Recently, I stumbled across DIALux which is an advanced, yet easy to use lighting analysis package. I was totally amazed to find that such a well-polished program would be distributed totally free! The program is for anyone who is responsible for lighting design planning and implementation including lighting designers, architects, engineers, electricians, contractors, bloggers, smurfs, whoever! This program is just cool and fun to play with!
Don’t get me wrong, there is wayyyy more under the hood here than I touched on in my tinkering: there’s all sorts of acronym type things that only someone working in the biz would know or would be inclined to find out what they mean such as EN 1838, DIN, UTE, UGR, etc… but almost anyone can produce accurate and understandable lighting analysis reports.
One of the major features is the independence of DIALux from luminaire manufacturers. In fact, DIALux does not come with any installed luminaire fixtures, instead you go online and pick and chose from dozens of major commercial, industrial, and residential lighting manufacturers DIALux plugins that are essentially online catalogs of their luminaires that can be easily clicked on to import them into a lighting design. Many of these plugins can be accessed right in DIALux if you have an active internet connection, and once installed, are ready to go. It’s very easy.This gives you a choice of thousands of luminaires, lamps, leds, power supplies, etc.. to choose from. After about an hour of playing, I had installed plugins from Sylvania, Osram, and more. If a particular manufacturer you like doesn’t have a plugin, see if they have published IES files for their fixtures since DIALux can import these files to create new, accurate luminaires. You can also create your own from scratch if you need to. Powerful stuff!
Almost everything is taken into account in an analysis including the room size, materials on the floors, walls ,ceiling, if there are windows, what type of glass they have, what is the outside light properties, where the luminaires are placed, how many there are, and how often the room is used and cleaned. I’m not kidding on that last one, it gets that deep but it never seems overly complicated or hard to use.
You can pick your luminaires that you want to use and in some cases, even the lamps inside the luminaires and then tell DIALux how much light you want total and it can plugin the correct number of luminaires at the right spacing for the shape and size of the room. Everything is done through a cool 3D CAD window which shows the scene your working on in solid-modeled 3D goodness. You can add windows, doors, columns, sky lights, luminaires, furniture, etc.. here (this is major fun here!) and then calculate the lighting distribution and see in textured, smoothed 3D exactly how the light is distributed throughout the room. The reports break all of this down to exactly how much light is hitting areas on the floor, the walls, the work surfaces, etc.. and shows all of this in cool line drawing charts and graphs.
DIALux is not limited to indoor scenes, you can work with your buildings facade, render general outdoor scenes, plan out road lighting schemes, setup road lamp maintenance plans, and more. This program even integrates POV-Ray high quality, radiosity rendering. This is just too cool!
If your at all involved in architectural lighting or any kind of lighting design application, then you need to have this program in your arsenal. A program of this caliber, for an industry this niche, could easily cost $1000’s but again I say, it’s FREE and so are all of the luminaire plugins!
Here’s a cut & paste from their features page:
What is special about DIALux?
- Daylight: Perfect calculation and visualization.
- Lighting scenes: Realistic planning and documentation.
- Up-to-date: Easy compliance with national and international standards.
- Emergency lighting: in accordance with EN1838, simple positioning of exactly the right number of luminaires along escape routes and in anti-panic zones.
- Calculation: latest radiosity procedures, fast and always correct.
- Colour: Lighting design with colored filters, light sources, and materials.
- Interactive 3-D visualization: Simply move around the room.
- Movies: Walk through the photo realistic visualization of your light planning and send the film to your customer via email.
- Visualization: Use of textures and furniture for realistic rendering.
- Photo realism: with integrated raytracing module.
- False colours: False colors provide quantitative analysis of complex geometries at a glance.
- Results: Results can be printed out or transmitted as a pdf file. Each view and each rendering can be saved as a .jpg file.
- Interaction: Import and export: .dwg and .dxf files can be imported and exported with results after completion of the planning process.
- 3-D Import: Integration of complete buildings as 3-D objects.
- DIALux Light: Easy to use, step-by-step lighting design.
- Assistants: On request they help in the planning of indoor and street lighting.
- Drag and drop: It is so simple to place furniture, surfaces (textures) and luminaires in the room.
- Intelligent elements: Wall lights are always positioned correctly on the wall and the computer is always on the table.
- Alignment of luminaires: One click on the light aiming point is enough.
- Guides: These lead you step by step through special questions related to lighting design.
What light fixture data does DIALux use?
DIALux works with the international data formats of all manufacturers. The DIALux partners offer an electronic catalog (DIALux PlugIn). Here you will find all the product information needed to select the optimal light fixtures for your project.
How do I obtain light fixture data?
On CD directly from the manufacturers, via download from the manufacturers’ websites or as an online plug-in directly from within DIALux.
Does DIALux also speak my language?
DIALux is active globally and currently speaks 26 languages.
Do I need long to become acquainted with DIALux?
DIALux is modeled on common standard programs (Windows XP) and is thus simple and intuitive to use.
What features will DIALux have in the future?
The market will determine that! DIALux is undergoing continuous refinement. Information on current versions and patches is available
Internationally known lighting fixture manufacturers are partners of DIALux and this group is growing continually.
Current data from our partners can be obtained via the individual online plug-Ins (directly from within DIALux) or at http://www.dialux.com.
Click here to checkout a sample report I created in the short time I’ve been playing around along with a screenshot (PDF). Here’s a POV_Ray rendering I did of the room in the report (DIALux can render quite nicely itself but can also automatically send out the 3D scene to POV-ray for better rendering including radiosity lighting calculations: