Are we loosing our way?

Singapore 27th February 2012

A few days ago I had a very interesting discussion with an up and coming young lighting designer. She told me that all her projects were based around the LED technology and that she had yet to do a project as a lighting designer using “conventional” lighting systems. She confessed having no experience in either halogen or metal halide lighting technology. It came as a real wake up call to me, as I immediately thought; how can someone without that experience give a client an informed recommendation if it comes to a business investment, more precisely evaluating the cost-benefit of a conventional versus a LED based lighting solution? Even more how can the client make an informed decision about his investment? Is this it? Are we done with conventional lighting?

Just take façade lighting for instance. Does everything need to be LED? Why use 1000+ LED lighting points if you could light up the whole façade with 10 Metal Halide floodlights, easy to reach, easy to maintain (though probably more frequently) and most probably lesser energy consumed! We forget that by replacing Metal Halide with LED we replace 1x 2000W with for argument sake 200 14W LED strips. Yes the effect is of course different, I know, but just think of installation cost (200 points at sometimes impossible locations versus 1 easy reachable point). The question to be asked is if we really need a multi dynamic media façade on each and every building that is being designed? Maybe using some traditional flood lighting used creatively, may help to stand out more against the current cacophony of all those loud LED screens. When I look at my Orchard Park Suites façade floodlighting that is now standing tall for over 15 years already against the new Ion Orchard shopping mall with its multi- million LED façade lighting, I think my $100,000+ metal halide lighting still looks damn good and outstanding.

All this requires a total overview and understanding of the options we have as a lighting designer as to provide our clients with a balanced and informed recommendation. With the new generation of lighting designers only being familiar with LED lighting technology are we not running the risk that we are losing our way and even creating clients that do not know anything other than that LED is the solution to all their worries?

Light Watch 3-26: Pictures of the “conventionally” lit Orchard Park Suites contrasted against the LED lit Ion Orchard Shopping Mall.  The contrast is big! The last picture of Orchard Park Suites was taken on completion of the project in early 90’s with no shopping mall in front :)!

27. February 2012 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: city beautification, light watch, lighting applications, lighting design, lighting of the future | Leave a comment

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