The outside of Dallas Market Center with the logo at the top of a tall red wall

Lightovation 2020

January is a good time to fly south and check out Lightovation at the Dallas Market Center. The annual event for buyers is focused primarily on showrooms and distributors but integrators are beginning to show up- especially those that also do decorative lighting.

The American Lighting display area that includes a glass display wall with rectangles of various colored lights at different heights and with different widths and a doorway in the middle

I was at Lightovation to share my passion for linear lighting with attendees at two presentations sponsored by American Lighting. It was great to catch up with Jennifer and Ben, meet more of the American team, and see some of their new product.

Tape light strips with small densely spaced lights

American showcased their new HD (high density) tape with diodes spaced closely together and cut lengths under 2″. Both features allow more precise illumination and less “dotting” or “hot spotting” from individual diodes, and this will likely become our new standard spec. It comes in several configurations and in color temperatures from 2700K to 4000K.

A sheet of small lights (similar to tape lights) spaced about an inch apart

American also had their new sheet-based product on display and in applications backlighting glass and signage. The sheet product should be fantastic for under lighting bar tops, backlighting stone, crafting luminous ceilings, and even creating window-like details. It comes in a variety of color temperatures and a color-changing model. American added silicone bumpers to the product so you can set glass directly on top of the product. it is cuttable into just about any shape.

An indoor court at Dallas Market Center filled with plants and two palm trees and a sizeable pond. People are milling about and standing on balconies on three levels of the mall

The Dallas Market Center is enormous and the large quantity of lighting showrooms means there must be hundreds of thousands of light bulbs burning during Lightovation.

Dozens of different pendant lights hang on display

If flying to Texas did not warm me up, the heat from the fixtures did. The majority of the showrooms are entirely decorative like the one above and chock full of multi-bulb pendants, chandeliers, and wall sconces.

A person holding a surface mounted steplight for landscaping

WAC also has a showroom in DMC and the team has been hard at work upgrading and integrating new product. They continue to innovate across the broad product line, including making this surface mounted steplight for their landscape line. Wall already done and no junction box embedded into the concrete? This could be a real problem solver.

A black rectangular wall wash lighting fixture sits atop a wooden box on an AstroTurf display

WAC’s new rectangular wall wash fixture is another example of their dedication to simplifying fixture ordering and stocking. This fixture can be rotated to be either a horizontal or vertical wash fixture, great for tall skinny walls as well as wide walls. It has an adjustable beam size, making it easy to get just right even if they are located in the wrong place.

A person holding a segment of LED light tape with an integrated connector

The also showcased a tunable white tape, but the standout feature was not the LEDs but the integrated connector. The downside of the new product is a long 4″ cut-length, but the installation ease may be well worth it. There is a female connector on every segment, and a simple small male connector can be used to create a strong, secure connection to other tape, wires, etc. It is one of the smallest and most robust connectors I have seen and will make electricians happy.

A wall displaying various outdoor decorative light fixtures

I paid a visit to WAC’s sister company Modern Forms’ showroom and saw a number of intriguing decorative fixtures. We use a lot of shaded fixtures in our work like the ones above, and I like how there is sparkly in the glass shades but the LED source is hidden up inside the fixture, reducing glare.

A large black rectangular outdoor light fixture with a copper back and a light source concealed in the top hanging on display

This Modern Forms fixture also has a concealed light source and I love how the copper plate at the back warmly reflects the light and almost appears to be the source. I would love to see this at night- I think it would give a warm welcome while shielding most of the glare.

A large rectangular light faceplate in the Slate Linen style hanging on display

Legrand was at Lightovation showing off their faceplate options. The staggering variety of finishes could be very appealing for interior decorators; I personally like the slate linen shown above.

A mock up of a kitchen counter with a wireless phone charger holding a phone plugged into an outlet

Legrand also had a handy little cordless charger on display. This uses inductive wireless charging for your phone and fits onto an existing single-gang receptacle box. It would be fantastic for a kitchen counter.

A person holding a one inch diameter 2-3 inch length white cylindrical downlight pendant

CSL had a small display within the Hudson Valley showroom and was perhaps the only downlight-focused manufacturer in the building. I geeked out a bit on the 1″ Gyroshift cylinder, a tiny but adjustable pendant that can also be recessed.

A small display wall that is situated next to a window with a view down onto the lights of a city at night. The display is modular, connectable round surface lights labelled "coral surface"

We do not get into decorative lighting much, but when we do Sonneman is a regular contender. The Coral Surface fixture above is a simple module that links together with a connector and can be configured endlessly for wall-art-sculpture.

A two by two foot square recessed ceiling light

Juno, an Acuity company, was on hand showing off new Acculux fixtures. But it was this 2×2 fixture that caught my eye. Recessed into the ceiling, it gives off a wonderful soft glow and has a great sense of depth. It would be great in modern homes, if we can figure out how to put it into a drywall ceiling.

A glass wall display holds LED light sculptures with the label "Eurofase"

And while there were many, many traditional fixtures on display, it was great to see manufacturers cut free from the constraints of historical lighting and playing with all that LEDs offer. Eurofase had these hanging in their window and I was struck by how this shape would not have been possible just a few years ago.

An older man sitting at a table with the nametag Joe. Women look at lighting displays behind him.

One final note: as many of you know, trade shows contain an enormous human element that often outsizes any technological delights. Just one of these was Joe from American Lighting, a fantastic guy with more tape-light-connecting-wisdom than anyone I have met. This guy taught me more about soldering tape than I had ever learned, without ever handling a piece of tape. I hope he shares his wisdom with us…we need more people like Joe to get electricians comfortable with linear light.

Spring is show season, and Summit and Lightfair are on the way. Who knows what’s coming?

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