» This year, Lightfair was held in las vegas on March 31 through April 2, with the Lightfair Lighting Institute and the new Daylighting Institute on March 29 to 30 and the Annual Workshops on March 30. More than 15,000 people attended and a record number of exhibitors showed their wares. After the New Product Showcase on Wednesday, I hit the floor with walking shoes on. With so many booths, it was a daunting task, but here are a few products of note:

My love of 'light bulbs' usually draws me to the lamp manufacturers first. Only GE had a major presence at the show this year, so I ended up visiting more of the second-tier lamp companies. Frankly, there was not much in the way of incandescent and halogen lamps. The Ushio Eurostar Reflekto MR11 is a definite hit, providing improved quality in a lamp increasingly common to landscape and residential lighting. I also noted clever neodymium halogen PAR lamps from Litetronics, for areas requiring excellent display and skin color rendering, such as in jewelry retail. Candela showed Dichro-Tec, a 4000K high-power MR16 lamp. And as always, the THHC Xelogen lamps caught my eye for its life and application benefits.

Fluorescent and compact fluorescent (CFL) lamps were more interesting, with variations, mostly of Asian origin, intended to replace every incandescent lamp in existence. For example, Aero-Tech had an A19 profile lamp. GE showed a dimmable R lamp. Ushio and Satco, conventional spirals. I was surprised by Dais Electric's mini MR16 12V CFL. That's creative. But the real winners were a cold cathode system from Litetronics and Nippo's Seamlessline, a clean linear fluorescent with right-angle connectors that produce almost perfectly illuminated joints. At last, a linear lamp that you can 'line up.'

In HID, GE's 20W PAR30 won the category, but I was more taken by its new PAR64 150W ceramic metal halide. At Venture, a horizontal burn 320W lamp makes pulse start possible in outdoor poles. PEC showed a 60W DC system using an MR16-sized package. Otherwise, slim pickings.

Then there was the ongoing LED invasion. LEDs are lamps, assemblies, luminaires and systems, and they were everywhere from everyone. The trend is toward warm white lamps with decent color rendering. Just considering lamp-related offerings, there were new LED lamps from LumiLEDs, Osram, and Toyoda; LED arrays from NSI/LEDWorks, Teledyne and OptiLED; and linear LED systems for color changing from GELcore and eSTAR. Complete lamp assemblies included the Enlux 22W BR30 flood, which was a winner in the lamp category. This is a very useable R30 LED lamp with 500 initial lumens (about the same as a 50W R20). Another cool alternative was Illumination Management System's ReflexAire, a 3W LED replacement lamp for aircraft reading lights. For more coverage of LEDs at Lightfair 2004, click here.

Among downlights and wallwashers, there were a few new ideas and a lot of important updates. Lucifer introduced a polymer-based recessed wet-location light. Light Projects London showed a CMR111 (AR111 metal halide) track system; and Bartco, Portfolio, Indy, RSA, Juno and ELP showed new and updated products, including trimless and multiple-head recessed lighting, and more fixtures for low-wattage ceramic metal halide. It is important to monitor these companies, since they seem to expand their lines and capabilities constantly. I especially liked Mark's Slot 6, a combined fluorescent slot with MR16 accents, capable of continuous rows. A reincarnation of products from my past, Nora's semi-recessed low-voltage projector enables low-cost gobos and framing for residential.

Interesting track, rail and monopoints included Con-Tech's Axo, a surface MR111 accent light; Juno's framed Duo; and Nora's line-voltage track. These are appealing problem-solvers. Cooper's Minilume is one of the best metal halide track lights I have seen, combining a small housing with a variable beam for the T4 lamp and low cost through the use of plastics. Altman introduced a 3-circuit DMX track. And RSA, newly part of Cooper, showed a 60-amp busway product. It's good to have options in that market.

In the linear lighting market, Smedmarks showed its excellence in small-scale, well-detailed lighting with the Corall and Clic Gemini luminaires, both based on T5 technology. FAD Lighting showed its Light Be Cool pendants, and I must admit to coveting these babies for my own office. I also loved—especially with the new MR16 addition—the Delray's Spina pendants. Cooper's Corelite introduced a cove light with adjustable optics. And Martin Professional showed a fluorescent color-changing system using RGB T5HO lamps. Unfortunately, this area was missing important companies, as was true for HID and compact fluorescent pendants, though Delray introduced Big Lights, the first pendant to use the very high-wattage CFLs. Zaneen, as usual, brought us some of the finest of Italian and European lighting, including the exotic Ray series.

It has taken me 31 years to learn to distinguish between 'architectural decorative' and 'residential decorative' lighting. Architectural decorative products are sufficiently robust and scaled for commercial projects, though they are also applicable to residential. Residential decorative is generally traditional or transitional, and not big or strong enough for commercial uses. Architectural decorative is part of Lightfair, but really, residential decorative is not.

The Decorative Lighting Pavilion made it easier to see these luminaires at once. I liked in particular the new Tech Lighting pendants in Murano glass, the Studio Italia Lace, and the Juno Alfa onyx cylinder sconces. Luxo showed a dynamite new task light called the Arketto, and Manning presented Craftsman-style lanterns. Industrial design and the art of luminaires is something American projects need more of.

Architectural exterior lighting is the use of appealing fixtures that are attractive by day, effective by night. Cooper made the biggest news with InVUE, a new brand under its banner devoted to high-quality American-style architectural outdoor lighting. Delta Lighting/FAD topped the program with a fabulous new bollard collection. BK, Cole and Hevi Lite showed high-quality step lights. Hydrel came up with its fabulous G2 designs, a unique geometric style of wall-mounted fixtures destined to be popular. Winona brought us its Exteriors 2.0 family. Lumca showed a very interesting product called OVO. Overall, a good showing in this group.

In landscape lighting, Auroralight led the way with a line of heavy-duty, corrosion-resistant, dark-sky-friendly step lights for residential and commercial use. Focus Industries, long known for quality at low prices, showed solid brass landscape lighting equipment, also incorporating corrosion resistance. I was especially impressed with Waldmann's exterior fluorescent wash lights. Lumiere showed new in-ground equipment and a small 70W metal halide above-ground floodlight. Vision3 added a family of cast bronze metal halide floodlights. Though there were a lot of products for this market, growth has seemed to slow over the last few years.

Among the more unusual products, Altman gave us the ODEC outdoor ellipsoidal. Using the 150W metal halide, this projects color, frames and gobo patterns. Cooper's Sure-Lites unveiled a wet-label dual-head emergency light with a wide range of uses. From Celestial comes an outdoor 2-inch-square indirect light; I can't tell you how often I've needed something like this.

LED has not killed fiber optics yet. Fiberstars introduced a remote source, multiple-head system with improved performance making it competitive with halogen, and Super Vision demonstrated a high-efficiency illuminator. Visual Lighting Technology's fiber framing projector is an option for interior framing at low light levels. Among the few important theatrical products, Rosco presented an 200W metal halide effects projector; if you need rippling water, this could do it. Check out Wybron's Nexera wash luminaire and Apollo Design's Smart Gobo rotator.

A trend is the integration of LED controls into larger systems. The importance of standard protocols was apparent, as many systems are designed for DMX-512, something theatrical lighting control does better than architectural. However, it seems DALI has staying power, with the possibility of LED integration. B+L, Tridonic and WattStopper unveiled new DALI products, and the B+L DALI Star dimming device for 12V was a Showcase winner.

If God is in the details, then lighting stuff is the shrine of the show. There were a half a billion ballasts, sockets, devices, and controls. Bodine won the best of category award twice for its innovative emergency power solutions, including an LED backup system and a backup systems network allowing management of emergency sources. Aromat introduced HID electronic mini ballasts; Venture, a new HID igniter; Lutron, a T5 dimming ballast; and B+L and Lightech, low-voltage transformers. ALP and Lexalite showed fabulous new optical materials, and Rockscapes introduced a power regulator for landscape lighting systems. Gavin Industries, Griplock, Access Mount, ERICO and Gripple introduced clever lighting hardware to improve installation speed and quality.

In the software category, Lighting Technologies Lumen Designer and Lighting Analysts's AGI32 are comprehensive programs, ready to actually sell this year (they both debuted previously). In a surprising choice, however, GE's ValueLight 3.0 won the lighting software competition.

I saved the best for last. Lightfair added the Daylighting Pavilion, with over 50 booths. Some of the top products included MechoShade's 6000 Series EuroTwill, a reversible shade fabric that preserves view; Lutron's Sivoia shade control and motor for quiet operation of large shades; So-Luminaires's ADS-600 advanced daylight tracking; Architectural Energy Corporation's LightLouver for improved sidelighting control; and DuoGard's Series 3000 Double Glaze daylighting system. There were also a lot of not-new products that were new to Lightfair. Natural Lighting Corp had probably the best integrated skylight/electric lighting product in its Day-Lite Hybrid system. Others were scattered outside of the pavilion. Lighting Control and Design won for its lumen maintenance photocell, and WattStopper showed a dimming photosensor with remote, handheld control. Axis Technology showed its Axis electronic dimming ballast with a photoelectric sensor wand and easy-to-apply automatic daylight dimming. james benya