Perth, 5th April 2010
I woke up to the news of an (7.2 on the Richter scale) earthquake in Los Angeles last night. There does not seem to be major damages or casualties but reporters were talking about the swaying of the buildings and specifically the swaying and flickering of the lights. Now I have never been close to any earthquake (I have been in Singapore at times that an earthquake hit neighboring Indonesia, but never noticed anything, only reading about it in the newspaper the next day) but I imagine it to be pretty scary.
Architecture nowadays is build to withstand earthquakes which brings up the question whether lighting is? I have been involved with designing lighting for explosion proof environments, but never had a brief in regards to earthquake lighting design. I can only imagine that fixing and vibration issues would be the two key elements to consider.
Many years back I was involved in the lighting design of a luxury cruise ship (The New Amsterdam) in a time where most liners would be equipped with incandescent lights. However at the time of the design compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) had just made its entry in the world of lighting, so we embarked on developing our lighting design aroundCFL. The main consideration to apply the CFL besides the obvious energy saving and longer life span was its non-sensitivity to vibrations! As you can imagine a cruise ship vibrates constantly because of its engines and from experience we knew incandescent lamps were struggling to make 500 hours. Test carried out on board ships confirmed zero impact of vibrations on the CFL, whereas the filament of the incandescent lamp would easily break. Not surprisingly the lighting design at the time won the team and myself an IES/NA Lighting Design Award of Merit.
So I would say that CFL (and now probably LED) would be the way to go in quake prone areas.