Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Government's Part L decision due by July

Changes to Part L of the building regulations, including a decision about LENI, will be announced by July, in a report from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The possible introduction in Part L of the lighting energy numerical indicator benchmark, known as LENI, as an alternative to minimum luminaire lumens per circuit watt, would be a major departure for the government.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for DCLG said: “We are expecting to make an announcement about Part L in June, or July at the latest.”

LENI is an index that describes the energy used by a lighting system over the course of a year, measured in kilowatt hours, per square meter, per year. The campaign for LENI has echoed calls from industry bodies such as the SLL, IALD, PLDA and LIA to have LENI in Part L, which takes into account consumed energy rather than installed load.  

The lighting industry had been expecting the government department to announce Part L changes in April, after positive responses to a public consultation about LENI were published at the end of last year.

Peter Raynham of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) said: “It’s good to know they’re back on track. We thought there would be an announcement in April. At the end of the year, politicians were talking about having a bonfire of the regulations to help the construction industry. It’s a big step forward that they’re going to take. I’ve seen positive responses to the consultation. I don’t think a red line will be put through LENI. I think it is being seriously considered.”

Friday, 5 April 2013

Turn your lamps down low...

The incompatibility of legacy dimming systems originally designed for use with incandescent lamps is causing headaches for lighting designers when they use them with LEDs. Nick Martindale reports and collects some best practice tips
Over the past few years LEDs have emerged as a viable means of enabling clients to save energy while giving lighting designers flexibility and the scope for greater creativity. Yet for many designers and customers there is a flaw: the thorny issue of dimming, particularly when attempting to retrofit LED lamps or luminaires into existing mains-dimmable systems.

For Peter Veale, co-director of Firefly Lighting Design, this has become an issue of late. “When a manufacturer comes in to show us their wares my first question is to ask whether they dim,” he says. “They say we can have any dimming we want, and that used to reassure me.
“But, after a particular project last year, where the LEDs weren’t dimming as much as we or the client had hoped, we now have to go a bit further and ask if we can have a sample of the driver we would get if we specified it, so that we can test it,” he adds. “A lot of clients have been in the halogen world and are now using LEDs and expect them to dim in a halogen way. But that’s not necessarily the case.”
James McKenzie, chief executive of LED solutions provider Photonstar, says the whole industry has made heavy weather of the dimming issue by attempting to support legacy systems such as trailing and leading edge that were originally designed for incandescent lighting. One problem is that of minimum load – the point where legacy dimmers cannot cope with the low power required by LEDs – while the quality of the dimmers themselves can also cause problems in an LED world.

Minimum load

“LED drivers are having to get incredibly sophisticated in a bid to guess what dimmer you’re going to use with the system,” he says. “It’s not just the dimmer that’s the problem, either. The wiring can create extra rings that the dimmer manufacturer doesn’t have a clue about. You have to ask why we’re trying to dim LEDs using an incandescent dimmer.”

The issue of minimum load is a particular problem with LED lamps, which often have an integrated driver and electronics combined with the LEDs themselves, says Peter van der Kolk, business development director at controls manufacturer Helvar UK.
“In many cases these LED lamps use phase-cut dimmable technology, which was originally optimised for conventional light sources, such as tungsten and halogen,” he says.

Alan Hayllar, engineering director at Mode Lighting (UK), says the problem has been made worse by the failure of LED manufacturers and distributors to confirm which products will dim, and to what extent. “Many of the LED manufacturers claim dimmability, sometimes with certain caveats, but many products do not fully live up to that claim,” he says. “If they stated they could be dimmed but also specified any limitation, it would enhance the reputation of LED products in the market.”

Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International – the brand owner of Megaman – suggests that only the “more serious industry players” are prepared to put in the legwork and provide accurate compatibility lists, but also points to the lack of a standard for phase-cut dimming.

“When making a lamp, because there is no standard for the dimming circuit it is going to run on, the only way to know if it will dim correctly on a circuit is to put it into a luminaire and see if it works,” he says. “In the worst cases, the lamp won’t work at all, but more commonly you may get unstable operation at lower dimming levels.”

As a partial solution, designers are sometimes advised to install resistors or even phantom loads to ensure transformers are able to detect the LEDs.

“We’ve talked to lighting controls people who have suggested putting in a ghost load, like a bulb in the ceiling, but that seems a bit detrimental if we’re trying to be energy-efficient,” says Veale. “I might suggest it as a last resort but I’d hope we could get transformers that could take a very low load.”

Compatibility issues

The issues of minimum load and lack of compatibility are not confined to lamps.

“Despite luminaires and downlighter fittings having more room for the electronic driver, they appear to be just as difficult to dim,” says Julian Kay, managing director of controls firm Danlers. “The only way to determine whether any lamp, dimmer and ballast combination will be successful is to carry out detailed analysis of the electrical waveforms.”
Guy Simmonds, head of sustainable solutions (Europe) at Lutron, warns that compatibility can be a significant factor in the overall performance of an installed scheme.

“One of the complexities is that there are two factors to consider: the compatibility between the LED driver and the control, but also between the driver and the lamp,” he says. “Everything needs to be working together in order to maximise performance for the designer and end-user.”

Controls protocols

The use of controls protocols such as DALI, DMX, DSI and 1-10V goes some way to alleviating these issues, with the dimming carried out by the ballast itself and the dimmer only acting as a controller, particularly in new installations.

“The use of controls protocols allows the employed electronics – drivers and ballasts – to control the lighting in an optimal manner for efficiency, long life and performance, whereas mains phase dimming compromises the ability of the electronics,” says Jason Ford, project manager for lighting management systems at Osram.

Even this is not without problems, however. Darren Orrow, director of lighting design consultancy Into, points out that on 1-10V with a good driver, LED and controller combination it should be possible to achieve minimum dim levels of 2-5 per cent of maximum brightness.

However, some combinations may only allow an LED to dim to 10 per cent of its maximum level, and this will need to be borne in mind at specification stage.

“DMX, DALI and mains dimming where remote drivers are used will allow you to dim lower, to 0-3 per cent of the maximum level, depending on the combination, but there are different costs associated with such dimming systems and compatible drivers,” he says.

But, on mains dimming where the driver is integral to the LED lamp dim, levels below 5 per cent are sometimes not achievable without instability, he adds.

The whole area has become such a headache that his firm has had to employ a full-time technical manager whose job it is to ensure compatibility.

Test samples

For now, the best designers and specifiers can do is to ask manufacturers for accurate information on compatibility or request samples of equipment so they can run their own tests before they make any purchase.

For McKenzie, though, there’s also a role to play in educating clients, possibly steering them away from dimming altogether.

“People mostly dim to save energy and they’re already doing that by installing LEDs,” he says.

In the longer term, he adds, the easy retrofit might be to replace the switch plate with something that could talk wirelessly to the fittings, thereby bringing down the cost of the more expensive protocols by making them less difficult to install.

In the short term, though, lighting specifiers will have to make the best of a bad situation.

“LED dimming compatibility is only likely to get worse on existing installations using phase cut dimmers, as more people transfer their incandescent lamps to LEDs,” says Bass. “In the long term, the only way that people are going to overcome this will be to replace their existing dimmer with a more LED-compatible model if they want the best of both worlds: energy-efficient lighting from LEDs and dimming.”


Because there are so many variables in LED dimming, it is difficult to produce a definitive checklist for lighting specifiers. So Lighting teamed up with the specialists quoted in this feature to highlight five tips which apply across the board:
  •  Manufacturer advice on compatibility is not exhaustive. Request a sample and test it yourself. 
  • Remember that with luminaires or downlighters you will need compatibility between the driver and the lamp, as well as dimmer and the driver. 
  • Consider the use of controls protocols such as 1-10V, DMX or DALI in new builds or large refurbishments. 
  • Be conscious that certain systems will not dim all the way down. If you want complete dimming, use DMX, mains or DALI with the correct drivers. 
  • Ask clients if they really need to dim. If it’s for energy- efficiency reasons, point out they will use far less energy than before, even without dimming. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

ChromaWhite, Colour Tunable LED Light Source

ChromaWhite™ advanced colour mix technology takes LED to the next level of creativity, reliability and possible applications. It is the first widely colour tunable light source to provide exceptional colour rendering (including the challenging R9/reds), suited to the most demanding applications such as retail, medical and art.

Chip on board technology with active feedback using a direct measurement of key parameters offers ultimate control and performance. 

  • Lumenloc™ - Active luminous flux stability and control
  • CRIloc™ - Active colour quality, monitoring and control
  • Thermaloc™ - Active thermal monitoring and protection
  • Colourloc™ -Active colour stability and control
  • Innovate™ - High thermal performance "Chip on Board" technology    

ChromaWhite, High CRI (Colour Rendering Index)

ChromaWhite™ advanced colour mix technology delivers a peak colour rendering or Ra97, but never below Ra90 across the white tuning range*, providing superior colour.

Superior colour rendering

ChromaWhite™ advanced colour mix technology delivers a peak colour rendering of Ra97, but never falling below Ra90 across the white tuning range*, providing superior colour perception. Chromawhite™ colour mix technology achieves a CRI of >Ra 90 across the tuning range*, compared to a typical CRI of Ra over 80 for high quality fixed white LED products. Typically the colour rendering index evaluates only the first 8 colour reference samples of the conventional CIE test method for CRI. ChromaWhite™ is optimised to deliver excellent results for the more saturated and skin colour samples of the CRI reference set. For the deep red R9 reference sample, a value of >92 is achieved at 3000K, 4000K and 5000K in all versions. These results are on a par with tungsten halogen lamps and outperform other conventional LED solutions as well as compact fluorescent and metal halide lamps.   

ChromaWhite™ Versions

Software within the controller enables ChromaWhite™ to behave in many ways, creating different versions suited to a variety of applications:  

  • ChromaWhite™ VCCT - White colour tunable "Compact LED Light Engine"
  • ChromaWhite™ Tungsten H - High CRI - Warms when dimmed - Active colour control

Proven in challenging applications

The Chromawhite™ colour mix technology has been thoroughly proven in the challenging film and tv environment where the sensitivity of cameras requires CRI>Ra98 and benefits from a tuneable source. This same technology has now been developed further for use in architectural lighting, winning EoN Light Source of the Year, Light Association Light Source of the Year (x2) and visitors choice at the ARC Innovation awards.

Read more about the ChromaWhite technology here.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

PhotonStar LED Ltd. Light Scandic Grand Central Hotel in Stockholm.

The Scandic Grand Central, Stockholm’s most talked about hotel, opened in November 2011 following a large redesign on the Grand City Palace. 

The impressive renovation featured the complete replacement of the buildings existing lighting with state-of-the-art LEDs.

The redesign on the building fully met its brief and overcame any challenges concerning the lighting design.

The lighting succeeded in highlighting the vintage appearance and cultural d├ęcor of the hotel, whilst achieving a cosy atmosphere.

The lighting installed was energy efficient, benefiting the hotel not only because of it’s round the clock availability but also because of Sweden’s natural lack of daylight; the lighting could be used constantly without exhausting huge amounts of energy.