Lighting Design & Specification

Aug 15, 2019

LDS David Gordon2 400By David Gordon

Competing to thrive requires staying on top of the latest trends so that you can best advise customers. Lighting is fast moving and our resident advanced lighting expert, David Shiller, shares what’s going on with circadian lighting and “no-blue.” As you’ll see, if your involved in street lighting, the oil segment or a number of other areas (think healthcare), this is important to be aware of. Four distributor “next steps” appear below.

By now, you’ve likely heard about circadian lighting and the scientific studies that show that blue-rich light at night can lead to circadian cycle disruption, poor sleep, and scary health outcomes, including increased risk of diseases, including some cancers.

With the discovery of non-visual receptors in the eye as the physical pathway from certain types of light exposure to melatonin disruption, this all is logical and plausible. Although it is still relatively early days for the science of circadian lighting, anyone wanting to err on the side of health and safety is promoting reduced blue light at night. Advocates include the World Health Organization, American Medical Association (AMA), a large percentage of municipalities in North America spec’ing street lighting at 4000K & even 3000K, and many others. Of course, there are many experts in the lighting industry who have major problems with the AMA recommendations for street lighting (including the IES), and some experts who are sceptical of circadian lighting claims entirely. However, this is not the question I wish to debate here.

There is now a growing trend toward “no-blue” lighting on the grounds that it is superior to circadian lighting. Consider the following:

• the American Petroleum Institute (a very conservative group) has recently released new lighting standards for 24/7 workplaces, such as drilling rigs. It’s API ANSI RP-755. This recommended practice specifies the use of light with <2% blue content.

• UL is now certifying that luminaires and lamps have <2% blue content. 

• Healthe by Lighting Science has released new lamps with 480nm blue “depleted” spectrum for “optimal biological benefits.” 

• Soraa has release it’s ZeroBlue lamps claiming blue free light. “Blue free light, like Soraa’s ZeroBlue technology, completely removes the blue light spectrum, replacing it instead with innovative violet light. This means better sleep and a healthier circadian rhythm.”

• Circadian Lighting has released its “Circadian’s NightSafe LED technology. Circadian Lights are thus the only UL verified white light solution that meets the health target of emitting less than 2% blue.”

So if less blue at night is better, no blue is best, right??? Not so fast. The latest reports out of LRC show that the amount of light at night has more impact on circadian disruption than the amount of blue light. If this is correct, then lots of “no blue” light is still quite problematic. And this is the second LRC study in a year reaching this conclusion. Details here.

What distributors should / could do

Although this situation leaves many scratching their heads, the “no blue” train appears to have left the station and is gaining momentum. Let’s hope science settles the question soon, and that people pay attention. In the meantime, electrical distributors can consider the following:

1. Read up on the issue as it gains increasing attention in the trade press. Better to not be the deer in the headlights when a customer starts asking about it.

2. If a distributor does a lot with the oil and gas vertical, line up a “no-blue” supplier, as the new API standard may cause “no-blue” spec’ed projects to land on your desk.

3. If a distributor does a lot with the healthcare vertical, line up a “no-blue” supplier, as healthcare is the vertical most quickly adopting circadian lighting, in general.

4. More aggressive distributors may want to get out front and actively promote “no-blue lighting” as a differentiator. However, more conservative distributors may not want to actively promote it, until the science is settled about the effectiveness of no-blue lighting. 

For more information on circadian lighting and other advanced lighting developments, contact David Shiller: www.lightingsold.com/

Another example of the lighting industry in flux.

David Gordon is President of Channel Marketing Group. Channel Marketing Group develops market share and growth strategies for manufacturers and distributors and develops market research. CMG’s specialty is the electrical industry. He also authors an electrical industry blog, www.electricaltrends.com. He can be reached at 919-488-8635 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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