added convenience.
Furthermore, in each classroom, a remote-mountable daylight PIR and motion sensor was installed on the ceiling. To enhance the flexibility of lighting control and cater to the diverse pedagogical needs of teachers, every classroom was equipped with a SmartLoop dimmer switch/keypad.
Darland expressed his satisfaction with the SmartLoop system, noting, “SmartLoop has proven to be incredibly user-friendly. The teachers have embraced it wholeheartedly. Many educators have taken the initiative to establish specific lighting zones within their classrooms. The integration of SmartLoop into our learning environments was a seamless and gratifying process for us.”
Each classroom features a remote mountable PIR and motion sensor on the ceiling.
Zac Lentz, the lead installation technician from Energy Optimizers, USA, shared his positive assessment of the SmartLoop interface, stating, “The interface is excellent. Every teacher I’ve spoken to grasped the system immediately. This is crucial because if they can’t operate the system effortlessly, it can become a source of frustration.”
Brandon Wright, who also played a significant role in programming the system, expressed his excitement about the system’s capabilities, saying, “That feeling of having the freedom to customize the lighting to suit my needs is exhilarating. I delved into it with enthusiasm.”
With SmartLoop, the switches offer local control, eliminating the complexities associated with a centralized proprietary system. Activating the Auto button on the keypad prompts the sensors to assess the room’s light levels and make real-time adjustments. Moreover, the Scene switch allows for the storage of up to three lighting presets, with the additional flexibility of saving even more scenes through the SmartLoop mobile app.
High school gym.
In the high school gym, the district opted for Keystone LED linear high bays, which were further enhanced with the integration of SmartLoop sensors. Athletic Director Wright, using the SmartLoop app on his phone and tablet, made full use of its versatile features. He creatively harnessed the system for various events: during the National Anthem, he illuminated a single light on the flag; for team introductions, he had a setting that highlighted the bench area; and for a wrestling match, he dimmed all the lights except those directly above the wrestling mat.
Wright even discovered a clever trick to create a light show. “When you save a new scene, it resets, causing the lights to flash on and off, creating a visually captivating effect,” he shared. “For instance, during the last thirty seconds of a basketball game that we win, I’ll create a new scene and click ‘save,’ and it transforms into an impromptu light show celebration.”
The installation and commissioning process, according to Lentz, proceeded seamlessly. “The products functioned flawlessly right out of the box, and the setup was remarkably straightforward. I provided training to numerous individuals on how to operate it, and it was a hassle-free process—simply adding elements to different groups within the smartphone app and reassigning controls,” he explained.
New lighting fixtures in action.
Darland expressed his utmost satisfaction with the entire project, emphasizing its success. He enthusiastically remarked, “It has been an outstanding experience for us. Among all the projects I’ve been involved in over the past few years, this one stands out as the best.”
Wright, equally pleased with the transformation, couldn’t help but share his delight. The gym at Circleville, now brighter, more vibrant, and enjoyable, has garnered numerous compliments. In recognition of his enthusiasm, the girls’ volleyball team even gifted him a coffee mug with seven words that encapsulated the sentiment: “My gym lights are better than yours.”
“I am genuinely thrilled with how our lights look,” Wright remarked. “We have an exceptional product now.”