Perth, 30th December 2009
One of the big challenges we have as lighting designers is to properly specify the light fittings we believe we need to do the job right. Most of the time we start with the lighting effect we want to achieve and work backwards to the light fitting that will do the job. Sometimes we cant find the right fitting and have to customize a light fitting for the purpose. At least that is how I work… I visualize the spatial lighting effect and then look for the fitting that will achieve the desired effect. Once in a while it is the other way around when I find a light fitting with a lighting effect that I really like and then look in how I could use it in my project.
Now most of the traditional lamps and light fittings have straight forward technical specifications and we know how to document the required specification. But with LED lighting we have come into a new and partly unknown terrain. Many manufacturers are still coming to grabs with what constitutes the right LED specifications from color characteristics, life span to beam angles. Not to forget the addition of control software required to drive the LED. Specifically the color issues (binning!) and life time seem some way away of being resolved clearly. No manufacturer to my knowledge has yet been able to really establish 50,000 hrs of testing, so no wonder life span of LEDs have gradually reduced from 100,000 to 50,000 with now some manufacturers only claiming 15,000 hrs.
My point is that vigilance is very much needed when we go about LED specification and we should certainly use our expertise to educate our clients about these issues in order not to create false expectations.