The Sequence of Operations and Lighting Controls



September 2023 - Everything electrical professionals need to know about the sequence of operations (SOO) and why it’s so important

By Ruth Taylor with contributions from PORT's own Ron Kuszmar, VP of
Architectural & Theatrical Installations.

Courtesy of

If you work with HVAC and other building systems, you’ve probably encountered a sequence of operations (SOO). However, those of you involved in the design and installation of electrical and lighting systems may be unfamiliar with this phrase. Either way, the SOO is important — even critical — in getting today’s lighting control systems to perform as expected. Understanding an SOO can save money by identifying redundant equipment and reducing callbacks.

An SOO is a document that provides the specific settings for each configuration component in a control system, providing the information needed to set up, or commission, that system. Now, the increasing complexity of lighting control systems has made the SOO a natural fit. It’s easy to see why.

Why do we need a sequence of operations?

Studies conducted at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and elsewhere reveal that many lighting control systems do not perform as their designers and users expect. You probably recognize the common symptoms: Lighting turns on or off when it’s not supposed to; dimmed lighting is too bright or too dim; users can’t understand how to use control devices mounted in the room (not to mention those that reside in a computer); and the lighting doesn’t turn on when the fire alarm system tells it to. Moreover, those trying to troubleshoot often can’t find what the control settings should be.

With these problems and more, you can appreciate why the U.S. Department of Energy is interested in reducing the unreliability and cost of lighting control systems, which have promised to limit wasted energy. The SOO can address these problems by providing a clear set of instructions to those responsible for setting up the system.


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