Just because we have the doom-and-gloom warnings of winter blackouts in the UK doesn’t mean we have to skimp on design or comfort. Here are some recommendations for battery powered lamps that will serve you well during this coming winter and also into balmy summer nights. They’re perfect for entertaining as well, if you want to tweak the mood and illumination.
Please note I haven’t put the links to suppliers here as they are easily found on Google and prices will vary from each supplier, and may also increase at different times.
Battery Powered Lamps for Winter Blackouts (Exterior)
Buying an exterior quality battery powered lamp is probably a much better investment as you’ll use it more often. They’re so useful when you’re entertaining in the summer, and you don’t have to worry if it stays outside in the rain. Having said that, I wouldn’t be inclined to leave any of these outside long term as you never know how they’ll stand up to the elements, long term.
Here are a selection of Exterior battery power lamps:
La Donna by Lucide
Easy to carry lamp with a strap at the top. Not very large but castes a good
IP rating: 54
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: 6.5 hours at full brightness
Approximate price £120
Obello LED Portable Table Lamp by Gubi
Designed in the 1970s by Bill Curry this is a design classic. Surprisingly it is IP rated for exterior use but the fact that it’s made of mouth blown glass means that it doesn’t lend itself to a great deal of carrying to and fro.
IP rating: IP44
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: Up to 40 hours
Approximate price £200
Hipatia LED Portable Table Lamp by Arturo Alvarez
Arturo Alvarez has a wonderful way of creating ethereal lighting with his own unique method of using coated flexible steel structures. This lamp is small but beautiful
IP rating: 64
Light Temperature: 3000K
Output time: 6 hours
Approximate price £250
Lucca SC51 LED Portable Lamp by &Tradition
A stylish little portable lamp designed by Space Copenhagen, apparently inspired by the warmth of the Tuscan city’s lights.
IP rating: IP44
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: Up to 12 hours
Approximate price £123
Sponge to Go Rechargeable LED Table Lamp by Nordlux
This lamp is easy to carry and seems very resilient to rain. A good price too.
IP rating: 65
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: Up to 16 hours
Approximate price £54
Battery Powered Portable Lamps (Interior)
Although these are not so useful for all year-round use, these battery charged portable lamps can still be taken outside although they wouldn’t stand up well to damp or wet, so beware.
Follow Me by Marset
This cute little lamp is easy to carry and comes in various colours
IP rating: 20
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: Up to 20 hours
Approximate price £149
Porta LED Portable Table Lamp by Normann Copenhagen
This little portable table lamp doesn’t give out a huge amount of light but it looks nice and doesn’t take up too much space so easy to store. However, it’s not IP rated for exteriors so only use outside when it’s dry.
IP rating: 20
Light Temperature: 2800K – 3200K
Output time: 8 – 90 hours depending on light intensity
Approximate price £79
Kizu LED Portable Table Lamp by New Works
This battery powered lamp is a beautiful design with a choice of black, white or grey marble base. Again, not IP rated for exterior situations and not terribly easy to transport on a regular basis, but its beauty makes up for that.
IP rating: 20
Light Temperature: 2700K
Output time: 10 hours
Approximate price £162
Mini Planet Portable LED Table Lamp by Kartell
A great little lamp for entertaining although it’s more for atmosphere than working light – and it has a designer price label. Comes in various crystal colours.
IP rating: 20
Light Temperature: 2700K
Approximate price £212
And finally, the most indulgent designer battery powered lamp for the exterior (although you wouldn’t want to break it!)
In Vitro LED Outdoor Unplugged by Flos (Designed by Philippe Starck)
This looks like a lantern with a tiny LED source of light. It’s not cheap but then you’re paying for the design and the name of the designer. Approximately 30 cms height.
Now that things are starting to open up, delayed weddings are now going ahead. These days the ‘wedding list’ is on the wane as so many couples live together before tying the knot. They already have the pots, pans and plates so, as a guest, selecting a gift can be quite tricky.
Don’t they say that you should always give the gift that you, yourself would like? That’s easy for me. As I’m so absorbed by lighting I usually give something connected to light in some way. From reading lamp to candles, candelabra to tea lanterns. I can’t believe that people can be immune to the magic of light. So that’s the gift I try to impart – some magic. Here are some of my favourites:
Amy Cooper Ceramics
Amy Cooper produces beautiful porcelain atmospheric lights which make wonderful gifts. When I had a showroom many years ago, I used to sell masses of the urchin lamps throughout the year – especially as we were based in Cornwall and they have a very maritime feel.
Amy has increased her range enormously now and makes beautiful tubular table lamps as well as pretty little candle holders. I’ve given many of her lights as special gifts. Brilliant for wedding presents but also a gift to yourself!
I could easily buy up half the Cream Cornwall shop. However, I’ll try and keep focused on the lighting aspect.
Cream Cornwall do beautiful lampshades suitable for lamps as well as pendant fittings. Do check the orientation of the design prior to purchasing. You can specify which type you would like and they will make to order.
Many of their designs have maritime theme but not all of them. They also do a simple, stylish range of table lamps as well as a lovely solid wooden floor lamp which looks great with one of the larger lampshades,
Hannah makes beautiful laser cut parchment lights reflecting the delicate beauty of nature. She used to have a lovely shop called Radiance in Hebden Bridge which sold her fabulous lighting as well as other illuminating pieces by British artists and makers. Unfortunately the shop closed in 2016 but she still sells her products online and has now branched out into designing fabrics and wallpapers.
I love the tubular table and floor lamps that will soften a dark corner in any room.
For an economical present why not give a candle cover or two? I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t love one.
I really love this company by design duo Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings. They create really quirky and original designs and I used to sell mounds of their beautiful lampshades when I had my showroom. In fact, the lighting section is only one small part of Lush Designs so there’s a multitude of gifts you could choose from.
Make sure you state whether the shade you select is for a lamp or a pendant as, due to the design, you need to ensure you get it right.
Luna Lighting make beautiful porcelain globe lights which cast magical pinpricks of light around. Place them close to a wall to get the full benefit. They look wonderful any time of the year.
Fabulous in a cluster on the floor of a hallway, but also work beautifully as a single light.
Also a wonderful range of pretty tealight holders for little gifts. Really lovely.
It seems that with every passing day we are tunnelling further down into the depths of winter! If you’re like me – a lover of light and warmth – the whole season can be a bit depressing.
These tips may help to lighten the winter gloom
Candles any Time
The Scandinavians know how to cheer themselves up in the winter and the whole concept of Hygge is embraced whole-heartedly in the Northern Hemisphere. It seems that in the UK many of us save our candles for special occasions or, at least, until the evenings. But why? During deepest darkest winter some days can seem like perpetual dusk, so why not light a couple of candles or tea lights during the day, even when working. There is, on a primeval level, something enormously comforting about a flickering flame that makes me think we’re not so far removed from our cave dwelling ancestors
Personally I find some scented candles overpowering. One sniff in a shop can’t quite display how the scent will actually be after a couple of hours’ burning at home and some can become quite nauseous. I usually burn unscented church candles and my favourites are from the St Eval Candle Company made locally in Cornwall although they also do a very subtle festive range which I really enjoy.
If you like the effect of light reflecting on snow then you will love these wax crystals that bring a magical quality to any interior. Alexander Interiors sells bags of the crystal and the wicks separately, along with containers although you don’t necessarily need to buy these as you can set these crystals up in any container provided it’s not flammable. I use a large glass bowl and pour a good amount of crystals in and add about 5 wicks. They burn for hours and it all works out very economical as the next day you just dispose of the old wicks and clumps of melted wax, top up slightly, insert fresh wicks and start again
Free Standing Uplight
I will often incorporate integral LED uplights when I do a lighting design as it adds another dimension to the lighting but if we’re doing a quick fix a free standing uplight can work wonders. If you have a dark corner which just needs some soft light why not try something like the Marasino by Astro Lighting. This is made of paintable plaster so you can paint it to blend with the room if you prefer. The shape of it means that it can be positioned so you don’t get any glare
Soft Table Lamps
Opaque globes give out a soft light and as they have become very fashionable nowadays there’s a huge range of light fittings on the market. A quick fix is to incorporate a globe table lamp and the Castore by Artemide has been a favourite of mine for years. Available in various sizes from a lovely small one, that I had in my daughter’s bedroom when she was little, to the largest version that I put in my showroom Christmas window many moons ago
I’m also mad about the Rituals range by Foscarini and love the textured light that these emit. Check out their website for more details here: www.foscarini.com
I know that so many new-build houses are so well insulated these days that they don’t really need a fireplace or wood burning stove. Personally I think it’s a pity to miss out on the sparkle of a fire even if, technically, it may not be required. A flickering flame can always lift the soul.
Check Your Existing Light Bulbs
LED lamps (bulbs) give out less light as they get older and can lose their crispness. Try putting some fresh bulbs in where required and ensure that they are a warm white – 2700K is what I generally recommend.
High lumen output lamps can be very helpful and I’ve just ordered a small portable Beurer LED Daylight SAD Light for a very reasonable price. I’ll be testing it out over the next couple of weeks and will report back when I write my next blog on how our health is affected by light.
Claire Pendarves is a lighting designer with over 20 years’ experience
Luxplan offers an online lighting design service ranging from one hour zoom consultancy – ‘Ask me Anything’ to full lighting design and specification. I design and spec; you buy independently
Scenario: You’ve just spent £600 on a designer pendant light for your new-build home and then you walk into your local McDonalds and see it hanging just near the stand for the ketchup and straws. How do you feel? Luckily I hadn’t just bought such a designer light and I hadn’t specified the light for a client but I did walk into the local takeaway to see this very much admired designer piece on full display and somehow, well, it just doesn’t feel the same any more.
So why do we buy designer items? Is it the form, the cut, the ergonomics? Or is it the exclusivity which is usually linked to the cost? In other words the pricier the item the more exclusive, ie fewer people can afford it so therefore seen less. But then large chain outlets will have big clout – they’ll be buying in quantity and, if rolling out the same design throughout the country, will undoubtedly be placing substantial orders with the producers which means that they can specify lighting without being overly concerned with the cost. But is it short-sighted of the design houses to supply to large chain outlets and does it ultimately have a negative impact on the way their products are perceived?
Above are some snapshots of designer lights that I have encountered on the high street. I love all these light fittings and I’m not here to name and shame any of them as they enhance our shopping and eating experience but to be honest I would think twice before specifying them for a client, or I would at least warn them!
How do I choose downlights for my self-build project?
“What type of downlights should I use in my new-build?” This a question which raises its head in the early stages of a building project. “Should I go for dedicated LED downlights or use fittings that will take retro-fit LED lamps?”
“What type of downlights should I use in my new-build” is a question which raises its head in the early stages of a building project. “Should I go for dedicated LED downlights or use fittings that will take retro-fit LED lamps?”
Here are some tips that I can offer from my experience as a lighting designer
Recently some clients had fallen in love with an LED downlight by a renowned design company and wanted to incorporate these in their lighting scheme. The fittings were beautiful with the light source set back (always recommended), a gold domed interior and a minimal trim giving all the benefits of trimless without the complication of needing to be plastered in. In addition the fitting had a wide variety of specialities that could be incorporated such as beam angle, colour temperature, CRI, light source and dimming protocol.
The fitting was a beauty but there was only one problem – price. These designer downlights don’t come cheap and although of prime quality, incorporating these in a full house design can drive up the budget exponentially so they are not usually the average self-builder’s first choice.
Dedicated LED Downlights
Whilst you may not want to blow the budget on the top designer downlights my ethos is that if you are going to incorporate dedicated LED downlights then you need to go for the best for these reasons.
Colour Temperature and CRI
These are not the same thing – Colour Temperature relates to the warmth of the light emitted and CRI (Colour Rendering Index) means how colours will look under the light. The higher the CRI the better the colours will look (more akin to natural sunlight) and lower the colour temperature the warmer the light. Generally the better quality downlights will allow for 2700°K and 90 CRI but you would be hard pushed to get this from a standard cheaper version.
There is nothing worse than dazzling glare from downlights so the light source should be set back, either within a dome or with a baffle such as these below. A dark baffle or dome will absorb more glare and a gold or copper toned dome will warm the light further.
The guarantee issued by the manufacturer is only as solid as the manufacturer issuing it and manufacturers can merge, reform or go into administration. Technology can fail and LEDs are no exception so try and ensure that you purchase dedicated LEDs from quality suppliers and don’t pay too much attention to the 10 year guarantee. Even when all is well with the manufacturer/supplier over the years your LEDs will change slightly in terms of colour and output and replacing one failed LED with a brand new replacement will often ‘jar’ in the existing overall scheme.
In residential situations this is usually more of an issue where ceilings are high as a more punchy amount of light will be required to travel the distance. Retro-fit lamps can’t get quite such high output as a dedicated LED fitting although in most domestic situations I don’t find this is an issue.
So, whilst good quality dedicated downlights may tick all the boxes in terms of function and design, the price and longevity issues make it worth considering the alternatives.
The quality of retro-fit LED lamps has vaulted in the past few years with excellent colour temperatures and CRI and even the facility to warm the temperature as they are dimmed – perfect for dining rooms.
Just caste your mind back to when lighting was easy. The ‘bulb’ died and you popped another in within a matter of minutes. Things have now come full circle but with a difference – the ‘bulbs’ are LED GU10s or MR16 lamps and the need to change them is rare though much easier than calling in an electrician to replace a dedicated LED fitting.
Always ensure the lamps you select are compatible with the dimmers used
Mains or Low Voltage Fittings
There are still many low voltage downlights available, particularly from Europe, although my feeling is why have a transformer when you can avoid one more link in the chain that could go wrong. When the budget is restricted my tendency is to specify good quality Mains downlights that take LED GU10s, most of which cost about £100 less than the designer light I mentioned at the beginning. Worth thinking about.
Avoid ‘runways’ of lights – concentrate on where the light is actually going to fall
Don’t have all downlights on the same circuit – this will help manipulate the ambience
Ensure that fire hoods are used where necessary if fittings are not Fire Rated
Avoid using downlights in vaulted ceilings – insulation will be compromised
Future proof your project – go for the best LEDs or choose standard fittings with LED GU10.
The European Commission has just agreed to delay the banning of the halogen replacement version of the incandescent lamp until September 2018. This ban may come as news to the average consumer amidst curses and mutterings but the positive news is that by this date the market should be well established with cost effective LED alternatives; in fact by this time we will probably have turned away from this type of halogen through choice in any case.
So let’s have a look at the twisty path of the incandescent and its replacements and where we are heading in the near future.
*Author’s Note to purists: ‘Lamp’ or ‘Bulb’, does it matter as long as we understand?
The Classic Incandescent Light bulb
Now that was a blow when we were told that our trusty light source was to be banned. It gave a beautiful warm light, excellent colour rendition and went a fair way to heating one’s home in the winter. But no – that final point was one of the reasons for its demise!
People started hoarding them before the guillotine’s axe was to fall. In fact, I remember asking what I could do for a very ill friend and she said all she wanted was a good supply of 100 watt clear incandescent light bulbs so she could read easily!
So these were then replaced with:
The Compact Florescent Lamp
Has anyone, anywhere and at any time said they love these lamps? In the early days the light temperature was cold and the colour rendition was ghastly, casting a grey hue and making faces look sallow and colours lack lustre. They would take several minutes to warm up, whilst keeping most of us in fruitless anticipation of a decent volume of light being emitted. To add insult to injury they have received slurs relating to their effect on our skin and eyesight.
These have improved over recent years but how many people have bought the latest versions? I mean, isn’t the point of them that they last for years, and years… And then, when we do want to change them where do we put the old ones? We all know that they shouldn’t be disposed of with normal refuse but where? And what a bore! How many people actually do dispose of them in a responsible manner and, in reality, how much mercury is being added to our landfill?
The Halogen version of the incandescent lamp. The best replacement in terms of clarity, colour rendition and the vitally important fact that they are dimmable. Not nearly as energy efficient as compact fluorescents but give instant light and the candle version works well with chandeliers when the bulb is exposed.
These are the lamps to be banned in September 2018
LED Light Bulb
The relatively new kid on the block, these have a very space age look. Not cheap and many not dimmable but we are getting to a better quality of light more instantaneously although we are still struggling to reach the output of the good ole incandescent 100 watt lamp. Still, progress is being made.
Latest LED Light Bulb
These are beautifully clear and sparkly. The higher output lamps are not all dimmable yet but undoubtedly within months this will be rectified. We are nearly there now with quality of light and the more efficient lamps keeping well below 10 watts with excellent output.
Another feature that some of these lamps offer is ‘dim-to-warm’ meaning that as they are dimmed, the colour temperature warms, more akin to the warmth of candle light.
And soon to come…
The Graphene Light Bulb
A new method being perfected by the University of Manchester forming a light bulb made of graphene coated LEDs which will be even more energy efficient and long lasting. It is anticipated that these will be on the open market in a matter of months at competitive rates.
The Squirrel Cage Lamp
This seems to have by-passed the regulations being of an industrial nature although very ‘on trend’, especially in bars and restaurants. Not energy efficient in the original version but can now be replaced with similar filament style LED versions such as:
And finally a funky version of the compact flurorescent
These are basically twisted fluorescent lamps in weird and wonderful shapes. Energy efficient, warm white with average colour rendition but not dimmable. These are by Plumen www.plumen.com
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