The 10 big lighting trends for 2018

Lighting is changing, and the next 12 months will be a defining period in the sector as we move away from an energy-saving offer to fully embrace all things digital.

The global Light + Building show in March 2018 will be a key moment, and all the while disruption and uncertainty look set to be continuing themes. Here’s how Lux sees the big trends to watch for in 2018:

Luminaires will boast more functionality
Expect this to be a big trend at Light + Building in Frankfurt in March. Due to increased commoditisation and falling prices, light fittings simply won’t just illuminate any more. They’ll have on-board capabilities such as increased intelligence, sensors, build-in wireless connectivity and colour tuning. Expect buzzwords such as ‘IoT ready’ and ‘digital light’.

Controls will leave the cupboard
Traditionally, lighting controls have resided in a big black box of electronics which sat in a cupboard. In 2018, expect to see the intelligence move into the luminaire. The interface will increasingly be standard devices using Bluetooth. The ‘self-learning’ algorithms popular on consumer thermostats will also begin to appear as standard on lighting control platforms.

Emergency lighting standards will be driven up
Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s inquiry into the London’s Grenfell Tower fire kicks off in earnest in 2018, and a spotlight will be shone on the regulations, standards, guidance, specification, installation practice and maintenance regimes for emergency lighting. It will be an uncomfortable watch for the industry, but should concentrate minds and drive up standards.

Li-Fi will begin to get adopted
Thanks to the launch at LuxLive in November of a range of certified kit, including drivers and luminaires, we expect to see the delivery of the internet via visible light start to gain traction in the market. Early adopters will be in the security, military and diplomatic sectors where computer users want the convenience of Wi-Fi but without its vulnerabilities.

Lighting will join the connected office
The so-called ‘connected office’ will start to become a reality in 2018, driven by the big property developers.  Companies such as Land Securities and CBRE – under pressure to be seen to be innovating in the sector – already have extensive trials of IoT lighting and will be the ones to create compelling use cases for their clients. The big drivers will be well-being and productivity.

Bluetooth will win the protocol war
After two years of internal wrangling, Bluetooth chiefs have ratified a standard which meshes together its beacons, allowing them to give instructions to each other. The move boosts Bluetooth's reach far beyond the typical10m range that’s familiar to consumers. In 2018 expect this development to drive IoT lighting into retail, warehouse, commercial offices, and other locations.

Human-centric lighting will get serious
Current ‘human-centric’ lighting installations are often unworthy of the name; ‘colour temperature-changing’ would be a better term. However, thanks to an increasing body of research from Scandinavia in particular, expect to see more and more true human centric systems installed. Offices and care homes, especially those with dementia patients, will be first.

Lighting pollution will be a major issue
Lighting pollution has been an issue in the industry for decades, but expect clients and regulators to take it super seriously in 2018, driven by increased awareness and concerns that the low price and cooler colour temperatures of LEDs are causing more lighting pollution more than high pressure sodium ever did.

The WELL Building standard will be big
It may be an American import and the product of an independent, non-government organisation, but the WELL Building Standard is rapidly gaining traction on this side of the pond as current guidance fails to keep up with trends in workplace wellbeing and productivity. Clients see it as added value for their tenants, so expect lighting specs to demand compliance in 2018.

The industry will be driven by consolidation and partnerships
Stand-alone lighting manufacturers will look increasingly isolated in 2018 as consolidation really takes hold in the market. Expect to see lots of acquisitions and mergers as the fragmented industry tidies itself up. But the really big trend will be partnerships – such as the Philips and Cisco tie-up – where lighting makers buddy up with tech specialists.


  • See the lastest trends at the LuxLive 2018 exhibition and conference at ExCeL London on 14 & 15 November 2018. Entry is free if you register HERE

Comments 15

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It's time we looked again at recyclability and/or replaceable LED modules. Think of all those 600 x 600 panels with a 3-5 years warranty. What happens as their light ouput falls towards L70 and the office people complain the lights aren't as bright as they used to be? OK, if you are in the EU they should fall into the WEEE scheme, but what a waste! If like me you are elsewhere (I am in the UAE) they will just go to landfill. This gives light fittings the status of the plastic bag - at worst just another piece of rubbish littering the planet, at best a source of low-grade recycled material to be made into yet another plastic coat-hanger. At least with fluorescent sources you could dust down the louvre, replace the lamps and crack-on. The so-called "solution" today is a complete fitting replacement. LED panels are my particular concern, but the same is true of downlights, track lights, weatherproofs... If we are not prepared to replace these entirely as we plunge past L70 we will all have to spend more on task lighting, and that's hardly practical. It's time we looked again at replaceable light modules to avoid a 5-year cycle of complete fitting replacement and a rising heap or garbage.

I would love to see 1. More use of natural daylight and artificial light to match. 2. The end of uniformly lit spaces at work and anywhere else, lets have dark as well as light! . 3. Individual control for EVERY user to have the light level and colour she wants, anytime he wants it.

Seems like light switches will become obsolete. Bluetooth Mesh will extend the spread of the IoT.

Light pollution is a big issue. LED lights have failed big in this area. We now have bluer more intense lights. We are using as much electricity for lights . Road hazards and pedestrians are not more visible. Driving at night is not safer than it was.

I recently saw a white paper draft that touts the health benefits of re-introducing Near Infrared (NIR) back into the "artificial" lighting spectrum via LED lamps and fixtures. From the little reading that I've done, this appears to be a well founded premise that would dovetail into some of the 10 points mentioned. The authors' solution could gain interest in 2018.

The challenge for 2018 is not the technology; the trends have been there for several years if you know where to look and with Bluetooth SIG and DIIA coming together to define Part 104 of IEC 62386, then I agree that Bluetooth will win the wireless standard. However, the reality will often be a mix of different technologies combined on a common platform. My concern is that an intelligent luminaire, whether wireless or wired, if not designed as part of a wider Lighting management system will just be a very expensive switch. Control and management are not the same and to that end I believe Software will be the driving force of 2018 along with system Analytics. We need to combine different systems on a common platform that allows the user/ end client to optimise and develop their lighting scheme over the life of the installation. We have to take the long view with Technology and design installations that will be relevant today, tomorrow and in the future.

Love to see "Human-centric lighting will get serious" which means ambient LED lighting will get more attention!

These are my top five. In order to avoid building new power plants, we need to conserve energy and decide wisely where to locate lighting. As consumers become more educated, they will demand better lighting. [1] Right now, too much direct glare in LED street lighting can cause temporary blindness to drivers, overly bright and unshielded luminaires are unacceptable. [2] Circadian friendly LED sources, including retrofits for homes, need to be more easily dimmed without blinking and avoid monochromatic illumination by offering layers of light with different dominant wavelengths and brightness. [3] Offices need thoughtful layers of light and controls to invite individual choices and lower levels for circulation and meeting areas. California leads the nation with power limits and controls for occupancy and daylighting, watch what they do next. [4] Healthcare in United States needs to demand wavelengths 660 and 940 nm for diagnosing bloodstream infections, highly valuable tool to measure arterial oxygen saturation, these wavelengths are missing in many LED sources. [5] Life safety and egress are essential and the use of self reporting emergency lighting equipment has sadly been extremely slow in adoption for a technology that has been available for many years. Although smart street lighting gets much attention for saving city maintenance budgets, leaving compliance of egress lighting testing of 90 minutes once a year to insurance companies seems strange. Did you know that you are required by law to have and test regularly exit & emergency lighting systems? The lack of enforcement for egress lighting and life safety regulations needs to change.

Just had a scan back at predictions for 2016 & 2017, lets see if this year will be any different from previous ones!

I predict it will become more complicated and more expensive ...but not better . As happens with most unregulated industries .

I believe we will see light begin to be looked at in terms of wave mechanics, i.e. we will see attention paid to the luminal equivalent of sonic harmonics, luminal chords and adjacent frequency reinforcement in plant-lighting. I further believe that this will lead to proof that the current model of photosynthesis as a capacitatively-sequential process is inaccurate. This in turn is likely to radically affect future grow-light design. "How?" look for a massive return of the HEP/SPL technology, using glass which will transmit

For many of those trends, the continuous monitoring/measuring of the ambient lightings using spectral sensor( compact IoT spectrometer) would be a critical part. Like a thermometer to monitor the temperature, IoT spectrometer could provide exact ground for which wavelength, when to start or stop, and how much to be additionally provided or blocked.

A number of challenges under the sustainability banner will emerge: Drafting could start on standards requiring manufacturers to use a proportion of plastics from recycled sources. Questions will be asked regarding the recyclability of retrofit LED lamps. Government will face mounting pressure to take action over the non-compliance of product sold through major online retailers with environmental and other legislation. And finally, producers of household luminaires will need to comply with WEEE in time for 2019.

I predict that the gap between what you have to do e.g. the law, and what people actually do will grow even wider. On the plus side, guidance/good practice from the professional lighting bodies and other experts will be more topical, more frequent and, therefore, more relevant.

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