Feature, IoT/Smart Lighting, Retail

Claire’s cuts lighting bill by 96% with power line control

Claire's stores are supplied by its central warehouse in Birmingham, whose lighting control in now based on powerline communication technology.

THE HIGH STREET retailer Claire’s is cutting its energy by a staggering 96 per cent by controlling smart lights over standard cables.

The savings at Claire’s warehouse in Birmingham come not just from the new batten-style LED luminaires but also from enModus’ intelligent system called Wattwave, which monitors and controls individual lights from a central hub. Pic: EnModus

The warehouse in Birmingham, England has deployed powerline communication technology from Chepstow, Wales-based enModus to reduce electricity use by 96 per cent compared to the previous lights.

The savings come not just from the new batten-style LED luminaires but also from enModus’ intelligent system called Wattwave, which monitors and controls individual lights from a central hub, all through conventional power cables supporting an Internet of Things (IoT) connection to lights in the ceiling.

The UK’s LED By Vision provided the lights.

Neither Claire’s nor enModus would reveal the size of the deployment, believed to be small, but which could serve as the first phase of a wider deployment across the entire warehouse and its offices.

EnModus said the use of existing power lines enabled installation of the Wattwave system with ‘zero disruption to operations’ at Claire’s Birmingham warehouse.

EnModus, founded in 2010, has been in a prolonged startup mode but has been scaling up recently, evidenced by a number of installations.

As LEDs Magazine reported, its technology has cut energy consumption by 99 per cent at a Virgin Media technical center in the UK, which, like the Claire’s job, is another small, low-hanging-fruit project expected to lead to wider deployment. Earlier installations have included a small deployment in shopping chains’ warehouse and offices in England and at the Terex Trucks manufacturing plant in Motherwell, Scotland.

The company’s powerline communication technology focuses primarily on energy monitoring and controls, as opposed to some of the broader IoT applications such as asset tracking, although enModus is expected to eventually add those and is already able to provide occupancy sensing.

The energy monitoring applies beyond the lighting system, as Wattwave can keep an eye on electricity consumption by other systems such as HVAC and shop floor machines.

‘Smart lighting is just one application,’ said enModus vice president of sales and marketing John Wanklyn. ‘Once installed, we enable a building-wide communications network that can deliver other benefits including real-time intelligence on building occupancy and other sensed inputs, plus ultimately control any mains-connected asset.’

As powerline communication gains recognition, it could rival wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and ZigBee as a non-disruptive method for converting lighting systems into IoT lighting in a retrofit situation.

Both powerline communication and wireless can make use of existing infrastructure. By comparison, another IoT technology, Power over Ethernet (PoE), generally requires the addition of Ethernet cabling, and thus many people consider it too unwieldy and expensive in a retrofit. DALI, by contrast, has the disadvantage of requiring new wires.

PoE carries both data and electricity over Ethernet wired. It can often be more appropriate in a new build, where it can spare the costs associated with conventional electrical cabling and electricians.


  • Lighting control is one of the sessions at this year’s Lighting Fixture Design Conference, which takes place on Wednesday 20 June and Thursday 21 June 2018. Organised by Lux and LEDs Magazine, the event takes place at the Cavendish Conference Centre in London. For more information and to reserve you place, click HERE.
  • First published in LEDs Magazine. Mark Halper is a contributing editor for LEDs Magazine, and an energy, technology, and business journalist.