I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Bill Johnson, market development manager – Residential Recessed Lighting, Eaton. The topic: residential lighting trends. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the September 2017 issue of tED Magazine.

DiLouie: What are the major recent trends in single-family residential construction and design, and how are they impacting lighting needs?

Johnson: Many states nationwide have adopted the 2012 and 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) and California has updated the Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Code, which are influencing residential lighting.

1) 2015 IECC mandates high-efficacy “lamps” in 75 percent of permanently wired lighting fixtures [50 percent in the 2012 IECC]. Refer to theses IECC mandates for specific language. Therefore under these codes, permanently wired recessed and surface lighting must use a compact fluorescent (CFL) or LED lamp; or an integrated CFL or LED luminaire. In today’s market the LED trend can be found in new home construction and products are readily availability in distribution.

2) 2015 IECC and California Title 24 are both prompting an increased trend in air-leakage testing of the home. The blower testing performed for air leakage of doors and windows also applies to ceiling openings with recessed lighting. That’s because the codes require recessed luminaires to be insulated ceiling (IC)-rated and sealed to limit air leakage between conditioned and unconditioned spaces (when tested in accordance with ASTM E283).

3) California Title 24 eliminated the low-efficacy allowance from previous years, requiring all permanently installed luminaires to be high-efficacy, and screw-base sockets are no longer allowed in recessed luminaires. Additionally, Title 24 and JA8 have set a standard for LED luminaire qualification for color and performance, which in addition to high-efficacy, have propelled the trend in LED lighting as a desirable whole-house solution.

DiLouie: What are the top three major trends in residential lighting design and how are they impacting demand for and development of lighting products?

Johnson: At the outset of LED luminaire development, dimming was integral to the fixture’s functionality. Today dimming and lighting control is evolving into a seamless integration of LED luminaires with holistic control technology.

Wireless control of LED luminaires is now capable from wall devices and app-based platforms that integrate lighting in the connected home world of the Internet of Things.

Color-changing and color tuning technology is making LED even more suited and ultimately more embedded into the lexicon of residential lighting design.

Dim-to-warm is established as an option in LED lamps and integrated LED luminaires where the color temperature shifts from say 3000K to 1850K over the dimming range.

Color tuning is getting attention now that LED luminaires can have embedded wireless technology that allows the freedom of complete control of the light function in color and intensity, and the adjacency of scheduling and security capability from a software app as opposed to a traditional wall controller.

DiLouie: What are the top three major trends in residential lighting product design, and what benefits do they bring to homeowners?

Johnson: The development of surface mounting thin profile flat panel LED luminaires that create wide beam downlight-like illumination and install in a ceiling junction box has created great interest for residential lighting. Surface LEDs are great products, and should be used in conjunction with recessed, under cabinet and decorative luminaires to complete an effective whole-house lighting design.

Small apertures in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch are growing as a preferred choice due to LED technology advancements. The new generation of LED luminaires can offer higher lumen delivery in smaller apertures, which can match and exceed traditional incandescent/halogen sources. Smaller LED housings are IC rated, which was not possible with incandescent/halogen sources due to elevated thermal test temperatures.

Improvement in smaller, higher output LED arrays along with advances in optical technology such as TIR optics (total internal reflection is a lens and a reflector) now offer varied beam patterns and adjustable functions (tilt/rotation) in directional LED luminaires.

DiLouie: What benefits does LED lighting deliver to homes, and what benefits and impact is it having on living with light?

Johnson: The promise of energy savings with LED lighting over traditional sources is now an expected outcome so the focus of residential lighting can shift back to design in choosing the right light for the occupants, the task, and the visual environment.

Recessed downlighting and under cabinet lighting are key ingredients to residential lighting design in providing a foundation of ambient, accent, and task lighting. Traditionally different embodiments of luminaires with incandescent/halogen lamps provided the right combination of intensity, color and beam control for these types of lighting.

Today’s LED luminaires are meeting these design needs in delivering effective illumination in lumen output, beam distribution and quality, especially the ability to select color temperature or color tuning through controls. So LED luminaires are no longer an energy conservation alternative, but a viable design solution that is accepted in the residential space.