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Energy Efficient Lighting

Energy Efficent Light

Energy efficient lighting is the easiest
single impact you can make on
your power bill and the environment
Compact Fluorescent Lamps
Energy savers come in all shapes and
wattages for all applications

The Fluoro lamp shade

Use coloured shades to shift the
colour temperature of energy savers

 

LED Lighting Bulb

230V LED Fitting to replace a standard
12V Halogen Lamp

Light Dimming

Dimming a light 50% saves
50% of the energy

We all want to be green and do our part to save the planet. Careful selection of your light fittings will make a big impact on both the environment and your power bill!

Compact Flouro and LED lighting are leading the charge towards energy efficiency, with a saving of roughly 5x these technologies are a big step forward from the old tungsten days.

A conventional tungsten light is basically a piece of wire shorted across the mains within a vacuum so it dosent catch fire and burn out! Most of the energy consumed in a tungsten or halogen lamp is expended in heat. Not only is this incredibly wasteful, but it actually increases the heat load in your house adding further energy costs in removing it with fan ventilation or HVAC

Colour temperature
A big challenge with energy efficient lighting is it's colour.  Living under the sun as we do, humans have come to view the colour temperature of the sun as normal, on a sunny day many people feel happier than on an overcast day and this is linked to our bodies need for Vitamin D derived from sunlight. Our brains tell us that yellow is good and grey is bad. No wonder the English are so odd.

The yellowy colour of tungsten and slightly whiter colour of halogen lighting is close to that of the sun. LED and Compact flouro light on the other hand has a lot of green or blue in it depending on the manufacturing process. Time spent under these colour temperatures has a markedly different psycological effect to that of colour temperatures closer to natural light.

Compact Flouroescent
Also know as energy savers, the compact flouro uses approximately 1/5 of the energy used by conventional tungsten lights. They are available in a range of fittings and are now available in a dimmable version. One of the quirks of some of todays energy savers is that they can take 30 seconds or more to reach maximum brightness. This soft start "feature" will prove interesting for users trying to set an illumination level with a dimming system, just after you have set the perfect level the lights will take on a mind of their own and give you that little bit extra.

Flouro Lighting
"Natural White" and "Warm White" flouro lights have been around for many years, and are an attempt to emulate natural light by adding pigment to the phosphor on the inside of the glass tubes. When viewed in slow motion, flourescent lights flicker at the mains frequency of 50Hz and many people claim they are affected by this 50Hz strobe effect.

It is possible that even though our concious mind cannot detect this flickering, that the subconcious is able to detect the 50Hz flicker and this is what brings on lethargy, headaches & migranes etc in some people. Of course sitting in an office when we should all be at the beach is bound to contribute to those issues.

LED Lighting
Most LEDs or Light Emitting Diodes require a constant current driver to operate correctly. They are also very sensitive to the way in which they are wired. The great news with Led is that because of the tiny amount of energy they consume - the wiring can be a lot smaller than that required for ELV dimming viz. heavy duty 12V garden lighting cables. For more on LED light dimming click here.

Before you pull out all your old fashioned bulbs and install compact flouros everywhere, it is important to consider the whole argument. Many compact flouroscent lights use mercury which is worse for the environment than the carbon wasted in tungsten, LED and Flouro lights cannot be as easily dimmed and so extra equipment (read carbon footprint) is required to dim them.

Energy Efficiency: Even with halogen / tungsten lighting, it is easy to save power with a lighting control system.

Energy Efficiency through Control
The first and most obvious way to save energy is by the use of sensors to turn the loads off when not required. For example a sensor in the wardrobe can activate lights when you walk in, and then turn them off when you leave.

A word of warning: energy efficiency from a lighting control system is only as good as the design and the programming. Say you have a large 500w floodlight in the driveway, a motion sensor connected to the lighting system turns the lights on when you come home or go out to the car. Now lets say the sensor is triggered by people walking past on the street, so your car is nicely protected, but you have just multiplied the energy usage of that lamp by 20x.

So careful placement of the sensor is important. Taking the "auto lights" example above, a good programmer would be sure to check the time of day and if there was enough natural light about, inhibit the activation of the light in that case. In this condition you can start to save energy with a lighting system.

Energy Conservation through Dimming
The second way a lighting control system can effect energy conservation is through the dimming of the loads. It is very important to realise that a 100w tungsten lamp dimmed to 50% uses 50w of power. A good lighting design will provide enough illumination for a wide combination of tasks in any given space.

Take a standard bathroom with five 100w tungsten downlights (500w) Most of the time we are not removing a tiny prickle with tweezers in the bathroom and the lights can be dimmed to 50% for the purposes of a shower at 8pm.

Now take the example of waking up at 2am for a glass of water, not only is 10% or 5% illumination perfectly acceptable - it is usually far preferable to being blasted awake by 500w of prickle surgery lights.

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