If you are involved in design/build lighting projects, from layout to specification, using manufacturer-provided or third-party lighting design and layout software can make your row a little easier to hoe. In addition to helping you create an optimal lighting plan for the requested indoor or outdoor lighting application, some packages will also generate fixture schedules and graphics-rich presentation materials.

Typically, lighting design and layout software includes a database of products as a specification resource. Particular manufacturers generally include only their own product line in their software database. However, they will usually accept photometrics (measurements of the relative intensity of light, or of illuminating power) in industry-standard Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) file format, from other manufacturers.

Third-party packages usually support preformatted multimanufacturer databases. Most, if not all, of the lighting design programs offer libraries of CAD symbols you can easily copy and instantly paste into CAD drawings.

Lithonia Lighting offers Visual 2.0, in two versions for Windows 95/98/NT. The Basic Edition (offered at no charge) is meant to quickly develop and document simple lighting designs for open, rectangular, interior spaces where uniform horizontal illumination is the main objective, such as in classrooms, warehouses, and offices, using one luminaire type. The software can also be used to model typical aisles and hallways with the appropriate selection of surface reflectance.

The program employs the lumen method of calculations. It can use any manufacturer's photometric file, and can verify the design with point-by-point lighting analysis, documenting such results as achieved average illuminance, number of luminaries required, luminaire layout (including column and row spacing), and unit power density.

For rooms filled with objects and spaces using an unlimited number of luminaire types, as well as for exterior applications, the Professional Edition has the ability to model complex architecture including sloped or angled surfaces, domes, barrel vaults, and obstructions. The Professional Edition costs $100 for a site license; a 30-day trial is on the Basic Edition disk and can be activated permanently after the fee is paid.

The program, featuring a 3-D interface that allows designers to view lighting environments from any angle and work dynamically in any view, offers flexible calculation grids that may be added in any shape or orientation and on any surface. The package includes a library of standard luminaire symbols and a symbol editor. Photometric files for Lithonia products are included on the CD, or they can be downloaded from the Internet.

Cooper Lighting's Luxicon v.2.2.8 (Windows 95/NT 3.51, $200) is lighting design and layout analysis software that includes a database of all Cooper products. Featuring both Windows and CAD interfaces, the program uses various CAD functionalities such as perspective and isometric views, windowing, zooming, panning, grouping, and refreshing. In addition to using symbols from the preformatted library, you can import other manufacturer's fully formatted Inter Enterprise System (IES) files and use them to transfer CAD graphics. Built-in design interior and exterior "wizards" assist in designing interior layouts, sign lighting, roadway lighting, façade lighting, and emergency lighting. Products can be selected several ways, including by comparing catalog information including luminaire characteristics, or such photometric information as total wattage, efficiency, source type, lumens per lamp, or lamp wattage. It is also possible to specify from a Cooper "hit list" of previous luminaire selection activity. Specification sheets for selected products can be searched, viewed, annotated, and printed.

The program can calculate detailed spaces, including rooms with sloped ceilings and unusual architectural features. Calculations allow users to generate simple economic projections for evaluating the system costs of a luminaire type or to compare up to five different single luminaire systems simultaneously to establish which is most cost effective. The software will also determine the simple payback and life cycle cost of the proposed lighting system. Luminaire schedules offering detailed information can be generated and customized to each project.

Luxicon also has the capacity to merge a number of design files into a single project file, allowing several team members to work simultaneously. In addition to generating gray-scale renderings, the software also can output designs up to E-size printing. (WHAT IS E-SIZE PRINTING?)

Hubbell Lighting Inc.'s LightGear v. 3.0 (Windows 95/NT, free) is an interactive catalog designed to aid in selecting and specifying Hubbell products, featuring product specifications, pricing, drawings, dimensions, applications, and photometrics. The descriptive data can be captured in a fixture schedule that, in turn, can be exported as a .DXF file for CAD integration.

The product database can be searched using a variety of advanced search capabilities, including alphanumeric, application, product by category, and specification page.
The software comes with SpecWriter for Windows 4.0, a basic lighting design and analysis program for indoor and outdoor calculations for both regular- and irregular-shaped areas that is preformatted to specify Hubbell products but will also accept imported, standard-format IESNA photometrics.

Thomas & Betts' Navigator (free through T&B lighting agents) is a five-module suite of lighting design and analysis tools for indoor, outdoor, and roadway lighting. The indoor lighting module performs point-by-point calculations for simple interior applications.

The user defines the room and chooses the luminaire (one per system). The software calculates how many luminaries are needed to reach the target illuminance level or the illuminance level given by the number of luminaries specified. Calculation results are available in numerical, ISO-contour, and gray-scale-rendered formats.

The outdoor lighting module is capable of accepting .DXF or .DWG files from AutoCAD for defining the site. With the roadway module, designers can analyze luminance levels on up to four alternative roadway lighting systems simultaneously.

A handy photometrics manager creates displays and prints reports and polar plots, generates distribution templates, and performs quick optimization estimates. An economics utility facilitates simple cost analyses for up to four lighting systems.

While the CD comes with a database of T&B lighting products, users will be able to download updates from the T&B Web site, as they become available.

Generic software

Electrical contractors can also use generic lighting analysis software from companies not associated with lighting manufacturers (but many of whom have supplied their fixture databases for these products). Programs of this type will allow you to specify just about any manufacturer's offerings for any of your jobs.

Lighting Technologies, Inc., offers Simply Lighting ($199 for the first program, $125 for any additional programs), a new suite of Windows-based application-specific lighting design and analysis programs that includes Simply Indoor v.2, Simply Outdoor, Simply Roadway v.2, Simply Economics, and Simply Photometrics.

By defining a target lighting level, Simply Lighting determines the number of luminaries required and the optimal placement and spacing. Each program comes with a photometric library of about 30,000 products from 60 manufacturers. The listings can be searched using a variety of criteria.

Simply Indoor performs point-by-point calculations for illuminance, and will estimate any interreflected component from indirect luminaries. Applicable to any exterior location, Simply Outdoor will import and export .DXF or .DWG files and or let designers draw their own sites using the program's CAD system.

Simply Roadway can generate custom multilane roadway configurations and calculate point-by-point horizontal illuminance, roadway luminance, and veiling luminance ratios for straight sections of roadway. The software calculates optimum spacing for up to eight different design criteria, and will adhere to IES RP-8 and CIE guidelines and specifications for a wide variety of roadway types and designations.

All three of these packages generate customizable output reports and produce ISO-contour maps and gray-scale renderings.

An economic analysis utility, Simply Economics, allows users to compare up to four systems according to simple payback, initial cost, and total system costs. Simply Photometric is a photometric data manager and viewer providing iso (WHAT?) templates and export functionality and the ability to generate reports.

Lighting Analysts Inc.'s AGI32 (Windows 95/98/NT4, $895 per seat (SET?), optional $200 annual maintenance) is a Windows-based lighting design program for both indoor and outdoor applications that can accurately predict numerical results and provide photometrically correct computer graphic renderings for any lighting application.

Designers can create plan views, elevations, and isometric views, and can work in wire-frame views and rendered views. For presentations, it is possible to include graphic images, text notes, view labels, and schedules. Though the software comes with a library of products from over a dozen manufacturers in standard photometric format, it is also possible to import photometric data from other manufacturers as well.

The package has the ability to incorporate practically unlimited numbers of computation points in plane or line format, unlimited luminaries and luminaire types, four luminaire aiming angles, and consider reflective or transmissive objects. With it, you can compute Lighting Power Density and CIE Glare Rating criteria, derive roadway luminance per IESNA RP-8, and provide extensive 3-D reflective geometry. AGI32 will output custom pages to any Windows printer or to CAD. "Smart" schedules are generated automatically that update with any changes.

The FELDMANS write on trends and products, including computers and electronic commerce technologies, for the electrical and general contracting fields. Authors of Construction & Computers (McGraw-Hill), they can be reached at wfeldman@worldnet.att.net or at (914) 238-6272.

Companies mentioned in this article:

Lithonia Lighting: www.lithonia.com (800) 279-8043;
Cooper Lighting: www.cooperlighting.com (770) 486-4800;
Hubbell Lighting: www.hubbell-ltg.com (800) 270-3737;
Thomas & Betts: www.TNB.com (901) 255-5000;
Lighting Analysts: www.lightinganalysts.com (303) 972-8852; and Lighting Technologies: www.lighting-technologies.com (720) 891-0030