Lighting innovations shift preferences and materials

New technology has created new expectations for hotel lighting—both in terms of form and function.

“In the past, hoteliers often deemed systems like video and creative lighting as too expensive or complicated for most spaces,” said Brad Haynes, senior manager of product and application support at lighting manufacturing company Martin Professional. “Now, the trend seems to be using lighting as a way to differentiate their spaces, including corporate branding both inside and out.” 

Lighting solutions for a hotel’s banquet hall or other entertainment setting typically require a range of moving head fixtures, wash lights, fog machines and a lighting console for control, Haynes continued. “Depending on the occasion, this type of solution can be manipulated to provide dynamic moving light for dance floors or concerts, as well as stage lighting for a ceremony or other speaking event. For lobby areas, restaurants or meeting spaces, image projectors can be used for dynamic logo projection. Lighting solutions for exterior structures and landscapes require weatherproof fixtures that can produce powerful color washes or white light over great distances. Digital [light-emitting diode] video solutions can also be used for informational and aesthetic purposes.”

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“At the moment, everyone is buzzing about the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) and ‘smart building,’” said Miquel Colet, CEO of Spain-based lighting design firm Vibia US. “The advances in digitization over the past five years have had a huge impact on Vibia’s organizational model. Added to this digitization, improved LED and better dimming controls have gained increased importance not only in user experience, but for the role they will play in energy consumption monitoring and management. Eventually, these technologies will all function as one, making it easier for hoteliers to control guest environments for an optimal experience.”

One company taking advantage of combined lighting technologies is Ketra, which has developed all-inclusive systems to let users customize a room’s lighting through light-emitting diode options and wireless communication. Ketra designs the bulbs and fixtures, and also the controls and software that let users adjust the lights from permanent devices or mobile apps. 

“Each light fixture or lamp or bulb is individually controllable in terms of intensity and color,” said Tom Hamilton, VP of marketing for Ketra. “The lighting of an entire space can be tailored.” 

Hotels can even set lights to a brand’s signature colors to create a sense of consistency from space to space, or create designated patterns that automatically adjust to time of day. Perhaps most notably, the LED bulbs fit into existing framework, making retrofitting easy. With traditional lighting systems, each adjustable bulb must be on its own dimmer. Ketra’s system lets all of the lighting go on one existing circuit and retain its adaptability.

Of course, bulbs aren’t right for every market, and some lighting fixtures eschew them entirely. “[Hotels] like the LED being integrated into the fixture,” said Michael Incardone, national account sales manager and hospitality channel sales manager at lighting design company Kichler. Using an integrated LED rather than a removable bulb “allows a fixture to really hit the [Americans with Disabilities Act] standards that are pretty much mandated for most properties.” LED, he continued, lets hoteliers experiment with light temperature, light color and lumen output—all while reducing energy use. 

“LED in itself is no longer what I would call an ‘emerging trend,’” Vibia US CEO Miquel Colet said, “but the new possibilities that it presents have certainly affected the way we think of lighting in hospitality, specifically the way we think about the shape and purpose of a lamp. We are no longer just creating an object, but a project—each collection is a new proposal for what lighting should look and feel like.”

“In the next five years, lighting needs to be more top-of-mind when designing a hospitality space,” said Brad Haynes, senior manager, product and application support at Martin Professional. “Designers need to understand how this technology can be used and that it should be implemented at the beginning of the design process instead of trying to fit in after completion of a project.”