Month: March 2016

Two Lighting Magazines Make Big 95 Trade Publications List

Trade, Association and Business Publications International (TABPI) has released its first-ever “The Big 95” list, highlighting the 95 most acclaimed b2b / trade publications. The Big 95 list includes titles…

Trade, Association and Business Publications International (TABPI) has released its first-ever “The Big 95” list, highlighting the 95 most acclaimed b2b / trade publications. The Big 95 list includes titles from United States, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The lineup reflects data from the first 12 years of the Tabbie Awards, TABPI’s annual editorial and design awards competition.

RESIDENTIAL LIGHTING ranked 91, while the Illuminating Engineering Society publication LD+A, for which I’m proud to contribute a column on lighting controls, ranked 92. Another magazine I write for about lighting, THE ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTOR (tED), ranked 88. Congrats!

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Global Standard for Outdoor Lighting Control Getting Ready for Launch

The TALQ Consortium, developing a global standard for interfaces to manage outdoor lighting networks, has made a significant step towards the official rollout of the TALQ Certification Program. During the…

The TALQ Consortium, developing a global standard for interfaces to manage outdoor lighting networks, has made a significant step towards the official rollout of the TALQ Certification Program.

During the first TALQ plug test in Valencia, Spain, the specially developed Test Tool – to be used to test outdoor lighting products for TALQ-compliance – was successfully applied with various control technology implementations. Several central management and TALQ bridge systems were also tested for compatibility against each other. The results confirm that the test procedures are nearly ready for the launch of the Certification Program.

One important factor for cities and communities on their way to becoming a “Smart City” is street lighting. Because road lighting on one hand has a huge impact on the safety and quality of life in a city, and on the other hand requires a significant spend on energy and maintenance for a smooth operation. For all entities maintaining outdoor lighting networks, there are three key factors. First, they want to build up future-proof systems, because investments have to prove their suitability for decades. Second, they want intelligent platforms to guarantee efficiency and flexibility in operation. And last, they do not wish to be tied to a single supplier but prefer a sound competition and strive for compatibility between components of different vendors.

To support all of these market needs, the TALQ Consortium, an open initiative composed of leading lighting industry players, is working on setting a global standard for the interface to control and monitor diverse outdoor lighting networks (OLNs).

Click here to learn more.

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BriteSwitch Identifies 2016 Lighting Rebate Trends

According to BriteSwitch, LLC, two-thirds of the United States is covered by an active commercial lighting rebate program. Key trends include: Incentives for tubular LED (TLED) replacement lamps became added…

According to BriteSwitch, LLC, two-thirds of the United States is covered by an active commercial lighting rebate program. Key trends include:

Incentives for tubular LED (TLED) replacement lamps became added to programs last year. This year, the number of TLED programs increased 28%, but the average rebate per lamp dropped 33% (to $7.95 per lamp) in response to declining product costs.

Programs are more likely to run out of funding. Historically, BriteSwitch has seen 11% of programs run out of money over the year; in 2015, it was 24%, with some programs running out of funding in just weeks. As this can be frustrating, it can pay to plan early.

Screw-in LED replacement lamps for HID sockets are now being recognized by utility prescriptive rebate programs. These mogul-base lamps can replace 150-1000W HID lamps in high-bay and exterior applications. The average rebate is about $60 per lamp.

Click here to learn more.

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Product Monday: Flicker-Free LED MR16 Lamps

Soraa has incorporated advanced digital drivers into its MR16 LED lamps, eliminating the problem of stroboscopic effect, or “invisible flicker.” Soraa’s new digital driver MR16 LED lamps have expanded compatibility…

Release  photo SORAA LAUNCHES FLICKER FREE MR16 LED LAMPSSoraa has incorporated advanced digital drivers into its MR16 LED lamps, eliminating the problem of stroboscopic effect, or “invisible flicker.” Soraa’s new digital driver MR16 LED lamps have expanded compatibility with transformers and dimmers, and, like all Soraa lamps, they regulate temperature to maintain lifetime, color quality and efficiency across a range of application conditions.

The new lamps are available in 6W, 7.5W and 9W versions with light output equivalent to 35W, 50W, and 75W halogen lamps; are fully dimmable; and the 6W and 7.5W lamps are ideally suited for enclosed, non-ventilated, indoor and outdoor fixtures—a place where other LED lamps struggle to perform. Soraa’s Flicker Free MR16 LED lamps are available in 10-, 25- and 36-degree beam angles; 2700K, 3000K, 4000K and 5000K color temperatures; and 95 CRI and 80 CRI. Soraa’s 10-degree lamps work with its magnetic accessory SNAP System. With a simple magnetic accessory attachment, beam shapes can be altered and color temperature can be modified, allowing numerous design and display possibilities.

The new MR16 lamps also feature the company’s Violet-Emission 3-Phosphor (VP₃) LED technology, allowing for high-quality rendering of colors and whiteness. Utilizing every color in the rainbow, especially deep red emission, Soraa’s VP₃ VIVID COLOR renders warm tones accurately and achieves a CRI of 95 and deep red (R9) rendering of 95. The company’s VP₃ NATURAL WHITE is achieved by engineering the violet emission to properly excite fluorescing brightening agents including natural objects like human eyes and teeth as well as manufactured white materials such as clothing, paper and cosmetics.

Click here to learn more.

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Juno’s Scott Roos on Residential Lighting

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, VP of Product Design, Juno Lighting Group, on the topic of residential lighting trends. I’m happy to share his responses with…

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Scott Roos, VP of Product Design, Juno Lighting Group, on the topic of residential lighting trends. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the March 2016 issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for residential lighting?

Roos: Between remodeling the aging stock of existing homes, continued strength in multi-family construction driven by a strong rental market and relatively good levels of new single family home construction, demand can definitely be characterized as strong. Couple that with the buzz around LED technology and an ever-increasing awareness for the impact that great lighting can have on the aesthetic value of a home, and it is a great time to be in residential lighting!

DiLouie: Looking at product channels and product selection influences, what do the residential and commercial lighting markets have in common, and how do they behave differently?

Roos: High end residential and high end commercial lighting markets have a fair amount of similarities. Typically, someone takes on the role of lighting designer to do a surgical layout of the lighting and vet which product best supports the design intent. In commercial construction, this is usually a lighting designer employed in the electrical department of an A&E firm or an independent lighting design consultant. In high end residential construction, the “lighting designer” is more likely to be a trained professional working for an electrical wholesaler, showroom or a specialized electrical, remodeling or low voltage A/V contractor that targets the high end residential market. For decorative lighting an interior designer or architect often works with the owner to select the exact fixtures to be used. In lower value homes, the electrical contractor or builder often sets a very basic, economical lighting package to minimize costs while providing acceptable lighting, with the actual brand of fixture determined by what the supplying electrical distributor has on their shelves.

DiLouie: As a follow-up to that question, what is the role and level of influence of the electrical contractor in the residential and commercial new construction markets? Who are potential customers, and who is most often the customer? Is the electrical contractor’s role in the residential market changing, and if so, what is causing that change?

Roos: As explained previously, in a higher value home electrical contractors can be very influential if they have invested the time to become lighting experts. Actually they are in a better position than any other trade to educate themselves on the principles of residential lighting design, apply what they learn and then continually adjust/refine their techniques based on the outcome and the latest offer of available fixtures. Their customers can be the homeowner, the builder, the architect and/or interior designer, although the homeowner will likely be paying for their services as part of the overall electrical package. By building a portfolio of homes with outstanding lighting, contractors can put themselves in a great position to command a premium for their lighting design expertise and garner referrals from satisfied homeowners and allied professionals. In commercial construction it is much more difficult for contractors to exert their influence on the lighting design, with the exception of design/build projects. Typically on a commercial project the contractor installs what is specified unless asked by the owner or general contractor to “value engineer” the project, which will typically consist of substituting lower cost luminaires in cooperation with their partner distributor.

DiLouie: What are the top trends in residential design and construction, and how are they impacting demand for residential lighting and lighting design?

Roos: We are seeing more open floor plans, increased use of natural materials with interesting colors and textures, a more holistic treatment of outdoor spaces as an extension of the home’s interior, and rooms that take on multiple uses – such as a dining room that might also serve as a library or serving space for more informal gatherings. There is also a greater appreciation for art and artisan objects. All of these trends support the transition away from a “one size fits all” uniform lighting layout to a more nuanced design which focuses on placing light on vertical surfaces and architectural details in coordination with intended furniture layouts and art placement. Nuanced lighting design has become prevalent in higher end homes and continues to build in the mid-range home sector. The contractor mindset of “I have always used a uniform spaced grid of fixtures and no one has complained,” which harkens back to the days of the BR30 lamp that spilled out uniform light everywhere, is slowly fading away. To be fair, while not necessarily great lighting, this ‘one size fits all’ approach is easy and quick to layout, and less educated homeowners were mostly happy with the results unless they had something better to compare it to. But as awareness spreads through home remodeling television shows, more sophisticated lighting showrooms, new home showcases, home design web sites and other media, homeowners are increasingly expecting more from their lighting.

DiLouie: What are the top trends in residential luminaire design, and what do they bring to the table in terms of value to the end-user?

Roos: The ability for LED technology to provide precise lighting in ever smaller and less conspicuous luminaires is working hand in hand with the discussion above. One-inch, two-inch and three-inch aperture recessed fixtures can now provide enough high quality illumination in downlight, wall wash or aiming adjustable accent configurations for just about any residential applications, such that they can replace legacy four-inch, five-inch and six-inch fixtures. Trims with extremely low aperture brightness can be mudded directly into the ceiling such that they all but disappear from the visual field, which greatly increases the dramatic impact of the lighting design. The eye naturally looks at the brightest point in the field of view, and now it is easier than ever to have the brightest point in the field of view be a wall, architectural detail or art/display objects as opposed to the light fixture itself. This miniaturization also makes it easier than ever to integrate the lighting into architectural niches, casework and areas with very restricted plenum space such as soffits and under eaves. And of course, all of this can be done with exponentially lower electricity costs and, when well designed fixtures are utilized, have a high probability to be maintenance free for the occupied life of the home. Another trend that is emerging with LED adoption is warm dimming. Many homeowners value the ability to warm the quality of light as they dim it to replicate the effect of incandescent and halogen lighting. On very high end homes, we are just now seeing early adopters using tunable white lighting to adjust the color temperature to enhance the appearance of each specific piece of art or to support circadian health with blue rich light in the morning and warmer red rich light at night to promote relaxation and sleep.

DiLouie: LED has gained a significant market share in new luminaire sales in commercial lighting. How would you characterize LED’s share in the residential lighting market? What are the benefits of LED lighting in this application?

Roos: In the commercial space we are seeing LED penetration of close to 100 percent in recessed downlighting, track, undercabinet, troffer, high bay and exterior lighting. It simply does not make economic sense to use anything else. And when an incandescent fixture is sold for a commercial project, in almost every case it will receive an LED lamp. Residential is lagging far behind with relatively low LED adoption rates due to concerns over cost, quality of light, reliability and ability to service an LED fixture should it fail. As these factors improve, penetration rates selectively increase. For example, LED undercabinet lighting is well on its way to displace low voltage halogen and xenon because fixtures have proven reliable with good quality lighting and are near cost parity in the category. With utility rebates, the price of installing LED recessed retrofit trims can be close, or in some cases even less, than an incandescent trim and lamp; when you factor in a nominal 40-50 watt savings multiplied by 20-30 cans in a home, it is pretty compelling. At this point integral LED fixtures are being primarily used in higher end homes, with the adoption rate there rapidly increasing for the reasons discussed previously.

DiLouie: There’s been a great deal of talk about the Internet of Things and how it might play out in the commercial building sector. What is the current state of development and future potential in the residential sector? What role will lighting play in this?

Roos: In regards to residential lighting and the Internet of Things, this is still in its infancy. But it won’t be long until every light fixture in the home has the ability to connect to the Internet of Things, either out of the box from the manufacturer or by using a bolt on wireless interface. Homeowners increasingly will expect the convenience of controlling their lighting from a smart device either within the home or remotely, just as they are doing for every other appliance or device in their house.

DiLouie: What should electrical contractors be doing right now to maximize the value they offer to their residential customers with the lighting category?

Roos: As homeowner expectations for better lighting increases, it creates more opportunities for electrical contractors to put themselves in the position to be the lighting experts in their market to drive increased market share and the ability to earn higher value-add margins. While the owner of a $1.5+ million home might be willing to pay for the services of an independent lighting design consultant, the owner of a $.5M home or home remodel project more often will rely on the expertise of their contractor or distributor. As noted above, there is not a better time or opportunity for residential electrical contractors to educate themselves on how to create great lighting design both from an aesthetic and technical aspect working with LED technology. Doing so will position them to do higher end, more profitable work and establish a reputation as the go-to contractor in their market on projects where customers expect more from their lighting.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about the current state of the art in residential lighting products, what would it be?

Roos: While there is still a wide discrepancy in the design and performance of LED lighting, great performing products in almost every category are available, and it’s worth customers’ time to find the products and suppliers that they can count on to keep them out of trouble.

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USAI’s Bonnie Littman on Tunable-White Lighting

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Littman, President, USAI Lighting, on the topic of tunable-white lighting. I’m happy to share her responses with you here. The interview informed…

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Bonnie Littman, President, USAI Lighting, on the topic of tunable-white lighting. I’m happy to share her responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the May 2016 issue of tED.

DiLouie: Looking at LED sources and controls, what are the different technological methods used to produce tunable white light in commercial luminaires?

Littman: There are a variety of different methods to produce tunable white light. Simply stated, manufactures typically leverage a specific combination of all white LEDs and/or colored light LEDs to create the desired results. LED boards are basically an array of many miniature lights, and manufacturers can combine those different sources in various ratios to create differently colored white light sources. This could never be done before with previous lighting technologies – at least not well. One example from the past is using linear fluorescent tubes with colored gel sleeves on them – it was clumsy and took up a lot of space, but it did work. With LEDs today we can do this much better, and with much more impressive results.

DiLouie: What are the different effects that can be created, such as color stability/consistency, dim-to-warm, CCT selection?

Littman: Yes, yes and yes. Warm glow dimming technologies can provide warmth and glow once possible only in dimmed incandescent sources, with all of the energy-saving benefits of LED. Tunable white light, on the other hand, can recreate the look and feel of other popular traditional light sources, such as metal halide, without any of the maintenance headaches – and can also make possible the creation of custom light sources that you design. These lighting options are unprecedented before LED technology. While the coloring effects are numerous, at USAI, we’re particularly proud of our promise to ensure consistent color from fixture to fixture, which is a significant challenge when providing tunable white light with LEDs.

DiLouie: What benefits do these effects offer to various applications?

Littman: Fundamentally, tunable white light makes lighting customizable and personalized. It gives users the flexibility to experiment with lighting within their environment in ways we were not able to do a decade ago, particularly with just one, singular light source. Personalized lighting technologies allow users to easily edit their own lighting experiences according to preference.

Additionally, more advanced technologies in tunable white light, like Color Select, offers users the opportunity to choose a color temperature from very cool to very warm and independently adjust the light’s intensity. This type of technology has numerous benefits, including better support of our natural circadian rhythms (which improves health and wellness), simulating natural daylight, and offering a variety of interior design and functionality options.

DiLouie: What markets and applications do different tunable white lighting effects serve? What’s the low-hanging fruit?

Littman: It’s critical for many hotels, restaurants and entertaining establishments to find energy efficient halogen replacements to comply with the ever-increasing restrictions on energy codes. Warm Glow Dimming LED products can help provide that solution. In addition, tunable white light sources can improve the effectiveness of a flex space such as a hotel ballroom-establishments can quickly convert from a conference room to a colorful wedding reception at the touch of a button.

In healthcare, there has been a lot of research showing the positive effect tunable white light has on improving patient healing and recovery times. Like natural light, tunable white light sources can vary throughout a 24 hour cycle – with high color temperature, high output lighting provided in the day, and lower color temperature, lower output lighting used in the evening. This is far beyond what we could do with traditional lighting. Tunable white lighting can also be optimized to minimize circadian disruption for shift workers, patients, and visitors. And this is something commercial spaces and corporate owners will want to take advantage of as well, for a direct impact on employee satisfaction and their bottom line.

DiLouie: What new applications are being created by the availability of this technology?

Littman: People who don’t typically have access to natural light can access the benefits of daylight by synchronizing circadian rhythms with LED lighting and control technology. This can lead to improved productivity, better moods and overall happier workplaces.

For retailers, art galleries and museums, the visual appearance of a product or a work of art can be greatly enhanced by this type of lighting. Traditionally, we were dependent on the product in order to determine what light bulb would create the best display; now, you can install tunable white light technologies like Color Select + that can customize the lighting effect for any product, and then can change with the season, color, or painting – all in one fixture.

DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for tunable white lighting?

Littman: We’re very excited by the response to our broad range of our color technologies and the interesting ways people are applying them. For example, we’ve had requests from major art galleries for products to help better enhance the quality of their art displays. These galleries leverage different color temperatures for different pieces of art made at different time periods in order to replicate the environment the pieces were created. We’ve also had projects in healthcare, residential, and hospitality sectors where the customer is looking for LED lighting technologies to optimize the way people look and feel in a space.

Tunable-white lighting offers the ability to dramatically change how a space appears. Shown here are three different dim levels and color outputs for three applications: a healthcare environment (a), a kitchen (b) and an office space (c). Images courtesy of USAI Lighting.

Tunable-white lighting offers the ability to dramatically change how a space appears. Shown here are three different dim levels and color outputs for three applications: a healthcare environment (a), a kitchen (b) and an office space (c). Images courtesy of USAI Lighting.

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DiLouie: Are there any pitfalls or areas where further development and improvement is needed?

Littman: Controls and compatibility testing is critical to the success of tunable white light products. USAI, along with architectural control manufacturers, have made a commitment to testing our lighting fixtures’ compatibility with architectural lighting controls. This allows us to provide high-quality, industry-approved products. We want to make the experience as smooth and seamless as possible for our customers. When our customers install a solution from us, they know it is going to work.

DiLouie: Color temperature has been linked to circadian lighting. What is the link, what research supports it, and how should distributors be selling it?

Littman: We know that the right lighting at the right time is critical to people’s health and wellness. Maximum exposure to high amounts of blue light in the morning helps us feel productive and awake, and entrain our natural intrinsic circadian rhythms to the natural light/dark cycle. This is important for overall health and wellness. By contrast, lower light levels and warmer color temperatures in the evening helps signal to our body that is time to prepare for sleep. Circadian-appropriate lighting is able to help us sync our circadian rhythms with these light-dark cycles and prevent associated problems like depression, hormone imbalance, exhaustion and more.

There is a tremendous amount of research to support this and the body of peer-reviewed published studies is growing all of the time. When selling tunable white lights, it’s important for distributors to partner with a fixture manufacturer that is well informed and understands the scientific importance of circadian rhythms. We, at USAI, believe that the link between lighting and health and wellness is the next frontier of lighting design and technology.

DiLouie: What lighting controls enable tunable white lighting? Are these typically packaged with the luminaires or paired by control manufacturers?

Littman: This is a new technology so there isn’t really a “typical” answer – what we are seeing occur as a trend, however, is that some manufacturers provide tunable white lighting products that can only be operated with a proprietary controller. We at USAI don’t buy into this approach, because that’s simply not the way the world works. An open source control mechanism is the best solution.

Ultimately, one of the most important considerations when determining how to pair controls is ensuring they can compliment and work in sync with the entire building’s main controls system. Demonstrating how the control system, the luminaire and the user interface integrate and coordinate seamlessly with one another will serve as the biggest advantage to a distributor and user.

DiLouie: What should distributors be doing right now to sell tunable white lighting products most effectively?

Littman: Everyone wants the latest technology without understanding the true value and benefit that a different type of lighting can provide them. Users are now turning to distributors for help with that. A distributor who is well informed with the latest products, uses and information will easily differentiate itself from competitors. It is critical for distributors to develop a network of reputable partners, manufacturers and resources that can help keep current with the human benefits of tunable white light – what users are most interested in understanding today.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about LED tunable white lighting, what would it be?

Littman: LED is going to continue to absolutely, positively change the way we use, see, and engage with light. It is the way of the future and the sooner we are able to master and harness all of the possibilities, the sooner we’ll be able to provide our customers with the very best in LED lighting solutions. At USAI, we are constantly immersing ourselves in the latest research and information to innovate our products and provide additional information and value to each of our stakeholders. Tunable white light, in particular, can provide a solution for many of our modern-day challenges, and staying informed with this cutting-edge technology can help prevent costly mistakes, both in the field and in design.

DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this topic?

Littman: There has been increasing research done on the effects of tunable white light on health, productivity and more – and our knowledge base keeps expanding and improving. Visit USAI Lighting’s website at usailighting.com research to learn more.

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Louis Poulsen to Open US-Based Showroom in LA’s Helms Bakery Design Center

Louis Poulsen, iconic Danish manufacturer and designer of architectural grade lighting, announces plans to open its first US-based showroom in Culver City, CA at the Helm’s Bakery District. Louis Poulsen…

Louis Poulsen, iconic Danish manufacturer and designer of architectural grade lighting, announces plans to open its first US-based showroom in Culver City, CA at the Helm’s Bakery District.

Louis Poulsen USA has signed a 5 year lease agreement for the 2,900-square foot showroom located in Studio E at the “to-the-trade-only” Helms Design Center space with Walter N. Marks, Inc. The showroom will feature a comprehensive selection of both indoor and outdoor lighting solutions for members of the trade community in architecture and design to experience the ambience of each design up close and personal.

The showroom is planned to open in the spring and will be available to the trade for presentations, meetings and events. Further details surrounding the opening will be announced at a later date.

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Circadian Health Could be Transformational for Lighting Industry

Lighting is on the cusp of major change, say three lighting experts while discussing the subject of lighting and circadian health at the annual lighting colloquy sponsored by the National…

Lighting is on the cusp of major change, say three lighting experts while discussing the subject of lighting and circadian health at the annual lighting colloquy sponsored by the National Lighting Bureau.

The three panelists were Mariana G. Figueiro, Ph.D., professor and Light & Health Program director, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Kevin Kampschroer, director, Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings, U.S. General Services Administration; and Mary Beth Gotti, LC, manager, GE Lighting Institute, GE Lighting. The discussion was moderated by EdisonReport.net’s Randy Reid.

Dr. Figueiro explained that morning light synchronizes people to the local time on Earth. When synchronization is disrupted, circadian rhythm is disrupted. Research shows that circadian-rhythm disruption can have a negative effect on human health and well-being, and that long-term circadian-rhythm disruption has been associated with diabetes, obesity, and cancer. All light stimulates the human brain, she said, and can also exert an acute alerting effect on people. Blue light helps maintain synchronization and increase alertness, but saturated red light can also maintain alertness; e.g., red light after lunch or in the middle of the night helps people feel more alert and less sleepy. Historically, lighting has been thought of in terms of color and light level, she said. Now, timing has become important, too. As such, lighting controls will soon not only adjust lighting levels; they will also change lighting’s color at certain times or in response to certain stimuli.

Mr. Kampschroer commented that, historically, lighting systems were designed to do no harm to building occupants. Now, he said, we have lighting that can improve the well-being and performance of building occupants and enhance their ability to sleep at night. Insofar as lighting-energy conservation is concerned, he noted that, when people have the ability to adjust lighting on their own, they generally optimize their visual comfort by selecting settings that also happen to reduce energy consumption. He was particularly enthused about using more daylighting in buildings. He noted that, in hospitals, individuals who had undergone major surgery healed faster when their rooms were illuminated by daylighting. He commented that the value derived from shorter hospital stays would more than pay for the lighting systems required to achieve it.

Ms. Gotti said that the new roles lighting can fulfill give manufacturers significant opportunities and incentives to take lighting quality to a whole new dimension. She foresees opportunities not only in office buildings, but in educational and health-care facilities as well.

Check it out here:

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Product Monday: HP-6 LED Collection by Finelite

Finelite’s HP-6 LED Collection expands the company’s HP family of luminaires with 6-inch-wide beams of light. Any length, minimum 2 feet, in increments down to 1/16th-inch, and 90-degree corners in…

Finelite’s HP-6 LED Collection expands the company’s HP family of luminaires with 6-inch-wide beams of light. Any length, minimum 2 feet, in increments down to 1/16th-inch, and 90-degree corners in a single plane, ship in 10 working days. Custom angles are available. Models include recessed as well as direct pendant and direct surface mount. Up to 108 lumens per watt and 973 lumens/foot. 90% of initial light output at 100,000 hours. Available in 3000K, 3500K and 4000K. Dimming standard. 10-year warranty.

Click here to learn more.

Finelite HP6 Direct Pendant

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Introduction to Lighting Design

Another contribution to the March issue of The Electrical Distributor provides a primer on lighting design. Reprinted with permission. It’s often said that lighting is as much an art as…

Another contribution to the March issue of The Electrical Distributor provides a primer on lighting design. Reprinted with permission.

It’s often said that lighting is as much an art as it is engineering, but the art of design can be reduced to a series of guiding principles. By understanding these principles, electrical distributors demonstrate expertise and differentiate themselves. They can engage owners in a conversation that starts with application needs and ends with equipment sales.

What lighting can do

Light is a commodity that should be purchased at the lowest possible cost, but lighting is a business asset that should be carefully considered for investment with the right design and equipment.

The large majority of our impressions of the world come through our eyes, and light is necessary to vision. Light is therefore the medium through which a majority of people perceive the world.

“Lighting” is the application of light to spaces. Where the light is placed, at what relative intensities, and in what direction, can have a major impact not only on vision and visual comfort, but perception. Not just light, but the lighting equipment itself can also affect impressions of the space and its owner.

Lighting, therefore, can impact satisfaction, visibility, task performance, safety, security, sales, mood and atmosphere, aesthetic judgment and social interaction. It also tells a story about the space, whether a given store is likely to be focused on discounts or high-end products, or whether a restaurant is selling fast food or a fine dining experience.

Color perception: For an object to be perceived a certain color, that color must be present both in the object and the content of the light striking it. Designers are concerned with color appearance (measured in correlated color temperature, or CCT) and color fidelity, or color rendering compared to an ideal source (measured on the color rendering index, or CRI). The lighting industry is now evaluating a proposed metric capturing saturation as well. Changing CCT, CRI and saturation can have a big impact on how people, objects and spaces appear, enhancing or muting or even distorting their colors.

Focus: The human eye is naturally attracted to the brightest area in the field of view. By focusing a higher intensity of light on certain features in a space, we can make them focal points, directing attention to them, and establish a visual hierarchy. For example, we could promote a key merchandise display by focusing a higher intensity of light on it.

Space perception: The pattern of light in a space can stimulate a psychological response (see Table). For example, bright uniform lighting, with light placed on walls and even the ceiling, can make a space appear public and visually larger in a lobby. Conversely, lower-intensity lighting at the task with a little perimeter lighting can create feelings of intimacy in a fine restaurant.

A space’s lighting defines its personality and how people perceive it, which in turn affects how they feel about being there. Below are various lighting effects that can take the same space and transform it into different environments.

A space’s lighting defines its personality and how people perceive it, which in turn affects how they feel about being there. Below are various lighting effects that can take the same space and transform it into different environments.

Modeling: The contrast of light and shadow can reveal texture and add depth to faces, objects and surfaces. For example, washing a brick wall with light will visually flatten its texture by reducing shadows, while grazing it at an angle will enrich its texture. As another example, strong downlighting on a face can produce shadowing at the eyebrows, nose and wrinkles. Modeling is effected by relative intensities and direction of light, with the light distribution characteristics of the light source being an important factor.

Upper left: statue lighted with diffuse lighting only, which results in a lack of definition. Upper right: statue lighted with diffuse lighting with sidelight, balancing definition without harsh shadowing. Bottom left: statue lighted with downlighting only, which produces unflattering shadows. Bottom right: statue lighted with uplighting only, which makes the face appear sinister. Image courtesy of Naomi J. Miller, FIES, FIALD, LC.

Upper left: statue lighted with diffuse lighting only, which results in a lack of definition. Upper right:
statue lighted with diffuse lighting with sidelight, balancing definition without harsh shadowing. Bottom left: statue lighted with downlighting only, which produces unflattering shadows. Bottom right: statue lighted with uplighting only, which makes the face appear sinister. Image courtesy of Naomi J. Miller, FIES, FIALD, LC.

Point sources, such as incandescent lamps and LEDs, are small lamps that can produce pronounced shadows. Linear sources, such as fluorescent lamps, produce diffuse light output from the source’s surface, which softens shadows. Area sources are large surfaces that emit highly diffuse light, such as a ceiling reflecting light from an indirect light source.

Left: objects lighted by a point source. Middle: objects lighted by a linear source. Right: objects lighted by an area source. Image courtesy of Peter Ngai.

Left: objects lighted by a point source. Middle: objects lighted by a linear source. Right: objects lighted by an area source. Image courtesy of Peter Ngai.

A light conversation

Lighting design is the process of delivering lighting to spaces. It begins with a conversation with the owner about organizational and user needs. Who will be using the space? What are their lighting needs? What are the space characteristics? What business goals should the lighting support? What does the owner want the space to communicate? How important is energy efficiency and ease of maintenance? What restrictions apply, such as energy codes and budget?

Layering with light

Properly lighting a space often involves layering of general/ambient, task and accent lighting.

General lighting: This primary layer provides sufficient light to perform visual tasks, ambient light for safe circulation, or both. It is usually provided by overhead equipment. General lighting is typically diffuse and uniform.

General lighting typically falls into one of three categories based on its light emission: direct, indirect or some combination of the two.

Direct lighting distributes all or nearly all light downward toward the task. The light may be concentrated or spread, depending on the optics used. It’s very efficient but poses risks of direct glare, scalloping on nearby walls, and pronounced shadows. Indirect lighting distributes all or nearly all light upward toward the ceiling and nearby walls, which is then reflected into the task area. Indirect lighting provides very soft light distribution, which can promote visual comfort, but risks making the space appear visually flat.

Many luminaires, known by various terminology, emit light in both directions. Traditionally, semi-indirect luminaires emit 60-90 percent of their output up and 10-40 percent down. Direct-indirect emit roughly equally up and down. And semi-direct emit 60-90 percent of their output down and 10-40 percent up. Commonly, however, these luminaires are broken into two types: direct/indirect, a luminaire that emits more downlight than uplight, and indirect/direct, which emits more uplight than downlight. The downlight component provides efficient task lighting with modeling definition, while the uplight component provides diffuse ambient illumination for visual comfort.

Supplementary task lighting: This primary layer provides higher light intensities at the task. It is usually provided by localized equipment such as task lights, of which there is a wide variety.

Accent lighting:
This primary layer is used to draw attention important objects, displays, artwork, architecture and areas by focusing a higher relative intensity of light on them. It is often provided by equipment such as directional lighting with varying beam spreads allowing precise control over what is being lighted. In applications where displays are expected to move, such as a retail store, flexible (aimable and/or movable) lighting is recommended. A particular accent lighting technique is framing, in which a recessed or surface-mounted light projector, fitted with adjustable shutters, precisely focuses intense light on an object such as a wall painting.

By separately controlling these layers at different intensities, a variety of scenes can be produced, providing flexibility to support various space needs.

Techniques

Aside from the basic lighting layers, various techniques can be used to achieve specific lighting effects. These include downlighting, wall washing/grazing, cove lighting, uplighting, silhouetting and sparkle/glitter.

Downlighting: Downlighting is popular technique that places light below the light source and is available from a variety of lighting equipment, from downlights to recessed troffers. The light can be soft and diffuse for visual comfort in a space with critical visual tasks, or intense and non-diffuse to promote a visually stimulating atmosphere.

Downlighting that isn’t balanced with other light can produce unwanted shadowing on faces. Downlights installed near a wall can produce tall and thin scalloping, which is generally undesirable.

Wall washing and grazing:
Wall washing involves uniformly lighting a wall from top to bottom in a graded wash. This “washing” eliminates shadows, resulting in a smooth, visually flat appearance. It’s therefore best suited to flat walls. Light sources must be placed a sufficient distance from the wall and close enough to each other to ensure a good wall washing effect.

Wall grazing is similar to wall washing, but the light source is placed closer to the wall, which accentuates shadows and thereby reveals texture. It’s therefore best suited to textured walls such as brick and stone. The light source can be placed at varying distances from the wall, changing the angle and thereby the amount of shadowing that is produced.

Cove lighting:
Cove lighting involves illuminating perimeter coves. This highlights the architectural feature and sheds light on the ceiling, which is reflected into the space as indirect ambient light.

Uplighting: Uplighting places light above the light source. It’s not very popular but can be effective for certain applications, such table candlelight and highlighting architecture, plants and trees.

Silhouetting:
Silhouetting involves backlighting an object with either no or reduced frontal lighting, rendering it in silhouette. The backlight can be intense (which clarifies the object) or diffuse. This technique is typically used for illuminating artwork, branding or architecture for aesthetics.

Sparkle/Glitter: This is producing tiny points of glare for visual interest and to produce a sense of elegance. Examples include some chandeliers and sparkle on restaurant silverware.

This private office is lighted to 50 footcandles of task illumination using four different designs featuring troffers, downlights, parabolic troffers and linear indirect. The result is a space that appears differently in terms of brightness, aesthetics, spaciousness and visual comfort. Image courtesy of Leslie North, PE, LC, LEED-AP and Carla Bukalski, PE, LC.

This private office is lighted to 50 footcandles of task illumination using four different designs featuring troffers, downlights, parabolic troffers and linear indirect. The result is a space that appears differently in terms of brightness, aesthetics, spaciousness and visual comfort. Image courtesy of Leslie North, PE, LC, LEED-AP and Carla Bukalski, PE, LC.

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Aesthetics

The aesthetics of visible lighting equipment will also have an impact on how the space and its owner are perceived. A decorative, sparkling chandelier in a hotel lobby can convey elegance, for example. Linear suspended luminaires instead of troffers in an office conveys a cool, high-tech look. Similarly, the arrangement of luminaires conveys an aesthetic impression. Luminaires should always be placed in a way that is not visually jarring (unless the designer wants it that way for some reason).

Light on

Lighting is far more than lumens and watts. It is the application of light to spaces to support the owner’s goals and user needs. By understanding the various techniques and principles used to produce different lighting effects, owners can be engaged in educated sales conversations that start with their needs.

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