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To LED or not to LED…

The LED debate continues. We hear the views of some key figures in the industry.

Many designers are jumping on the LED bandwagon, and wanting to use them because they think they are the best solution. Sometimes they are, but sometimes they aren’t. Douglas James, director of Mindseye Lighting, hears it everyday: ‘The client wants to use LED. OK, so if the client wanted to use gas lamps would we all just get on with it? No. As professionals, we advise the client on the suitability, or otherwise, of their suggestions. ‘First and foremost, be sure that you

are using them for the right reasons. There are a lot of architects and designers (possibly even some lighting designers) who are using LED where they are really not the best solution.’ On the good side, James says they are

great for long life, small in size, and tend not to throw much heat forward onto the subject of the lighting, plus they are energy efficient: ‘For somewhere close to the output of a 50W dichroic halogen reflector lamp, one can expect to be using 15W-20W of LED.’

On the bad side James says: ‘In most cases at the moment LED is not a realistic substitute for something as efficient, straight forward, and effective as fluorescent for example. Often an analysis will show that the energy savings involved in LED versus say, T5 18

fluorescent, is not as great as one might think. Trying to match the output is often quite tricky. Getting enough light can require more equipment than you might expect. Heatsinking often isn’t as well done as it should be. Also, LEDs are often integrated directly into the body luminaire with no way of replacing them if they fail.’

On the ugly side, James says ‘most LED systems have poor colour rendering so spaces can look weird if you are not careful with specification. Always use the best possible quality. Colour consistency across batches of LED is still a huge problem. Be careful using them where they will be lighting something obvious like a flat white wall; you can find pink to green tints even within the same fitting. LEDs are quite directional; you can end up with too much light in one part of a

space and an unintentionally high contrast scheme. Also for the same reason you can find very heavy ‘scalloping’ when what you may have imagined is an even wash of light. ‘In short, specify with care. Quality is

really worth paying for where LEDs are concerned. Make sure you really need them for the application you have, and try to ensure that there is a way to maintain the fittings once installed. Think about the implications for the owner/occupier of the space.’ Mike Barratt, commercial director UK &

Nordic at GE Lighting, believes that LED technology has proven itself as a front runner in the future of energy efficient lighting. However, he is aware that as the technology progresses and LEDs are being utilised across a host of different sectors, the result has been an onslaught

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