If you want to take a trip into some mind twisting territory just try investigating natural lighting. By the time you finish connecting the relevance of degrees Kelvin to ‘color rendering index’ you’ll be more in the dark than when you started. But, natural lighting is important because light regulates our sleep-wake cycle. And, lack of sleep can lead to health problems, low productivity and even bad behavior.

Not surprisingly, streets lined by skyscrapers not only restrict the light available to people, but they also affect the quality of light. From a stark, cloudy grey, to extreme reflection thrown by vast walls of glass, urbanites largely miss out on natural lighting.

By most accounts, city dwellers spend between 75% and 90% of their lives indoors. And, even though there are walls of windows in many modern buildings, the natural light available to those inside is far from the full spectrum type that aids productivity and healthy sleep cycles. Many people who study light and its effects on humans mostly approach the subject from the money point of view. They try to answer questions like:

“What type and amount of light is best for worker productivity?”

“How do windows affect rents on commercial space?”

“How does lighting affect retail sales?”

But, some people have studied natural lighting from the perspectives of health and well being. They found that people in hospital rooms with views of trees recover about 8% faster and need fewer pain meds. Other findings included improved student test scores, and workers who claimed they were happier and felt like they got more done when they had adequate daylight. But, not every space can receive daylight, and many spaces just get degraded daylight. That’s led to a whole new industry where people design and build not only natural lighting products, but also study and install complete natural lighting systems.

It’s just a matter of time before you will see these products and systems at a building site you’re working on, so, here are the basics.

Natural lighting still begins with a bulb

The Bulbs

Tunable from warm to cool, wireless controls, 50,000 hour lifetime, standard screw-in

Natural lighting comes with linear accent options

For Linear Accent

Ketra’s G2 is suited for cove, wall-wash and grazing applications. Exquisite beam quality, resulting in uniform color and intensity across walls and ceilings. 

Natural lighting for wall washing

Wallwash Downlights

Ketra’s D3 includes fixed, adjustable, and wall-wash downlights. Every model features low-profile housing, wireless communication, and field replaceable optics and electronics. 

Ketra Space

Lounge at Squarespace

Evening Kitchen

Light bulbs are still on the delivery end of natural lighting but these bulbs are smart. You can tune them, or program them to specific color points. That’s important for timing the type of light to the time of day. Blue light, according to Ketra, maker of natural lighting, helps to energize us, and is important at the beginning of the day. However, blue needs to slowly go away as the day wears on until finally in the evening the light should be softer and more yellow. These softer tones help you get ready for sleep.

Not surprisingly, these bulbs, and the entire system, are WiFi enabled. They come with a wireless control hub and mobile apps so you can tune and control your lighting without traveling to a light switch. And, instead of standard wall switches, these systems use a keypad. The buttons typically would have the names of the various types of light:

  • Natural – automatically controls the lighting throughout the day to mimic daylighting
  • Energize – Increases blue content to help boost your energy
  • On – puts the lighting at one level whenever you want
  • Relax – reduces blue content to encourage relaxation

You can also control each room individually, or complete areas or pathways. With automatic dimming, power use gets reduced. For architects, electrical contractors and contractors, offering natural lighting as an option becomes a point of differentiation, especially with installations for businesses and up-scale residential. There is evidence from both a health and an energy perspective that this type of lighting is going to gain wider adoption and have increasing demand.