As the largest showcase in North America for commercial lighting products, LightFair always features dozens of innovative new lamps, lighting fixtures, ballasts and related products that produce better light, longer lamp life and energy savings.

An estimated 15,000-plus lighting professionals saw new products with these features at LightFair 2006, held May 28-June 1 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. But the architects, lighting designers, reps and distributors walking the aisles of the Las Vegas Convention Center's cavernous South Hall were also treated to a broad selection of digital lighting controls, including several systems from electrical manufacturers that had lacked a major presence at LightFair in the past.

Digital lighting controls that monitor the light levels and energy usage of a building's entire lighting system aren't new. Lighting manufacturers such as Lutron Electronics Co. Inc., Coopersburg, Pa., and Leviton Manufacturing Co. Inc., Little Neck, N.Y., have been leaders in the field for many years. But advancements in digital control technology have opened the market to other manufacturers that can develop keypads to control local lighting loads, sensors to monitor light levels and PC-based centralized monitors to view system status and then figure out how to teach these products to talk to each other.

With its acquisition of Juno Lighting, Des Plaines, Ill., and years of expertise in control technology for building-management systems in the industrial market, Square D/Schneider Electric, Palatine, Ill., has taken dead aim on the lighting market. The company had a large booth at LightFair to exhibit its Powerlink lighting-control system. Another familiar name in the electrical market with a large presence at LightFair was Hubbell Inc. The company's Austin, Texas-based Hubbell Building Automation, marketed its Simplicity LX lighting-control system at the show.

Encillium Technologies Inc., Philadelphia, also exhibited its Energy Control System (ECS), which uses the company's proprietary “GreenBus” communication network to allow light fixtures, occupancy sensors, photo sensors and wall dimmers to be individually addressed as part of a complete lighting-control system, resulting in quantifiable energy savings of 55 percent to 70 percent.

An interesting debate is brewing in the lighting-control arena over the communications standards enabling these lighting products to talk with each other. While some manufacturers rely on proprietary systems, others rely on open standards. Exhibiting at LightFair this year was the ZigBee Alliance, Attleboro, Mass., a consortium of manufacturers that believe in open wireless networks.

ZigBee technology is being embedded in a wide range of products and applications across consumer, industrial and government markets worldwide, and Bob Heile, ZigBee's chairman, believes the lighting market will benefit from ZigBee technology's ability to provide lighting manufacturers with dependable remote monitoring and control.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), the tiny light sources with the extra-long life of up to 100,000 hours, continue to dazzle show attendees. At past LightFairs, LEDs' longevity and ability to paint applications with a fascinating palette of digitally created colors seemed to be the features that attracted most of the attention. At this year's show, LEDs made their mark in a whole host of new outdoor applications, such as lighting for pools and other architectural applications.

Another interesting development at the show was the increased presence of 20W ceramic metal-halide lamps. Joseph Knisley, senior editorial consultant for Electrical Construction & Maintenance (EC&M) magazine has been covering the lighting market for more than 40 years, and he said these tiny bulbs are replacing standard halogen PAR lamps in many commercial applications because of their long lamp life, space savings and high color quality.

In addition to the trade show, LightFair featured 76 courses and more than 240 hours of programming in its conference curriculum. Many of the courses were accredited by the various lighting associations.

There was also a lot of the buzz on the show floor about the low profile of Sylvania Inc., Danvers, Mass.; Philips Lighting Co., Somerset, N.J.; and Advance Transformer Co., Rosemont, Ill. Instead of the mega-booths these companies normally have at LightFair, they were buried in the aisles with the other smaller booths. These companies will reportedly be back at LightFair 2007 with larger booths. Next year's LightFair will be at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York, May 6-10, 2007.

Top New Products at LightFair 2006

Sponsored by Architectural Lighting magazine and eLumit.com, LightFair's annual New Product Showcase and Awards presentation offers a glimpse of the most innovative lighting technology on the market. For more information about this year's winners, check out eLumit at http://nps.elumit.com.

Best New Product of the Year

Parallels minimalist-design fluorescent lighting fixture — Peerless Lighting

Technical Innovation Award

Equos dimmable ballast with ZigBee-compatible wireless control — Philips Lighting Electronics

Design Innovation

Nalu outdoor lighting fixture for halogen or LED lamps — Dreamscape Lighting

Conventional Lamps

20W ceramic metal-halide 20MR16 lamp offering 960 lumens 3,000 degree Kelvin color temperature and lamp life of 8,000 to 12,000 hours — GE Lighting

Specialty Lamps

Luxeon K2 LED lamp offering new performance standards — Lumileds Lighting

Downlights, Wallwashers and Accent Lights

LumeLEX Series of accent lights feature variable white light with precise color temperature, dimming control and 50,000-hour life — Lighting Services Inc.

Track, Low-Voltage, Cable and Rail Systems

Arca Twin indirect luminaire with translucent or iridescent pod-like heads softly diffuse light — Luxo

Landscape, Pool & Fountain Lighting

Nalu outdoor lighting fixture for halogen or LED lamps — Dreamscape Lighting

Chandeliers, Pendants, Sconces, Task Lights & Decorative Luminaires

Mira decorative pendant uses color changing LEDs for unique lighting effects — 3G Lighting

Roadway, Sports, Floodlights, Outdoor Architectural & Site Lighting

Night Module is a modular system for area, pathway, or accent-lighting applications — HessAmerica

Theatrical & Specialty Luminaires

Ultimate Architectural Floor Tiles bring the entertaining impact of colorful LED lighting to floors, pathways, dance areas and patios — LightWild

Industrial Vandal & Emergency Lighting

SAF-T-RAY SAF Series of emergency wall-mount remote-light fixtures offers precise beam control using two adjustable MR16 halogen lamps — Lightalarms

Controls & Daylight Integration

Daylight Harvesting Control System offers PC-based control of light fixtures to save 50 percent to 70 percent of lighting energy costs — Encelium

Research, Publications, Software & Unique Applications

“A History of Light and Lighting” traces the developments and influence of lighting in a historical look at the technical art of lighting with over 250 historic pictures and illustrations — llluminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA)

Specialty & Hardware, Lampholders & Components

Fixture Analyzer Kit quickly and easily identifies aged HID light fixtures operating lamps outside of their design tolerance, resulting in short lamp life and high maintenance costs — EYE Lighting

Ballasts & Transformers

Equos dimmable ballast with ZigBee-compatible wireless control — Philips Lighting Electronics

Systems

LEXEL is the first fully integrated LED-based light source offering 1,000 dimmable lumen color temperature control from 2,700 to 6,500 degrees Kelvin, 100 percent lumen maintenance in a clean 17 beam angle — TIR