Archive for the ‘Lighting Science’ Category

LEDs are upwards of 80 percent more efficient than incandescent lights, but they comprise only a very small percent of retail sales.  One research report I read says LED is less than 10% of retail bulb sales.  With all the “talk” about greener codes and standards, better energy management, and general awareness of environmental issues, why the dichotomy?

As a designer, I see two major issues holding the consumer back.

First, there is the technology itself.  There are lots of choices available on shelves with different bulb types, light output, beam width, and color temperature.  The choices can be confusing.  If not done correctly, this can lead to a lot of expense with sub-par results.

Color temperatures between 2700K and 3000K provide the warmth familiar to most homeowners, while temperatures between 4000K and 5000K work well for mostly interior daylit rooms. LEDs with a color rendering index (CRI) exceeding 80 will produce the best color output.

There are a number of performance and testing websites to help get accurate information on LED products, including the Department of Energy, but the best way is working with a professional and doing on site testing for your specific application.  Every home exterior and interior is different and one light that works well in one case, may not work as well in another.  Height and width of object lit, distance from object, area size, all will impact the final result.

The second objection is price.  When we discuss an outdoor lighting system, LED can add as much as a 20% surcharge to the overall system price.  LED bulbs are more expensive than their incandescent counterparts and this has a direct effect on consumer acceptance and adoption rates.

Some interesting research worth noting.  In 2002, a study by D&R Research found that about 10% of the homes had converted to some form of efficient lighting.  By 2012, this number had increased to nearly 30%.  Their forecast stated that in another 10 years, the percent of homes with energy efficient lighting would be around 60%.

What this means is that manufacturers will be able to mass produce product and prices will begin to fall.  We’ve seen this repeatedly in the past (i..e. computers) when technology gains widespread acceptance.

Prices will fall, technology continues to improve.  With multi-year warranties and decade long lifespans, LEDs have made lamps a long-term investment that can exceed the life expectancy of the fixture it illuminates.  Whether you do it yourself, or work with a professional, researching the right LED product is time well spent.  The results of lower energy consumption and reduced ongoing maintenance costs are real and available today.


Read Full Post »

LED or Halogen outdoor lighting

Which outdoor lighting is right for you, LED or low-voltage halogen? In short, either can work and make your home look beautiful with the right outdoor lighting design. At Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, we work with our clients and their budgets needs and goals to recommend the best fixtures for your property. Both have their pros and cons, but both have the ability to highlight all the best parts of your property.

What the image above shows is that when done right, and with the right fixtures, LED and halogen lights can create the same desired effect. You’ll notice the color of both bulbs is very similar, and that’s because of the quality. High quality low voltage and LED lighting will both have a color rendering index, or CRI of over 80, which is what’s needed for outdoor lighting applications. Make sure you check your fixtures CRI as older technologies, LED specifically, may produce a substandard light.

Energy efficiency is important when choosing an outdoor lighting fixture. For residential lighting, LED takes the cake on being the more energy-efficient and longer lasting than halogen cutting down on maintenance costs as well. Even on properties where we primarily use halogen lights, we will recommend LED outdoor fixtures for those in hard to reach areas like up in trees or on the peaks of the home. The reason? To cut down on maintenance and the cost to repair it if something goes wrong. With LED you can install it and forget about it (for a while at least).

Where halogen fixtures come out on top is the initial price. Halogen’s initial price is reasonable where the LED’s can be rather expensive depending on what you need.

If you have questions on different types of outdoor lighting technologies or what would work best on your property, contact our office at 512-247-1815.

Read Full Post »

Posted by JaneGWalker on February 1st, 2012 @ 9:02 PM

If you’ve never visited Washington D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood, you’re missing out. It’s beautiful and has something for everyone to enjoy: great restaurants, eclectic shops, delicious bakeries, gorgeous parks and more. In the Georgetown area you can find the Washington Harbour, which provides luxury condos, offices, shops and restaurants along the Potomac River. On a nice day residents and visitors alike can watch boats pass on the river and enjoy views of the Kennedy Center and Watergate.

Difference between Induction and LED lightingThe Washington Harbour’s new induction lighting compared to compact florescent

Outdoor Lighting Perspectives recently started working with the Washington Harbour on retrofitting their architectural and security lighting. When the weather is nice, the Washington Harbour hosts a number of outdoor events and needed better outdoor lighting to improve the atmosphere and security at night.

To cut down on the Harbour’s energy and maintenance costs, induction lighting is being used on the project’s retrofit of existing fixtures. Induction lighting isn’t as well known as LED lighting, but it is even more energy efficient and makes more sense for a lot of commercial applications like parking lots and garages, street lighting, etc. For the Washington Harbour, induction lighting reduces their overall energy consumption and is cutting down on their maintenance costs because induction bulbs last for up to 22 years! Check out some of the other benefits of commercial induction lighting compared to other technologies on our outdoor lighting comparison chart.

Induction Lighting Versus LED LightingInduction Lighting gives a brighter white light than CFL and LED

Although saving money and energy alone is a great reason to consider retrofitting existing commercial fixtures, it doesn’t mean that we have to compromise on the aesthetics of the project. In the image to the right, you can see the white light of induction lighting in comparison to the orange/yellow light of a depreciated CFL bulb. The white light improved the light quality of the Harbour’s buildings because it’s brighter than CFL, but it also gave them a consistent color output throughout the harbour. The color of CFL and LED bulbs may shift and change over time, whereas induction will remain steady from fixture to fixture.

Induction lighting and its’ reliable white light and longevity increases safety in areas like the Washington Harbour. The light is more pleasing the eye, allowing people to more clearly see where they are walking, biking, etc.

We are really excited about the Induction lighting project at the Washington Harbour because of all the benefits it provides for residents and visitors to the area. If you need help in planning, designing and installing a commercial lighting project, or just have more questions on what is best for you, please visit our commercial outdoor lighting website or call us at 800-447-1112.

Read Full Post »

With the temperature in Austin dancing around the freezing point, I remember as a child asking my mother what color icicles were? Some times they looked white. Some times they looked a little blue or a little green or a little red. I remember a moment on a very cold day when we opened the door from our house that was buzzing with the sound of the heat running and watched amazed as frost in the shape of intricate ice fans quickly cascaded across the glass door. As they did, I told my mother the color of each ice formation. Not wanting to squelch my enthusiasm, my mother didn’t mention to me that the ice was merely reflecting the colors around it.

stones color rendering index

stones color rendering index

Now that I design with light, I often have the opportunity to discuss the color of light with my customers. We often talk about the Color Rendering Index or CRI. As defined by Wikipedia, the Color Rendering Index is the ability of a light source to reproduce the colors of various objects faithfully in comparison with an ideal or natural light source. So, think about looking at a white marble wall during the day. What colors would you see? In addition to white, you would likely see sparkles of silver and shades of gray. If you looked at a wooden fence during the day, you would see the apparent color of the fence but you would also see subtle color variations related to the primary color.

Color of wood color rendering index CRI

Color of wood color rendering index CRI

Now envision looking at that same white marble or brown wooden fence at night. We might expect that the white marble would appear gray and the dark brown wood of the fence would look dark gray or nearly black. That is a function of the color rendering index. The ability of the light source to represent the color as it would with a natural light source such as the light of day depends on the quality of the artificial light source which is the light bulb.

Color of trees - color rendering index CRI

Color of trees - color rendering index CRI

Often when we go on lighting demonstrations and the homeowner has existing outdoor lighting that they know they want to replace, we talk about and show them things like the yellow of the light they are using. The goal of good outdoor lighting should be to faithfully render the color of the item as it would look during the day or with a natural light source. Look at the pictures you see here. If you look at the picture of this tree, you can see the true green of the leaves that you would expect to see during the day. You can also see various other shades of green. This light (our light) has a very high CRI because it faithfully renders the colors you would see in natural light.

Another thing you want to look for with outdoor lighting is the ability to see nuances such as flat patterns and depth. Can you see the knots in the wood? Can you see the subtle elevations of a stamped concrete?

Michael Wynn, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Michael Wynn, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

The quartz halogen bulbs we use with our outdoor lighting has a tremendously high CRI. Take a look at your outdoor lighting if you have some. Examine the colors of the items that are being illuminated. Are they gray? Are they yellow? Do they render faithfully?


Outdoor Lighting Perspectives

Read Full Post »