Lighting up is a challenging task. It needs proper knowledge about lighting strategies and indoor/outdoor experiences. In the lighting process, the selection of appropriate lamps and luminaires, and controlling the distribution of light play significant roles. Overlooking these two aspects could turn a fantastic space a complete mess, not only during the night but also in daylight. What should you be concerned about when selecting lamps and luminaires?
Lamp and Luminaire
So first of all, what is a lamp, and what’s a luminaire, and what’s the difference? The “lamp” and “luminaire” have a similar relationship to “engine” and “car” – one is a part of the other. The lamp is the specific device that produces the light output, which is typically replaceable. The following are examples of lamps:
- Incandescent light bulbs
- Compact fluorescent light bulbs
- T8 and T5 linear fluorescent tubes
- LED light bulbs and tubes
- Metal halide bulbs
A luminaire, also called a light fixture, refers to the lamp plus all of the components required for a functional device, which includes:
- Fixture body
- Electrical connection
- Ballast, if the lamp type requires it
- Reflectors / diffusers / acrylics
- Lamp socket
Simply, a lamp is the one that produces the light, and the luminaire is the part that is needed to get the function of the lamp.
What to consider before buying lamps and luminaires
When selecting a lamp or a luminaire, there are many things to be considered. The main aspects that should be considered before choosing a lamp or a luminaire personal preference, environment, function, aesthetic beauty, and other design materials.
Your lighting preference and budget
The first priority when selecting a lamp or luminaire is one’s personal preference/requirement. It doesn’t matter how elegant the design is if it’s not up to one’s preference. What is the quality that the owner of the house or the landscape wants to emphasize through lighting? For example, think about someone who prefers warmth. It gives the designer an idea about the colour of lamps to use.
The other thing is the cost. What is your lighting budget? It is essential to stick to the budget when planning the lighting scheme. With modern solutions, this has become easy. For example, a decade or two ago, Tungsten halogen lamps were the primary light source for landscape lighting. They produced a vast amount of heat, had a short lifetime (2000-10000 hrs.), and required a narrow range of voltage. So it consumed a lot of energy, we had to change often, and it had a risk of failing in case of simple voltage surges.
But now we have LEDs. LEDs can achieve the same light output using 85% less energy. They produce less heat which means less energy wastage and a higher lifetime (between 40000 – 60000 hrs). LED bulbs are a bit expensive. But when considering the future, it is worthy and easy. So, to manage the present and future costs the lamps, lamps should have a greater lifespan, excellent durability, less reduction of light with time (lumen maintenance). As mentioned before, most of the time, LEDs achieve these aspects. And when selecting luminaires, there are five aspects to consider. They should be proper in mechanically, electrically, thermally, optically, aesthetically.
Select bio-friendly lamps and luminaires
It is crucial to think about nature when designing a lighting plan. If we did not, we won’t see the consequences now. It will take time, and once we have to face those consequences, it will be too late. When selecting proper light fitting, we definitely have to think about nature in various ways. One way is to think about energy consumption. We have to use lamps that use less energy. For example, if we use double-ended halogen lamps for a design, it’ll emit 90% of its energy as heat. The heat loss is not significant with one lamp, but when it is 20 lamps? This scenario could affect microclimatic changes, especially outdoors. There are plant or animal species that are sensitive to small heat changes. What will happen if the heat of their habitat increases due to our lighting method? If you’re interested in the green concept in construction, this is the way to go.
Think about power efficiency
In Sri Lanka, we produce electricity, mainly by hydropower. This energy is limited. What if lamps and luminaires in our designs waste a considerable amount of energy? It affects in two ways. One – it’ll increase the electricity bill which will disappoint the owner. Two – this wasted energy could have utilized in a more useful application. We can ignore these facts if we want, but what will happen everyone does the same? An energy crisis will soon be upon us. So yes, your wrong selection of a lamp or a luminaire could help an energy crisis. So what are we supposed to do, live in darkness? No, we can use energy-efficient light fitting such as CFLs, LEDs. If we chose sustainable products, we could have a sustainable future.
Consider the product lifecycle
Every lamp and luminaire has a lifetime. What happens when its lifetime is over? We throw them away, mostly. In Sri Lanka, only a handful of people will give their old lamps to recycling centres. All the others will dump their lights in landfills. This has long term and inevitable results. CFL contains mercury, which is toxic to not only humans but also animals and plants. These wastes will cause biomagnification. In simple terms, we will end up having these toxic materials inside ourselves. It can cause severe brain damage, kidney diseases, and many more. So, be responsible when discarding them.
Then what are we supposed to do? Well, we can choose lamps that have a higher lifetime. That way, the number of old lamps and luminaires we throw away would be reduced. And we could always select lamps that can be recycled easily or contains less toxic (LEDs). Also, we can select bulbs that have a higher luminous flux. In that way, we can reduce the number of lamps that need to light a particular area.
Waterproofing of lamps and luminaires
When selecting a luminaire, we must consider its IP number. IP stands for the term “Ingress Protection”. Each and every lamp has an IP number. There are 2 digits in an IP number; the first digit indicates the level of protection against solid objects, and the second one indicates the level of protection against liquid. With proper IP selection, we can use a luminaire for an extended period. For example, we can use IP 68 luminaire for a pool where 6 means dustproof and 8 means indefinite immersion.
|First number||Protection against solid matter||Second number||Protection against liquid|
|0||No Protection||0||No Protection|
|1||Protection against objects larger than 50 mm||1||Protection against drops of water falling vertically|
|2||Protection against objects larger than 12 mm||2||Protection against drops of water falling vertically when the fixture is tilted up to 15°|
|3||Protection against objects larger than 2.5 mm||3||Protection against water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° (rain)|
|4||Protection against objects larger than 1 mm||4||Protection against splashes of water from any direction|
|5||Dust protected||5||Protection from a low-pressure jet of water from any direction|
|6||Dust-tight||6||Protection from a high-pressure jet of water from any direction|
|7||Protection from submersion up to 1 m|
|8||Protection from submersion beyond 1 m|
Let’s look at the different kinds of lamps and luminaires that are made for various functions.
These are the bulbs we are most familiar with. These bulbs are available in broad wattages. While glowing, incandescent bulbs produce a considerable amount of heat. Incandescent bulbs are being gradually replaced by LEDs, fluorescent lamps, and other services with technological development. Incandescent bulbs can last for 700 – 1000 hours and can also be used with a dimmer.
Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL)
CFL lamps work like fluorescent lamps. It contains mercury that can cause difficulties at the disposal stage. These lamps are designed to replace an incandescent lamp. Generally, CFLs use less power, produce the same amount of light, and have a long lifespan. Many of the CFLs consist of two or three tubular loops. These lamps cannot be used with dimmers, and usually, they can last for 10,000 hours. The efficiency of CFL is higher than regular incandescent bulbs.
Fluorescent tube lamps
A fluorescent tube (generally known as tube lamps) is a gas discharge tube that uses fluorescence to produce visible light. When compared with the incandescent bulbs, fluorescent tubes or the tube lights use less power for the same amount of light and are usually more complex and expensive than the incandescent lamps. Fluorescent lamps do not have good colour representation ability hence these lamps are not good for the places where the colours play a major role. These lamps cannot be used with dimmers. Furthermore, these fluorescent tubes can’t function under-voltage fluxions.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) lamps
LEDs are electrical components based on semiconductors. They do not have a filament, use less power, and have a higher lifespan. LEDs produce more light than incandescent lamps and have the ability to save a considerable amount of energy. LEDs are usually assembled into a light bulb to be used as an LED lighting system. These diodes can emit light of an intended colour without the use of colour filters. The initial cost of an LED is generally higher.
Metal halide lamps
Metal halide lamps consist of a discharge tube or arc tube within a bulb. These tubes are typically made from ceramic or quartz and contain mercury, MH salts, and a starting gas. Metal halide lamps produce a significant amount of light for their size. These lamps are most commonly used in halls, traffic lights, on stages, and in outdoor lighting systems for commercial purposes. And in Sri Lanka, these lamps could be found as roadside lamps, and they are typically replaced with LED lamps.
Other popular lamps are neon lights, high-intensity discharge lamps, high-pressure sodium lams, low-pressure sodium lamps, etc.
Refractors (cobra heads)
The selection of a proper lamp and luminaire is a difficult task. But with the proper selection of these two can turn a space into a place where you get comfortable.