Lightfair 2016 Finds: Cool Products and Spec Tools

Fresh off Lightfair 2016 in sunny San Diego, I’m struck by how very informative and exciting the experience was this year. In all honesty, some years have been disappointing — lacking enough new information or cool products to justify the trip. But this year stood out. We share some of our “finds” below.

Please note there are no paid endorsements here. As lighting consultants, we always maintain an unbiased opinion when it comes to a manufacturer’s options for the specifications we generate on our collaborative projects. When we discover new innovations or advances that may not be a good fit for a current project, we keep them in mind for the future and to share with others who might need that solution.

Here are seven cool, cutting-edge lighting innovations we saw at Lightfair:

#1 - USAI Lighting “BabyLED” 

Touted as “the thinnest recessed LED housing in the world,” this small aperture downlight has an overall height of 2˝ (3˝ to the bottom of the finished ceiling). But it can deliver a whopping 1,100-1,500 lumens with about 14-20 watts. To spec a recessed LED fixture that can deliver almost 80 lumens per watt … out of a fixture that’s no taller than the width of a credit card … is pretty awesome. Trims are either round or square and are available in white, black, bronze, and metalized grey.

#2 - SORAA “Snap System”

One of the leaders in LED lamp production, SORAA has recently introduced a series of magnetically held filters and lenses. Gone are the old glass filters and lenses that were often limited to a single or double accessory option. With the Snap System, you have options to add color, change color, shift beams, add a linear or diffusion lens, and more — plus you can add on to a SORAA LED lamp without any obnoxious accessories. In fact, the attachment to the LED is so clean, the biggest concern here by our designers is the possibility the baby might get thrown out with the bath water. Someone might toss away the entire LED/filter setup when changing the lamps!

#3 - SSL “MicroLine Thin Profile Cove”

For horizontal and vertical cove installations, this cost-effective micro cove has an overall depth of ¾˝ but still delivers a uniform light, while reducing the direct view into the LED lamp with an extended profile and a unique lens that diffuses and conceals. I especially like the easy access for changing out the LED lamp strip, if needed, while maintaining a pretty high level of concealment with the profile. Other features include use on any wall system, ¼˝ through  ¾˝, as well as a raceway for through wiring.

#4 - WAC “3-Inch Inground”

This isn’t your typical inground 3˝ LED fixture. The “cool” in this fixture comes from the ability to internally set both brightness and beam spread, in addition to aiming angle. For brightness, the fixture comes with five presets in the 70-505 lumens range. For beam control, you have the option of 15, 30, 45, or 60-degree pattern. With all that built-in flexibility, you no longer need to bring a box full of lamp types and various lenses on the night of the aim-and-adjust. Plus, this fixture allows you to fine-tune outdoor lighting when the plantings are full grown — without overpowering or under-lighting over the lifespan of both the fixture and the landscape.

#5 - SORAA “Pierced” 

Coming fall of 2017 – yes, 18 months out — “Pierced” was like that cool concept car at the auto show you want to take for a spin. This concept fixture touted the ambient lighting of a flat panel LED, with an aimable LED — you guessed it — as a “pierced” opening in the flat panel lens. The opening was very small and subtle, blending nicely into the flat panel lens. This dual fixture approach in one unit would eliminate the need to supplement the ambient lighting with additional recessed accent downlights.

#6 - Ketra “Recessed Ceiling Fixture ”  

Ketra continues to improve on their series of lamps and fixtures.  They’ve added a recessed ceiling fixture that incorporates the company’s fully tunable lighting engine. The lamps can create high CRI “white” light of almost any color temperature, as well as produce saturated and pastel colors. The lamps can be accessed individually or in groups to suit the needs of the project. They can even be programmed to fade from one color to another as the fixture is dimmed. The “wow” here is the total flexibility — not just color tuning, but also the options and range of control possibilities.

#7 - Prudential “Interactive Specifications”

Prudential has launched a new feature on their website, making it easy to get complete specifications for all its fixture families. What sets the site apart is how the information is both comprehensive and easy to access. Just drill down on a specific fixture to get interactive specs for the LED driver and the chip, plus the IES files, the BIM families, and the installation guides — all on the same page. It’s truly a helpful tool for a complete lighting specification process.

The innovation we saw at Lightfair is a reflection of the new era of lighting design that we’re experiencing … when the circle of lighting possibilities and connectivity of people to lighting is constantly expanding. Consider how we’ve gone from arc tubes and phosphors to circuit boards and phone apps. These are exciting times!