Tag Archives: LED

Washing the Walls with Light

As designers, most of us learn the importance of lighting walls by accident. Very quickly we realise that the way light ‘paints’ a wall is a crucial factor in creating a desired appearance.  In fact, designing a room with the intention of using walls as a reflective surface is key to a professional result. In this post we discover that walls are themselves a great tool for distributing light in a space.
As you can imagine – washing a wall with light is a great way of enhancing the colour of the wall and the soft furnishings nearby. However I would argue that there is a further opportunity to embrace reflected light that is bounced off the wall into the centre of the space. Light sources naturally describe unique shapes on adjacent walls too. By using due consideration, these light patterns can add additional texture to a finished interior.

There are some key applications that benefit from illuminated walls. In offices – the illumination ofimage 1 walls is very important to reduce the glare factor from windows. The illumination of walls reduces the perceived contrast between the streaming daylight and the relative dimness of the interior and adds to the overall illumination of a space. Washing walls in a corridor effectively pushes the walls away – increasing a feeling of space. General wall washing incorporates the illumination of pictures which is especially useful if the hanging ‘artwork’ element has not been decided upon before the installation of the lighting!

When walls are of a colour that is reflective, as opposed to a light absorbent darker colour; the surface will act as a natural reflector. Reflected light is wonderful as it distributes light into a space. Even better, when the source of the light is completely hidden, the light produces virtually no glare.

Lighting a wall is typically effected by using a spotlight, a ceiling fixture or a downlight. A spot and downlight create a similar effect with scalloping (an intense pool of light cast by a near light source on the wall). A diffused light from a ceiling light e.g. an LED panel, (depending on its proximity) will give an even wash although resulting in a very generalised illumination. It is useful to remember that when a light hits a surface, it will reveal a shape of light according to how the light left the fixture. Hence a round fitting’s light will show the curve of the fitting in a ‘scallop’ shape on the wall. If you use an un-diffused light such as an LED downlight with a clear glass (with an unadulterated LED chip on view as many do) – it will give a very clear, sharper edged delineation. Choosing a frosted or prismatic lens will soften the edges.

So there are occasions when you should use an intentional wash of light in an interior project but how is this best produced?

image 2Downlight with snoot approx 600mm from the wall light is directed down and across to the wall. Create a row with spacings according to the beam angle chosen and how light will fall on the wall.
Image 3Recessed downlight in the ceiling angled at 45 degrees out of sight from the viewer. This fires the light more directly onto the surface – positioning of the fitting is critical
Image 4If the light is leaving a slot, a linear shaped fixture – then the light is evenly washed over the wall, omitting scalloping. See top images lit with this fitting.
image 5Hidden LED source. Purpose made extrusions angling a hidden linear LED source will evenly wash light down. It will be top heavy with the majority of the light being at the top but nevertheless a wash of light is achieved – like a waterfall of light spilling from the ceiling down the wall – fabulous.
So be bold and wash those walls in your next interior project. You will find that it will add an extra dimension to the room design whatever the look you wish to achieve.

Remember we have plenty of ideas and practical advice on the best use of lighting. Call us and we will be happy to help!

The Panel is Out on Energy Savings

There is no greater ‘workhorse’ in commercial lighting than the all too common fluorescent grid unit – deployed in a typical suspended ceiling. So it is logical that the replacement of these fixtures offers the greatest savings for office based companies.  The LED panel replacement has been on the scene for a while and has constantly improved over time in terms of light quality and has been tumbling in price!

So there has never been a better time for your clients to opt for LED panel lighting to enjoy the substantial energy savings available, but do you choose back lit or edge lit? How do you match the colour temperatures of the existing units and is ‘glare’ a factor? All will be revealed!

Switching to Save
There are very compelling reasons to switch to LED Panels; with a payback of around 2 years or less depending on installation and that is before you truly consider the pic 1impact abandoning the overheads of tube replacement, disposal costs and other maintenance charges associated with the old fluorescent units. After all 600×600 LED panels are cost effective and will continue to be – given the trend in increased energy prices.

Replacing a unit
Traditional benchmark: typically 600 x 600mm ceiling tile sized luminaire would use 4 x 18W fluorescent T8 lamps – 72W with an output of 3240 lumens that will drain 88W of power including the power consumption of the ballast.

Key Issues

Backlit or edgelit?: There is a difference and depending on how and where the LED chips are positioned.

Edgelit has LED chips around the perimeter of the fitting and uses an acrylic or Pic 2polycarbonate diffuser to carry the light across the fitting and then out.
Pro – will be a shallow depth panel,
Con – light is having to be redirected so arguably performs less efficiently. Cheap models can have a faint shadow around the perimeter where the light guiding plate isn’t positioned correctly. LEDs have to be driven harder to achieve the same amount of light produced compared to a backlit panel.

Backlit logically makes more sense as the light is immediately travelling in the right direction.
Pro – more efficient use of light and more uniform diffusion.
Con – currently needs about 80mm depth but that is still acceptable in the majority of cases.

Colour temperature: 4000K is the standard colour of white and I value the available option to choose 3000K warm white for some interior applications. Remember that a colder 4000K fitting will deliver a little more light for the same power used compared to a 3000K fitting.

CRI: colour renditioning must be over 80 RA.

Colour Tuning: LED panels can offer the opportunity to control and change the colour temperature, to engage with our circadian rhythm.

 IP rating: Protection against the ingress of moisture. Many panels are IP44 as standard and you can get IP65 if jet cleaning is required.

Dimmable:  Choose carefully if you want to dim the fitting and how it will be controlled? A panel with external driver will allow you to reselect a driver to suit the requirement of the building.

Glare factor (UGR): This is a bit of a poser in terms of a question. As office dwellers, we are used to traditional fluorescent fixtures – with their lamps tucked up deep within the fitting and shrouded by louvres to direct the light. A LED panel with a diffuser that is flush with the ceiling will surely produce more glare?

As a question it is actually not that simple to answer as a glare factor is calculated by comparing the background illumination of a room with the fitting. In reality the amount of fittings in a room will vary. So glare can be quantified by using a standardised room but it will vary upon application. The upshot is flush diffusers of LED panels deliver light in an acceptable way as long as the right amount of fittings are used for a given application.

Efficiency: there is much less light lost within a LED luminaire compared to fluorescent. APic 3 fluro tube sends light in all directions and the optics of the fitting collect the light and direct it back out – up to 40% of the light can be lost. LEDs are very directional so the light can be delivered more efficiently

Lumens per Watt – Lm/W – efficiency – measures how much power is being used to deliver the amount of light created. We should be looking at around 80 lm/w upwards. Example – a 35W panel delivering 3200 lumens of light has an efficiency of approx 90 lm/W – whereas the traditional fluorescent fixture mentioned above would be 37 lm/w

Fire: Something easily forgotten but check to see if a chosen panel can be used in escape routes – Part B of the building regulations referring to the spread of fire within a building. Part B separates materials into 2 categories of acceptable or unacceptable because of the risk of burning and dripping flaming material onto occupants. Acrylic diffusers will not pass for emergency escape routes – polycarbonate will meet the standard.

Check the type of grid ceiling – some panels will not fit into concealed grid ceilings – the type of grid ceiling where you only see the 600×600 tile.

Switching to LED is the very best advice you can offer to a client in terms of cost savings. We have tested a very wide range of highly reliable yet keen priced panels that are readily available.

Call us and we will be happy to help.

Diagram and fixture pictures are Integral LED

Lamp or not to Lamp – that is the Question

Increasingly we are posed with a question when we refurbish a scheme – whether it is better to specify dedicated LED light fittings or choose retro-fit lamps for existing fixtures? It’s a choice that can be tricky – so I thought it would be useful to share my criteria with you all. The truth is – LED lamps are improving constantly and I would recommend the current generation of lamps to anyone simply looking for a replacement. However – when it comes to professional lighting schemes – many of which must fulfill a function – some other considerations must be taken into account.


This is my selection criteria when choosing between a retro-fit lamp and a dedicated fitting.lamp 1


  • cheaper than most dedicated fixtures
  • lower cost could offer opportunities to use budget surplus elsewhere compared to dedicated fittings
  • offer a great saving compared to older technology
  • colour temperatures are much better now – good extra warm whites
  • better choices of colour temperature available now
  • high output GU10 versions of 600 + lumens out there on the market – 35W low voltage equivalents
  • manufacturers are offering genuine guarantees


  • Generally higher junction temperatures within the LED, so the chip is working harder lamp 2lowering it’s lifespan and making it more prone to colour shifting as it ages
  • Most lamps on the market are around 400 lumens output – with many lamps still struggling with good outputs.
  • Choices of colour temperature will affect the lumen output of the lamp – specifications on the box can get a little misleading and confusing.
  • Misleading labeling and widespread exaggerated claims of ‘50W halogen equivalents’ have undermined confidence in using lamps.
  • Lumen outputs are from the lamp only – once in a fixture there is undoubtedly a degree of loss that is difficult to measure.

lamp 3Remember for both dedicated LED fixtures and retro-fit lamps

  • both lamps and dedicated LED fittings require (whatever is dimming the circuit) to have a huge amount of extra capacity in the system to allow for a start-up spike of current.
  • dimming compatibility still critical between fixture / lamp and dimmer.

If you need advice on the new generation of lamps available that we recommend call us. We also have a full selection of dedicated fitting and luminaires to meet every purpose in your next project.

LED: You’ve Got It Taped

LED flexible tape has rapidly become a staple in our lighting diet – ingenious, small, useful and simple to use. It’s ability to fit into any nook or cranny provides a wonderful tool to illuminate, highlight and embellish all spaces but especially traditional interiors. As more products enter the market it seems a good time to evaluate and understand the best way to apply this lighting category.

The decision making process often follows this pattern:

1. What do you want to achieve?
It is important to initially gauge the expectations of the specifier – is it a gentle glow we require or a strong output?
Flexible LED tape is generally manufactured in the following sizes:
30 LED chips per metre – running under 5W per metre
60 LED chips per metre (each chip with a size of 3.5mm x 2.8mm) – running at 5W per metre
120 LED chips per metre (each chip 3.5mm x 2.8mm) – running at 9.6W per metre
60 LED chips per metre high output (each chip 5mm x 5mm square) – running at 14.4W per metre

LED Tape as a picture frame

2. Colours of white

The available colour temperature of ‘white’ LED tape is broadening but some colours are at a premium price.
Commonly used colours of white are:
2700K – Very warm white – our most commonly used colour of white
3500K – warm white (but does feel like it’s quite brilliant white so watch out – depends on what it’s reflecting off)
4000K – white
6000K – very cold white
Even warmer colours of white such as 2500K and even 2300K are also available but are priced at a premium.
A word of warning – most manufacturers stock LED tape according to its level of demand, so a combination of a specific output and colour temperature may be regarded as a special request – with a price to suit.
If you want to achieve an extra warm rich colour of white but cannot afford the higher cost lower colour temperatures – reflect the light off a warm colour – such as a gold.

3. CRI – colour rendering index
Colour rendering – how true the illuminated object / environment will look, can be important – especially in retail. LED tape can have a very high CRI

4. Length of run
A long run of LED tape can be achieved but it will need to be subdivided into smaller runs, each powered by a remote driver.
Single colour LED tape we try to limit to a run of no more than 10m before adding another driver – it does depend on the specification of the tape. For example, one manufacturer advises no more than 7m.

5. Wiring
You need to find a location for each driver – bring mains power to it and then run a smaller gauge cable to the LED tape. The power enters the tape and can be brought out the other end and then into another length. The run terminates at the end of the tape – no cables to be brought back to the driver.


6. Dimming
Dimming LED tape can raise difficult issues. The new drivers that are recently arriving in the market, allow mains dimming of LED tape. However, a tried and tested reliable method is utilising a 1-10V protocol. Look out for PWM high frequency dimmable drivers that provide a very smooth level of dim.

7. Cutting tape to length
LED tape is either made to the specific length before despatch or sold on a reel of 5m. It is possible to cut tape down with a pair of scissors approximately every 50mm but it will need cables to be soldered back onto the tape for correct fixing. There are push fit connectors that can be used to join tape together but we recommend soldering every time.

8. Sticking into place
LED tape has a 3M adhesive reverse side to it, which sticks surprisingly well to most surfaces – but not dusty or oily ones!

9. Extrusions
An aluminium extrusion offers a smooth surface to stick the tape to, provides a frosted cover to diffuse the light and will act as a heat sink for higher output tapes. The tape doesn’t need to be placed in an extrusion but it is often a neat way of installing it budget allowing.


10. 12V or 24V?
LED tape divides into 2 categories of extra low voltage supply from the driver, 12V or 24V. 12V is most popular however 24V offers longer continuous runs.

The LED market is highly dynamic and new products are appearing on a daily basis. Call us at Orange Lighting and we can help you choose and use this adaptable light source.

LED Hotel

LED lighting has been with us long enough now to be on every Hotel managers agenda, whether it’s for a refurbishment or simply re-lamping using retrofit LED lights. There are huge opportunities to save overheads as well as improve and refresh the design of your establishment’s interior. Additionally the control of LED lighting promises to add further savings, simply by turning lights off or down automatically when not required. Essentially the benefits of adopting LED are very real, and will deliver a reduction in energy consumption by well over 50% – especially in Hotels where lighting is required in public areas 24 hrs a day.

But can the adoption of LED keep or improve the aesthetics of a luxury interior?

Horror stories from some of the early adopters of LED tell of the poor quality of LED and variations in colour and this concern remains valid in cases where LEDs are not tested and specified thoroughly. Most hoteliers will have tried LED in one form or another with mixed reactions. The good news is that I believe that there is now a quality LED solution to meet all budgets. In effect the LED lighting market has matured. I urge you to keep testing and trailing as the cost benefits are too significant to ignore.


Here are some further thoughts to consider when approaching a LED conversion:

Embrace the opportunity to rejuvenate spaces by adopting this tiny solid state light. In effect LED technology has miniaturised light sources and allows the designer to illuminate every sculptural detail of an interior. For instance restoring grandeur by LED tape hidden in cornices, up-lighting original detailing. In my designs, contemporary restrained luxury can be delivered with bold features rather than over lighting and complicating schemes.

Of course as you survey the lights is your Hotel you will be struck by the range of light fittings, many of which include table lamps and other decorative fittings using conventional shades. Until recently LED lamps have resembled props from Star Trek – mostly due to a need for hi-tech heat-sink. More good news is the new LED ‘bulbs’ are progressing back to familiar shapes and sizes akin to the GLS lamp, so they are easily compatible with conventional lamp shades as in the case of the Integral LED Omni Lamp.

One of the unseen hitches when Hoteliers consider LED is the incorrect belief that existing dimmers and control system can be converted to LED simply by swapping the lights. For simplicity you can view old conventional systems as circuits that guzzle large outputs of power whilst the new LED lighting systems sip a fraction (typically 10%). Therefore conventional dimmer circuits are too insensitive to control the relatively tiny wattages needed for LED. So you must be careful to integrate new with old and I favour the use of dedicated drivers and controls.

Future proofing your Hotel is a real opportunity and one that will continue to deliver savings into the next decade and beyond. LED is a semiconductor technology so artificial intelligence is easily applied to enable automation. You must be open to the benefits of enhanced lighting controls that are increasingly becoming available. For instance, you can also use motion and ambient light sensors to decide whether the room needs to operate at its full potential. Another key application is in the bathroom. Often a guest will leave these lights on when no longer needed; this can now be automatically turned down to a warm inviting glow after a period of no motion. All of these applications can be controlled from a central location using software such as Crestron roomview which monitors the state of every room and the carbon footprint left by every suite.

When you are considering a LED conversion or including LED in a hotel, then call us at Orange Lighting for free and impartial advice on joining the energy saving revolution. We will also supply you with the lamps, fixtures and fittings that you will need to achieve major savings.

VIDEO: 5 Tips on using reflected light

In this short video Andrew delivers 5 tips on using the most user friendly light of all – a light where the source is hidden. In 3 minutes we will brief you as to how to improve your schemes by gauging the light absorbancy of surfaces and using techniques to layer the illumination of a space.

1. Reflected light illuminates surfaces along it’s path – bouncing light off walls and ceilings and using these surfaces as reflectors.

2. Light will be absorbed by those surfaces – and by varying degrees. Typically 80% reflectance off a white ceiling, 50% for walls, 25% for a natural coloured floor. These are approximations of course but a guide to help judge the amount of light you need to try and start with.

3. Dark and light surfaces – will reflect light at different levels, dark absorbs more light than white surfaces.

4. Be careful to watch out for unwanted reflected light – for example reflected light from hidden strips of LED can produce unwanted illumination.

5. Layering light – use reflected light on surfaces as a tool to create layers of light. For example consider hiding a floor mounted directional light to uplight onto a ceiling and use the reflected light as the ‘source’.

A Flicker of Hope

flicker-image5The words lighting flicker alone bring on a headache. Of course we all have visions of a dodgy fluorescent lamp in a ceiling dying a slow death of low frequency cycling. However it is avoidable – it is not inherent in all artificial lighting – and with a little knowledge you can manage the problem.

5 things you need to know about lighting flicker

1. All lighting flickers.
You do not need to be an electrician to get this bit – an AC power supply that we all use modulates usually to a frequency of 50 or 60 hz or double mains frequency. This causes the source of the light to turn on and turn off at this rate – fast enough to appear visually smooth.

2. Discernable flicker can be detrimental to health

According to studies a low proportion of humans are susceptible to flashing lights which can trigger ailments and seizures but lesser known is that long term exposure to unintentional flickering of 70 to 160 hz can cause visual impairment and migraines. Research has shown the retina in the eye can pick up frequencies of 100 to 150hz unbeknown to us, potentially a contributing factor to ‘sick building syndrome’ – offices that for a number of factors see a high propensity of illness.

3. Is LED more prone to flicker than other traditional sources?
An important question with a complicated answer, as LED lighting can be powered in various ways – e.g. with constant current and constant voltage drivers, and without drivers with direct AC power. BUT what we want to know is if it’s safe to use? The fact that solid state LEDs are a fast cycle technology and effective at being completely on and then completely off – so this will increase the sense of flicker unless handled. Traditional sources such as tungsten even when on the OFF cycle still emit some light, creating a smoother light. This is where a good LED driver has a job to do to minimise this effect.

4. Does dimming increase the sensation of obstructive flicker?

It depends on how the dimming is done but yes it can.
a) Dimming a light can be done by reducing the amount of power it receives.
This is done by chopping off some of the AC cycle of power – creating a wider gap between ON and OFF which can begin to be seen by the eye unless dealt with by the correct type of dimmer module. So without good compatibility between dimmer and light – flicker will occur.
b) Dimming an LED can be done by Pulse Width Modulation – like a TV screen that flashes many frames per second giving the eye a smooth transitional between each frame, i.e. it’s too fast to discern. By turning the power on and off fast enough, less power is used so the light is dimmed – but if not fast enough strobing will be apparent.

5. There is no national standard defining what rate of flicker is unacceptable.
In the absence of a universally definable level of noticeable flicker, it does feel we are exposed to making mistakes when specifying. At Orange lighting our approach is to buy and deliver the best quality LED driver whenever we can – on all projects, sourcing from manufacturers who have given this issue consideration.

As lighting suppliers and consultants we are aware that flicker exists in all lighting, particularly when dimming. However, good compatibility between dimmer, driver and LED – through testing – will keep this issue under control.
Call us to discuss this issue and we will guide you through the measures that will avoid flicker in your next project.

Driven by the Light

For some unaccountable reason – when LED lighting arrived – we all had to refrain from calling power supply units ‘transformers’ and refer to them as ‘drivers’. The source of these terminological decisions remains unknown – but it is highly effective at spreading confusion amongst us mere mortals in the design community.

DRIVER1Unfortunately the ‘driver’ is too important a component to ignore. The rather anonymous black box is an essential piece of kit and it can actually be quite exciting – or is that stretching the point too far – let’s see? All I would say is that you ignore a little knowledge about drivers – at your peril…
The two main types of driver we commonly use are ‘constant current’ and DC versions and you must choose which one is relevant for the intended application.

Constant current LEDs are ‘driven’ at a current that effects their output. If you are supplied a 700ma driver with your LED fitting – that is the level of current tested for the published output data.

DRIVER4V3TIP: Did you know that if you find a LED fitting is too bright you can effectively dim by lowering the output of the fitting by reducing the amount of current it receives from the driver (that is what dimming does) so you could swap to a 350ma driver instead.

So far so good – it still remains a small box connected to the fitting – so what is exciting?

New LED products are arriving with integral drivers – radically reduced in size and on-board – so soon you might not have to worry about little black boxes at all!

A word of caution – we know that LEDs last an age but the weakest link in many LED systems it is the driver and not the LED and the fitting itself. Simply put – a 10 degree increase in temperature can halve the life of the electronics. So the thermal dynamics of an on-board driver or one that sits on top of a fitting have to be well designed, so be vigilant and buy the best available.

So the hunt is on for a driver-less mains powered LED chip – of which Samsung (to name one) has achieved by creating an AC chip. Its early days as there is some flicker generated from the 50 hz mains power but watch this space.

Still waiting for the exciting bit?

shop-lightPhilips have developed a driver that transmits a unique identifying code in the light emitted from the fitting it’s powering. Invisible to us humans but not to a smart phone or a tablet – an app will triangulate your position within the building and follow your every move. The illustration depicts an intelligent shop lighting system where the drivers guide shoppers to their favorite bargains! A bit Big Brother for my liking…

If you need advice on drivers to suit your application – that are reliable and compatible – just call us and we will be happy to help!

How many people does it take to change an LED Light Bulb?


If there is a subject destined to bore the typical reader of this newsletter rigid – its likely to be a conversation about maintenance costs? After all – I don’t see many financial managers amongst our circulation list. However, in my view the benefits arising from the installation of LEDs in terms of lower maintenance costs is an important issue and one which you should keep at least half an eye open to!

detail_mini_tilt_rotate_image_01Saving your customers money opens opportunities for you

Increasingly we are asked to justify the  cost of LED refurbishments. The good  news is that LED as a technology is easily  accountable and delivers savings that  earlier lighting technology failed to  achieve. Yet the reduction in the cost of    the upkeep of a building – is oftenoverlooked. In effect we hold the key to introducing our customers to a real return in investment over and above the benefits of energy savings.

Is this really our role as designers?

It’s surprising to me that although on the whole most understand that installing and replacing existing lighting with an LED source will offer a lower consumption in energy – many forget that this coupled with saving hundreds of man hours in maintaining light fittings – changing lamps – is a powerful tool in increasing the profitability to a business. The issue of maintenance is not solely for a commercial property – it effects us all.

4 factors your customers need to know

1. LED has long lamp and fixture life – 15,000 hours (fluorescent territory) to 50,000 hours. The amount of regular checking and physical changing of fittings is greatly reduced.

2. Capital investment is quickly returned – refurbishment projects are easily paying for themselves in 6 months and this time period is further reduced when maintenance savings are included.

3. Business disruption decreased – If we take a retail business or a premises with day-time public access – the cost of night shift maintenance can be astronomic! Maintaining an existing halogen scheme can cost two electricians and a ladder £900 multiplied by three visits per annum.

4. LED is an intelligent technology – Modern controls systems report back the status of a fitting and can predict failure rate by knowing the number of hours spent.

lens2A final word on aesthetics. LED and lower maintenance allows us to approach the challenge of high ceilings and areas of awkward access with renewed creative inspiration. This is especially the case in older spaces and interiors where many options have been constrained in the interest of work-access. I personally delight in the use of LED strips and miniaturised spotlights on beams and within alcoves and niches.

We have many fixtures available that offer ingenious solutions to LED refurbishments and a great deal of practical advice on the development of innovative lighting schemes that have low maintenance built in.

Call us on 01279 812350 or click here for more information.