Posts Tagged ‘LED Downlights’
What Changes in Lighting will 2020 bring?
Lighting has changed enormously over the past decade. What direction will it take in 2020? Here are a few of my predictions.
More Environmental Concerns
Let’s face it – the average LED downlight may be cutting down on the amount of electricity used but what about the environment impact of the actual fitting? Cheaper dedicated LED downlights may stipulate a life of 40,000 hours as opposed to higher spec fittings which can last around 70,000 hours. Lower quality LEDs can often fail early, well short of their predicted life span. Then what happens to them? They get chucked or recycled. The more expensive fittings will usually have better quality components so will last longer and are kinder on the environment.
The good news is we are moving towards legislation (in the EU, at least) that will ensure that the individual components of luminaires should be easily changed without damaging the rest of the fitting. Have you ever seen the size of an actual LED? Literally millimetres; so it seems madness to throw away a whole downlight when, in theory the LED, or the driver, could be replaced.
I’ve used LEDs from my favourite suppliers that I installed fifteen years ago – when LEDs were just coming into mainstream use. They were not cheap at the time but they are still going strong. Ultimately you get what you pay for, within reason. This not only impacts your pocket but the environment.
Linear LED Lighting
This is hugely on the increase – either recessed, built within shadow gaps of a new construction, or integrated into profiles, cornicing, or furniture. Linear lighting is here to stay. It’s energy efficient, to a certain extent although if you add up the wattage on the most powerful versions, the energy consumption tots up.
And a word to the wise: the brightest, most powerful is not always the best choice. Sometimes it can be a struggle to find the most subtle for discreet areas when the last thing you want is to throw the balance of the lighting out of kilter.
More consideration is now being given to light pollution. Personally I think that, when it comes to planning permission, more thought should be given to the impact of any external lighting on the neighbourhood and wildlife.
Health and Light
There is now a greater awareness of the connection between health and light. Whilst natural light is always the best option, lighting designers of hospitals and factories are now designing systems that will modify the lighting intensity, colour and frequency as the day progresses. This not only helps keep our biological clocks in line but can also have an effect on productivity and mental health, even dementia.
Light & Build Show at Frankfurt – 8th – 13th March 2020
Euroshop in Dusseldorf, Germany – 16th – 20th February 2020
According to Lux magazine there are radical new Ecodesign law draft proposals stating that ‘manufacturers and importers shall ensure that light sources and separate control gears in scope of this Regulation can be readily removed without permanent mechanical damage by the end-user’.
In other words we are returning to the good old days of being able to change the ‘bulb’ in our own homes without having to call in an electrician and purchase a completely new fitting.
This issue has been my real bugbear since LEDs came in, especially in the days before the retro-fit lamps became so efficient and therefore met the regulations for lumen output per circuit watt. So many times dedicated LED downlights would fail and the electricians would shrug their shoulders and say ‘it’s just one of those things.’
By the way – why do dedicated LED downlights fail? Because they generate a good deal of heat – not usually at the front of the fitting but within the mechanism itself. Therefore the heat needs to be dispersed which is done with heat cooling fins but the cooling properties is often hindered by having a sealed fire rated unit which is so often required in new build properties today. Also, this is more likely to happen with poorer quality cheaper units.
But even quality fittings can go wrong and this brings back memories of a series of dedicated LED downlights that started failing on various projects I designed several years ago. These downlights were the new LED versions of good quality downlights I had used in the past and were supplied by a reputable manufacturer but slowly the fittings that had been installed in various projects started to partially fail. Not a happy scenario at all. Eventually the manufacturer conceded that the original motherboards had been faulty and even came down to Cornwall to replace the entire lighting of a three storey new-build property which was a huge relief to me and my client.
So this is why I am now wary of dedicated LED downlights and why I usually recommend good quality mains downlights that will take retro fit LED lamps, or if more output is required I will specify fittings where the LED part can be replaced separately. This ensures longevity and future proofs the fitting. It also saves a good deal of money both in purchasing the fittings and in the money saved by a) not having to call in an electrician every time a unit fails and b) not having to purchase an entire new fitting – if you can find it (and that’s another story…)
This new proposed regulation does make allowances for fittings where the LED cannot be changed separately, such as with smaller LEDs which are used for accent lighting. Generally I don’t find these to be a problem as they don’t generate so much heat and in addition I will always specify the best quality products here as I generally find it’s a false economy to cut corners in this area. In the end you get what you pay for.
So all in all I think it’s a good plan for this new proposal. It seems bonkers that an entire fitting is removed (and put in landfill!) just because part of the fitting has failed.
It looks like someone somewhere is seeing some sense and I only hope that these regulations will be put in place in the UK when we’re not part of the EU.
Claire Pendarves is Design Director of Luxplan Lighting Design