Spec sheet bluster and fittings fit for LEDs

This year’s Light + Building exhibition had its ups and downs – most of them about LEDs

It’s impossible to come away from Light + Building with anything other than lighting overload, or this year, LED overload. If you believed everything you heard in Frankfurt, you would be under the impression that LEDs will single-handedly save the planet and that on top of that, they would even do the vacuuming for you. (That was what Jake Dyson was doing there, wasn’t it?)

Let’s start with the biggest disappointment: too many companies, including many with established reputations, publishing nonsensical product performance data, because they think (perhaps rightly) they can get away with it.

I make no apology for being old-fashioned about this. For me, a luminaire with a diffusing micro-optic panel over a cluster of LEDs cannot have a LOR of 100 per cent, assuming we are still comparing luminaire to light source. I even saw companies touting indirect systems with an LOR of 1. Do they think we were born yesterday? Give us some real data, please.

Which brings me to a rather more serious point. Hardy lighting designers such as myself can see through some of the bluster, but what about all the other people out there specifying LEDs – users and facility managers who actually believe it all?

The answer to everything

I have more and more discussions these days with clients about whether or not LEDs are the right solution because they’ve heard somewhere that they’re the answer to everything

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve been asked by a friend or acquaintance if ‘these LED bulbs’ are any good for domestic use. The myth being perpetuated is that LEDs are already in a position for every market opportunity. That may be true for some projects, but I’m guessing that the average Joe isn’t going to buy the £35 LED lamp replacement for their kitchen spotlight – they will opt for the one that costs £2.50 in Swedish hypermarkets. Then, of course, they’ll be disappointed and the myth will implode. So let’s get real before it’s too late.

However, the organisers of Frankfurt could also boast some highlights. Social media – especially Twitter – exploded into life despite inconsistent Wi-Fi coverage. At #LB12, as Twitter users tagged the event, social media were used to arrange meetings, exchange banter and monitor visitor feedback. The power of Twitter was astonishing.

There were some good products too. I mentioned Jake Dyson – there’s a clever cookie. If you didn’t get to chat with his technical team, you missed out on a gem.

For me, this year far more than in 2010, products are starting to be designed around the technology. There’s still a lot of retrofitting into existing luminaire families but there are some great new ones being developed too, noticeable for the size differential to their elder cousins. It is work in progress, but it fills me with hope for #LB14.

Liz Peck can be found on Twitter as @lizpeck10

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