Comparing Tunable LED Systems to Conventional Lighting in Senior Care Centers

LDS LRC logo 400

July 27, 2022

By Lighting Research Center

In senior care centers, tunable LED lighting system retrofits can save energy, reduce operating costs, and improve quality of life for occupants when compared to outdated fluorescent systems that are still used in many facilities nationwide. For example, the ability to dim and tune the color of hallway lighting overnight can provide a more suitable sleeping environment for residents by reducing the light that spills into their rooms. Further, tuning the color and increasing the intensity during the day can create greater contrast between daytime and nighttime environments, which can support biophilic design goals and circadian alignment with natural light/dark cycles. A recent study suggests that LED tunable lighting system retrofits can offer energy savings and reduced costs, along with the possibility of improved quality of life for residents.

The study, “Lighting in Senior Care Centers: Comparing Tunable LED Systems to Conventional Lighting Systems in Four Senior Care Centers,” partnered Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) with Energy Performance Lighting and Midwest Lighting Institute to evaluate lighting conditions in four Wisconsin skilled nursing facilities. Two of the care centers received white-tunable LED lighting system upgrades while the other two centers served as control locations and maintained their existing fluorescent lighting systems during the study period.

Overall, the LED retrofits resulted in more than a 60% reduction in lighting energy use, and greater energy savings were realized through a dimming schedule intended to support restful sleep. In the corridors and dining rooms, energy savings were even higher: 79% compared to the fluorescent systems. On-site lighting measurements verified the ability of the tunable lighting system to provide more light and higher correlated color temperature (CCT) during daytime hours and lower light levels and CCT in the evening hours, as shown in the figure below.


“The PNNL research into tunable lighting is invaluable as a resource for architects developing senior living facilities to provide environments that contribute to improved health and wellness of the residents,” said Scott Fitzgerald, associate principal at Perkins Eastman, an architecture firm with a large senior living practice that was not involved in this study. “Having research that validates the benefits of lighting tuned to circadian rhythms is critical to wider adoption of the technology in the healthcare and senior living practices.”

The energy saved from replacing fluorescent lighting with LED is clear and significant, as validated in this study. For senior care centers contemplating a retrofit, tunability is also worth considering because it enables adjustments to the luminous environment which are particularly important in creating contrast between daytime and nighttime light levels and CCT. Results of the study suggest that the cost-saving retrofit design strategies, careful technology selection, and automated lighting control strategies employed in these care centers not only provided substantial energy savings but also produced an easy-to-maintain, functional lighting system that effectively improved the quality of light and life for senior care residents.

Go HERE to download the full report

Related Articles

Changing Scene

  • IES Logo

    IES Forms New IES Waterloo Section in Southwest Ontario

    January 30, 2023 The Illuminating Engineering Society’s Board of Directors has approved the Society’s newest section in southwest Ontario—IES Waterloo. The IES Waterloo Section represents IES’ growing representation in the international lighting community and a demand for lighting resources and standards on a global scale. The Waterloo Section will be overseen by its local Board… Read More…

  • Magic Lite & EFC Release Student Scholarship

    January 18, 2023 Magic Lite was thrilled to have participated in the 2022 EFC Scholarship Program and recently present the Magic Lite Future Leaders Award of $2,500 to Anthony Faustin of Sherbrook University in Montreal. As successful applicant, Anthony demonstrated leadership amongst his peers as well as in his community, and showed true entrepreneurial spirit… Read More…


  • LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    LIT Design Awards Light Art Project Winner: Integral Group

    December 19, 2022 Prize(s) Winners in Light Art Project Company Integral Group Lead Designers Ellie Niakan + Catherine Chan Photo Credits Catherine Chan Completion Date December 21, 2021 Project Location New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada Although appearing as solitary, trees are connected to one another through vast underground systems known as mycorrhizal networks. Through these hidden systems—a symbiotic relationship between plants… Read More…

  • LIT Lighting Design Awards: Capital Park Landscape, Victoria, BC

    LIT Lighting Design Awards: Capital Park Landscape, Victoria, BC

    December 5, 2022 Located in one of Victoria’s most historic neighborhoods, the Capital Park Mixed-Use Development is made up of seven buildings stretching across three lots and is responsible for nearly an entire city block of Victoria’s downtown core. The project took place over the span of three phases and eight years. The first phase… Read More…

New Products

  • JSBT Tapered Switchable White Surface Mount Disk Light

    JSBT Tapered Switchable White Surface Mount Disk Light

    January 27, 2023 JSBT SlimBasics™ Tapered LED Disk Light Series comes in 4″ and 6″ sizes and provides even illumination where you need it most. Designed to provide good lighting quality, while also being budget friendly, the JSBT is the lowest total install cost LED solution for residential spaces. The matte white aluminum housing is… Read More…

  • 2″ Purist™ luminaires

    January 27, 2023 Meticulously designed, Purist was created with versatile light, beam, adjustability, and finish options that allow you to illuminate your environment in your light. 2″ Apertures (1.25″ with Pinhole trims). Up to 1500 lumens per lamp. 25° Vertical tilt. 2700K-4000K Color temperatures. 3000K-1800K Warm dimming. 15°-65° Beam Spreads. Wall Wash Available. For more… Read More…