Lighting controls and presence management

photo Lighting controls and presence management


Lighting controls are used to illuminate only those areas that are occupied or where light is really needed. This can be achieved only using technical measures, such as automatic devices. Installing presence sensing systems in toilets and baths, entryways, corridors, underground garages, etc. generates savings on the order of 50 to 80% in energy consumption in the zones that are so equipped. In addition to providing minimal lighting with compact fluorescent lamps or LEDs, a motion sensor can turn lights on and then turn them fully off again(after at time lapse). Photocells adjust the light output according to need and natural daylight.  These devices are useful in work areas and seminar spaces (energy savings: Likewise dusk/dawn light switches and/or presence sensors and scheduled switching off are recommended for exterior lighting. Automatic systems to turn off lights (and eventually all electric devices) when customers leave their rooms also recommended. The European Ecolabel requires that 95% of rooms be equipped with such systems.  If lighting controls are not automated, display at the reception desk a schedule for turning indoor and outdoor lighting on and off. And of course daylight is the most economical form of lighting, use it as much as possible. Install separate electric circuits for areas with and without daylight. Adjust hours of operation to actual needs, and choose light colours for walls, ceilings and flooring.

Another way to save energy is to use "smart controls". Lights are often left on without reason, when there is sufficient daylight, for example, or when there is no one in the room. This is particularly true for manually operated lighting. The hotel must manage areas with different types of occupancy, according to the time of day, such as the restaurant, guest rooms and meeting rooms. Substantial savings can be made by controlling lighting, heating/cooling and ventilation in these areas via automatic systems that use:

  • daylight sensors
  • motion detector
  • building energy management system
  • timer.


A range of automatic systems are available for lighting controls:

Available products: Principle / Applications

  • Timer controls: Lights that are used at regular times can be scheduled to turn on and off automatically / can be used in designated zones on a daily basis
  • Motion detector: Lighting is turned on when a presence is detected, and turned off after a set time of inactivity / can be used in areas not often used by staff or guests (public toilets, areas of the hotel not in use during the off-season, etc.)
  • Photosensitive controls: Lighting can be turned off when sufficient natural daylight is available / can be used in areas that receive daylight
  • Automatic card controls: All electrical devices in rooms (excepting minibar) can be turned off when the room is not occupied                                          

Room presence management

Key card systems are designed to switch off the electricity supply when rooms are not occupied, avoiding excess power consumption (television set, lights, etc.). When the customer inserts the key card in the energy-efficiency device the electricity is switched on; when the customer leaves the room and removes the card the electricity is cut off. This type of device is included in the European Ecolabel criteria. Room electrical circuits must be connected to the key card device.


  • ° Automatic lighting controls can also be integrated into a building energy management system, if there is one.
  • ° As the case may be, it is recommended that lighting be managed by zone, to optimise electricity use.
  • ° Power supply can be maintained to some devices (minibar for example) when the room is not occupied. In this case the key card installation must be appropriately wired.
  • ° Automatic control of power supply to guest rooms depending on occupancy can also be integrated into a building technical management system, if there is one. In this case electricity controls are generally linked to the room heating/cooling regulation system. When keys are returned to the reception desk both heating and power are shut off in the room. This type of system can be coupled with devices that automatically turn off heating and air conditioning when windows are opened. These systems are included among criteria for obtaining the European Ecolabel.

Meeting room management

  • Lighting control by presence detector
  • Heating/cooling programmed according to occupancy
  • Ventilation linked to CO2 detection.


Management of swimming pools and saunas

It is important to adjust climate control parameters when these areas are not in use, to reduce energy consumption.


Approximate cost 

° Presence detector: ranges from €75 for an automatic detector for an incandescent lamp, to €125 for fluorescent lamps and/or more complex systems.

It is difficult to give a final price for this type of installation, as it depends on labour costs, and whether the hotel must be closed during the work period, etc.

Approximate payback time 

< 1-8 years

The approximate payback time can be under three years (the bigger the hotel, the shorter the payback time).

It should be noted that costs and payback times are highly dependent on the local setting and the initial situation of the hotel.


  • The Hotel Morgane (Chamonix) installed energy-saver key cards for guest rooms: the power supply is automatically cut of when customers remove the energy-saver card. For instance, lights are automatically switched off when customers leave the room. This system is linked to the building energy management system that was install prior to the renovation work. This computerised system collects and process all energy data for the hotel. By optimising regulation and control of existing equipment, significant energy savings are achieved (between 20 and 40% savings compared to a building without an energy management system). Each room is equipped with automatic controls to turn off heaign when windows and French windows are opened.
  • The Ferme de Bassilour, a hotel in Bidart (Pyrénées Atlantiques) equipped guest rooms with automatic power controls that shut off the electricity supply when customers leave the room (excepting the minibar that needs a continuous power supply).


Cost reductions

Energy savings 

° Turning off lights when natural daylighting is sufficient, or when rooms are not occupied, considerably reduces energy consumption.

Higher comfort level

Aesthetics and comfort 

° Lighting control systems can be used to adjust ambient lighting according to the time of day.


  • Best time for implementation: when renovation work is undertaken.
  • Relevant initial situation: if the hotel is not equipped with lighting controls.