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Quality of Light. It Matters.

Lighting is about more than just illumination. Lighting has the ability to impact your mood. Actually, it has a very strong impact on someone’s wellness, and overall emotional well-being. In fact, one study done by Mentalfloss shows that natural lighting directly and indirectly affects mood, behavior and hormonal balances.

The right light quality can help you sleep, increase your productivity and energy levels, and help you feel positive and upbeat. It has even been shown to impact appetite, and how food tastes! On the contrary, low quality lighting can lead to depression, headaches, volatile intensity, sleep deprivation and much more.

There continues to be increased research done on the impact of light on the human body, and mind. This research consistently shows, that as a society we need to be cognizant of how lighting impacts our health. However, we are still living in a time where light is mainly measured by its efficiency. Why?


Simply put, it is what everyone currently knows, and understands. However, we believe with the advancement of research and development into new lighting technology, such as OLED, and new lighting standards, the industry is about to be in a state of disruption. As OLEDWorks, discusses in their blog post titled “Beyond Lifetime – The Next Generation of Lighting Metrics,” there is a disruptive innovation cycle, where new technologies make existing companies or products obsolete. As technologies mature, they eventually become the new standard. They further go on to show how LED light bulbs initially were behind CFLs, but eventually made them obsolete.


Let’s go back even further, to the days before artificial light, where candles and oil lamps were the standard. After Thomas Edison’s invention, more people began to turn to electricity for light, leading to a decrease in the price of both lamps and electricity. This technology became the new standard, making candles and oil lamps obsolete, as a form of general lighting.


As we continue to focus on the health and wellness of light, efficiency becomes a piece of the puzzle, but not the whole puzzle. As Buildings states in their article titled, CRI, Color Temperature and New Lighting Quality Metrics, “it’s crucial to compare lighting quality before you purchase. Currently, the primary tools used to describe, and quantify quality of light are color temperature and the Color Rendering Index (CRI).”


Color Temperature (Kelvin) is a characteristic of visible light. Essentially it lets us know what the look and feel of the light produced will be. The CRI is a scale from 0 to 100 percent indicating how accurate a "given" light source is at rendering color when compared to a "reference" light source. The higher the CRI the better color rendering ability.


However, the current ways of measuring light have their faults. There are many companies and associations developing a new thought process, around how light quality is measured. As an example, Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) developed a more comprehensive replacement for the CRI, called the IES-TM-30-15. Although, this has been developed it is still relatively new and often unknown, so CRI is still used the most frequently throughout the industry. Is this another one of those situations where IES-TM-30-15 will make the CRI obsolete? Possibly.


We truly, do not completely understand, the negative health impact that artificial lighting can have on our overall wellness. We do understand that many artificial light sources have blue light emissions, which wreak havoc on our circadian rhythm. As researched by OLEDWorks, OLED light technology has zero blue light risk. The technology continues to prove it is a healthier light option. As OLED technology continues to evolve we are confident that this level of lighting technology will become more commonplace, and become the new standard.


When thinking about quality of light it is important to understand the mood and atmosphere you want to create. Bars, restaurants, hotel guest rooms, and other hospitality spaces may want to have more control, such as dimmers, and warmer lighting. Understanding what each space is designed for will help a designer choose the best light fixtures, and best lighting technology. Any lighting manufacturer should be able to work with interior designers, architects, and any other design professionals on what light design would fit their needs the best.



Sources:

https://americanhistory.si.edu/lighting/19thcent/consq19.htm https://www.buildings.com/news/industry-news/articleid/22082/title/cri-color-temperature-lighting-quality-metrics https://www.oledworks.com/news/blog/beyond-lifetime-metrics/