Developments in the lighting sector – what is Human Centric Lighting? | Ovia Lighting

Developments in the lighting sector – what is Human Centric Lighting? | Ovia Lighting

Mike Collins, Director of Operations at Ovia Lighting, takes a look at some of the developments in the lighting sector that have been gathering momentum in recent years.

For a long time, the lighting industry had invested most of its resources in technologies, solutions and products that fulfil our visual needs. It was not until the discovery of a third photoreceptor (besides rods and cones) in the human eye and the evidence of the biological influence from light that the lighting community began to relate human health and well-being to light.

Human centric lighting

The finding on non-visual effects of light since then has challenged the industry to take a more holistic approach that simultaneously considers both the visual and biological needs of humans. What is now commonly known as Human Centric lighting (HCL) takes up this challenge and opens up a whole new world of opportunities with the advances in LED lighting and Internet of Things (IoT).

Human centric lighting is a lighting concept that puts the focus on bringing the dynamics of natural daylight back into people’s everyday lives through biologically effective artificial lighting. HCL goes beyond the basic visual needs of people. It helps the human body to stay aligned with natural circadian rhythms that the human being has been conditioned throughout its history.

The human body’s daily sleep/wake cycle patterns, referred to as circadian rhythms, are to a great extent dictated by biochemical reactions triggered by our exposure to light. As humans have evolved, daylight has been the primary regulator of this cycle, however as we’ve moved to the point that we typically spend around 90% of our time indoors, we can become starved of this natural light.

No more constraints

In the past, we’ve been limited by the electric light that we’ve been able to create, but modern LED light sources have given us the possibility to reproduce many aspects of daylight, with variations in colour temperature and intensity now being relatively simple to achieve.

We’re no longer constrained by what daylight can achieve and with current technologies, it is possible to create lighting effects that enhance the appearance of objects, people and spaces in a way that isn’t possible even with daylight.

The light output quality from an electric lighting installation fundamentally depends on the light sources themselves. The lamp and/or luminaire in which the light source(s) are installed will also have some influence on the quality and quantity of the light output. The development of LED technology has revolutionised the lighting sector and LED lighting is highly amenable to spectrum and dimming control.

There are now many different distributions of light output possible due to the flexibility in assembling the light-emitting diodes in various configurations to create LED modules. Furthermore, the spectral output from LED light sources can be varied across a very wide range of correlated colour temperatures (CCT). Adjustment of light fixtures between 2000K and 7500K to suit occupant needs are not uncommon today, whereas traditional light sources are much more limited in these aspects.

Control strategies

Lighting controls can be used to provide an individualised lighting level for a particular user whilst also providing a dynamically lit appearance to increase visual interest. In order to provide a truly Human centric derived lighting scheme there is the need to acknowledge that individuals have preferences, which may be lighting levels, colour, controllability, and the absence of glare and flicker, for example.

The quantities, distributions and spectral qualities of light that are required from a lighting design/installation vary considerably according to multiple factors. These include the tasks that are being carried out at any point in time as well as the visual acuity and preferences of the individuals in the space at the time.

Unnecessary light levels

Traditionally, lighting designs have attempted to accommodate this by providing for the worst-case scenario, leading to unnecessarily high light levels across the entire space and with limited visual comfort. Of course, this also has a material effect on increasing the power consumption of the lighting installation.

As well as saving energy, personalisation and optimisation via lighting controls can help ensure that only the right light, in the right quantity, at the right time and in the right place is provided. Light levels can be changed automatically through pre-programmed ‘scenes’ that can themselves be triggered by external factors like prevailing natural daylight conditions or by manual override by the occupants, depending on their particular needs or preferences at the time.

Innovation and the continued development of ‘smart’ control systems utilising mesh networks and intuitive ‘App’ based systems is further supporting the possibility of delivering control systems that can support human focused lighting solutions and future upgradability.

Browse the Ovia Issue 4 lighting catalogue here

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