A hotel is a temporary home away from home. It conveys a feeling of wellbeing and is characterised by a special air of hospitality. The design of its rooms and their materials, colours and lighting all make a decisive contribution to achieving this effect.

The lighting of a hotel affects the entire visitor experience; hospitality lighting solutions leave a lasting impression and define a hotel concept which makes it easier for operators to stand out from the competition. Lighting that can be adjusted to suit guests’ preferences and moods at the press of a button, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact, are in high demand.

Lighting hotel environments

Lighting in Design spoke to Conrad Wagener from Cape Town-based Illumina to find out more about the current trends in hospitality lighting. Illumina is a supplier of branded light fittings and a manufacturer of specifically designed lights for commercial, hospitality and industrial lighting. Hospitality clients include hotel groups such as The Leading Hotels of the World, Radisson, and Kerzner International.

LiD: Have you noticed any new trends in hotel lighting?

CW: Lights for the hospitality industry often correlate with a specific design intent. Trends are usually restricted to colour and form and, as far as my understanding goes, longevity of the design is key.

LiD: In your opinion, what are the main factors to consider when planning lighting for a hotel environment?

CW: Lighting levels are most important in creating the moods and scenes required. A lighting scheme consists of many factors since different areas require different types of lighting, for example, public open spaces such as restaurants and lounges; rooms and hallways; etc. Lighting efficacy is important as higher lumen outputs reduce power consumption.

LiD: How do you maintain a lighting concept through the numerous spaces in a hotel?

CW: A lighting scheme is managed through the integration of a lighting system that communicates with the lighting controllers. DALI (Digital Addressable Lighting Interface) is a good, widely employed, communication system. The DALI dimming method is an open protocol, which means software developers can employ the technology into their programs. Light sources wired to the same control pair may be separately controlled by commanding their unique addresses.

Signals are sent and received to and from the controller, for example, dimming down or on/off and signals received by the controlling software include power monitoring and failure reporting. Electrical 4-wire dimming is also widely used. Although not as intricate as the DALI’s two-way communication protocol, costs are lower, and the same end-effect is gained.

The main drawback of this system is that wiring lengths need to be controlled as brightness at the far end can be affected by long distances.

LiD: What do you see as the main differences between lighting a home and a hotel room?

CW: Materials selection is an important factor and, for that, the environment into which the light fittings are to be installed requires assessment. Fittings installed, for example, next to swimming pools or in areas where chemicals are used, need specific treatment and require a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule. Rust, corrosion and pitting are causes of the chemical reaction between a metal and the environment.

Lower alloy materials withstand the effects for longer and when combined with the correct treatment, the longevity of the metal can be increased. This is one of the main requirements for project lighting. Wiring classes also play a role in the differentiation between home and hospitality/commercial/ industrial lighting. Class 2 wiring employs power limitations and a Class 2 circuit is considered safe from a fire risk perspective. It provides better protection from electrical shock than Class 1 wiring, which employs basic insulation and requires an earth return circuit.

LiD: What challenges exist when lighting a hotel?

CW: Many challenges exist when producing and supplying lighting for hospitality projects. The proverbial book has been thrown at Illumina in our growth path towards providing a solid turn-key solution and expert back-up service for lighting designers, interior designers, project managers and electrical contractors. Budget constraints, timelines, delivery methods and managing the communication channels between the various role-players are key to a successful lighting project.

LiD: Where do you see hotel lighting improving in the future?

CW: Smart lighting is a very interesting development in the lighting industry. Once fully developed and when costs are controlled, this technology will yield astounding results because the implementation is not only based on technology, but also the use of data which is gathered by the system in an autonomous way. Also, as LED technology develops, for example, the introduction of OLED and the follow-on, efficacy rates will improve which will reduce power requirements. 


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Gregg Cocking
Email: lighting@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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Carin Hannay
Email: carinh@crown.co.za
Phone: +27 11 622-4770
Fax: +27 11 615-6108

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