Renaissance Lighting Downlight

Posted: December 1, 2008 in Reviewed - Good Performers
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Renaissance Lighting has one of the most attractive LED downlights on the market today.

The deep reflector, invisible LEDs, and excellent optical mixing set this downlight apart from all others.

The deep reflector, invisible LEDs, and excellent optical mixing set this downlight apart from all others.

Renaissance utilizes a patented optical design that locates the LEDs in a ring array around the perimeter of an optical mixing chamber (dome). This unique approach has several intriguing advantages. First, in RGB color applications, the light from the LEDs is blended thoroughly before exiting the optic aperture, where it is directed by the lower reflector component. The result is no pixelation from  LEDs and a very usable downlight distribution with both reasonable focus, zero glare, and excellent cutoff control.

This section shows the arrangement of the mixing chamber, LEDs and lower reflector.

This section shows the arrangement of the mixing chamber, LEDs and lower reflector.

In addition to this, for color applications, Renaissance Lighting incorporates a factory calibrated active feedback control that continuall monitors light color and adjusts RGB balance to maintain a set point established by the control, referenced the CIE Chromaticity standards. White light of virtually any shade can be replicated using this system, although the CRI of RGB systems is not as good as white light LEDs.

White light products are less sophisticated. However, the use of the mixing chamber essentially erases any difference between individual LED brightness or color, producing a smooth, consistent color from luminaire to luminaire.

Color effects can be controlled using their proprietary controls or DMX512, while white light products are dimmable using 0-10V controls.

These products install exactly like a standard downlight, and are self contained, with power supply, driver, and controls electronics integrated into the product, requiring only a power connection and controls interface (Class 2). There are two sizes of product available, a 4″ size (actually 4.5″) and a 6.5″ size.

Although an outstanding product overall, there are a few snags to be worked out. First, in white light applications, the controls between the 4″ product and 6.5″ product are not compatible with one another, which makes combining the two sizes on one project with a common wall box or dimming system controls problematic. Future versions of these products will likely resolve this. Second, there are no options for installing these luminaires in insulated ceiling applications, as airflow over the heat sink section of the products is essential to keep internal temperatures under control. Lastly, since the lower reflector is part of the optical system, selection of finishes is limited and effects light distribution. This is similar to the limitations of CFL downlights. Thankfully, the reflector finishes offered are top quality and attractive.

Now for energy efficiency. in 3,000k white, the 4″ product consumes 29 watts and generates 407 lumens, for a luminaire efficacy of 14.1 L/W. This is not very impressive compared to Cree’s new LR4, which offers similar optical appearance and control, standard dimming interface, and 540 lumens at 11 watts, for a luminaire efficacy of 49 L/W. The cost of the LR4 is also lower for the complete lighting package, and includes color control electronics. The Renaissance 6.5″ product produces an impressive 1131 lumens at 3,000k in the white version, consuming 51.4 watts, for a luminaire efficacy of 22 lumens per watt. While this is not earth shattering compared to the Cree LR6 (see feature), the optical control of the Renaissance Lighting product is superior, and more attractive.

For Color, the Renaissance Lighting Downlight has no equal. The blending optic, combined with the companies controls electronics produces an outstanding applied result. The aperture color matches the light exiting the luminaire, the lighting effect on the wall surfaces and into the room is smooth and striation free, with no color patterning visible anywhere. The light output of the RGB versions is considerably less, as is efficacy. However, the applied efficacy of these products against an incandescent luminaire with color filters, or a CFL product with colored lenses, is superior. Due to the unique character of LED color mixing, efficacy remains relatively consistent, while color filters applied to any other source results in dramatic reductions in performance.

Recommendation rating = White Light – 8 of 10; Color – 10 of 10. As the company deploys updates to these products, in both controls capability and performance, recommendation for the white light product will improve.

Actual product performance against manufacturer claims = 10 of 10. Renaissance has not misrepresented its products, and provides a complete package of information needed for specification information on its web site.

Company Web site: Renaissance Lighting

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