Lighting networks are becoming popular for the modern lighting system - modern being defined as doing everything right given the technology available. From our perspective as a lighting equipment supplier and long-term operator, we will try to evaluate here the real value of a networked lighting system and whether there are positive returns associated with implementing one.
Lighting has one universal light quality metric: the Color Rendering Index, or CRI. Pronounced "C R I," this light quality measure inadequately distinguishes between good and bad lighting, especially where LED products are concerned. Traditional lighting manufacturers appreciate its predictability (or less charitably, its inaccuracy), so it has remained virtually unchanged for 50 years. LEDs are forcing an update, however, and a new standard currently called TM-30-15 is being considered. It broadens the palette of test colors and adds a dimension to quality measurement. We think it's better.
Will LEDs, a technology that creates more light per unit of electricity than any commercial technology before it, increase demand for electricity? Will an efficiency technology increase overall consumption? This is the odd question posed not so much by participants in the LED marketplace but commentators around it, who refer to a concept known as the “rebound effect” of efficiency.
Integrated LED products are relatively new to the marketplace, appear to be the future, and may or may not be a good idea. We’ll evaluate three major lighting applications that are seeing an influx of integrated options - track lighting, downlights, and troffers - for what they cost, what the products mean for users, and where we recommend using LED lamps versus integrated LED fixtures.
You are replacing a 60-watt incandescent light bulb with an LED - how do you know what LED will produce equivalent light? Most likely, you select a product for which the manufacturer has printed "60-watt-equivalent" on the box. But how is "equivalent" determined? The industry uses a measure called the "lumen" to measure light volume across light sources. Based on our installations, we believe the better quality the light, the "brighter" a lumen appears. Here we'll explore why we think the lumen fails to indicate brightness properly where LEDs are concerned (full spectrum lighting appears brighter to the human eye) and what we do about it (standardize our own lumen requirements based on the light quality of the source being replaced).
Some of the most interesting projects we’ve been involved with lately are new construction. There are plenty of already operating light bulbs that need to change to LEDs (about 4 billion in the US), but in new construction we're finding a strong appetite for getting LEDs for day 1. The thinking that "LEDs are the future, so why wait" seems to resonate particularly well in the construction phase. With LED products evolving, building efficiency codes tightening, and no mental hurdle created by having to change something already in place, owners and general contractors are raring to go with LED lighting.
One of the most common challenges we face when replacing halogen lights with LEDs is the increased shadowing LEDs can create. Visual directors will often comment that what before were “soft shadows” have become “dark shadows” under LEDs. The criticism is fair. Increased contrast between the lit and unlit sides of a rack, garment, or piece of furniture are a potentially nasty by-product of a directional (flood and spot bulb) LED retrofit. Here’s where the issue comes from, and how we address it.
How long will a good LED bulb last in a commercial* environment? There are so many products and variables, and many possible answers, so let’s lead with our professional opinion: 2-3 years.
Acknowledging that this is a complex and on some level impossible question to answer, here we will explain how we approach life expectancy in our LED fleet.