LED’s versus CFL’s

If you are considering a renovation, lighting can make a huge different in how a space is perceived. Since energy efficiency is a given, thanks to the Star Energy certificate in pretty much any available product, the key to redesign should be based on the level of illumination.

LED’s (Light Emitting Diodes) as a source of illumination for residential and commercial projects, have come to all facets of lighting. Fluorescent sources have a much more limited lamp life than LEDs, have little flexibility, and don’t work well in cold temperatures. One product first introduced for residential projects in 2010, the versatile Progress Lighting Step Lights, performs indoor and outdoor even in extreme weather.

Panel lighting and fixtures that are enclosed around the lamp, like the reflectors commonly used in recessed lighting, provide an excellent source for ambient and task lighting. One advantage to retrofitted LEDs, is the spread beam of directed light, versus a relative broad beam spread by fluorescents. Additionally, LEDs equivalent lumen efficacy (Lumen/watt) make them a great choice for recessed fixtures.

Optionally, CFL’s light output, long life, color variety, and energy efficiency make them well worth considering on any project, since they can be incorporated into wall sconces, pendants, and wall-wash luminaries. The many alluring “peachy hues” or colors available in fluorescent, work well in the home, although they are not the best at color rendering, provided that you need a higher UV rendition to be used in the work space, for improved visual acuity and accuracy.

product-comparativeFinally, even though LED’s and CFL alike transfer almost all of the energy directly to light, resulting in very little heat loss, consider the higher lumen output from LED: around 90 lm/w from a LED lamp versus a typical 60 lm/w from a compact fluorescent.

When it comes to efficacy (the ratio of the lumens emitted by a light source to the electrical power supplied, lumens/W), lifespan, and the ability to show colors accurately or color rendering, LED bulbs continue to present a unique and rapid pace in development for general lighting applications.


Spaces built for life

Natural light is both, physically and psychologically, rewarding to people, contributing to our health, productivity, and well-being.  Most artificially lit environments have uniform lighting. Light in the natural world, however, is about the layering of light from multiple directions: strong directional light mingling with softer diffuse light, white light with subtle tints picked up from the sky, and reflecting surfaces.

The sensation of brightness is subjective, a relative assessment based on the surrounding light conditions and the conditions we have recently experienced. Our built-in assessment of this perception is an ongoing evaluation, as it is constantly adjusting to suit our surroundings.inclusive_spacesA person who has spent a lunch hour in a dimly lit restaurant may perceive some areas of the space as being quite bright. Meanwhile, another person walking in from the sunny street outside will see the whole restaurant as being dark. An adequate lighting design should take into consideration a level of illuminance that allows for particular tasks, such as mobility and orientation, to be performed safely. A flow of luminance springing from several sources -being reflected on different surfaces- is what will allow the eye to accurately see and detect. 

With true daylight, contrast is what displays a three-dimensional scene, that is, a sense of depth, texture, tone, and dramatic shadows. A well-balanced environment requires filling any dark spots with directional luminaries and building up layers starting from a basic background light.

Creating areas with subtly different qualities of light, provides visual richness to the experience of being in the space, along with the benefits of natural light.

Create ambient light for your space

Modern open interiors are designed around thresholds where the exterior and interior become less distinct. As buildings are opened to the outside, natural light is used as a design feature as well. In addition to framing spaces by natural light, the functionality of a given space should be taken into consideration in order to select a light bulb with extended life cycle, as well as with an adequate level of lumens, the right tonality, warmth or coolness.

To create areas with subtly differing qualities of light, the directional quality of ceiling-recessed downlights can be used for variety,  adding visual richness to the experience of being within a space.

Layering light sources in indoor spaces, such as kitchen and living room areas, allows to either highlight or flow freely with the architectural elements of the building, like windows, beams, fireplaces and counter-tops. Non directional light sources will naturally produce a wide spread of light, creating a diffuse effect for ambient lighting.


Illumination and wellbeing

Nowadays you can choose different color temperatures for both your CFL’s and LED’s, depending on the environment you want to create: warm light (low color temperatures with a lower number in the Kelvin scale) for cozy spaces, or a cooler light (high color temperatures, a higher K number) for working spaces. An optimum lighting design allows to enjoy the benefits of natural light, and to mimic the changing quality of sunlight, which fluctuates from pink-tinged in the morning to bright midday light to the warm orange of sunset.

Sustainable building design and adequate interior lighting have a positive impact on our health, productivity, and emotional wellbeing. Since the 1990’s lighting technology has shifted towards an efficient streaming of the intensity of light sources that not only takes into account the carbon footprint but also incorporates an environmental approach to lighting, attending at visual acuity, mood, and health. New mini-fluorescent light bulbs give a diffuse light, come in a range of color temperatures, and dimmers, allowing to better maximize the effects of full spectrum energy efficient-artificial lighting.

Energy Star fluorescent lightbulbs are designed to provide natural looking light. In the lower K scale between 2,700-3000, these light sources match the softer color tones of traditional incandescent bulbs. With a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of at least 80 in a scale to 100, they show colors realistically or naturally, as compared to daylight or incandescent light.

While the watts in a lightbulb tell us the the energy consumption, the amount of energy required to light the product, illuminance is a measurement of the brightness and intensity. From a softer white color appearance of warmer 2,500-3,000 K bulbs to a brighter white of medium K 5,000 for kitchens, and good for reading and closer to natural daylight 6,000 K. The Kelvin scale measures the shade of light in a bulb. The gradients of light color given off by bulbs range from yellow to blue, low K for yellow and high K for blue.

Full Spectrum lighting has some energy in all visible wavelengths, a correlated color temperature of 5000 Kelvin, and some UV emission. These lamps provide a more even distribution of lighting throughout the visible spectrum, similar to the way light energy is distributed in daylight. The higher color Kelvin +5000 helps improve visual acuity and accuracy, providing a very good color-rendering, an increase in brightness for the same luminance, and ensuring good color discrimination.

In order to judge the proper level of lumens when selecting a light bulb or lighting an area of your home, the Lighting Research Center offers a general guide that considers the different tasks and light levels needed for the job. It ranges from a minimum 98 lumens in your living room or reading area, to a level of 360-381 lumens over kitchen counters and closets, up to 1,680 lumens in vanities and dressing rooms. Lumens measure the amount of light produced: the more lumens in a lightbulb, the brighter the light.

Newly develop synthetic materials and technologies continue to transform the possibilities for lighting design. With the flexibility that lighting fixtures provide for a broad selection of low-energy fluorescent lamps, exploring the possibilities of feel-good lighting and the variable degrees of brightness and hues of light will allow you to create the atmosphere that suits your mood and that is best for the task.