Posts Tagged ‘Home lighting’

Background

In an effort to create the highest possible performance in a portable lighting product, assembling the right combination of components is essential. Obviously the process begins with an efficient LED suited to the lighting effect desired. The LED must then be matched with an efficient driver. Finally, the driver must be fed power from an efficient power supply that converts incoming AC line voltage to clean DC power. Efficiency is generally found in matching the load of the LED to a driver designed for that load with no necessary over-capacity. Then, mating the driver to an efficient power supply matched in size to the driver’s operating load is necessary to produce the highest combined efficiency. (more…)

Photo from Philips Press Release

When the electric lamp was introduced at the turn of the century, the first push for product was to create retrofit kits for gas lamps. They ran one wire down the pipe and used the pipe steel as the neutral/ground. The first fittings screwed into the gas lantern where the mantle and burner mounted. This was seen as an important first step. So was the business of creating new electric table and wall lamps that looked like candle holders, oil lamps, and gas lamps from lanterns to shaded products once shielding a glass enclosure for the flame based light source.

In 110 years since, the commercial market has abandoned all of this to use the new technologies, from incandescent to fluorescent and HID, in new product forms enabled by the technology. This is why the commercial market today is reasonably efficient, given the state of the source technologies in use. It is also why most commercial lighting will be all new product designs using SSL in new ways. While it seems retrofit PAR lamps are a good fit, in fact, most lighting upgrades are installing new products, dedicated LED product, from cove lights to display, and recessed down and troffer lighting. Most commercial products today could not exist within the limits of gas lighting, while even more cannot work without fluorescent or HID. Soon, there will be a growing range of SSL product not possible otherwise – as it should be.

On the other hand, pandering to the residential market has produced a condition where the design vocabulary remains founded on retrofitting of gas, oil, and wax light source technologies. Table lamps and sconces today in this segment would look as home in 1889 as they do today. Retrofitting these exposed lamp products with CFL has been a disastrous mix of  bad performance and horrible lighting quality. Retrofit versions of one of the only new designs to strike residential – the ceiling bent glass light – is truly awful when lamped with CFL. <br><br>I am amused and a little bewilderment that we are going to use LEDs to retrofit the electric lamps that are just retrofits of gas and oil lanterns. This causes consumers to make the direct comparison in the exact same fixture, between two technologies of completely different lineage, often resulting in dissatisfaction. Part of the failure of CFLs as retrofits, is they cannot stand up to a direct comparison with the beloved incandescent lamp, in the same product, side-by-side. New products that offer  no direct comparison, allows the new technology to deliver new value, on its own terms. The incandescent lamp is a wonderful light source, if you ignore life, fragility and energy use – which is exactly what the residential market has done for 50 years. LEDs will never produce an exactly equal one-for-one replacement, they will always be compromised as a retrofit, as the retrofit architecture compromises the technology to fit an obsolete form factor. However, there is infinite opportunity in deploying SSL products that beat incandescent lamps for light quality and aesthetics, that make the old burner lamps look like big black phenolic rotary phones.

Consumers replace old products all the time, of value well beyond that of table lamps and a few sconces. From phones and entertainment gear to cars, furniture, and homes (average stay is just 7 years, so there is no truly inseparable connection between the content of any home building), pressing for a replacement of the old lighting junk, only delays adoption. Manufacturers should be focusing on deploying products that entice customers to move from their old obsolete product to new and better energy efficient products. This has been played out in the telecommunications market, entertainment market, electronic game market, computer market, automotive market, etc… It can be put in place here, if that is made the focus. In street lighting, the leading solution selected is all new LED street lights, not retrofit lamps – for good reason – it is the best approach. Same applies to garage lighting, down-lighting, cove linear lighting, display case lighting, and a growing range of new SSL products being installed to replace obsolete incandescent, fluorescent and HID products. Change is not an issue – when it delivers good value. When retrofits are seen as the preferred solution – this indicates a failure of the market to deliver lighting products of greater value than the compromised retrofit solution.

It my own view that the money being offered by the government as a reward for creating a direct replacement lamp should be spent in stead on awarding manufacturers who innovate new and improved high efficiency lighting to replace incandescent products of all types, including delivering new products that satisfy residential aesthetic interests without continuing a third generation legacy of obsolete light sources.

I respect those pursuing quality retrofit lamp offerings, and accept that my views are not yet widely shared. However, that does not mean I agree with the approach, or promote it as a valid or desirable approach, as there is no such thing as universal truth. We should all feel free to pursue this transformational period in any way we feel is the best fit. In the end, what wins will be what sells, which will likely be a broad array of product from retrofits, to all new products that change lighting in some way.

The sooner we take on the task of moving from horses dragging wood wheel carts around dirt roads, and look ahead to putting SSL to work in new ways to deliver exciting new value, the sooner the interest in retrofit lamps will fade – just as the interest in rabbit ears on console televisions, 8 track tapes, pong games, and stand alone PDAs has. This takes a concerted and focused effort, not a short sighted vision using seemingly easy paths.

Think about this: As we discuss this issue, recognizing that the incandescent lamp is obsolete, the availability of retrofit lamps is enabling decorative residential product manufacturers to continue to make, market, and sell all new products with Edison sockets. With no pressure to change, and plenty of excuses not to, when exactly do we make the real transformation from one technology to another? While fitting retrofit lamps into valuable legacy products does make some sense – allowing new products to continue and advance this as a new product approach is ridiculous.

For these reasons, I do not directly support, nor do I support my tax money being spent on subsidizing, the advancement of retrofit lamp deployment as a priority. If it is going to exist, it should do so on its own as a short term patch, with every other effort focused on moving forward, encouraging manufacturers to move away from obsolete platforms, and rewarding innovators for leadings us into the future.

The challenge is not getting consumers at all levels to swap light bulbs in familiar products – the challenge is in creating new value that is irresistible to them, that causes the market to abandon its familiar obsolete products to capture this value for themselves. This will not come from clumsy fix ups and compromised solutions.

 

For the most part, LED work lights on the market today are useless, low grade junk. While there are one or two (literally) fair performing products, none actually replace halogen or CFL lights at all. In fact, the good old incandescent/metal cage shop light can kick the latest tecnologies tails any time. The drawbacks of a scalding hot lamp and metal shroud, lamps that pop at the slightest banging about, and the lack of any directional control are big liabilities for that old incandescent. The fluorescent lamps are not that durable either, with any rough handling resulting in a popped lamp, while start up in cold temps is sloooooooow, or not at all. Color is also pretty sad, making identification of color coded wires under a dash a bit challenging. Optically, the fluorescent stuff just blows light everywhere, often right in your eyes when your working too near one of them, with no way to control it. The LED crap on the market is poor in light output and harsh with their multiple light sources, also of really poor color. They are essentially bad copies of  cheap CFL twin tube junk.  The only thing to say good about them is they are pretty cheap, and won’t burn your face when lying next to one under a car or in a foot-well.

Design 51 is a work in process effort intending to create a real LED based shop light that can kick the incandescent and fluorescent products out of the tool box, and put the LED stuff from the catalogs to shame.  I started with the LED, in this example using a 1200lm Bridgelux LED. I applied a Lidel 50 degree optic to this. In all, at full operating temp, the light head produces over 911 lumens, with a CBCP of 1300. That’s enough power to put 134 footcandles at the center of a worksurface 36″ away, over an area of 72″ in diameter.  It also delivers over 1400Fc at 12″, so there is a hi-lo setting to the power switch, to trim light on close up tasks.

Next, since the LED operates at roughly 20 Watts, thermal management was an issue without making the head the size too large to be useful. Not only that, but shop lights tend to be used in a wide range of positions, and in various ambient temeratures. To address all of this, I used a Nuventix Synjet active cooling system. This little gadget generates moving air over a small heat sink to significantly reduce package size and thermal controllability. In this case, after operating for over 4 hours steady in the high mode, the LED never saw more than 70C, and the outer surface of the light head remains cool to the touch.

With a head in hand, I incorporated the LED driver and the Synjet power supply in the main body. Ideally this will be a single electronic assembly, but for this version, its a combination of parts. I also used a remote 24VDC power supply so the cord presents not potential shock hazard, and can be made from very flexible, fire retardant materials. The mounting attachments snap onto the main body, and provide a hook, a magnet base, a floor stand/stabilizer, and a 5/8″ tripod mount for mounting to any lightweight tripod stand. The head itself tilts a fill 270 degrees, so aiming can be made as precise as one might need. I’m going to fool with mounting gadgets as I put this to use in my own shop.

While this is by no means perfect, or economical, it is infinitely more powerful and useful as a professional tool. Something I cannot say for the rest of the LED stuff I have tested and have on hand. I need light more than I need to save a few dollars. I think D51 delivers not only usable light, but new value not available in other work lights of any source.

There are a lot more images and some more information  on this worklight-in-process at: Lumenique 52 ion 52 – Design 51

Back when many things were made here in the States, so were the tools we used. Today machinist/hobbiests and small custom shops have come to revere some of the most iconic of these tools. In lathes, South Bend holds a special place in history (the company has longs since died and become a brand for import stuff). These machines occupied machine shops, went to war, and schools. The one in this picture is a 10″ x 42″ tool room lathe. It has all the good stuff of the day, from taper attachment to driven cross slide. For me, restoring this lathe and putting it to service in our prototype shop is like restoring a classic car. There is a great deal of timelessness about this tool, and they are as tough as they come. This particular model was purchased in the 1960’s, and was worked hard for its entire life. I rebuilt it in 2009, and have just updated the task light with the design you see here.

LEDs with high performance DC drivers make excellent machine task lights. With no flicker, there is no strobe effect, and with LEDs not minding a little vibration and getting banged around a little, the issues of burned out incandescent lamps is ended. CFL retrofit lamps in this application are awful. They take too long to warm up, most flicker when lighting moving objects, and the beam intensity is miserable. Halogen is not a lot better than incandescent, and is hot.

The rework essentially replaced everything on the work light except the flexible stem and mount to the lather bed. I used a Molex/Bridgelux Helieon module and a 1A driver mounted at the base. The replaceable module allows me to change the light distribution by snapping in different modules. For example, when doing long taper work, a wider overall light pattern is great. But when working on small detail work, a spot distribution is better. With a couple modules in the drawer, this is just a quick swap.

More images of this can be found at Lumenique 52 in 52 – Design 49

How about a table lamp without the “lamp”. I’m not talking about LED retrofits made to look like incandescent lamps, or those offensive screw shaped CFLs with the lump of plastic on the base. I am talking about tossing all of that and concealing the light source altogether, allowing the shade to produce a soft indirect light. No glare, no heat, and energy efficiency all rolled into one.

This design utilizes a 7.2W GE Vio LED, operated at 350mA, with an integral dimmer in the base. The LED is hidden in the cup at the top of the stem, over the heat sink. Yes, the heat sink could have been hidden completely as well, but for this exercise I liked the way it looked, so left it exposed. The shade is a simple paper shade made from White Optics material to demonstrate how effective a shade can be with the right reflective material in use.

The main body of this particular design is English Walnut, with polished aluminum and white accents.

More images and details can be seen at Lumenique 52 in 52 – Design 43

Design 41

This slender design is intended to be located at the rear of a table near a wall. By selecting a 3 light or 7 lights on configuration, the light generated into the room is changed, as is the light pattern on the wall. Top see the effect and more details on this design, visit Lumenique 52 in 52 – D41

Design 42

D42 is an experiment in an up-light style picture light that is very small in scale, with a glowing presence. With the light source facing upward, there is less chance of the light source being reflected in the art, while the upward light pattern creates a nice ambient light in the space. For more on this, visit Lumenique 52 in 52 – D42

 

Here’s another take on the theatrical theme, this time with a zooming feature that allows it to be adjusted from spotlight to floodlight, or anything in between. Just slide the forward snoot body in and out. The single element lens and a unique internal optical mixing chamber using White Optics and Rosco diffusing film that blends the light and diffuses it before it is sent through the lens creates a soft edged pattern without pattern edge color fringing, with a soft drop-off surround. The Bridgelux ES array inside produces a very nice color, working perfectly as the source for a diffuse pre-mix optic system.

Want more to look at? Check the entry out at Lumenique 52 in 52 – Design 40