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.
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.
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.
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.
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.