Underwater lighting

Perth 7th May 2013

One of the trickiest applications in lighting design has to be to design for underwater. Not only is water a medium that reacts differently than air, it also has a host of other challenges not encountered in your average exterior lighting applications. I am triggered too write about this subject on the back of a client enquiry asking us to put a fee proposal together to light up an underwater themed environment. While I am confident I know how to approach and conceptualise the lighting I am faced with many challenges. Firs to represent “daylight” at greater depths requires an understanding of how light breaks when it travels through water and understanding how lights fades over distances. Obviously the deeper you get the lesser the lighting penetration and the lesser the brightness.

Water acts as a lens and refracts light in different ways and directions depending on its movement. It also has a tendency to magnify so all that will need to be considered in the design approach. Simulating the various stages of daylight (sunrise, midday, sunset) will need an understanding of the geographical location in relation to seasons, sun positions and colour of the light. Because the sun/daylight is so uniform and far away we practically have to conceive one big parallel beam if we wish to reproduce a sun ray into the water. That is just for reproducing daylight underwater…

In this particular case the underwater themed environment structure has been designed with various pockets and caves not really allowing daylight simulation from outside which means we will have to come up with a strategy of introducing lighting at deeper underwater levels as if there is daylight…the additional challenge here will be installation and maintenance. I am not worried about lighting qualities and controls. Maintaining light fittings underwater is a different ball game. Lights will have to be changed and maintained under water without having to pull out the lights. There is possibly an option to have the lights accessible from outside by creating little niches with a glass window, meaning the lights are actually “dry”, but that will need further investigation.

Light Watch 4-79: As it happens SGM has just launched the worlds’ first (as they claim) outdoor (IP65) intelligent light, the G-Spot. Not submergible, but still quite a feat I would think considering all the moveable parts, bells and ringers that the fitting has.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=bJW_K9iqYqE

Also some mood images from underwater…



07. May 2013 by Martin Klaasen
Categories: light watch, lighting applications, lighting design | Leave a comment

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