Correcting color temperature and parallax
Correcting color temperature and parallax

The Parallels pendant by Peerless shown right won the NPS Best of Show award.

» The 17th annual Lightfair, held in Las Vegas from May 28 through June 1, exceeded expectations with over 16,500 attendees and a record number of exhibitors. Despite the Memorial Day weekend, everyone showed up, and this Lightfair was fresh and enjoyable, with plenty to see. Here are a few product highlights.

LEDs This year, many good white color and high-efficacy products were exhibited. A category winner in the New Product Showcase (NPS) competition-the kickoff event to the tradeshow, during which submitted products are recognized with awards-the Luxeon K2 by Lumileds is a 1.5-amp, 130-plus-lumen white source. Also noteworthy is Osram Opto Semiconductor's White Golden Dragon thin-film LED, and its 400-lumen OSTAR cluster device. Want a bigger lumen package? Try Lamina Ceramics' powerful 1-inch-square LED arrays, including the Titan 562-lumen RGB light engine. Want less? Try Lumileds' tiny portable Luxeon PWT1 LED.

A number of LED assemblies and string lights were also introduced. GE's GELcore added the new Tetra Mini, and Hongli Opto showed a submersible and flexible LED ribbon light. I especially liked Osram Sylvania's Dragonstick, a complete linear unit suitable for general and display lighting systems, and Permlight Products' Enbryten ENBF LED replacement for low-voltage strips. Even Color Kinetics has a flexible string called iColor Flex SLX.

LED substitutions for regular lamps require a critical eye and sometimes a sense of humor. Among practical products were the American Bright Optoelectronics NovaBrite, a PAR-like screw-in lamp; CML Innovative Technologies' 6S6 candelabra-based mini lamps; GBL LED Lighting's PAR-like 3.2W cluster projector; and LEDtronics MR16 replacement. I particularly liked Westinghouse Lighting's Nanolux 1W S14 sign lamp, a perfect proxy for marquee lighting.

Conventional Lamps Probably the best new conventional lamp was GE's 20W ceramic metal halide MR16, which won its category award. A great product, but what took so long? I was intrigued by Osram Sylvania's Capsylite E-PRO, which allows a one-third reduction in display-lighting power when replacing 50W PAR lamps. Ushio showed a 20W 10,000-hour MR16, and EYE Lighting, a 10,000-hour UV-cut MR16. Other developments among tungsten-style lamps seemed to be one-trick-pony products for special uses. The biggest disappointments were in fluorescent and HID lamps with virtually no 'new' additions. The NPS award for new ballasts (and technical innovation) went to Philips's ZigBee-compatible Equos, a ballast designed to provide wireless full-building lighting control through mesh network systems. Metrolight's dimmable HID ballasts suggest that high-wattage HID electronic ballasts will probably include dimming as a built-in feature.

Architectural 'Technical' Lighting Hat's off to Gotham Lighting for its quartz ellipsoidal downlights and high-quality ceramic metal halide accents and wallwashers. Lightolier introduced a 2 7/8-inch version to its Evolution line of recessed downlights for premium residential applications. Phantom Lighting introduced an MR16-based optical projector, handy for gobo projections.

'Plaster-in' downlights are a trend in recessed lighting. RSA Lighting's Quiet Ceiling system now includes both an AR70 and a mini version. Pure Lighting offered ceiling and wall-mounted fixtures, including a square wallwasher. RSA also showed a linear wall-grazing system, an excellent package solution to the complex problem of grazing, not washing, a wall.

New track and rail systems included Luxo's amazing Arca Twin System. For a tailored twenty-first-century look, Architectural Lighting Works' Lightplane is a welcome alternative. Bruck and Tech Lighting offered line expansions, most notably Tech's new Two-Circuit T-trak and Bruck's super-mini Blade Star Spot, using the Osram Sylvania's Ministar lamp.

But to be honest, new LED fixtures showed the most innovation. Lighting Services Inc's LumeLEX is a cool RGB track and monopoint display and effects luminaire. Color Kinetics' iW Blast 12 Powercore and iW Cove Powercore LED systems show that they finally understand lighting designers sometimes want white light sometimes. I liked NuaLight's Jewel-LED, a display system specifically for jewelry, and iLight Technologies' Plexineon RGB color-changing system. Cool stuff, though I wish it were a little brighter.

Perhaps the most perplexing product was Permlight Products' new Enbryten ENBC recessed 15W downlight, which looks like a standard 6-inch low-voltage canlight. It targets the residential market and, in particular, California's Title 24 requirements, which mandate 40-lumen-per-watt sources. But it left a lot of unanswered questions: Where is the heat sink? Is it really 40 lumens per watt? A reminder that with LEDs, there are few standards.

Troffers and strips are no longer news, but there are still a few things to look at. Cooper has entered into the T5 troffer business with its Metalux Accord and Neo-Ray Straight and Narrow product lines. But in the realm of fluorescent lighting, it's now all about suspended lighting, and Peerless won the NPS Best of Show award for its stunning Parallels pendant.

Architectural Decorative Lighting Among others, Shaper, Lightolier, Winona, Tech, and Translite Sonoma showed beautiful designs among the largely technical displays. Shaper's new Farallon collection may be some of the best spanning the decorative and architectural worlds. Good products were also presented by Lightolier, including its Vetro series, and Tech Lighting's 2thousand degrees line, with the Siesta lamp and Madison pendant. I happen to love Winona's Pops! pendants.

Some 'decorative' architectural lighting is actually technical lighting, but well designed enough to be used in key locations: Holophane's Illumibay products, and sister company Gotham's Elevations series of pendant and surface-mounted downlights. 3G Lighting's Mira pendant demonstrated that LEDs give new options for decorative lighting designers.

Exterior Lighting Exterior product offerings have not yet totally succumbed to LEDs, but the threat is near. Amazingly, manufacturers are attempting to replace the almost bullet-proof HID technology with largely untested LEDs. The best LED products included nice-looking outdoor floodlights from Philips, Super Vision International, Renaissance Lighting, Illumivision, and Lumascape USA. I was pleased to see CW Cole's Lightrail, an LED solution to an old problem of handrail lighting, something I'll use a lot. I also like neon-replacement LED tubing products, especially iLight Technologies' Plexineon White 2X and GELcore's Tetra Contour. There were even a few exterior polelights, including one from LeoTek Electronics that claims its 160W LED array provides as much 'light' as a 250W high-pressure sodium. Right.

Among landscape and low-level lighting products, manufacturers went crazy with LEDs. Dreamscape's Nalu, the NPS category (and design excellence) winner, is a sleek pathlighting luminaire using LED or halogen lamps. Fiberstars showed an LED underwater light called Light Streams, and so did Light10 Labs with Beluga. Lightology's new steplight, Lumascape's Vita recessed light, MP Lighting's LED01 paverlight, and Winona's Winscape demonstrate that landscape lighting is one area where LEDs have practically taken over.

From a more conventional perspective, Phoenix demonstrated progress in sustainable design with its fully shielded Eurotech pole and sea-turtle-friendly low-pressure sodium Eurotech bollard. Sternberg Lighting continued to evolve its products in the dark sky direction with a full-cutoff Prairie series area luminaire.

Specialty Lighting Types Some lights just don't fit into conventional categories, especially the most creative LED ideas. The NPS category winner was LightWild Ultimate Architectural Floor Tiles, a truly exciting LED color-changing tile. Similar products were offered by Traxon USA, challenging Color Kinetics for the most spectacular and amazing effects. It's nice to see Fiberstars gallantly fighting off LEDs with its continuing improvements in fiber illuminators and systems, including the EFO 3+3 plus and EFO-Ice.

Dimming and Controls Controls are still exciting, thanks to changing needs and electronic advances. Most noteworthy was Encelium Technologies, which has developed a daylight harvesting control system comprised of strategically located sensors and algorithms that 'map' sensor readings to light outputs. This might be one of the first companies to bring together the promise of networked lighting controls with effective software.

'Mesh' RF controls technology-a web of cell-phone-like links that permit a number of control devices to work together without data wiring-will be a dream come true for those wanting to retrofit buildings with modern controls. GE and Cooper both showed systems, which means the big boys think this is the next big thing.

Overall Of course, in addition to hardware, Lightfair is a place to see software, publications, and other related products and materials. Among these, David DiLaura's book, A History of Light and Lighting: In Celebration of the Centenary of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, stood out. Lighting software is at the mid-development point, with nothing new in the past year or two to crow about.

Because Lightfair is historically about electric lighting, the emphasis is on fixtures, bulbs, dimmers, and other parts and pieces we love to use. The Daylighting Pavilion, however, was about things we aren't as familiar with. Skylights, solar tubes, blinds, and specialized controls are now part of our world whether we're ready or not. I spend as much time as possible getting up to speed on the topic, and there were several good booths, including those of leading companies like Solatube and MechoShade.

It has been said that the years Lightfair is in Las Vegas are not as good as those when it is in New York, but 2006 was a pleasant surprise. It was a great show, with a good vibe and plenty of action. Compared to New York in 2005, on the last day of the show, there was still a lot going on. James Benya