BeveLED 2.0 Warm Glow Dimming, USAI Lighting
Good for: Long life (up to 50,000 hours), creating a warm ambience
Color temperature: 2700K; dims to 2200K
In the past, LEDs could not replicate the warmth of incandescent light bulbs at lower intensities, unbudging from the 3000K to 3500K range, says KGM Lighting partner Martin Van Koolbergen. USAI’s product starts to act “like what everybody’s used to seeing.”
Light Board, Erco Light Scout
Good for: Gallery, museum, retail, and accent lighting
Color temperature: 3000K, 4000K
For a gallery at Parsons The New School for Design, MFA Lighting Design program chair Derek Porter favored this product’s versatility. “You can do spotlighting, wallwashing, and floodlighting … just from changing out the different lens accessories.” And it sticks to the native rectangular shape of LEDs.
Fraqtir Point, The Lighting Quotient
Good for: Uniform illumination of 8- to 9-foot walls without scalloping or striations
Color temperature: 2700K, 3000K, 4000K
While several LED products can graze, they lack the optics to do a traditional wallwash, says LAM Partners’ principal Robert Osten. “[It] requires a tailored light beam in a batwing shape … [which] Elliptipar (a division of TLQ) is working on.”
SkyRibbon IntelliHue WallWashing Powercore, Philips Color Kinetics
Good for: Creating a spectrum of colors, including white
Color temperature: 2000K to 10,000K
LEDs in the past did not produce true white well, but this four-color, light-cove fixture—available this May—can produce white and almost any other color, Osten says. With RGB and white diodes, the product can change color and yield “a good honest white.”
Series X2-O, Finelite
Good for: Illuminating vertical surfaces such as whiteboards, artwork, and displays
Source: T8, T5, or T5HO fluorescent lamp
Teachers tell lighting designer Nancy Clanton, of Clanton & Associates, that “the teaching wall is the most important surface to light.” This luminaire will sit close to the whiteboard and aim straight down. “The reflected glare goes to the floor,” Clanton says—and not into the eyes of teachers and students.
Wall/Slot 6000 WS-L60 Recessed Perimeter, Litecontrol
Good for: Wall grazing in tight spaces
Color temperature: 2700K, 3000K, 3500K, 4100K
In confined spaces, LEDs have the potential to overheat. This wallwasher can withstand enclosed conditions while dissipating heat, Clanton says. “The life projection testing takes into account that this luminaire is going to be installed in a wall slot.”
Out of the Shadows
Ceilings were the primary place for luminaires in the past, particularly when drop ceilings were at the height of popularity in the 1970s. Wallwashing was reserved for illuminating lobbies and public spaces. But, as Denver lighting designer Nancy Clanton, president of Clanton & Associates, points out, “Most of us look at walls, not at floors.” Even when walls were the focus, fluorescent and incandescent lamps were nearly impossible to direct at a precise place.
LEDs, however, produce directional light that can travel longer distances than fluorescent and incandescent lamps, and target very specific areas, producing a cinematic effect that designers call “grazing.”
But solid-state lighting isn’t a panacea. LEDs, particularly those that tend to be cheaper or operate at low wattage levels, can lack the warm colors of incandescents and overheat more than fluorescents. And many manufacturers and designers have merely applied LEDs to cylindrical enclosures intended for traditional light sources.
Wallwashers may be bridging the gap. The emerging products are not only intended for LEDs from conception, but are also overcoming previous limitations in color temperature, luminance, and overheating.
Note: This article has been updated since first publication to make the following changes: LiteControls Wall/Slot 6000 WS-L60 Recessed Perimeter was identified correctly alongside its image; the product name, description, and image of Finelite's Series X2-O luminaire were corrected.