Fueled by a hot real estate market, residential lighting manufacturers are creating products that integrate design and function at the onset. Although custom homes comprise 17 percent of all new homes, they account for almost 30 percent of all expenditures for building products. Custom buyers pay record sums for lavish homes they view as reflections of their good taste and lifestyles. Buyers crave comfortable retreats from frantic commutes and workplace stress. Upscale homebuyers want to make their lives easier. They appreciate good lighting design and are willing to pay for it.

Savvy electrical contractors realize that homeowners want quality products to enhance their lifestyles and, therefore, contractors should be equipped with product knowledge that they can convey to their customers. What follows is a summary of some of the new residential lighting products on the market, broken down by manufacturer.

Leviton combines design with function

According to findings based on consumer research, Leviton Manufacturing Co. determined homeowners want a sleek, sophisticated look to complement their premium appliances, electronics and entertainment systems. To achieve this goal, Leviton designed Acenti, a coordinated collection of lighting controls, switches, receptacles and wallplates for retrofits and new construction. Leviton sees Acenti becoming the next standard feature in luxury homes and a luxury feature for standard homes.

Engineered for performance, Acenti answers the need for integrated products that work effortlessly, while attaining an aesthetic that soothes the senses, according to Leviton. Although green, amber and red have been standard LED colors, Acenti lighting controls and surge protective devices use soothing blue LEDs, a growing trend in electronics and appliances.

A larger device footprint allows space for product enhancements. The extra space integrates three receptacles onto a single-gang device face. A unique Triplex receptacle fits in a standard single-gang wallbox and accommodates three grounded plugs.

For branch-circuit load calculations, the Triplex is considered to have the same value as a duplex receptacle, 180 volt-amperes. The maximum number of Triplex receptacles installed on a single 15- and 20-amp circuit is 10 and 13, respectively, the same as the number of duplex receptacles allowed. This provides more usable receptacles per branch circuit and helps eliminate the need for plug-in adapters and plug strips.

The absence of webs between devices in multiple gang applications contributes to overall device appeal. All the load-controlling devices with push-pad on/off actuation incorporate a unique return-to-neutral orientation, aligning in the same position for a uniform look whether the load is on or off.

All visible surfaces are molded from the same engineering-grade polymer, providing an even matte finish and color matching. Brushed stainless steel metal wallplates coordinate with high-tech appliances and surfaces.

An alignment plate with precisely located positioning pins ensures proper alignment of devices and wallplates. Mounting clips hold the screwless, snap-on wallplates firmly in place. The clips are secured to the mounting strap with the TOX precision joining method used by manufacturers such as Porsche, Bosch-Siemens and Canon. For easier installation, some lighting controls have back- and side-wire terminal screws. There are no fins to remove from lighting controls in multigang applications, allowing for faster installation. In the 1,000-watt dimmer, a cast heat sink is discretely mounted behind the dimmer’s push-pad. Get details from www.leviton.com/acenti or 888.4.ACENTI.

Progress Lighting offers versatile fixtures

When electrical contractors educate both buyers and builders, everyone benefits. The builder and electrical contractor increase their sales from product additions, and house performance improves the buyer’s quality of life.

Just as buyers want kitchens to accommodate more than one cook, they also want lighting fixture performance. For example, a vanity light over the mirror provides adequate lighting, but sconces on either side of the mirror help eliminate shadows, making routine tasks such as applying makeup or shaving easier. Thus the home works for the family, making their daily routine easier.

Market trend watchers have witnessed the increase of special-function rooms such as home offices, media rooms and home theaters. Aware that the right lighting helps set the stage for a realistic home movie experience, Progress Lighting began offering a customizable home theater lighting kit including sconces, recessed cans, trims, step lighting and controls that are adaptable to the space and homeowners’ tastes.

Security is a major concern among homeowners. Progress Lighting produces address lighting to enable emergency and delivery vehicles to find residences in inclement weather and at night. The P5968 building-mount address light uses 2- to 5-watt low-voltage xenon lamps wired for 500,000 hours lamp life. The P971 stake mount low-voltage address light comes in black, bronze or cobblestone and is adjustable to four different heights from 10 to 28 inches.

Energy efficiency is a selling point for electrical contractors, whether or not they must adhere to California’s Title 24 energy code. Progress Lighting’s P8681 occupancy sensor wall switch replaces standard wall switches. The P8681 features a manual-on/auto-off, passive infrared occupancy sensor to automatically turn off light fixtures when a room is vacated.

More home spaces are becoming dual purpose, for example, guest bedroom/home office, breakfast nook/homework hub, utility/hobby room, garage/workshop. Moreover, more homes are sheltering an in-law, boomerang child or grandchild.

Electrical contractors can cater to this trend with versatile lighting fixtures and products such as undercabinet lighting for cooking and a kitchen desk, or directionals to focus light where it is needed.

Progress Lighting’s P8563 Hide-a-Lite X undercabinet direct wire box helps provide direct undercabinet lighting for food preparation or studying at a kitchen desk. It also can be installed in a toe-space to illuminate the kitchen at night to prevent accidents.

To illuminate a utility/hobby room, P6153 directionals focus light where needed for specific tasks. For the garage/workshop, the energy-efficient P9212 compact fluorescent wall washer track head in a can provides abundant light. Get details from www.progresslighting.com.

Lithonia Lighting debuts plug-and-play

The new CKP residential compact fluorescent downlights from Lithonia Lighting feature the industry’s first plug-and-play system that reduces installation time by up to one-third. The CKP ships with two housings in one box: a remote unit factory-installed with a prewired 11-foot flex cable and a master unit with an electronic ballast and junction box. A simple plug-in connection in the field links the two units.

Because the CKP uses compact fluorescent lamps, it significantly reduces energy costs. The 120-volt electronic ballast operates two 26-watt, four-pin triple tube fluorescent lamps, has a five-year warranty, and is FCC approved for residential use. CKP downlights are UL/CUL listed, airtight standard, and approved for IC and non-IC applications. See www.lithonia.com.

The CKP exceeds the stringent California 2005 Title 24 requirement.

“CKP downlighting is Energy Star rated and uses up to two-thirds less energy than traditional incandescents,” said Cary Shackelford, manager of product development for Lithonia Lighting’s Recessed Downlighting and Track product group. When combined with Lithonia’s premium reflectors, the CKP provides a recessed downlighting solution for almost any room in the house.

Lithonia’s Ferros family of residential lighting products won Grand Prize at the American Lighting Association’s Lighting for Tomorrow design competition. According to David Zizzi, director of product development for Lithonia Lighting’s Consumer Products Group, “People want energy efficiency. Almost all our products are Energy Star qualified.”

Lithonia’s contractor-friendly undercabinet lighting includes many features to reduce job site installation time. The linkable cabinet fixtures ship with connector cords enabling power to be daisy-chained from one light to the next so a single power supply can electrify all the cabinet fixtures in a kitchen. The lights are designed with hinged wireway covers and snap-on lens assemblies for mounting without tools.

Residential lighting customers are continuing to ask for lower-profile, slimmer designs, Zizzi said.

“We’re developing smaller and smaller products around the T5 lamp, for example.” T5 fluorescent lamps are less than half the diameter of older technology fluorescent lamps, allowing manufacturers to build lower-profile fixtures with better energy efficiencies.

Westinghouse offers CFL collection

Featuring a wide range of Kelvin temperatures, Westinghouse Lighting Corp.’s compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) enable electrical contractors to provide lighting that best suits a consumer’s home illumination needs. With Kelvin temperatures from 2,700 to 6,500, Westinghouse CFLs provide a range of light from the warm light of standard incandescent lamps to the daylight color of some linear fluorescent lamps.

Westinghouse’s CFL line ranges from 4- to 42-watt and includes Mini-Twist, Twist, reflector, household, triple and decorative styles, in standard or candelabra base lamps. These lamps work well for wall sconces, track and recessed lighting, ceiling fixtures, pendants, ceiling fan light kits, desk, enclosed outdoor fixtures, and table and floor lamps for general and task lighting.

Many of the new lamps last up to 10,000 hours, 60 percent longer than previous 6,000-hour CFLs, and 13 times longer than standard 750-hour incandescent lamps. With CRIs ranging from 82 to 90, Westinghouse’s compact fluorescent lamps enable colors to appear more accurately than under standard fluorescent lighting. Many of the new CFLs are Energy Star rated. Each energy-saving CFL saves $25 to $60 in energy costs over its projected seven-year lifespan. See www.westinghouselightbulbs.com.

Westinghouse offers a classic fixture collection from its Thomas Kinkade Inspired Home series that helps electrical contractors provide consumers with an elegant lighting style for home décor.

Using the Morning Glory Cottage fixture series, contractors can give homeowners a lighting collection inspired by Kinkade’s painting, Morning Glory Cottage. The collection has weathered antique brass finish, accented by aged alabaster glass, and incorporates the flowers and vines of the painting into the fixtures.

Available in mini-pendant, chandelier, wall sconce, semi-flush mount, table and floor lamp styles, the Morning Glory Cottage collection creates a complete lighting theme. Each fixture includes Cottage Glow light bulbs, which simulate the warm color of light found in Kinkade’s paintings. Get details from www.westinghouselighting.com.

Lutron’s finishing touch

Based on the company’s popular Maestro line of smart dimmers, Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., Coopersburg, Pa., has developed a Maestro IR remote-controlled dimmer.

Calling the dimmer the “finishing touch” for any TV room, Ed Blair, produce development manager at Lutron said, “Once you find the right level for watching movies, you’ll be able to instantly recall it and set the perfect mood for the evening.”

This is because the one-touch silver button allows you to save the setting indefinitely. No matter how the light level is changed, pressing the silver button will instantly recall the saved level.

The infrared remote can be used up to 30 feet away from the dimmer. Screw terminals have replaced wire leads and connectors, reducing clutter and installation time. A Maestro IR can be installed in about 15 minutes.

Lutron has also added stainless steel wallplates to its Fassada and Claro collection allowing consumers to coordinate with black dimmers, switches and accessories. The wallplates provide homeowners with a finished look, and complement the Maestro dimmer.

“We’re giving consumers the opportunity to coordinate their lighting controls and accessories with their stainless steel refrigerators ranges and countertop appliances,” said Westley Howard, retail and marketing leader at Lutron.

The Claro wallplates are available in 1- to 6-gang configurations, while the Fassada wallplates come in 1- to 3-gang configurations. For more information on these products, visit www.lutron.com.

By investing in upfront research and design, electrical manufacturers can deliver products that discriminating homebuyers want. The end result is additional profits for builders, designers and contractors. EC

WOODS writes for many consumer and trade publications. She can be reached at patwoods123@hotmail.com.