AV SYSTEM – LIGHTING CONTROL SYSTEM INTEGRATION
SCOPE OF WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY
By: Santiago Beron, RCDD, CTS-D
When a project requires integration between the audio/visual system and the lighting control system,
there is usually lots of confusion on who is responsible for what pieces and what the extent of the
programming for each system is. Here is a possible approach to minimize the chaos:
1. SCOPE OF WORK
The lighting control and the audio/visual systems shall be designed and installed to be a
complete system by each trade. This mean each trade (typically electrician and AV installer) shall
be responsible for all the hardware, wiring (including low voltage cables), user interface and
programming to make each system work independently of the status of the other. This
approach guarantees each trade can complete their scope of work without having to wait for
the other trade, and the finger pointing gets minimized when something fails.
2. TYPE OF INTEGRATIONS
There are many features that can be integrated between the two systems but only some make
sense. Here is what is recommended.
Typically what you want to have is the audio visual system with the capacity of controlling the
lighting in the room where the AV equipment is located. So, when the user accesses the AV
system interface (touchscreen, keypad, iPAD, computer or whatever is designed in the AV
system) and turns on the AV system, the lights follow the desired scene for the operation of the
It is possible to have the user interface in the AV system capable of manually adjusting faders for
dimmers and manually turning on and off individual zone lights, but most of the time the
integration happens just by the AV system recalling presets (also called scenes) in the lighting
control system. It is also possible to have the AV user interfaces record and alter the scenes in
the lighting system, but this feature is highly undesirable unless the lighting system does not
have a user interface to program scenes. If changing scenes will be part of the AV system
interface anyway, it is highly recommended having those features password protected or on
interfaces that are accessible only to experienced building managers, not the average user.
In many cases the AV control system has the ability to create schedules to turn on and off lights
and to be able to meet the requirements of the new building codes and energy codes for
automatic shutdowns at night when the building is empty. These features shall not be
programmed in the AV system unless the AV system and the lighting control system are the
same brand and use the same software for scheduling (i.e. Crestron Room View or Fusion). If
they are different brands, all those programming features shall be part of the lighting control
system. In such case having the AV control system programmed to do the same, will be just
duplicate scope and will be a wasted effort.
If the lighting control system and the AV system are the same brand and use the same
scheduling software extreme care should be taken to make sure the scope of work does not
have gaps or gets duplicated between the two trades. One trade shall provide the software and
computer, both trades shall use the same computer and software to program the system. The
lighting installer shall program all schedules and sweeps to comply with energy and building
codes and the AV installer shall program only features exclusively dedicated for the scheduling
and remote control of the AV system, not the lights.
Although many user interfaces (touchscreens or keypads) tied to the lighting control system
could have the capacity to control some AV equipment (i.e. projector, or screen), it is not
recommended to add those programming features in those interfaces. This could create a mess
in the status of the AV program and cause the user interfaces not to respond the way they are
There are systems like electric shades that could be tied to the lighting system or to the AV
system. Ideally, shades shall be tied to the lighting control system assuming this system is
capable of such type of control. Shades shall also have a user interface (typically a keypad) to
make sure they operate regardless of the status of other systems. There is no need to have the
AV system and the lighting control system both interface directly to the shades. One system
interface shall be sufficient and will simplify the programming and the possibilities of erratic
3. RECOMMENDED CONFIGURATION FOR THE CONTROL SYSTEM IN THE LIGHTING CONTROL
There are multiple ways to configure the control system for a lighting control panel and those
are up to the lighting control designers, but here are a few good recommendations to facilitate
the integration of both systems:
a. Network all the lighting control panels in one facility so the interface between AV and
lighting control panels happens only between one master lighting panel and the AV control
system as oppose to having the AV system interface to all the lighting panels in the project.
This simplifies programming and troubleshooting. The network configuration between
lighting panels is up to the designer of this system and it does not matter to the AV system.
b. The preferred integration interface between the master lighting control panels and AV
system is through Ethernet or through RS-232 lines. Make sure the master lighting control
system has one of those interfaces.
c. If Ethernet is being use to integrate the AV and lighting control systems, this Ethernet
network will need to be accessible to the AV system. Planning should take place to make
sure wiring and IP addressing schemes are in place to avoid conflicts during integration.
Avoid at all cost installing small network equipment inside lighting control panels.
d. The control network for the lighting control system shall be completely separate from the
control network for the AV system, even if both networks use the same protocol and are the
same type (i.e. CresNet from Crestron). This facilitates the work for each installer and avoids
finger pointing at the time of troubleshooting; besides there are no benefits gained by
having all devices in the same control network. The master controller of each system are the
only ones that need to be on the same network or interfaces, but usually the devices
(motion sensors, keypads, etc) talk to the master controller on a separate control network.
e. Plan for at least 2 different levels of user interfaces in the system; a user interface and an
administrator interface. User interfaces shall be located in each room readily accessible.
Administrator interfaces shall be located in restricted access spaces (typically next to the
master lighting control panel) or they could be part of a user interface but the features only
accessible after a password is entered. Administrator interfaces include features such as:
(a.) Room combine modes
(b.) Altering or recording presets (scenes)
(c.) Changing schedules
(d.) Changing zoning or grouping arrangements
(e.) Any other feature that permanently alters the functionality of the system
Having administrator features in user interfaces accessible to everybody will be a
continuous source of erratic behavior when the lighting control system is controlled by the
f. At the room level, the user interfaces shall be simple to use and non-intimidating. Simple
keypads with few bottoms (no more than 6) should be preferred over keypads with too
many buttons or touchscreens. When touchscreens are used anyway, they should not be
used in lieu of keypads by the doors; they should be located close to the presenter (if such
location in the room exist), or in a location where the user can visualize the effects of the
actions in the touchscreen to the lighting in the room.
g. Make sure to request or specify all keypad interfaces to have the engraving of the
functionality of each button in the interface. Stick-on labels provide for poor aesthetics and
they eventually peel off.
h. Clearly call out the extent of the programming requested to the installer of the system. A
good description of the scope of work includes the following elements.
(a.) Description of the functionality of each button in a user keypad for each of the
keypads in the project (all on, all off, scene 1, dim up, dim down). They could be
grouped in types to minimize the quantity of descriptions.
(b.) A description of the expected features to be programmed in touchscreens (faders,
individual zone controls, group controls, recalling and recording scenes, etc). If
multiple touchscreens are to be installed in a project, types and groups could be
used to minimize the different options on the touchscreen and to avoid confusion in
the users. Image the confusion of the users if each touchscreen in the building has a
different set of pages with different layouts.
(c.) Make sure you define how many scenes or presets have to be programmed in each
room. Depending on how many physical zones are in the room, the amount of
scenes shall follow. More zones, more scenes. Not all the scenes need to be
available at all user interfaces. Sometimes a toggle button can be added to toggle
between the least frequently used scenes.
(d.) Try to be consistent in the numbering of the scenes for all the rooms in the project
to simplify the task of the integration with the AV system, numbering the scenes
starting for the most common scenes to the least common scenes in the project. As
an example, common scenes are: all lights on, all lights off, all lights at 50%, light
safety mode, etc. Examples of less common scenes are: presentation mode without
projector, presentation mode with projector, etc.
(e.) Ask for at least one administrator interface to have the ability to re-program the
scenes in an easy way. Building administrators hate that they have to pay the
installer of the system every time they want a scene changed, either because the
process is extremely complex (hooking up laptops and using custom software is
considered by most people too complex) or because there is no administrator
(f.) Specify the installer shall provide a copy of the source code developed and running
in the system controllers part of the lighting control system, to make sure the owner
has the possibility to hire other companies to support the system if they are not
happy with the post-warranty support of the original installer.
i. When PCs are required to program and make changes to the system, make sure you ask the
owner if they want to buy the PC or the installer has to provide it. If you have to specify the
PC for the installer to provide, don’t list specs for the PC, since those changes very
frequently. You can use a paragraph as follows; “Provide a personal computer that exceeds
the minimum PC requirements of the lighting control software to be installed in this PC by
no less than 50% more, when it comes to features such as processor clock speed, installed
memory and installed hard drive. Provide no less than one 21” LCD monitor, a USB
keyboard, a USB mouse and a 500VA UPS for this unit. Provide latest version of the most
advanced operating system supported by the lighting control software and a 12 month
license of the antivirus software of choice by the owner.”
j. When the lighting control system requires Ethernet connection for whatever purpose, use a
structured cabling approach for this wiring (patch cord from device to outlet, horizontal
cable to patch panel, and patch cord to network equipment. Follow end user standards or if
none, use TIA/EIA standards. Do not use direct connection from panel to PC.
k. Programming of motion sensors to turn lights on or off shall be carefully done. Make sure
this does not happen during an audio/visual presentation that could have all the lights off.