Thursday, 14 August 2014

Do we want invisible light?

I went to a talk about energy efficient lighting on Tuesday given by Dr Charlotte Louise Jensen, a Danish researcher who wrote a PhD on the subject. She spoke about her experiences interviewing householders in Denmark about their lighting systems and how they use them. It is quite possible to use energy efficiency light bulbs in a very inefficient way (I have seen a bedroom lit by a grid of recessed ceiling lights, which would have used 80W even with LEDs). She suggested that to get the best from energy efficient lighting we need to learn about the new technology, experiment and share our ideas. Here are some ideas to share.

I used to think in terms of bulbs and lamp shades. The bulb provides the light and the shade reduces the glare and makes it look pretty. But shades absorb a lot of the light - this is not efficient. CFL lights don't produce glare anyway so we only need a shade for prettiness, or to shape the light beam.
Lamp with shade from The shade reduces glare but also significantly reduces the light.

Do we want lighting to look pretty of itself or are we happy for it to be invisible? A grid of recessed ceiling lights is designed to produce consistent lighting everywhere without drawing attention to itself. A crystal chandelier on the other hand is most definitely designed to catch the eye as a demonstration of the wealth and good taste of the owner. For lighting different sorts of artwork you need a spot that is unobtrusive.

Lighting panels from - unobtrusive. (But let's hope these panels are switched individually, otherwise it is not very controllable.)

This crystal chandelier from is a work of art of itself.

Not very obtrusive spots on artwork from
If we don't want our lighting to be invisible, maybe we should we forget the traditional designs and start again. We want the mounting to support and enhance the light, not reduce it.  Here are two examples of designers working creatively with new technology.
A CFL bulb unravelled - from
This one has LED light strips on the arms of the, er, shape. Also from It is called the Kroon.
In fact with bulbs that last as long as LEDs, it makes sense to buy the light and mounting together. There is no reason for us to buy bulbs separately, when the bulbs last as long as the light fitting. We need bulbs for the time being which we switch over, as it is far too expensive to replace every light fitting in the house with a new one. However, I predict in the future we will just choose new lights, and the old bulbs will only be needed for 'retro' lamps.

1 comment:

  1. Does energy saving light bulbs efficient enough to light the entire bedroom without seeing a spike in the electric bill? Save now with Omni Lightings


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