Singapore 10th May 2011
One of the most challenging applications in terms of lighting design has to be the lighting for water features. First of all lighting, electricity and water do not really mix. Secondly the extreme conditions of being underwater, with heat generation in an enclosed and sealed environment really is putting high demands on the design of the fitting and lastly the corroding nature of water eventually mixed with chemicals also require the highest quality of materials and finishes. It is therefore not surprising that very little lighting manufacturers venture in this type of light fittings. Many manufacturers produce high IP – rated light fittings, IP65 to 68 types, but most of them are not really suitable for full and permanent submersion. Some can only withstand water pressure up to a certain depth.
Today I had a really interesting meeting with a company specialised in the manufacture of water features and who is now in the process of developing a great range of LED water based fixtures, a logical step, right? But the key to underwater fixtures is the installation. Having prototypes that produce a cool lighting effect is nice but that is only half the work. Specifically under water the installation is critical. Recess mounting in pool walls, base mount on pool floors, linear arrangements, etc. The main challenge is the power supply to the lights and the ability to maintain the light fittings from an underwater position. In addition the underwater fixtures need easily installable casings that be fixed neatly. Many underwater lights currently available are rough, big and cumbersome, often not a pretty sight. But with the coming of age of LED lighting many new opportunities are presenting themselves to develop neat small and really flat lights (easy to embed, recess or attach), lights that can be incorporated in water spouts and other water features without the bulky attachments and brackets.
In Light Watch today one of those under water attractions that would not see the light of day if not for lighting: Under Water World. There are many of those around the world. One is located in Singapore’s Sentosa island; the aquarium has a glass tunnel that warps around the aquarium under water. Lighting has to be designed such that it looks and feels like daylight. Most of all bring out the beautiful colours of the many fish, coral and other under water species.
Light Watch 87: Sentosa’s Under Water World