Tunable White Lighting Enters Smart-Home Market at CEDIA 2017

Demonstrated by Legrand, Ketra, Smartika and others at CEDIA 2017, tunable white lighting can be used to regulate circadian rhythms, enhance moods and improve sleep.


For the past few years, tunable white lighting has been all the rage in the commercial lighting industry, but the category is only now appearing in the smart-home channel.

At CEDIA 2017, we saw the first inkling of the emerging trend from established players like Legrand, as well as newer companies and migrants from the commercial sector.

White LED lights come in a variety of color temperatures, ranging from reddish (warm) to bluish (cool). The tint of the light can affect your moods and sleep patterns through melatonin production or restriction: Warmer temperatures can be calming; cooler temps can be energizing.

At Lightfair 2016, Lutron demonstrated the impact of different white-light color temperatures on the environment.

Ideally you want this “human centric lighting” (HCL) to align with circadian rhythms – emitting cooler colors at the start of the day, and warmer colors as you head into bedtime – so-called “dynamic natural lighting.” That was the message of all the tunable-lighting companies at CEDIA.

At the show, Lutron Electronics didn’t highlight white lighting at its booth, but the company is heavily invested in the category and typically showcases its solutions at the big Lightfair show for lighting pros.

At Lightfair 2016, Craig Casey, senior building science engineer at Lutron, explained that a circadian rhythm is “not actually 24 hours. It’s longer, so we need to adjust.”

Tunable lighting allows occupants to experience a natural, 24-hour cycle. ‘Warmer light in the afternoon is beneficial,” Casey says, “Because as we go into evening, blue light can interrupt our natural cycle, disrupting our sleep, and likely decreasing our melatonin production.”

Lutron president Mike Pessina told CE Pro last year it’s the lighting designer that typically specifies the schedules for color temperature, but the industry has yet to develop “calibration specialists” for this task.

Legrand Demos Day/Night Lighting

Legrand used CEDIA 2017 to demonstrate color tuning to home-technology integrators for the first time.

The organization has a thriving HCL business under the WattStopper brand for commercial markets. At CEDIA, however, Legrand demonstrated tunable LEDs under Vantage Controls – a more familiar brand to the custom installation channel.

Legrand demo'd tunable lighting under the Vantage brand, explaining that lights should get warmer (redder) throughout the day to help occupants gear up for slumber. In the morning, a cool blue tint can energize the sleeper.

The booth featured a bedroom vignette, where the company demonstrated the somnolent effects of warmer hues (goodnight) and energizing effects of cooler tones (wake up).

Reid Cram, director of marketing for Vantage, says the company uses dimming engines from Lumenetix, “with our DMX to simulate the Circadian rhythm.”

DMX is a popular Cat 5-based LED control protocol typically used for commercial lighting, as well as live stage shows.

CEDIA Newbies

Several new or lesser-known companies showcased their white lighting products this year at CEDIA.

Smartika is barely three years old, offering a small ecosystem of environmental controls, including smart lighting, a very nice looking thermostat and a water sensor. At its core, the company is a tunable lighting company with its own LED fixtures, as well as “smart canopies” for third-party lamps.

The company utilizes its own flavor of ZigBee, and plans to integrate with Control4 in 2018.

Smartika's tunable white luminaires and “smart canopy” for third-party fixtures.

Another CEDIA newcomers, Ketra, has been busy in the commercial space since 2009 — doing tunable lighting and little else, with numerous installs in retail, hospitality and other commercial spaces.

Now the company is headed into the luxury residential market, reaching out to reps to sell the “highest quality, most accurate natural light and integrated control system in the world,” so they say.

Like Smartika, Ketra communicates over a proprietary version of ZigBee. 

There were a few other relative newbies showing tunable lighting at CEDIA, including LumaStream and Colorbeam, both of which communicate via DMX.

Learn more about tunable white lighting in the CEDIA White Paper by Peter Aylett of the CEDIA Technology Council.

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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