Delving into the Opportunities Set Up by Networked Lighting Control (NLC)

In this Research Highlight, we sample our recently released Networked Lighting Control (NLC) and New Opportunities in Smart Building Lighting research report to provide a global market overview and strategic recommendations.

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Market Overview

  • The global NLC market will experience more than 49 million shipments in 2023, with Western Europe—spurred by stricter environmental regulation—accounting for half of all shipments.
  • The North American market is set to grow the fastest, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 32% between 2022 and 2030.
  • By 2030, a total of 220.7 million NLC lighting shipments are expected worldwide, with Western Europe (94.2 million shipments), North America (76.3 million shipments), and Asia-Pacific (29.9 million shipments) leading the market (see the Networked Lighting Control (NLC) Shipments chart).
  • As wireless is pushed into and then drives NLC shipments, and within the Luminaire Level Lighting Control (LLLC) configurations driven by Bluetooth mesh capabilities in the broader market, there will be greater connectivity and functionality embedded in luminaires, rather than separate controllers.
  • Over the forecast period, wireless embedded luminaires will grow at a CAGR of 39.3% and reach 185.4 million annual shipments by 2030. Smart lights are, by a wide margin, the most significant contributor to wireless lighting equipment shipments (63% in 2030).
  • Breaking the market down by industry, offices and retail are the most significant market opportunities for NLC equipment.
  • The wireless NLC lighting connectivity market is expected to consolidate to mainly three protocols: proprietary Bluetooth, Bluetooth 4.0, and 802.15.4. While these three connectivity protocols accounted for 53% of all wireless NLC lighting shipments in 2022, that number will increase to 85% by 2030.
  • While wired connectivity is more common right now, wireless connectivity for NLC lighting is expected to be more common by 2027.

“Key to the development and shape of NLC market adoption will be the competition between existing and emerging wireless protocols, and the networking platforms they support. – Jonathan Collins, Research Director at ABI Research


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Key Decision Items

The following sections provide strategic recommendations for lighting equipment providers, NLC platform providers, and connectivity providers operating in the networked lighting control market. We also provide some pointers for smart building developers/facility managers.

Lighting Equipment Providers

Welcome Wireless Connectivity for NLC Systems

Wireless connectivity will be key to driving demand for NLC systems in the mass commercial building market. That’s because wireless connectivity brings greater NLC availability, flexibility, and other benefits attractive to building owners. Therefore, lighting equipment providers must embrace wireless connectivity protocols as openly as they can. Wireless protocols include the following:

  • Bluetooth mesh
  • Proprietary Bluetooth mesh: Casambi, Wirepas, INGY
  • Zigbee: Philips
  • Thread
  • Dali+: pending
  • Proprietary

ABI Research recommends that NLC product strategies support as wide a range of communication protocols and ecosystems as possible.

Associate NLC Lighting with Energy and Cost Savings

NLC adoption will be greatly supported by energy-saving potential, and rebates and savings will be a key part of the appeal. Lighting equipment providers should streamline the education and connection of new and retrofit lighting projects through these financial advantages and partnerships. Link Light-Emitting Diode (LED) upgrades to the greater potential of adding NLC capabilities. Lighting equipment providers must ensure that NLC equipment is recognized for rebate opportunities with relevant certification and accreditation.

NLC Platform Providers

Use Ecosystem Development to Make Headwinds in the NLC Market

Despite often sharing the same silicon, NLC platform providers are splitting the NLC opportunity between them largely through the key advantages/capabilities of their approaches. Examples are Casambi’s market share and larger ecosystem, Silvair’s Bluetooth-standard specification compliance, Wirepas’ node density, etc. However, as with many other markets, market share supported by ecosystem development is likely to play a significant role in deciding the long-term winners.

Bundle Add-On Services into the NLC Platform

Increasingly, the addition of functionality will help support NLC adoption. NLC platform providers should enable and/or integrate additional services into their platform capabilities either through internal expertise (e.g., Enlighted and its Comfy integration) or through Application Programming Interface (API) capabilities.

Engage with the Light Installer Community

Provide the installer community with education programs and additional material to educate and highlight the simplicity of NLC and specific platforms as a new generation of installers increasingly enters the market with awareness of and confidence in deploying wireless lighting systems.

Connectivity Providers

Connectivity providers targeting the NLC space should be cognizant of the following factors:

  • NLC lighting represents a significant opportunity for silicon providers across a limited, but still developing range of silicon designs.
  • 802.15.4 will continue to be supported and deployed within the market, even as Zigbee specifically comes under competitive pressure from the emerging potential of Thread.
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) mesh represents a significant opportunity for NLC, and is pushing NLC into smaller projects and opportunities, greatly expanding the potential for wireless within the broad lighting market.
  • Follow and engage in emerging specifications and their potential within the NLC market. These include DECT-2020 New Radio (NR), as well as the development of Zigbee demand in Thread with the additional silicon requirements Thread requires. In addition, remain engaged in developing adjacent specifications, such as Matter in the smart home, and their potential to influence and develop within the commercial space in the long term.

Smart Building Developers/Facility Managers, Etc.

In this last section, ABI Research lists several actionable items that smart building developers, facility managers, and similar occupations can make as it relates to NLC lighting adoption.

  • Educate and understand the benefits of NLC and the associated benefits of including and/or developing NLC within properties.
  • Examine the varying capabilities and availability of competing NLC offerings. This should include installation, functionality, ecosystem, reliability, long-term management, and cost.
  • Ensure that deployments maximize any potential for rebates, as well as Return on Investment (ROI).
  • Understand the potential for maintenance management, reliability, and automation of key aspects of any NLC system to maximize the long-term benefits of any deployment.
  • Examine the potential for NLC deployments to deliver additional value and functionality through integration with a range of potential systems, including asset tracking, occupancy health and wellbeing, space management, and more.
  • Consider NLC investments at a portfolio level, simplifying management and delivering uniform capabilities and ROI across multiple buildings.

Key Market Players to Watch

Dig Deeper for the Full Picture

Are you seeking to revolutionize your lighting infrastructure with cutting-edge NLC solutions? ABI Research’s comprehensive report, Networked Lighting Control (NLC) and New Opportunities in Smart Building Lighting, provides invaluable market research and strategic insights to help you navigate this dynamic landscape. Don't wait any longer – download the report today and unlock the potential of NLC for your business, paving the way for increased productivity, sustainability, and smarter lighting control.

Not ready for the report yet? Check out our Dissecting the Smart Hospitality Market Research Highlight. This content is part of the company’s Smart Homes & Buildings Research Service.