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 smart homes.
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.” This was the message of all tunable-lighting manufacturers such as Legrand, Lutron, Ketra, and Smartika.
At Lightfair 2016, Lutron demonstrated the impact of different white-light color temperatures on the environment.
Craig Casey, senior building science engineer at Lutron, explains 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.”
Legrand and Vantage Demo Day/Night Lighting
Legrand and Vantage Controls used the 2017 CEDIA Expo held recently in San Diego to demonstrate color tuning to home technology integrators.
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.
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. However, tunable white lighting is a big initiative of the company. It offers a variety of LED light fixtures, with a couple of kits designed for bathrooms that include a controller to adjust the temperature of the white light. Smartika plans to integrate its tunable white lighting with Control4 home automation systems in 2018.
Another relative newcomer, 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 with a complete system that allows users to tune their LED lighting via a mobile app.
Luastream and Colorbeam are two other companies offering tunable while LED lights for homes. Both offer a unique approach to home LED lighting: Instead of utilizing standard electrical wiring to power the lights, fixtures are derive
power over low-voltage wiring. This same wire transports signals to fully control and dim LED lights, and special drivers convert AC power to low-voltage DC power. This means a home systems integrator can install the system rather than an electrician and there’s no need for control wiring. LumaStream says this leads to a simpler installation and more energy efficient solution. In addition to the wiring infrastructure, LumaStream and Colorbeam offer everything else required for a complete home LED lighting system: processors, fixtures, trims, and enclosures—and both systems can be integrated with home automation systems.
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