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Lighting Technology Retains Brilliance

A giant spotlight cast its brilliance on 2015 – the International Year of Light. As a result of global initiative, this United Nations observance shed awareness on light science, from the cosmic to advanced applications and technologies around the world.

At Franklin, the attention and excitement haven’t dimmed – lighting is always a focus for us. How to innovate efficiency, light emissions and controls. How to make it cost-effective for client programs. How to make it an easy-to-adopt upgrade for end-use customers.

We’re already seeing emerging technologies and research this year, from Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to industry-specific technologies. Benefits of these lighting solutions go beyond just energy efficiency for businesses and homeowners.

Energy Efficiency:  First things first: efficiency. Lighting energy consumption has a direct impact on utility bills and bottom lines. We continue to see improvements of the diode design and optical control, putting more light where it is needed and not losing it in materials or surrounding space. 

Older discharge sources (i.e.  fluorescent and HID) tend to have mediocre color rendering properties, which made contrasting and fidelity difficult. Today’s technologies consistently see Color Rendering Index (CRI) scores in the 80s and 90s on a scale of 100, whereas 60s and 70s were common in older sources. Some product qualifying bodies like ENERGY STAR® have minimum requirements of 80.

So consider that dress. If you’re a retailer, how would you like your products displayed? If you’re a grocer, how red would you like your meats and tomatoes? I once completed an upgrade for a retail customer who went from older T12 “cool white” lamps to high-performance T8. His immediate reaction wasn’t the reduction on his utility bill. But rather, how much more the colors “popped” in the ties he was selling!

Control and the Internet of Things (IoT): When it comes to control, I’d argue  the traditional response was to shutter and put it on the project list to value engineering, but Intelligent luminaires now do it all, from simple on/off to mapping customer shopping patterns.

Lamps and fixtures have capabilities to change through thousands of colors or simply change Kelvin temperatures through the “white” visible spectrum. Connected devices (introduce new players like, Cisco and Google) call for just a few simple inputs by the user.

DesignLights Consortium™ will be launching their Commercial Advanced Lighting Controls project soon. One of the goals is to take the complexity out of controls, which has been a past hurdle for business customers. Other manufacturers have answered this call by offering wireless, self-programming features as well.

Light and Our Health: Last, but certainly not least, research is starting to come out on how light plays a role in our everyday lives, from circadian rhythms to hospital disinfection. Smart devices now have blue light filter apps that reduce light in the short wavelengths so that your sleep cycle is not disturbed when viewing content in the evening hours. Has anything not been thought of? It’s pretty incredible.

Lamps and luminaires can be programmed to provide you with more blue light content throughout the morning and day and provide you with more red contact in the evening, which aids melatonin levels. UV light is nothing really new for disinfection or artificial tanning. However, technology today can dial in specific nanometers of light to prevent bacterial growth in patient rooms, without affecting visitors’ safety.

Do you think Thomas Edison would be impressed by the innovation we’ve seen on his original invention?  I would certainly say yes. And despite the leaps and bounds, I foresee much to come.

Kyle Kichura
Written by Kyle Kichura

Lighting Channel Manager, LC
Kyle Kichura is our team’s subject matter expert when it comes to lighting. From design to implementation, he has acquired over a decade of experience with lighting efficiency. Kyle manages the lighting aspects of Franklin Energy’s programs, including upstream product engagement and lighting product qualification. Kyle holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and is lighting certified (LC) through the National Council on Qualifications for the Lighting Professions (NCQLP). He serves as a member of the Illumination Engineering Society of North America, board member for the Milwaukee Chapter, and represents Focus on Energy within DesignLights Consortium’s™ (DLC) technical committee.

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