Daylighting and energy-efficient products are just two of today’s trends in the commerical lighting market. These are being driven by several forces, including restrictive energy regulation and research by institutions and companies. The most pervasive force—advances in technology—is making all the other changes possible.

Many of the trends started in response to energy restrictions.

“All 50 states have energy legislation mandating how much energy they can use for their commercial buildings. It is pretty restrictive in some areas,” said Mark Lien, manager of specification marketing, Cooper Lighting.

As of July 2005, the Department of Energy—per the Energy Policy Act (EPACT)—required states to certify that they had an energy code as stringent as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) 90.1-1999.

The updated ASHRAE/IESNA 90.1-2004 has been published with new lighting power-density requirements for interior and exterior applications. Some states have already adopted it.

Daylighting and controls

Energy restrictions and the ability to control light levels has contributed to the growing use of daylight harvesting in commercial buildings.

“Today sustainable design is by far the leading consideration in architectural design, and daylighting is its most exciting tool,” said James Benya, principal of Benya Lighting at LIGHTCongress 2004, an event of LIGHTFAIR, an annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show. “Architects around the world are relearning and reinventing one of the oldest skills in their profession. They know that with the addition of daylight [and] using modern technologies in glass, shading, skylighting and controls, buildings can be beautiful, functional, healthy and use far less energy.”

As architects have been creating new designs, electrical contractors have been installing the equipment that controls the systems that implement the ideas. As with any new technology, there have been problems. One has had to do with control of the technology.

“If you are going to dim the lights in response to daylight, you have to buy a more expensive ballast and you have to get a control system,” said Russ Leslie, professor and associate director of the Lighting Research Center (LRC), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

According to Leslie, the largest cost is getting the system professionally adjusted.

“It is often a frustrating experience for the person trying to adjust it,” Leslie said. “If it is not done right, the occupants will complain. Maintenance will tweak the sensitivity of the photo-sensing dimming system until the complaints stop, often resulting in the failure of the simplified technology to reap the benefits of daylighting. We’re working out the kinks.

“We have a device in development, called the Day Switch, [which is] simply a photosensor-controlled cut-off switch that, when there is plenty of light, will shut off interior lights, adjusting the light level automatically for whatever fixture it is installed in. It would go into the ballast lead line on any fixture in retrofit or be built into a new fixture. We call this automatic daylight harvesting (ADH) technology.

“The products use an algorithm developed [at the LRC] that adjusts automatically to simplify the use of controls, whether switching manually or automatically, dimming manually or automatically. These are the new options for control systems that increase the probability of successful energy savings from daylighting without annoying the occupants.”

While the industry waits for the debut of these products, other products related to controls also attempt to solve problems. A sensor placement and optimization tool (SPOT) was developed to assist designers in quantifying the existing—or intended electric lighting—and annual daylighting performance to establish the optimal photo sensor placement.

Developed by Architectural Energy Corp., SPOT won the Energy Award at the 2005 LIGHTFAIR New Product Showcase. The product was originally developed for California’s Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) and the Program Lighting Research Project (LRC) with classroom daylighting in mind, but is useful for all installations.

Lamps and ballasts

“Manufacturers are continuing to improve their lamp and ballast technology, creating products that are more reliable and energy efficient,” said Pamela Horner, director of industry relations and standards, Osram Sylvania Inc., in the 2005 Lighting Systems in the Commercial Market report.

“The fastest-growing fluorescent lamp type is the T5HO, partly because it is being used in applications normally served by HID lamps, for example, in medium- and high-bay applications, in big box retail, in warehouse and distribution centers, industrial facilities and gymnasiums.”

Why the switch?

“They save energy, have a longer life, color stability, instant on, and are easily controllable,” Horner said. “The ballasts for them are electronic and can be used in conjunction with occupancy sensors and other sensors to further energy savings, and they meet the California Title 24 energy code requirements.”

Horner predicts trends for lamp types will be the production of longer-life products, improved lumen maintenance, higher color temperatures (5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin), and controllability, including compatibility with daylight-harvesting systems.

She also sees a trend toward lamps with reduced mercury content, an opinion shared by Sam Fuchsman, president, Lighting & Supply of New York Inc.

“Up until a year or so ago most bulbs contained more mercury, but since then standards have come out stating that bulbs can only have a minimum amount of mercury,” Fuchsman said. Examples include General Electric’s Ecolux lamps and Philips Alto line.

LIGHTFAIR 2005 winners

Lamps released in the past year that won awards at LIGHTFAIR 2005 included “Best of” category award winners, such as incandescent lamps—Osram Ministar low-voltage halogen lamps; fluorescent lamps—ALTO Energy Advantage 25-watt T8 from Philips Lighting Co.; and HID lamps—CMH20 PAR 20 by GE Consumer & Industrial Lighting.

Other lamp technology was recognized in the 2005 IESNA Progress Report. Some of the noted products include the following:

° Cooper Lighting’s LF300 local transformer, which eliminates the need for remote transformers in track lighting.

° Lithonia’s RT5 volumetric recessed lighting fixture. This product has an efficiency of 89.9 percent, which is the highest for any fixture of its type. Osram Sylvania, partnered with Lithonia in the design and created ballasts for the fixture.

Efficient electronic ballasts have also been developed. Some boast a 5 percent energy reduction with instant start. Others are designed to work efficiently at lower temperatures. Still others claim to work efficiently with control systems, include step dimming and dimming for metal halide lamps.

The 2005 ISENA Progress Report recognized many different ballasts that debuted this year including some that work with control systems:

° Universal Lighting Technologies light-level switching ballasts, Ballastar T5, that has a single control lead that allows the user to switch from full light output to 50 percent with a standard wall switch or lighting relay.

° Philips Lighting Electronics lighting ballast that is part of the Equos wireless integrated lighting control that uses the Zigbee open protocol. It can integrate with wall controls, occupancy sensors, daylighting sensors and hand-held controls.

° EcoSystem ballast from Lutron Electronics (which was also the 2005 LIGHTFAIR Best of Ballasts and Transformers award winner) can be connected directly to the ballast, eliminating the need for power packs and interfaces with wall stations and sensors for infrared control, daylight harvesting, and occupancy sensing. It can be connected with Class I or Class II wiring.

The ISESNA Progress Report also noted ballasts geared for particular applications:

° Advance Transformer’s Optanium 2.0 T8 electronic ballasts include instant start and have a start temperature down to -20°F when used with standard 32-watt T8 lamps.

° General Electric’s new electronic system, a low-frequency ballast that contains an auxiliary quartz re-strike circuit, will operate any of the five lamps for 250-, 300-, 320-, 350- and 400-watt pulse start metal halide, including ceramic lamps.


Considerable investment is being made in the development of LEDs with excellent results. For example, Philips has invested more than a billion dollars in LED technology. The company partnered with Hewlett-Packard’s Agilent Technologies to create LumiLEDs six years ago.

In late 2005, Philips reached agreement with Agilent Technologies to acquire that company’s shares of the joint venture.

“Our reasoning is that solid-state lighting is unquestionably the future of the business,” said Steve Goldmacher, director of corporate communications, Philips. “With LEDs, the key is the application.”

Need more evidence that LEDs are a booming technology? How about this fact. Four of the seven products in the 2005 LIGHTFAIR New Product Showcase were LED products.

° Winner of the Design Excellence Award was MILLENNIO from Hess America, a product that projects LED illumination in a long narrow beam suited for public parkways or parks.

° Lamina Ceramic’s BL-4000 RGB+, the brightest and smallest RGB LED light available, won the LIGHTFAIR Technical Innovation Award. It was judged best new LED product and included in the IESNA Progress Report.

° SQADRO LED from Xenon Light Inc. garnered the Roeder Award for its use of color and sense of fun. Color Kinetics iW MR and ecoXT MR16 from e3LED, jointly won the Judge’s Citation Award for product excellence.

“Advances in technology are having an impact on the lighting industry,” Horner said.

And the changes are across the board. EC

CASEY, author of "Kids Inventing! A Handbook for Young Inventors" and "Women Invent! Two Centuries of Discoveries that have Changed Our World," can be reached at or