Documentation Lights the Way

Ed Wenck | Aug 04, 2020
Simon Buddle 450

It’s been a critical part of the CEDIA Awards program – so much so that it’s become its own category. It’s something that CEDIA stalwarts such as Joel Silver (ISF) has referred to as “an asset as valuable as the work itself.”


When it’s done properly, it’s a guidebook for the client, a means of communication on the site, and a map for troubleshooting and upgrades. And it’s one of the keys to successfully integrating complex lighting solutions. Just ask Simon Buddle.

Buddle, who’s the CEDIA EMEA head of standards and curriculum and owner of a firm called Future Ready Homes, is teaching a course on this very subject at the upcoming CEDIA Virtual Lighting Conference.

“This is an area where stuff can fall through the cracks,” he explains. “You have lighting designers focusing on the aesthetic and the luminaires themselves. You have builders really worried about the positioning of these things. And you have end users ultimately wanting to just turn their lights on and off in a simple manner. What we find is that actually you need a combination of bits of information from all of these elements to create the lighting system successfully.

“You’ve got to take all the elements, and you start to build a picture and then, of course, somebody needs to produce for the electrician a wiring schedule. This is blatantly obvious, but the circuit numbering scheme has to tally with what the lighting designer does versus what the electrical contractor will install. And ultimately, you as the CEDIA integrator have any accurate picture of all it, because if that's wrong, anywhere down the chain, when you press the button in the home cinema, some lights might come on in the downstairs W.C.,” he says with a laugh. (Note: For our U.S. readers, “W.C.” is short for “water closet” – the bathroom.)

The Documents

In Buddle’s mind, there are two different sets of documents in play. For the client, something simple, something easy-to-understand, something as intuitive as (hopefully) the controls themselves. “It may be a floor plan that has a pictorial layout with the scene names on them, a booklet that simply serves as a memory aid.”

The documents used to communicate effectively on the jobsite are quite a bit different, says Buddle, “It’s a big tranche of information. There are really three documents here that you need as a minimum. Number one is either floor plans or reflected ceiling plans, but actually it's a combination of both which show the circuit layout of particular lights coupled with a circuit number that may or may not have been produced by the lighting designer.

“Number two is a circuit schedule that tell the electrical contractors what the circuit number is, what the fittings are on it, and -- for the integrator’s benefit --  the total wattage on that circuit. So now the electrical contractor with those two bits of information could start to lay cables out into the property.

“And then the third bit of information is a connection schedule for your control panel.”

One more tip from Buddle in advance of his class: “I don't do any programming with the system until I've had a formal manual handover of the system from the electrical contractor to myself as the installer. The second that you inject some kind of program into it, you've accepted responsibility for the entire job and that leaves you responsible for everything.”

Lighting System Documentation

Presented by Simon Buddle

Successful delivery of a lighting control system requires interfacing between designers, contractors, homeowners, and product manufacturers. More than that, though, it needs thorough documentation that draws from elements of everybody else's paperwork. In this session, we will look at the various documents, the most important information each provides, and how to get your customers to sign off on the engraving before you have even put a keypad on the wall.

Register for CEDIA’s Virtual Lighting Conference here.