Exciting New Research on Tunable Lighting at Care Center

In April I attended LightFair, an international lighting convention that meets every year.  The newest technology is shown their as well as 4 days of classes.  This past April this was held in San Diego.  I attended numerous classes in the newly created "Healthcare" category.  One that I was especially interested in was conducted by Connie Samla from SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District.  In the class she talked about a project in which the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) was invited to participate.  This project involved a trial installation of a tunable LED lighting system in an ACC Care Center in Sacrament, CA.  The results are very exciting as the staff reported a number of health-related benefits.  These included a reduction in agitated behaviors, psychotropic and sleep medications were reduced for one of the residents, and a decrease in the number of patient falls which may be attributed at least in part to the change in lighting.  It was also reported that other residents were choosing the newly upgraded LED corridor to "hang-out" in.  

As I began Lumen Element my main question was, "what if lighting could make a difference in the lives of those living with Alzheimer's and other neuro-cognitive diseases".  This study and others that are beginning to come out support the idea that yes, lighting can have a positive impact on these individuals and others living in care communities.

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LightFair International 2016

Last week I spent 5 days in San Diego attending LightFair International 2016.  This is an annual lighting conference to show case the newest technologies in lighting.  There are many educational classes during this conference and this year was the first time that they offered a series on Lighting and Health.  I attended a number of these offerings and am so excited about what I learned and saw on the trade floor.  HCL- Human Centric Lighting is here!  Several vendors showcased their Tuneable LED's, which are able to be programmed to change color from warm whites to cool whites to more closely match outdoor light and enhance our circadian rhythm. The classes I attended had studies that showed improvement in productivity, in sleep, and in the lives of people living with Alzheimer's disease with the use of tuneable LED lighting.  So much of this knowledge and the products are cutting edge.  I am looking forward to more products being available for both commercial use and use in homes. 

A Lighting Question

Even as a NAILD certified Lighting Specialist 1, lighting can be confusing.  There are so many considerations to keep in mind when choosing the appropriate lighting for a room.  This became evident when my husband and I were at a restaurant this week and I was introduced to the wife of someone my husband knew.  When she found out we were in the lighting business she had a question for me.  They are in the process of remodeling their kitchen and is wanting to create a light fixture out of old metal egg baskets.  She was curious as to the best light source to use.

The pros and cons of the incandescent:  this is what you might consider the typical light bulb.  Using this bulb you have total bulb illumination, so some of the light will be going thru the basket and creating a shadow on the ceiling.  If you want to use a shade inside the basket to prevent this you need to be aware that 90% of the energy in this light source is given off as heat, so it will need to be an appropriate material.  This light source has the shortest life of the others and therefore you will need to get the ladder out to change this more often.  A plus for this light source is that if you want to use a dimmer it will work well.

CFL’s or Compact Fluorescent Lights – these are the curly q's.  This is my least favorite light source for use inside a home, as it has a warm up and cool down time, which means that when you turn them on they are not bright immediately and are not dark immediately when turned off.  A major consideration for where you use this lamp.  It also would cast shadows on the ceiling and does not dim successfully.  This light source is best when it is left on for several hours at a time as frequent on and offs will shorten the life.  This light source contains mercury so you need to be careful if it breaks as well as with the disposal of this lamp.

LED’s- this light source is changing almost daily.  You can get this lamp with the diodes projected in the direction you are wanting so it won’t cast a shadow on the ceiling.  In an exposed fixture you will want to consider the “look” of the light, they are now coming out with LED’s that resemble the A19 standard shape of the incandescent.  LED’s may not dim successfully with a standard dimmer, and unlike the incandescent when dimmed the light “color” may not change to a warmer hue.  The LED is a great source of light to be able to install and leave it, as it has a long life.  The LED lamp likes a cooler environment, the light will be brighter and life longer, the life will be shortened substantially if used in an area with excessive heat.

These are just a few of the basic considerations, although important things to think about as you install new or replace existing lighting.  Cost for most of us is also a consideration with LED’s being more of an upfront investment although they will save you on replacement costs as well as energy charges.  I didn’t have a simple answer for her when she asked, hopefully I did give her some things to consider.

Lighting Safety Consideration


Most people don’t give a lot of thought to their lighting until you flip a switch and the light doesn’t go on.  For many of us this is a nuisance although one that can be fixed with relative ease.

 Now consider you are older, live independently, or have some mobility concerns and your hallway light doesn’t come on when you flip the switch.  It is evening time and to be able to see to get to your bathroom and bedroom you need that light, which is burned out.  The steps to change the light include, getting the step stool, having a replacement bulb on hand, climbing the step stool, being able to unscrew the burned out bulb, install the new one, climb back down the step stool and return it to the closet or garage.  There are many points in this process that could be dangerous and be the cause of an injury.

If this bulb is a regular incandescent this is a process that will be repeated with frequency as this hallway light is used.  What are the choices to limit the need for this change out?  CFL’s – the curly q lights do have a longer life, although it is shortened with frequent on and offs, it does have a warm up time to reach its full light output, it also contains mercury so if it is broken in this process is a hazard requiring special clean up and disposal.  The most important consideration for me when using a CFL is if this is a transition placement where I will want full light when I turn on this light- a hallway, stairway, bathroom, garage, front door are all places where I will want light immediately so not where I would use a CFL.  LED’s are now becoming more economical to purchase, they are a major energy saver when compared to the incandescent and they have a life of 10-20 years.  This is a choice that most likely will eliminate the need for a change of this light for as long you are living in this home. 

If you have an older loved one or someone with mobility concerns who is living in their own home a switch in the lights that are essential for their safety to LED’s would be a very good investment in their safety and security.