Office lighting is fast becoming the meat in the sandwich in a row that's developing between the providers of the two principal lighting sources for these sectors: so its LED versus fluorescent lighting, and its the clients who are being put through the mincer as a consequence. That metaphor got a bit unpleasant, but I think the image stands. So what's going on?
Offices have long been the natural home for the fluorescent lamp. Yes, you might still find a few stray metal halide uplighting schemes but let's put that down to youthful enthusiasm on someones part. The game has belonged to the fluorescent luminaire industry and they have got on with it very well and produced very many fine results.
Let's not forget the reason why we do this stuff in the first place. It's only ever been about allowing people to get on with their jobs efficiently and in a degree of comfort (the HR department will be quick to tell you what happens when efficiency and comfort are compromised, because they're in control of the situations-vacant budget). But as desktop technology has changed, so has the need for computer-friendly lighting and the loosening of performance specifications has certainly rattled the industry.
But as well as undertaking that traditional task of delivering light in an approved manner that's fit for purpose, we've also been chasing up the efficacy of light fixtures and driving down the energy per square metre. And this is where the current argument is getting really heated;
* the fluorescent manufacturers claim that light delivery is best achieved with the latest fluorescent technology, in particular the (relatively) new T5 generation of linear tubes.
* the progressive part of the LED industry is claiming that the rapid development in LED outputs has outstripped fluorescent performance
* the retrogressive part of the LED industry says what the hell and offers to put fluorescent-tube-shaped linear LEDs into conventional fixtures
As ever, there's far more heat than light being generated over this one. The client is left wondering who to believe and NO ONE comes out of it with a good word to say about anything.
Industrial lighting is no better off. The same arguments are pulled out, shaken down and used again and when you add metal halide hi-bay lighting to the argument then it can become a real toxic mix (and who ever thought that those mighty lamps would ever be put under such threat!).
So let me end with the usual note of caution for everyone out there who is considering re-lighting their premises; there are VAST amounts of snake-oil for sale at the moment. Be sure to get solid advice, because the wrong decision can cost you fortunes further down the line, as fixtures intended to last for twenty years fail after five, and lighting performances guaranteed to maintain illumination levels over that time dwindle to a tiny spark.
There is some phenomenally good stuff out there be sure that's what you end up with.
A (very) basic guide to ethical specification
Lighting design: it's a client thing
Calculating obtrusive light: whose job is it?
When there's nothing in the catalogue
When is a chandelier not a pendant? When its a lantern!
When clients learn too much . . .
One of our details is missing
Where will light fittings come from?
The end of the light bulb?
Always something new . . . again
Always something new . . .
Combining old and new
On being in the dark . . .
Riffing The Internet of Things
John Bullock writes a regular column for lighting magazines. You can find all of the archived pieces here.
BLOGS - LIGHTING DESIGN
John Bullock writes about all things and anything concerning architectural lighting design; new technologies and old lamps; anything,really.
HOME LIGHTING CONSULTANT
John Bullock designs innovative lighting designs for people's homes. By working closely with clients he is able to deliver solutions that meet - and exceed - their expectations.
BLOGS - CPD RIBA CORE PROGRAMME 2015
John Bullock will be presenting a seminar on latest lighting design and technologies as part of the RIBA CPD Core programme 2015
BLOGS - SUSTAINABILITY
John Bullock believes that the UK lighting industry needs to embrace a sustainable way of delivering good quality product through good design, fabrication and end-of-life management.
BLOGS - LIGHTING HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Lighting has a vital role to play in our health and wellbeing.
CONDUIT (6) - Lighting for Winter Gardens
CONDUIT 5: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (2)
FX Magazine: Lighting Focus - Sustainability (Issue 258)
CONDUIT 4: Home Lighting - LED Lighting (1)
Can Smart Lighting Save The Planet?
CONDUIT 3: Home Lighting - The Bathroom
Can Lighting Save Us From Ourselves . . . NO!
CONDUIT 2: Home Lighting - The Dining Room