Home lighting doesn’t need to sacrifice form or function

While LEDs have experienced a surge in popularity recently, we’ve really only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the LEDs’ potential to revolutionize residential lighting. Some innovative and aesthetically appealing design options are appearing on the market that take residential LED lighting to a new level. These are designs that entirely rethink the idea of lighting and take into consideration the fact that LEDs are inherently different from traditional lighting sources. From the laboratory to lighting expos, and even big-box home furnishing stores, LED is at the forefront of cutting-edge residential lighting design.

Putting residential LEDs to the test

In the June 2014 issue of LEDs Magazine, Victor Zaderej writes about an interesting project from the Zero Energy Building Research Alliance (ZEBRA); a collaboration between the US Department of Energy (DOE), Oak Ridge National Laboratories (ORNL), Schaad Companies, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), as well as Molex (an electronic interconnector manufacturer) and other commercial partners. ZEBRA constructed four identical residential homes in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; two of which (homes #3 and #4) were used to compare lighting systems. Home #3 was fitted with conventional showroom CFL and linear fluorescent lighting. In home #4, Kevin Willmorth, owner of Lumenique, LLC, used solid-state LED lighting fixtures provided by Molex to customize an integrated lighting system. According to Willmorth, the goal was “to demonstrate the capability of LEDs to enhance design, deliver proper illumination levels, and reduce energy use simultaneously,” while still making the lighting designs “functional and aesthetically attractive.” The team clearly anticipated that the LED fitted home would surpass the CFL home in terms of energy efficiency, but they were very interested to see how their deliberate, calculated lighting design choices would impact the results in home #4.

The results are in: LED leads with a customized approach

In home #4, Lumenique’s design approach focused lighting where it was needed to avoid waste and glare. In addition, efficient LEDs allowed for a layered approach with accent lighting. They calculated optimum light levels in different living areas, utilizing illuminance renderings and numeric calculations to visualize light patterning. The team collected data regarding all levels of energy use in each of the homes for two years and, according to their report, the performance of the LED-lit home was even better than expected. According to Dr. Bill Miller of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory: “The lighting effects and data illustrate how LED results can be optimized for residential home use by integrating the right technologies and design scheme. “ Specifically, results found that the LED-equipped home provided more task lighting with less glare, and improved appearance and colour in a number of areas over the CFL-equipped home. Since the Oak Ridge project concluded in 2012, Molex has designed new products that work even better and brighter than the original designs.

Residential LEDs of the future

LEDs are evolving at a rapid rate with new products that are modular, thinner and provide better quality light. The folks at Molex now produce modular light sources that use a magnetic low-voltage interface so it’s easy to “configure, adjust, upgrade, or replace light sources on site as simply as changing light bulbs of the past.” Using continuous power rails or single power sockets and magnetic light modules, users can configure customized lighting solutions with different effects, brightness or ambience themes. If you require additional light, simply add more modules or reposition them to direct light in specific areas. With LED, the opportunity for innovative, efficient, and easy-to-use lighting solutions is unparalleled.

Best in LED show

David Bergman, sustainable product designer and member of the executive board for the LEDucation expo in New York City, says he was excited by the number of cool residential LED lighting options showcased at the expo this year: “As an architect who also designs light fixtures, I’ve always been a bit disappointed by the lack of decorative offerings. But not this year… Increasingly, I spied designs that took advantage of the fact that LEDs are inherently different from incandescent or fluorescent bulbs and created types of lights that couldn’t be done previously. “ One of the hottest trends right now are LED substitutes for exposed filament incandescent bulbs—they give you all the awesome LED efficiency, but maintain that old-school Thomas Edison bulb-look of the lights of yesteryear.

Coming soon to a store near you

In fact, take a walk through any big-box home store and you can see a steadily growing selection of interesting LEDs fixtures from recessed lighting, pendants and chandeliers to outdoor landscape lighting, ceiling fan lighting kits, sconces and lamps—LEDs are bringing something new to residential lighting in a big way. Whether your personal style is contemporary and modern or rustic and retro, there’s something for everyone.

This spring, if you’re looking for an easy, relatively inexpensive upgrade to the look of your home while improving overall energy efficiency, take a look at some of the LED lighting options out there and soon you will see your home in a whole new light.

About The Author

John Keirstead
John Keirstead
Serial Entrepreneur, Technologist and Inventor.
My objective is to develop useful products that have a net positive effect in the lives of those that use them and the environment that we live in.
CEO of Mission LED Lighting Company Ltd.

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