When buying recessed downlights for installation in your ceiling, you may have been puzzled about the use of the term “IC Rated”. Put simply this means Insulation Contact and refers to the fact that even LED Downlights can become hot on the outside and if there is packed insulation material around it, there can be a risk of fire.
If your downlight is already IC Rated then no problem, but if not you can add a cage around it to bring it up to the IC Rating. That’s it!
Over the last few years, the costs of LED lighting has tumbled significantly meaning more households are considering the switch to the eco-friendly lighting option. So what are the advantages and disadvantages of LED, and are they a good choice for your house?
Energy efficient – LEDs are up to 90% more energy efficient than filament or halogen bulbs.
Long Life – a correctly fitted LED light should last over 50,000 hours, compared to the 5,000 of traditional bulbs.
Durability – LED’s are also somewhat more rugged than traditional lights as they are made of solid material with no filament or tube to break.
Instant turn on– Unlike eco-lights which have a warming up period, LED lights turn on instantly
Controllable – LED’s can be controlled for brightness and colour as well as directionality. This means there’s no light wasted.
Environmentally friendly – As well as great efficiency LEDs contain no mercury or other hazardous substances.
Cost– Although the price of LED bulbs has fallen significantly there is still a higher outright cost price. This will eventually be offset by savings
Over Heating– Poor quality, or badly fitted LED bulbs are prone to overheating causing the LED to burn out
Directional light– Older LEDs used to emit light like a torch, in straight lines. Although new bulbs have improved the light spread is not quite the same as a standard bulb.
Dimmable compatibility– LED lights are not always compatible with older dimmer units, so a new switch may be needed
I am looking to redo my house with Gu10 LEDs (and 1 mr16 in the shower!) and wondered if you do a bulb that is as close to the yellowy colour of halogen and is still dimmable. I like the colour of halogen but just need to get the load down as my light switches are rated to 250w and most rooms have 6-8 gu10s in them. I’d be looking for 40 240v gu10s and 1 12v mr16 the same colour please.
Both you and the rest of the planet are looking for LED’s giving the same colour as halogen (!) but it’s really not possible as the technologies are so completely different.
One piece of advice – when looking around at GU10 LED’s make sure that whatever you decide on, it’s at least 500 lm otherwise they will just be too dim compared to your existing halogens. Perhaps order one first to test.
However, the very best ones that we have extensively tested and have had some great feedback on are these (Warm White versions):
I went to do a site visit this week to a South Bank London Art Supplies store. Lovely people who had been there a few years and were now ready to update their lighting.
Already in the store was a mix of recessed modular fluorescent panels with a motley mix of different coloured tubes from different replacement cycles and several runs of track with again several different LED lamps in the many tracklights.
The overall effect was a very dull, flat light which did no favours at all either to the products on display or the visitors or staff.
As I explained, the LED after market lamps fitted to the (domestic use) tracklights were neither powerful enough nor the right light for bringing out the colours of the art supplies on the shelves, and frankly could have depressed sales over a long period of time as customers could not appreciate what was in front of them.
The right product lighting to use in a medium sized store like this is metal halide lighting, particularly where colours are important like for instance in clothing stores.
I’ll write more about metal halide lighting in a future post.
People often get scared when I mention metal halide lighting just because they’ve not heard the term before.
However, it’s quite easily explained: A metal-halide lamp is an electric light that produces light by an electric arc through a gaseous mixture of vaporized mercury and metal halides.
Metal-halide lamps have high luminous efficacy of around 75 – 100 lumens per watt, which is about 3 to 5 times that of incandescent lights and produce an intense white light. Average Lamp life is about 10,000 to 20,000 hours. They require a thing called a ballast (either separate or integral) and warm-up period of several minutes to reach full light output.
OK so that’s the technical side dealt with. What it means for the shop or store owner is a stunning white or warm white light perfect for bringing out colour and therefore the very best choice for use in clothing stores or anywhere it’s important to show the true colour of products.
As well as being an excellent colour choice, it’s also extremely efficient and eco friendly, powerful and long lasting. You need far fewer of them when compared to other lighting options and pound for pound, euro for euro, or dollar for dollar it’s price to performance ratio is better than LED.
The most popular metal halide option is a 70 watt fixture although they are available in 20, 35, 70 or 150 watt versions and come in a multitude or different forms such as fixed or adjustable downlights, directional lights, surface, ceiling and wall mounted as well as track lights.
Ask us about metal halide lighting – you’ll be glad you did.
If you ILLUMINATE an object and measured the amount of light being projected towards it by the light, that is ILLUMINANCE
LUMINANCE is the amount of light reflected off the surface being ILLUMINATED!
Knowing the difference between Luminance and Illuminance is about rememberng what has happened to the beam of light; the action of light hitting a surface – a beam of light that is travelling towards a surface – is what is measured when talking about illuminance.
Illuminance is measured as the amount of light striking a surface. If we had a light meter and wanted to measure the amount of light that was striking the surface we were measuring, we would hold it towards the light.
Luminance, is what we measure off of the surface that has light hitting it. Luminance is the measurement of the product of the incident light and the surface – anything that is reflected. Luminance is also considered the human perception of brightness, or how bright we perceive the light that is reflected off of the surface.
Make sense? Think of it like this – IL-Luminance, IL, I = Incident Light. Illuminance is measuring the incident light. Luminance is what’s leaving the surface – L = leaving. Illuminance is measuring incident, luminance is measuring what’s leaving.
When one of our customers in deepest East Sussex ordered 1 x Kalu 2 Surface Mounted adjustable spotlight fittings http://www.toplightco.com/acatalog/Kalu_2.html he mentioned that he wanted to dim it. No problem we said, just advise your installing electrician that it requires a trailing edge dimmer.
A few days later he called to say that his electrician couldn’t make the dimmer he had bought work with the Kalu. No problem we said, we will obtain a suitable dimmer of the colour and style you want and test it on your exact fitting to make sure it works. We sent in a courier to collect it and a few days later following testing we sent everything back to him.
When Center Parcs contractors placed an urgent order with us for a Myra Straight Outdoor Display Lights http://bit.ly/nU34Aq and a courier couldn’t get it to them in time for hand over of the new Woburn Site, our MD got in to his car and drove it the 120 miles to them.
I had an interesting call today. The owner of a recently opened clothing store rang me asking about buying some new tracklights as his current ones were not giving enough light.
He had bought lighting track and tracklights from a well known manufacturer but not one whose products we carry.
After asking him a few more questions, he told me he was using Philips GU10 LED lamps, which of course is a global brand and so the quality was not in question. However, when I asked him to check what the lumen rating was (which is the true measure of how much light a lamp will give) he said it was 250 lm.
Ah ha I said, there’s your problem, but there is a solution which is to use GU10 LED lamps but whose lumen rating is twice those of the Philips i.e. something like this:
Every week I get at least one customer on the phone obviously stressed and desperate because they need lighting URGENTLY!
For some reason, there is this misconception that commercial lighting for shops, stores and galleries is just waiting in some store somewhere for them to just come and pickup. It’s NOT like that!
Often I have to fly lighting in from abroad overnight which is VERY expensive, and if there’s something missing, damaged or just wrong then it’s more stress, time and expense.
So take a tip from me, plan your lighting as one of the first things you do! We normally deliver within 3-4 working days but if you need it more urgently we have an overnight delivery service for most products.
Lighting hints, tips, advice and a glimpse into the wonderful world of lighting!