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Lightening the mood with LEDs

Author : Adam Garside

04 October 2011

Used on stage for centuries as a way of conveying mood, coloured and creative lighting effects are increasingly being incorporated into commercial projects to create and enhance the atmosphere. Here, Adam Garside discusses how facility managers can maximise the visual impact through the use of artistic LED lighting.



The psychology of colour is a familiar concept to designers, who have long since been aware of the important role it plays in the emotional response of a building’s occupants. Light too, is a fundamental tool to be used in this way and as technology advances, so do the opportunities to combine the two.

But how can facility managers artistically use this within a commercial environment, whilst responding to the more practical requirements of lighting an office area? Previously, fixtures and fittings were a facility manager’s only real avenue for introducing colour into an interior scheme – features that cannot quickly be changed. The sophisticated scope presented by LEDs however, provides the opportunity to create a particular atmosphere or mood that can be altered at any time using colourchanging controllers.

A tremendous benefit to any lighting scheme is to start at the initial planning stages and design with LEDs in mind, and not just as a replacement to fluorescent lighting. Ultimately, the overall lighting quality for occupants is the single most important aspect; lighting is a much more significant factor in workplace health and efficiency than is generally recognised, as it has a great influence on human sensitivity, motivation and general well being.

While artificial lighting continues to become increasingly sophisticated, it will never compare to the greatest light source of all – daylight. Indeed, research indicates that access to daylit views are seen as highly desirable by office users. However, natural daylight can also provide limitations in a commercial environment, through excess illuminance, discomfort and disability glare, screen reflections and sometimes constant, rapid change.

Therefore, LEDs that work with the natural light to ensure a constant equilibrium of luminance, will have a more positive effect on occupants. Indeed, coloured LED lighting is increasingly being used in harmony with natural light through the wide spectrum of colour temperatures, helping to balance the overall light of an area.

In settings where access to true natural light can be limited, such as in corridors and internal windowless rooms, the use of intelligent lighting solutions are crucial, and they can be used to softly imitate the effects of daylight by using warm washes of golden or yellow tones that imperceptibly shift to pink and red shades as the day progresses. In addition, combining white light with coloured LEDs offers facility managers an even wider colour palette, as the light can be mixed to create pastel shades.

The flexibility of LEDs facilitates possibilities for facility managers for every aspect of the building - the opportunity for application is limitless. For example, the range of groundlight LEDs available nowadays, provide excellent illumination for interior walkways and stairwells. And there is no need to worry about the performance of LEDs in an external environment, because manufacturers are designing high quality waterproof drivers for outdoor use, that are as compact and effective as possible to suit a wide variety of external lighting installations in both residential and commercial settings. These can be quickly and easily installed, and will be fully compatible with all products across the manufacturers’ range.

Indeed, using the latest tri-chip technology, manufacturers can ensure ground and wall lights provide excellent and seamless uniform colour change, for lobbies, walkways and walls. Installed inside or outside, these high powered luminaires will introduce a real ‘wow’ factor to the design scheme. Setting the mood and creating the perfect ambiance, products incorporating the tri-chip technology have been designed to enliven both indoor and outdoor spaces in a myriad of hues. The creative scope of this technology can even be utilised to highlight feature walls and designs for maximum effect. With colour changing capabilities, countless effects can be formed to add continual interest, even for the most regular of visitors.

For large areas and corridors fixed directional ground marker lights can present an ideal solution for effective lighting. These lights have permanent, opposing beams, which enable controlled luminance around the edges, corners, or even the middle of any ground space. Being versatile they emit a warm white glow in two, three and four directions respectively. With a similar style to that of ‘cats-eyes’, the lights may be installed either as part of the internal décor or in outdoor spaces. To facilitate greater flexibility, strip lighting is ideal for a host of applications. From coving, under cabinet and display lighting to sign edging, strip LED lighting provides a striking statement to finish any area, ideal for reception and welcome areas. The STARSTRIP from Collingwood for instance, offers a total of four different lengths, ranging from 320mm up to 1220mm, is available in both warm white and cool white as well as providing a beam angle of 110o and an IP rating of 65.

Indeed, LEDs are a particularly good solution for commercial applications due to their inherent longevity. Their superior lifespan practically eliminates any maintenance requirements, not only saving money, but preventing the work area environment being disrupted for lamp changes. However, sleek aesthetics are not the only reason for specifying LEDs. LEDs are the ultimate fit and forget solution and their reliability and performance ensures a high efficiency output is maintained throughout a building’s life.

With lighting amounting to 40% of a building’s total energy and nearly 19% of global electricity taken up by this sector alone, the demand for sustainable lighting is significantly growing. Over recent years LEDs have enjoyed increasing popularity, helping to save costs and carbon emission across a host of sectors.

LEDs provide the perfect solution over their traditional equivalent. A premium LED fitting will last for typically 20 years, compared to a standard halogen bulb that may last for three to four months. The reliability and performance of a high quality LED ensures optimum output is maintained throughout the product’s life. Combined with manufacturers continuing to develop and enhance design technology capabilities, realising a vision is easily achieved. The scope and breadth of colour and illusions, really does offer a wealth of possibilities to a facility manager.

There is no doubt that LED’s are fast becoming the lighting application of choice, and with good reason, with the significant maintenance and energy cost savings far outweighing the initial outlay of the product. Lighting design has a huge impact on the overall appearance of any interior setting and in particular within the commercial environment where their colours and flexibility form an essential element of the design concept. Coloured LED’s provide facility managers with the opportunity to create a particular atmosphere or mood, which can be altered at any time if the design needs to be refreshed, when using colour changing controllers.

● Adam Garside is Group Sales Manager Collingwood Lighting


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