For those who still think it will be many years before LED light fittings are used for general illumination in homes, there is a suprise coming! The leading supplier of residential lighting in North America, Progress Lighting, has announced that they will be launching a complete line of LED lighting products for the home this summer. The fttings will use warm white LEDs with efficiencies of more than 40 lumens/watt (high enough to meet the new Building Regulations L1A requirements for low energy lighting). What is more, unlike normal fluorescents, the LED light fittings will be dimmable using a standard dim switch!
In slightly over a week the new Building Regulations Approved Document L1A takes effect. From that date the requirements for using low energy lighting in homes will become much more stringent. However I am pleased to see that the final L1A document differs from the draft in one important aspect. The use of the word ‘or’ instead of the word ‘and’ means that the requirement for using low energy fittings with an efficiency of greater than 40 lumens per watt is now stated as one per 25 square metres OR one per four fixed fittings. This gives lighting designers a little more scope as to how they choose to comply with the new regulations. I predict that this tightening of the low energy requirements will have the beneficial effect of fast tracking LED lighting into homes.
A French restaurant in London has come up with an ‘imaginative’ lighting scheme for their very unusual restaurant. When customers enter the restaurant they are assaulted by a lighting scheme that consists of total darkness! The idea behind this very low energy scheme is to “kill preconceptions both about taste and about people’. Customers are guided to their table by blind or visually impaired waiters. For more information, or to make a booking, take a look at the restaurant’s website: http://www.danslenoir.com.
LED manufacturer Nichia has announced that it is about to start production of a white LED with an efficiency of 100 lumens per Watt. This now makes LEDs a real alternative to fluorescent lamps for low energy lighting. With the new Building Regulations L1A document about to be introduced this is very welcome news indeed. Finding good looking L1A compliant fittings suitable for the domestic market is incredibly difficult at present. Fortunately, within the foreseeable future, we can look forward to using low energy LED lamps in conventional, attractive, halogen fittings.
Some spaces really lend themselves well to being lit beautifully. A house made of glass would be such a space. As would a house made of ice. And it is such a space that has been so magically lit by lighting designer Giles Mayall. The Ice House is 18m by 6m by 3.7 m high, and is wholly made of ice. Mayall’s brief was to create architecturally lighting for the space in the client’s blue and green corporate colours. Take a look at The Avolites Ice House to see how well he did.
Great care should be taken when selecting dimmer switches as the type of switch you need is determined by the type of lighting equipment you want to dim. There are ten basic types of lighting load that you might want to dim:
1. Ordinary incandescent light bulbs
2. Mains voltage halogen light bulbs
3. Low voltage halogen – wire wound transformer
4. Low voltage halogen – electronic leading edge transformer
5. Low voltage halogen – electronic trailing edge transformer
6. Fluorescent – mains dimmable (there are very few of these available)
7. Fluorescent – NOT dimmable
8. Fluorescent – 1-10V dimmable
9. Fluorescent – SwitchDim dimmable
10. Fluorescent – DALI dimmable
First decide which types of lamp you are going to dim. But try if you can not to mix, on one dimmable lighting circuit, different types of load. Some of the loads listed above require different technology to dim them.
Then add up the wattage you want to dim.
With a full description of the type of loads you want to dim, and the total wattage, contact your electrical wholesaler and get them to recommend a suitable dimmer switch. Make sure they understand the types of load you are going to dim.
Never try to dim ordinary, non-dimmable, fluorescent lamps. It won’t work and they will get damaged.
You can now create your own cubic light sculptures using stackable light cubes from www.remake-design.com. Each cube measures 24x17x8cm (so yes they aren’t strictly cubes!), uses a 40W lamp, and comes in a range of colours: orange, pink, red, white, grey, and black. Hours of fun guaranteed!
If you are looking for some ideas for lighting trees then look no further than www.festivalarbresetlumieres.ch. This web site shows the results of Geneva’s Arbres & Lumieres Festival which ran from 2nd Dec 2005 to 9th Jan 2006. Sixteen Swiss and international artists took part in the scheme to transform the city’s trees. There are many inspirational ideas on this web site.
The city of Las Vegas does not usually spring to mind when thinking about tasteful lighting schemes. And for good reason! Take a look at the Las Vegas Lake of Dreams for an example of how a lighting scheme can completely transform a relatively beautiful lake or pond into the stuff of which nightmares are made! Garish and tastless it may be, but then it would be out of place in Las Vegas if it were not! It does show howewer what can be achieved with an imaginative and adventurous use of lighting in a lake, pond, or swimming pool. Some things are so ugly that they are almost beautiful!
Megaman is truly at the leading edge of development in low energy compact fluorescent lamps. They have recently announced the DorS Dimming lamp. This a low energy lamp that can be dimmed to one of four pre-programmed brightness levels with either a conventional dimmer switch or a standard on/off switch using a clever bit of inbuilt electronic wizadry! As far as I am aware Megaman is the only manufacturer with dimmable screw-fit CFL lamps for the UK market. For more information, and an online demonstration, visit www.megamanuk.com