Greener Tracks – High Technology Lighting has been working to bring smarter greener light to UK Museums

Harris Museum and Art Gallery in PrestonFrom Mondo Arc Magazine:

The UK’s ‘Greener Museums‘ Sustainability Leadership programme – sponsored by Renaissance North West  with guidance from ARUP – recently published ways to improve sustainability for Galleries and Museums; a market sector under risk as operating costs rise and budgets get squeezed.

UK Lighting Designer and manufacturer High Technology Lighting has been working with many of the participating galleries and museums.

“We find that each gallery or museum has its own particular requirements” says Joint Managing Director Thomas Holgeth. “No one design fits all, and the fact we design and manufacture in the UK means we can quickly respond to their needs, which is also helping us build up an almost unique portfolio of solutions going forward.”

One of the key factors to come out of the programme was a greater awareness that there are now LED solutions from manufacturers like High Technology Lighting that offer the appropriate light quality distribution and flexibility to directly replace tungsten track spot lights, that proliferate almost every gallery and museum.

Alexandra Walker, Head of Arts & Heritage at Harris Museum & Art Gallery in Preston, was amongst those who worked with High Technology Lighting. “We are delighted that we have been able to find LED lights of a sufficient standard to meet demanding requirements of gallery lighting, in terms of both conservation and lighting effect,” she says.

In changing to LED lights, we are also able to make efficiency savings now and in the future, so it’s good for us as well as doing our bit for the planet.”

Read the original article here

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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Start with the LED in mind

Maybe it’s because I live amongst some very gifted craftsfolk, but I’m finding myself talking to clients more and more about integrating LED lighting into furniture or joinery details. Last week I was explaining how the joinery for new bedhead could incorporate not only a reading light (obviously!) but could also include small low level lights for wayfinding and concealed uplighting for general illumination. All of that just connected to a single 13A socket, because it would also be controlled by a wireless system.

This week I’m working on a vertical cylindrical light fixture that is suspended between the surface of a kitchen peninsula unit and the ceiling. All the control gear mounted into the peninsula unit to keep the cylinder as slender as possible. Continuous LED strips mounted on a vertical armature do the donkey work – with a colour-changing facility, naturally – and the whole thing supported on wires. It’ll be nice if the client accepts the idea!

It doesn’t have to be such an overt lighting fixture. One of my very favourite pieces of LED intervention came about in 2005 – which is a real antique in LED terms. I used a line of LED strip to act as an uplight for an original Charles Voysey frieze in an Arts and Crafts dining room. The only place to conceal the LED strip was within the picture rail that ran all around the room, just beneath the frieze. All it took was an enthusiastic client, more than a  little architectural support and the agreement of the historic building people to achieve that one. Its still there, seven years on and is working as well as the day that it was installed.

Another example is, of course, the bathroom. LED lights are being fitted into Jacuzzi-style tubs, within the walls of shower panels and even concealed into bath taps – not to mention the LUMA ‘night light toilet seat’. I said don’t mention ……!

Putting light and furnishings together isn’t a new idea, of course, as those of us who’ve experienced the glory of the fibre optic carpet can testify – though not necessarily recommend, and you’ll see many abuses of that lovely little LED diode. But with good LED lighting design, the opportunities for some really creative interventions are far greater and much more interesting.

The important thing to remember is to plan any furniture or joinery design with LED lighting in mind from the outset of the project. It’s not always simple to incorporate the wiring and essential control gear later in the process, when Structure has got in the way and stolen all the cable route options. Oh yes – and have a good idea of what you want the light to do. This is about enhancing the art of the possible, not doing something just for the sake of it.

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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Is there anything you can’t do with an LED light?

h end domestic LEDs offer excellent colour rendering and appearance. They can also be easily dimmed for added flexibility.A catalogue of LED fixtures dropped through the letterbox the other day. And was it a scrumptious feast of all that is new in LED lighting design technology? Well – to tell the truth, I thought it was mostly bland and predictable, however much the graphic designers had tried to spice it up. But can someone tell me why LED lights need to be so predictable?

I think the reason behind the disappointment is that we’ve seen it all before, so many times. Yes, some of the designs may be new, but none of the ideas are original. This is what’s happened; since the lighting LED grew capable of delivering sufficient light to replace the tungsten halogen lamp, the industry has concentrated on doing just that – it’s an inevitable consequence of a mature industry chasing the ‘next big thing’.

But there comes a point when that shift from one source to another ceases to be exciting or interesting, and that may be because the user / design / specifier isn’t really being offered anything new. An LED downlight is still a downlight – it’s just got a different lamp in it. The lighting delivery is just the same as it ever was. Subtle differences / improvements like miniaturisation or colour-changing options cloud the issue because they are truly something new (pace fibre optic lighting), but where are LEDs really being exploited for its true essence?

Take a light source that is really tiny and very bright. Its got great colour qualities and lasts longer than anyone’s really likely to want it for. What would you do with a source like that. Let’s pretend that the downlight was never invented; that the tungsten halogen reflector lamp stayed as the minority interest photographic lamp it once was. What would the designers working at the Bauhaus have made of the LED? I suppose there’s a danger that they’d have invented the downlight anyway, but where else might they have taken this bright new light?

A friend was talking the other day about LED newspapers – a flexible plastic sheet that you can roll up and put in your pocket. Its made of OLED (Organic LED) material and is the real stuff of science fiction.  And that’s before we start talking about illuminated wallpaper! But that’s the kind of thing that I’m hoping for every time I open a new LED catalogue – just something to fire the imagination a bit further into the future.

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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Fun and Games with LED Lighting

The lighting LED designers have opened the design door to allow us to have FUN or to engage in a bit of life-enhancing hedonism (I did look that one up – I think we’re OK).  There’s much been written about the practical aspects of bulb LEDs and LED lighting design for the home

I was talking to a client last week and the conversation turned to coloured LED lights, a conversation instigated by the client, I might add, not by me. “Would it be possible to include some therapeutic colour therapy kind of stuff in the new house?” I suppose, because – like – sometimes it’s nice to have that extra bit of calming influence, to go with the singing whale. (Stop it – this is no place for hard-bitten cynicism. And while you’re at it, put that didgeridoo away!)

Now, the potential for home-based colour therapy is a pretty new concept, so let’s see what we can do with it, and why LED lights are the thing to use.  My first question back to the client was to find out what kind of colour therapy they were looking for (a friend of mine uses a laser-based system which is probably licensed by NASA – or NATO – and that kind of stuff is outside of my usual specification remit). And there are quite a few ‘colour theories’ out there, so its as well to know what’s being looked for. Most colour therapy applications are based on either bathing the entire room in coloured light or are based on the meditation principle of bringing one’s attention to a coloured object (colour-changing floating globes for the bathroom, available at a website near you).

If this sounds a bit esoteric for the knuckle-draggers of the lighting industry – many of whom I count among my dear friends – then be aware that even someone as grey-suited as Philips Lighting have invested time and effort in it, offering an entire range of ‘Living Colours’ free-standing LED lighting fixtures for the home.

But there are more ways of achieving beautiful colour changing effects than that.  Philippe Starck was the first to propose colour-changing for the weary traveller, when colour-changing downlights were included in the specification of one of London’s hotels. I’ve since done a similar thing for children’s bedrooms – because they’re kids and therefore allowed to have FUN without reason or consequence.

The introduction of the colour-changing LED linear strip is also a game-changer, enabling an entire room to be washed in coloured light from a picture rail, or from a cornice detail – or put it in your skirting board if you fancy it. There you go – more fun to be had with a diode.

But I’ll leave you with a little gem of information: colour-changing works because it’s colour-changing. I’ve spent time with the laser-based system, looking forward to some quality purple time. It was a great experience except that the retina has this tendency to bleach out if its exposed to any one colour for too long. So the lovely purple that I’d been looking forward to faded through to a kind of dull lilac and finally left me in a really rather boring off white. I’m sure it was working on some subtle energy level but it still left me feeling a bit short-changed

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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It’s Light Jim, but not as we know it…

Sunderland Winter Gardens Museum replaced 50w dichroic spotlights with Quartet UNO LED's, benefiting from low energy costs, maintenance and improved display lighting.A breakthrough in technology always throws up a new vocabulary (sonic screwdriver, warp drive, etc) and the development of the lighting LED is no different. For many years, my very favourite term was yttrium vanadate. Unlikely as it may seem, Yttrium Vanadate isn’t the name of an intergalactic scoundrel roaming the universe in search of rich space-damsels, but a phosphor developed in 1964 in the GTE laboratories to improve the ‘redness’ of fluorescent light. In current terms, the light was still rubbish, but at the time, it was really important!

My heart has been lost to another and – perhaps not surprisingly – it also relates to colour quality and could also be mistaken for something in a sci-fi TV series. Yes, its time to discuss the MacAdam Ellipse. And in a strange quirk of the space-time continuum, the MacAdam Ellipse actually pre-dates yttrium vanadate; it just took longer to get here.

Back in the 1930s, David MacAdam developed a colour perception test that investigated how colours varied from each other. Colours had already been quantified via the X-Y-Z axes of the CIE Chromaticity diagram (resort to a search engine, if you have to), but that graph hadn’t settled the question of how easy it was to record the difference between ‘actual’ colours. David MacAdam took a known test colour and put alongside it those colours with closely-related X-Y-Z references and had observers look for any appreciable difference in the two tones.

What surprised everyone was the pattern developed; around each of 25 colours selected, an ellipse was created – the MacAdam Ellipse, and there is definitely something other-worldly about it. (If this is getting unexpectedly complicated, put ‘MacAdam Ellipses’ into the search engine. It might help to see what’s going on)

The original tests were carried out on colours, but the fun that we’ve been having in recent years is the application of the MacAdam principle to white light, because this is where a lot of LED people have been getting very grumpy. LED production is notorious for producing unfortunate variants on the colour specified on the box. In the first years of LED lighting design, these colour differences put off a lot of lighting designers from wanting to use the technology at all and it affected particularly the development of LED Light bulbs for the home. Thus it became a priority for the LED developers to overcome the problem.

The situation as it currently stands is this: manufacturers who report the performance of their LEDs responsibly will state colour temperature tolerance in terms of MacAdam Ellipse ‘steps’. A ‘1-step Ellipse ’ LED module is, to all intents and purpose, colour perfect – while anything beyond a ‘4-step Ellipse’ is deemed unacceptable for  general illumination.

If you’re looking at a product line that doesn’t give any MacAdam Ellipse information at all, be very cautious; it suggests the company either doesn’t know, or knows and doesn’t want to tell you.

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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The end is nigh for the tungsten halogen reflector lamp, what’s the alternative?

Excellent colour rendering and appearance, combined with lower energy cost and maintenance free through life, proved the right solution at the Monkwearmouth Station Museum.With the news that the end of the tungsten halogen reflector lamp is in sight it’s now pretty much pointless to ask why LED lights rather than halogen, and I fear there will be lighting designers wailing in the streets, rending garments and tearing hair, because their all-time favourite light source has joined whale oil as a redundant source of illumination. The debate now turns to which new LED technology we should be embracing.  And this is an issue that runs through the entire lighting world, from LED light bulbs for the home, to high-power display lighting for exhibitions and performance.

Let’s be clear what kind of lighting I’m talking about, otherwise everyone might get very confused, thinking I’m talking about something else. This is about what should replace the tungsten halogen reflector lamp; there’s loads of other exciting lighting LED developments, but we’ll discuss those another time.

Fundamentally, there are two types of LED source: ‘retro-fit’ LED lamps that are designed to fit into light fixtures originally intended for t/h reflector lamps, and LED lamps that AREN’T  designed to retro-fit into old-style fixtures.

For the manufacturer of the retro-fit LED lamp, it’s a bit like prospecting for gold. There are millions of light fixtures currently in use and the company that can offer the best performing retro-fit lamp at the right price will enjoy a very happy future. Except that it’s not proving so simple as removing one thing and replacing it with an LED alternative. There have been electrical snags, thermal issues to resolve and the almost insurmountable problem of trying to squeeze a lot of new technology into a pre-existing physical volume.  And as for dimmable LED light bulbs …. can they really be dimmed? NO – let me put it another way ….. can it be dimmed all by itself from a conventional domestic-style dimmer? That doesn’t always bring the same answer, you see.

I see that most installations that are derived via the electrician/wholesaler axis are based on the retro-fit lamp. Some of them even work. But treat these with care and use sparingly, because they are not the real answer.

The best LED lighting design development work in replacing the tungsten halogen lamp is focusing on the things that made the halogen source such a good lamp and finding the ways to bring LED performance to that level. Its not just about raising the light output efficiency, though that is essential to the programme, its also about getting the light performance correct; sorting out the colour accuracy, in terms of both colour appearance and colour rendering; delivering a good quality beam of light without blemishes.

Freeing LEDs from the tyranny of the tungsten halogen downlight means a new generation of luminaire that ensure first class performance and product build quality.

This is the future.

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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LED Lighting – An exotic shift in the way that light works

Maintenance free Quartet IP66 LED adjustable downlight. An ideal leisure solution.Getting to grips with new technology is always a bundle of fun, whether it’s a new mobile (no, I don’t mean a phone – I mean one of those twirly dangly things that hang from the ceiling; how DO you get them to work?) or an exotic shift in the way that light works, like LED lighting design, you have to expect a few teething problems.

Mind you, some of the things that we’ve seen and heard simply beggar belief. Here’s just three of the common ones:

1. Supply voltage

Just like with tungsten halogen lighting, there are some low voltage LEDs and there are some mains voltage LED lights. It’s important that the installer knows the difference because getting this one wrong can be VERY expensive.

Its straightforward enough with the Bulb LED retro-fit replacements for tungsten halogen lamps, because there are basically only two connection options; either a slender bi-pin cap (G5.3) that goes with the low voltage version or a stubbier bi-pin cap (GU10) that is the mains voltage version. And as these lamps are intended for use in existing installations, that should be the end of it.

But there are lots of lighting fixture where the LED is embedded into the fixture itself – it cannot be removed. SOME of these lighting fixtures have the electronic circuitry in the housing, so it’s a mains voltage connection, but many don’t and require a separate driver (for ‘driver’, think ‘transformer’ – but dedicated to the LED to which its connected). Again – don’t get this wrong because all those fixtures WILL be expensive to replace.

2. Lighting control

Can you dim an LED?    Yes, of course you can.

Can you dim YOUR LED?          I’ve no idea – what did you ask for when you bought it?

Can you dim an LED with a domestic dimmer?   Maybe. How should I know?

We’ve been here before. Dimmable LED Lighting. The light source doesn’t care. A filament lamp can dim, and so can a diode. But when low voltage tungsten halogen downlights began to be fitted with electronic transformers it was vital to ask the question about dimming compatibility. There were whole ranges of track-mounted spotlights that couldn’t dim, which sounds crazy now, but …. hang on …. here we go again!

3. Light quality

I’m stunned and flabbergasted whenever I see this one – and I see it all the time, so I’m usually in a state of stunned flabbergastedness. Because I don’t understand why people put up with this rubbish.

A common complaint about the lighting LED is that the light is too cold – altogether TOO BLUE. It used to be true. It still is true if its what you want. But if you’re looking for a nice warm LED for the living room, they’re all out there.

If you’re at the client-end of things, always ask for a demonstration of the LED that the contractor’s planning to install. There is no reason why it shouldn’t be a nice warm white colour, perhaps not exactly the same as the tungsten lighting that we’re no longer using, but certainly of a hue that’s warm and comfortable.

The question as to why LED lights are the future has been won – by the LEDs, so there’s no point in electricians griping about how fine it all used to be in the good old days. The thing for clients to remember is that all and any electrical wiring needs to be done by a fully-qualified professional. Just make sure you have a fully-informed, LED-friendly, professional.

This blog is brought to you by High Technology Lighting  suppliers of professional lighting solutions. High Technology Lighting are an authorised partner of the Government’s Carbon Trust Scheme, enabling enhanced capital allowance to be claimed on a range of products on the Energy Technology List. Download their LED Catalogue now to see how you could dramatically reduce your energy costs

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