5 Tips for Tunable White Control that Prioritizes Quality Light

When you are looking for ways to help your customers achieve their design vision, tunable white control can make significant contributions to a space that promotes comfort, fosters engagement, and enables enhanced well-being.

There is plenty to consider when selecting and installing a tunable white solution, but it starts with the advantages of a 2-channel, digital solution that allows independent adjustment of intensity and correlated color temperature (CCT). In projects where adjustable light levels are important to space performance, digital tunable white is essential and key to a quality light solution that complements the client’s design and material choices and will minimize risk by easily accommodating design changes over time.

The following 5 points can help clarify the differences between digital and 0-10V solutions. They also highlight the advantages of choosing a 2-channel, tunable white solution that helps provides superior lighting performance, code compliance, better space utilization, and the right lighting environment for the people in the space.

1. FIXTURES WITH SMALLER CCT RANGES CAN RESULT IN MORE ACCURATE COLOR RENDERING.
All 2-channel tunable white solutions render tunable white light by mixing one warm and one cool LED chip set. This makes 2-channel tunable white cost effective, but it does require you to make certain choices when specifying the fixtures.

To improve color accuracy, specify fixtures with smaller CCT ranges to render color that is closer to the black body curve (a recommended range is 2700 K to 4000 K). Wider CCT ranges can deviate from the black body curve, resulting in light that looks either more purple, or more green, than expectations. To ensure color consistency from fixture to fixture, specify all fixtures with the same CCT range.

2. CHOOSE DRIVERS AND CONTROLS DESIGNED TO WORK TOGETHER.
Install a solution designed to ensure predictable performance and eliminate risk — specify drivers and specialized controls that guarantee compatibility and performance. The solution provider can help simplify the specification and installation process, saving time, money, and aggravation.

3. A DIGITAL SOLUTION HELPS YOU AVOID COSTLY WIRING MISTAKES.
2-Channel tunable white can be achieved in several ways, but digital control simplifies installation, and reduces the risk of expensive callbacks. With 0-10V projects, 2 pairs of identical control wires mean contractors have to wire them correctly to achieve the specified intensity and CCT. With tight timelines, and growing labor shortages, it’s a rare project that comes to fruition without at least one wiring issue. Errors may not always be detected by a basic function check.

With digital solutions that use polarity-free wiring, such as Lutron T-Series, there is one twisted pair of wires, so contractors don’t have to worry about correctly connecting separate intensity and CCT control wires over many fixtures. Digital controls are also immune to noise — even if the control wires are near an electrically noisy area, the occupant will not experience undesired behavior in the lighting. This has always been a benefit of digital control, but it’s even more important with tunable white due to the increased sensitivity to differences in color.

4. ALMOST INEVITABLY, PROJECT PROGRAMMING WILL CHANGE. A DIGITAL SOLUTION CAN ALLOW YOU TO WIRE FIRST AND DETERMINE ZONE PROGRAMMING LATER.
Time is money, and changes to project specification can be very costly, but they are also basically inevitable. When you use the right, digital tunable white solution, polarity-free, daisy chain wiring simplifies control wiring, and fixture programming is not dependent on the control wiring. Intensity and CCT zoning can be programmed, and reprogrammed easily, right from program software.

With 0-10V tunable white, zones must be designed up-front and hard-wired by the contractor during project installation — rewiring is the only way to rezone once the project is complete. Intensity and CCT are typically zoned differently, further complicating the control wiring.

5. TURN TO SYSTEM PROVIDERS TO HELP YOU SIMPLIFY FIXTURE AND CONTROL SPECIFICATION.
Although LEDs have become the default source on the majority of new projects, tunable white is still a relatively new technology. Lighting designers, engineers, and their clients will continue to look for even more ways to refine and perfect the lighting in their space. The contractor is the key to successful installations that perform to high expectations and stand the test of time.

Look for resources that help you select fixture and control solutions that have been tested for compatibility and meet the client’s design and performance requirements, as well as step-by-step guides to sequence-of-operations programming, and other technical information. Tunable white solutions can be a differentiator in spaces that help owners attract and retain quality talent and can help you create customers for life.

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IEC

Established in 1957, Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC) is a nonprofit trade association with more than 50 educational campuses and affiliate local chapters across the country. IEC represents 3,500 member businesses that employ over 80,000 electrical and systems workers throughout the United States and educates over 12,000 electricians and systems professionals each year through world-class training programs. IEC contractor member companies are some of the premier firms in the industry and are responsible for over $8.5B in gross revenue annually.

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