Category Archives: Blog

Time to Re-think Downlights

“What more do I need to know about downlights?”, you might ask. We all use them on a regular basis – what more is there to learn? Increasingly we have transferred our love of halogen to LED as the availability of conventional light sources has faded away. In this transfer to LED, must we change the way we use downlights in room design?

Four things that top interior designers do with LED downlights:

Use fewer downlights

    – in reality they are an over-used tool. There is a temptation to flood a space with light. Lighting down from a ceiling is very effective and a ceiling has lots of space for fittings – so it is easy to achieve. However I do advocate (that as often as possible) you must try to light something physical with a downlight rather than just space!

  1. Nobu-downlight-gridAvoid the ubiquitous row or grid of ceiling spots that are so tempting sometimes to position and install. Position a light fitting where we need the light. That may mean we have lights in the ceiling that are not neatly lined up – but that needn’t be a concern as the eye will see the light before it sees the fitting. In some instances the client may demand symmetry in the ceiling and they wish to avoid a peppering of holes. Solve this by choosing fittings that double or triple the down light source within a ceiling fitting and ensure they are adjustable.
    They effectively throw light into the space in various directions
  2. recessed_square_image_twin_03from a single point. Select a recessed fitting that sinks into the ceiling and is as unobtrusive as possible. This type of fixture often has a black recess but we have stocks of fittings available with white to lose them in a white ceiling.
  3. Use a downlight with beam width options. The results are worth the effort – variety is the spice of life and this can apply to our lighting. A short cut to remember is to specify a wider beamed light for the fittings around the perimeter of a room, so the light will wash down the wall a little and push those walls back – and tighten the pools of light inside the room so that the lighting is defined and not simply washed everywhere
  4. main-photoMake the transition from low voltage halogen to LED with care. Be mindful of the transition between the light sources and be aware of the comparative lumens levels (strength of light) between the old and the new technologies. Mains halogen = approx 450 lumens
    LV halogen = approx 900 lumens
    Gauge your choice of LED within these boundaries for the desired result between task and ambient.
    You will not need a large number of LED downlights to replace an existing halogen scheme. LED lamps are not achieving the LV equivalent in terms of power, but you should ask the question – “…do you really require a 900+ lumens level punch from a light?”.

Spotlight on COB

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Chances are that you will be presented with a Chip On Board LED light any time now. As a designer you might understandably shrink from yet another wave of semi-conductor technology. After all, your job is to strip bare the rhetoric and specify lights that have both a functional and an aesthetic application.

The good news is that is why we are here – to filter the useful information from the blizzard of less than useful techno-blag. The even better news is that COB technology does offer the designer real advantages!

In the beginning…..

There was the classic LED – with wire leads in a cylindrical reflector package –known as a T-Pack. One LED, one colour – some came with and some without heat dissipation.

Then came SMD LEDs (Surface-Mounted Device). These LEDs hide wire connections.

They are directly soldered on a printed circuit board.

The latest generation of high-power LEDs is characterized by COB (Chip On Board) manufacturing. Numerous tiny semiconductor chips (LEDs) are mounted on a flat circuit board and covered by a common singular phosphor coating – creating an ‘array’.

So what is all the fuss about?

Ppx New COB SlideFinal-918Due to the small size of the LED chip, Chip-on-Board technology allows for a much higher packing density than surface mount technology. This results in higher intensity & greater visual uniformity for the user, no more clusters of dots often seen on early LED lamps.
Benefit: Compactness due to small size of chip High-Intensity, particularly at close distance.

By spreading the smaller LEDs over a wider surface area COB LED lights arguably provide a light that is easier on the eye, as the single point source is broader. A softer radiance is a key consideration for interior design where we find some LEDs are just too stimulating to the eye.

Benefit: Softer radiance.

COB-LED-Packaging-chip-on-board-COB-LED-module-10Watt-LCOB50-BThe mounting of the tiny chips directly on the substrate give added thermal benefits which is good news for longevity and performance. It is a method of LED packaging which has a number of advantages over traditional surface mount technologies such as the use of “T-pack” and Surface mount LEDs.

Benefit: Superior Thermal Performance for better lifetime, stability and reliability.

The figure on the left illustrates the differences in the number of LEDs that can be placed on a 10X10mm square and the resulting power output of the array.

As you can see, by using COB technology, the number of LEDs is 38 times higher than T-Pack technology and 8.5 times higher than surface mount technology, improving the brightness significantly.

Does this replace other technologies – such as remote phosphor? No – it’s another choice that should be weighed up by it’s own merits – including cost. However the new technology is delivered without a significant price disadvantage.

Never forget important issues over quality remain – when choosing all formats of LED, colour consistency, longevity, colour temperature and lumen levels are just as relevant as before. Remember to ask the manufacturer and avoid the bottom of the market!

Shelving the Light


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As designers we are all becoming familiar with the new opportunities LED lighting continues to deliver. Perhaps one of the major advantages that is often overlooked is their small size. The effective miniaturisation of light fittings means we can hide light sources in new areas.

A new lighting opportunity has emerged with the illumination of shelving and bookcases. At Orange Lighting recently, we rarely see a project without some form of shelf lighting involved. So we thought it was about time to offer some insights on how to approach the application.For simplicity let us break it down into categories

1. Lighting the front of shelving – hidden source side lit vertically washing light down the front of shelving from a vertical LED source facing back towards the shelves.

Advantages: Even wash, allows shelving to be adjustable, light source well hidden
Disadvantages: the source will be seen if you try and view it from the side when close-up.

2. Lighting the front of shelving – side lit with exposed sourceWashing light across the shelving. LED within an aluminium extrusion with frosted diffuser.

Advantages: Still light the front of the shelving even when there is nowhere to hide the source.
Disadvantages: The dots of the LED can be seen behind the diffuser unless a thick or acrylic diffuser is deployed or a denser line of LED is used – the dots appear to join up when lit.

3. Undershelf lighting
LED strip housed in an aluminium extrusion with opaque diffuser – recessed into the underside of a shelf.
Advantages: Great aesthetic, brings light onto the front of the shelf below
Disadvantages: Shelving has to remain non adjustable
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4. Backlighting – When the shelving can remain open and the back exposed, backlighting is a dramatic effect that seemingly lifts the shelving away from the wall.
LED strip is positioned at the back of the shelves or vertical supports with a minimum of approx 20mm between the shelf and the wall. Be careful not to have a reflective surface on the wall that will reveal the source. Housing the LED in an extrusion and diffusing the light will help minimise any reflection and give a glow of light on the wall.

Advantages: Dramatic
Disadvantages: Shelving needs to remain sparsely populated!

Lighting shelving is the domain of retail but increasingly it has become a key feature in domestic interiors. Often it is used as a device to draw the eye through a space – effectively a focal point. For your next project lets create a shelving feature together and harness the power of such a small light source. If you need any advice on the suitable fixtures and fittings that are available for this application – call us at Orange Lighting – we will be pleased to help.

VIDEO: 5 Tips on Kitchen Lighting

In this short video Andrew delivers 5 tips you must consider when designing your next kitchen scheme. We encounter bouncing light, task and work top downlights, accent and plinth lighting. Breathe fresh inspiration into your kitchen design by using these innovative tools!

The kitchen is the heart of the home and with so many now open plan and part of a wider family room, the lighting has never been more important to get right.

In this short video Andrew gives you 5 great tips on where to start when designing your lighting scheme for a domestic kitchen.

1. Light the ceiling where you can  – bouncing light at 4000K colour temperature will lighten the space, particularly during the day

2. Areas of preparation needed higher levels of light – aiming for around 500 lux by running warm white fluorescents or strips of high output LED under wall cabinets if you have them is always successful. 

3. Downlights – are a great way to bring in much needed higher levels of illumination – so position them in line of the edge of worktops. 3000K colour temperature suits kitchens perfectly.

4. Create an accent light – consider the lower level of illumination to transform your space from more functional to atmospheric. Try adding pendants or table lights.

5. Kitchens become backdrops at night in open plan living areas – Use plinth lights  on separate circuits to use the space itself as an accent light for the family room.

A Glaring Mistake

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It’s that age old problem that bites us when we least expect (and cruelly) during the final installation phase of a project. For all of us who specify and design lighting – glare is a real problem – the need to provide sufficient light onto an object with the minimal amount of discomfort to the user’s eyes.Arguably the best lighting is where the cast of light is seen and not the source. However, unless completely shielded – light will inevitably be bright at source and likely to shine glare into the eye. Spotlighting is an application where designers have to be particularly careful.

Top tips to minimise glare if a fixture isn’t concealed:

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1. Ensure the beam angle of the fitting isn’t unnecessarily wide – This avoids
extraneous light hitting the eye and directs light only to where it is required.

2. Choose a lamp or source (typically an LED) that is recessed into the fitting. How? Use a baffled fixture – which has a short tube/cylinder construction (typically black) – by sinking the source deeper into the fitting the spill of light is minimised

3. Add a snoot – Odd word for another tube added onto the front of a spotlight. This deepens the source thus hiding it further – reducing the angle of light that may trouble users vision.

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4. Add a honeycomb louvre – Some fixtures provide the option for this – simply hiding the source from the eye at a wider viewing angle.

5. Be aware of unprotected LED chips behind lenses – The current trend
toward the miniaturisation of fixtures utilising LED’s small proportions brings with it a potential downside. Maximum output is achieved if the bare LED is behind a lens but it’s very harsh to the eye and must be used with care.

Lastly – if in doubt – dim the fitting but that is only supplementary and not a fundamental fix.

When you specify and purchase lights from us – this advice is all part of the extra value service we offer all our clients. So if you wish to light your next project with total confidence – call us and we will be happy to help!

It’s a lamp Jim – but not as we know it!

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The LED lighting revolution faces its greatest challenge in the home. Whilst industry and businesses are in a relative hurry to enjoy the cost savings delivered by new lamps and luminaires – consumers seem a harder audience to crack. The first wave of futuristic looking LED ‘bulbs’ has been resisted by shoppers. Of course the higher price point didn’t help. However 2014 will be the year of change, mainly because the new breed of LED lamps will look similar to the design Edison perfected in 1879!

As designers it poses the question we all face on a daily basis; function or aesthetics? You might say that the ‘globe’ shape of incandescent bulbs has become a design standard purely out of familiarity. I would claim it is an object of pure beauty which generations of consumers have
appreciated over time. Constantly revised and re-modelled but it has never
been beaten for its simplicity.OMNI9

LED lamps have had to grapple with unsightly heat-sinks and on board drivers that have made the lights heavy and have restricted light distribution. The strange ‘Star Trek‘ look of some of the LED lamps currently available have also forced us to hide them behind opaque diffusers and frosted glass. It has prevented many designers from using classical and traditional fittings.

The breakthrough has arrived in the form of COB filament technology. The new OMNI-Lamp from Integral LED has delivered on most aspects of the problem. The new ceramic array gives us a conventional looking ‘bulb’ that doesn’t offend the eye. It only delivers a ILA60B22O4cut40 watt equivalent currently but higher lumen ratings are on the way. The lamp avoids heat-sinks by omitting an on-board driver which means that it is not dimmable. However I can envisage many circumstances when this solution will prove useful.

The GLS has an illumination of 470lm at only 4.6W power consumption – so the OMNI lamp has broken the A++ barrier at over 100lm/W. Significantly, the distribution of light, which was limited in earlier LED designs, is cast across 330 degrees which is comparable with an incandescent bulb.

Orange Lighting are pleased to be one of the first to offer this lamp to the trade, we anticipate it will prove to be be an essential stock item for all designers and specifiers in the months ahead.

There is a chandelier lamp too – slightly less light distribution but again in will preserve the appearance of many fixtures and fittings in project interiors.

LED has a bad case of Gremlin

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LED technology offers huge promise but we shouldn’t be blinded by its potential. In service to my customers I have to remain vigilant on LED’s shortcomings. In this instance a flaw has appeared which requires the attention of all those currently specifying LED lighting installations which use control systems.


It would seem reasonable to assume that LEDs draw less power from a circuit. After all down-lights and strips require a fraction of the wattage needed by conventional tungsten halogen lamps. For instance, if you take a typical restaurant, you may have a 5 amp lighting circuit that delivers 1150w. Using older technology halogen lights you would be comfortable deploying about 20 units across the same circuit. Surely, given that LED lights relatively ‘sip’ power of at least 80% less compared to their – you are permitted to assume that you can pepper the ceiling with downlights wherever you fancy? But you could be making a costly mistake.
The simple fact is that making this once safe calculation on capacity is no longer valid! It is likely that when the lights are switched on that they will flicker or will fail leading to a total revision of the lighting design – pulling the assets and refitting. It is the designers worst nightmare and it is happening all the time.
Why?
In truth we receive conflicting information from lamp, driver or luminaire manufacturer’s and even the makers of control systems aren’t 100% sure yet how many lamps or luminaires will work without testing. In electrical terms it is due to the capacitance of the LEDs that leads to this need to de-rate a circuit. After some investigation it seems that a power spike is commonly caused across the dimmer channel which requires a 90% reserve in capacity. So when controlling with a digital dimming system, effectively the power saving that is delivered by LED lights is thrown away in wasted unused capacity in the expensive dimmer channel.
To remain safe, controls suppliers are issuing a blanket de-rating of 90% – so only 10% of the channel can be used regardless of whether LED lamps or luminaires are being used – where there is some evidence that it’s only relevant LED lamps and not luminaires with their own drivers.
How to avoid the problem?
The prospect of decommissioning and re-commissioning a lighting installation is a nightmare for designers and clients alike. How do you avoid the mistake in this modern age where dimming and control systems are widely demanded?
The simply truth is that with no definitive advice available from suppliers you have to test the load as a practical simulation. At Orange Lighting we have quite literally constructed a circuit in our offices to test the control system and the LED lamps or fittings before we can design the system / lighting circuits. After we are sure that one dimmer channel on a rack is functioning we are confident to roll out the complete system.
We are happy to share this knowledge too. If you have a project that needs a combination of LED and control with dimming – call us and we will be happy to offer a solution.


Control: the next big thing?

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In this intensely technological era of lighting – it is essential to keep abreast of developments. I joined the thousands of other techno pilgrims in the annual visit to Lux Live at Earls Court. Out of the hundreds of exhibits – what did I take away?

Over recent years we have been spoiled – enjoying constant waves of new innovations. We may have become almost blasé about it. There are improvements too and tweaks to what has become standard kit – LED downlights, lamps etc. The shocking reality is – that if you were hunting for CFL or other light sources – you would have been hard pressed to find anything among the exhibits. A huge shift to LED is plainly evident.

Control BannerTaking Control
What captured my attention is the growing number of management systems that enable us to control our lit environment. Technology now aims to deliver just the right amount of light to keep us happy and healthy. The years ahead will take us a step beyond mere concerns about functional illumination – it is going holistic!

These are just some of the highlights:

1. We liked Photonstar’s exciting ‘Halcyon’ colour changing lamp system – a more grown up alternative to the Philips Hue (review in a future update) where natural circadian body rhythms can be enhanced easily through the use of light in the home or workplace – and with an open API to allow budding IT developers to create their own mobile Apps to maximise it’s potential.

2. What caught my attention most was a new development claimed as the future of lighting control – allowing sophisticated retrospective control of an existing lighting system without extensive rewiring or builders work. With over 40% of commercial electricity consumption in the UK due to lighting, it is the single highest contributing item on an energy bill. With 75% of all commercial lighting left uncontrolled – there is HUGE potential for savings through lighting control systems which are increasingly easy to install.

There are now a number of web based wireless control monitoring and management systems available. They give users the freedom to commission, configure and completely control their own lighting to maximise energy savings and reduce their emissions – all from a web page viewed on whatever device suits.

3. Enocean wireless (and battery-less) switches are another reminder of the inexorable progress of change. This is a low profile switch that has no wires and no power required to control it. Simply pressing of the switch generates the signal to communicate to the receiver hidden behind the ceiling – allowing you the freedom to place it wherever you wish.

and there are more…

If you need retain control over the welter of lighting innovation or need to navigate through the current alternatives, Orange lighting are here to enable you to make the right decision based upon a tried and tested approach. Call us and we will advise you when it is safe to take a technological leap!

What low Watts? – Wattage Comparisons

shock that LED peer consumption is so lowIt is poignant to reflect on the low adoption of LED currently. Figures of a mere 7% have been published which seem to poorly serve the huge benefits offered by the technology. Certainly these results do not match my everyday experience of a growing client base of new converts. However there are those who resist change – no more so than ‘end user’ clients themselves; many of whom seem to wish to cling on to the familiar. Ask any high street electrical store and they will show you their ‘under the counter’ stock of incandescent bulbs!

So what is the reason behind this resistance? Well the answer is blinking obvious! People need a reference point to transfer from the familiar to the unfamiliar – yet manufacturers and promoters of LED have been slow to provide this guidance.

Historically we have always looked at the wattage of a lamp; the amount of power it requires to assess it’s size – and output.

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GLS lamps all have a filament that is heated, requiring more energy to make them burn brighter. However this makes no comparative sense when selecting LED. By its very nature LED requires a much lower wattage to function. The practice of using wattage to measure LED output has to stop – it is effectively a barrier to understanding.

Time to change
LED light sources are much more efficient at converting watts to lumens. Different materials can be used within the LED sources themselves, each of which has its own light extraction efficacy. For these and other reasons, two different LED sources can consume the same number of watts but differ widely in lumen output.

Lumen output – the amount of light that is leaving the fitting is the only sensible metric.Megman-for-web-shotFor instance on lighting packaging you often see 1 x 3W LED specified on a fitting in a catalogue – where is the lumens figure to guide us? Additionally, how can I tell how many of those lumens are going to fall where I need them? Hence we cannot rely solely on wattage, as other factors play a part including the lens and the driver.What do we do?
In terms of explanation, I convert client understanding to lumens by stating that the lumen level of a 60 watt incandescent bulb is roughly 700 lumens – then we can happily benchmark our comparison with LED in terms that everyone can understand! Using charts like the one above are invaluable.

Footnote: The lumen output is our best guide – but if we are really getting to grips with this topic then lumens only is not an accurate measurement across all fittings – but we’ll cover that another time.

Whatever the confusion caused by LED – planning, specifying or installing – call us and we will be able to guide you through the alternatives that fit your requirements.