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Beyond safety, security and simply allowing one to see, lighting applications are wide and varied. Across a range of indoor and outdoor locations, lighting plays an integral role in setting the mood and atmosphere, drawing attention to and away from whatever the lighting designer wishes. Lighting is much more than simply putting a spotlight on your subject, it creates ambiance, displays video content, and can be used in conjunction with architectural elements and dynamic fixtures to create a memorable visual experience for guests.

Architectural lighting is, strictly speaking, illumination for building design and function. Three main factors are encompassed by this term. The first consideration is aesthetic appeal, ie what to light up and what to keep in the dark, which is of particular importance for residential and commercial applications. The second is ergonomics, or functionality, in that it asks how lighting can promote one’s ability to live, work, function, relax or play. And the third aspect involves energy efficiency, ensuring that light is economically or optimally used and distributed.

A staple of concerts around the world, moving lights, which are also called intelligent lights, are flexible and versatile fixtures that feature a movable head on a rotating yoke to create moving beams of light. They come in three forms: wash, spot, and beams. Wash fixtures are great for bathing large areas with light color, while spot fixtures are better suited for lighting presenters or performers, and beam fixtures are ideal for creating almost laser-like columns of light.  When you combine lighting technology with mechanics you get kinetic lighting. One way of doing this is to have an array of LED (light-emitting diode) orbs or LED pixel tubes attached to chain motors suspended from a ceiling to create dynamic lighting over a space. Laser lights are popular at indoor and outdoor music events because they can be programmed via lighting consoles and software, allowing for synchronization with music.

Lighting outdoor spaces has numerous solutions depending on the occasion. Uplighting is a form of ground-based lighting used to illuminate areas within a venue. When placed along a wall, uplights create multi-colored columns of light on the walls which create the illusion of higher ceilings and wider spaces. The same technique can be used to dramatic effect on building facades, making a statement on a city’s skyline. Gobo lights consist of a gobo (a metal or glass disc with a pattern, logo, or any other design etched into it) which is projected onto a surface such as a wall or ceiling. Festoon lighting is a great alternative to fairy lights, and can be strung up between trees or draped around areas of interest to draw the attention of guests. Balloon lights are air-inflated fixtures that can be suspended or ground-supported, bathing an area in warm halogen light or bold LED light.

Given the unreliability of the weather, lighting is increasingly being applied to horticulture and vertical agriculture. For example, many ornamental crops (perennials and annuals) flower in response to the length of the day and the night. Photoperiodic lighting is used to emulate both the day-night cycle as well as the varying lengths of days and nights according to the seasons. Supplemental lighting can be used on cloudy days and at night for plants for high light crops such as tomatoes. In the case of some high-value crops such as tissue culture propagules and leafy greens, sole-source lighting, where the only light a plant receives comes from an electric lamp, is used 18 to 24 hours a day most, if not all, year-round. Because of this extended usage cooling systems may be necessary to deal with the heat from the lamps.

Warehouses are characterized by spaces with large volumes and relatively few windows, so lighting is especially important. To promote safety and efficiency warehouse lighting must propagate the space without overwhelming workers. Different warehouse lights are intended for different parts of warehouses. Linear aisle lights, for example, are meant for low lighting over aisles. Panel high bays, on the other hand, are meant to single-handedly cover larger areas than a regular UFO high bay light.

The transition to LED is a common trend in all these lighting application. Contrary to its cost-prohibitive past, LED is now far more affordable, has a longer lifespan, and produces far less heat than other lighting solutions. In addition, LED lights are up to 75% more energy-efficient than their CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) and incandescent lighting predecessors, resulting in a lower carbon footprint and energy savings. With more and more people wanting to contribute to environmental sustainability and mitigate the rate of climate change, LED lighting is the preferred choice for the foreseeable future.