Still a home for halogen-Lighting Design Update



Nora Lighting
Energy savings: Chris Johnson of Nora Lighting suggests using LED bulbs in recessed down lights for public lobby areas, maximizing their coverage and energy savings.


The correct lighting application in a hotel can be the difference between guests feeling welcomed and alienated. Modern lighting fixtures are gravitating toward the use of LED bulbs as they provide long-term energy and monetary benefits, but even today designers are finding uses for classic halogen bulbs.

“There is a bit of fear for halogen on the energy side, but I still find myself using them,” said David Shepard, VP of sales for Leucos USA. “Energy savings are important, but as human beings we gravitate toward warmth and textures.” 

Designers such as Shepard find that the clarity of LED lights is sometimes a detractor when designing for the luxury sector, especially concerning hospitality. “We don’t want to sleep in surgical suites, we want to feel comfortable and relaxed, and incandescent lights help with that. LEDs can achieve this with proper use of ambers and gold colors placed throughout a room, but to use a white light in a white room will scare people off.

“Dimming is important for the F&B areas as well,” said Sally Storey, design director for Lighting Design International. “Mood is a huge element there. Unless your lobby is a designer boutique, the lights won’t go as low as in the F&B, and LED lights struggle with dimming, though they are improving with time.”

Storey suggested designing around this by providing different lighting options for different times, offering a cooler light option for later periods in the day. “Guests are perceptive,” she said. “You have to manage their expectations of your light sources.”

LEDs can be used very effectively in back-of-the-house operations, especially in regards to the F&B sector. “If fluorescent lights are used in a kitchen there has to be a protective glass between the light and the kitchen,” said Chris Johnson, national sales manager, commercial division for Nora Lighting. “You need that divider so if the light were to break the internal components won’t fall on the food, and maintenance can effectively clean them.”

Johnson said that the use of LED lights in public areas is very viable, but must be considered on a case-by-case basis. “Many designers are asking for LED light sources, but are not always aware of what to look for in quality LED lighting,” he said. “The extent of decorative lighting will generally depend on the size and rating of the hotel.”

The return of the chandelier

A returning trend to upscale properties is the use of large decorative chandelier pieces in hotel lobbies. Though a common find in the grand hotels of the ’30s and ’40s, large-scale chandeliers gradually fell out of style, but are slowly seeing a return to form.

Swarovski’s Candella
Bling: Swarovski’s Candella chandelier fixture uses LED bulbs intermingled with crystal.


“The old designers stopped making grand chandeliers, and now you are seeing interior designers sourcing out glass manufacturers and different vendors for materials to make their own chandeliers from scratch,” said David Shepard, VP of sales for Leucos USA. Shepard recently worked with the Revere Hotel in Boston to create a multi-story glass chandelier for the property’s lobby.


3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin

The average lighting temperature for a hotel.

Source: Nora Lighting


Traditionally, chandeliers were stocked with incandescent bulbs, but crystal designer Swarovski is looking to take advantage of LED options in its own chandelier. “We developed a non-flickering LED crystal candle for our most recent Swarovski Lighting Centerpiece, Candella,” said Meghan Hanley, national sales manager for Swarovski Architectural Solutions. “The struggle with dimming is solved by integrating dimming controls into the environment. For the fixtures that do not have dimming, the technology for dimming LEDs is improving, though.”

Other designers still believe that LEDs are not yet ready to be used in chandeliers. “Besides the dimming issues, the color temperature isn’t naturally there yet, not for classic chandeliers. They are still cool blue, which is more accepted behind glass rather than a crystal exposure,” said Chris Johnson, national sales manager, commercial division for Nora Lighting. “I do see LEDs being used in contemporary fixtures, however, and they are doing well at disguising the LED diodes that guests don’t want to see under frosted glass.”

Energy savings vs. style: The experts weigh in

Designers are feeling the pressure to aid hotels in installing LED lights, thanks to the energy savings they provide. Certain states provide incentives for hotels to install LED lights during a hotel conversion, sometimes covering nearly the entire cost of the lights.

Ambience: Though LEDs are gaining momentum, fluorescent lights are still preferred by hotels for their ambience.


“We are seeing local energy companies and consortiums coming from all areas to hotels and offering rebates for energy-efficient lights,” said Chris Johnson, national sales manager, commercial division for Nora Lighting. “They will bear the cost and make it very affordable, especially if you are coming off of using an incandescent source.”

Johnson also recommended investing in motion sensors to control area illumination and further save on costs, pairing well with tape lighting. “Tape lighting creates a source that is low in profile and long lasting, a perfect fit for LED lights and energy savings.”

The key for some designers is finding a way to juggle the use of LED lights for energy savings and incandescent sources for visual flair. “I’m a big fan of LEDs for certain situations, but they create too much visual noise and glare to be used everywhere in hospitality,” said David Shepard, VP of sales for Leucos USA. “Everyone loves the romance you get with incandescent sources, and you can power them down to approximate a sunset.” With LEDs the property needs to be careful with the texture of the glass in a given room, as well as the room’s contents. “You can do it, but you might need a lot of design input to pull it off.

“There are polarizing views toward energy savings and design, but when done correctly they can work together very well,” Shepard said. “The main reason there is still a home for incandescent bulbs is because of their diversity of color. Hotels don’t want the same fixture everyone else has, they want to make a statement.”


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