LED – more than a replacement for old lighting


Andy Douglas, Managing Director, Timeguard.

However, it is commercial premises that stand to gain the biggest payback from LED because their occupants can exercise precision control via radial wiring systems with zoning, timing, lux sensitivity etc. The tide of change is unstoppable. LED lighting is inevitably at the top of the list of recommendations in any energy audit; but, perhaps, the firms in the second and subsequent waves can benefit from newer thinking which suggests that LED lighting should be more than just a replacement for fluorescent, incandescent and halogen.

We need to look at LEDs in an entirely new way and grasp the opportunities to make real changes to living and working spaces. There were some spectacular ideas on show at this year’s Light+Building, Europe’s annual flagship lighting fair in Frankfurt, where a top theme was human-centric lighting.

The idea behind human-centric lighting is to support the human biorhythm and enhance physical performance and wellbeing. In plain English, it’s all about digital control and making best use of advances in lamps (for which, these days, read LEDs). Lighting becomes an independent design feature: lamps and luminaires are smaller and more efficient, and they fit discretely into the architecture and interior design.

It’s a world away from traditional wall or ceiling fittings, but it’s not just art for art’s sake. Human-centric lighting is known to boost performance, make people feel better and even promote healing processes. For instance, last year’s ‘Clever Classrooms’ report from the University of Salford showed improvements in the learning progress of primary school pupils of as much as 16% in a single year.

While most of the sophisticated ideas shown at Frankfurt are not going to find their way into your refurbishments and refits this year, they will undoubtedly be seeding ideas.

After all, office space doesn’t come cheap, nor do staff, and whether a business employs 10 people or 1,000, it is essential to optimise their productivity – and generating a sense of well-being is necessary to achieve that. Lighting can be personalised at an individual level, while at the same time reducing energy use and lowering maintenance costs.

Of course, the least costly light of all is the one that is switched off and, therefore, controlling the lighting is an essential part of the installation. Just because LEDs consume less power does not mean that you can cut corners with control and leave them switched on when not needed: timing, zoning and dimming are now the norm. In larger installations, these are likely to involve wi-fi, power line or, increasingly, dedicated KNX open protocol cabling. In SME environments, PIR detection and local timed/zoned switching are used.

PIR detectors come in many shapes and forms but, as with any device, ‘caveat emptor’. Yes, the price has fallen as the market has grown, but, there is a bottom line below which you should not go – especially when switching LEDs. The PIR switches have to be able to cope with the initial surge current. If they are not actually tried and tested as being suitable for use with LEDs, then they are not going to be a reliable option in a busy workplace where switching may be frequent. Check the specification, check the box, and look for branded and guaranteed quality.

Smart wall switches offer options for programmed timing, delay switching, switching in response to lux levels or noise and remote control. However, they all seem to share one problem: the LED lights seem to flicker when they are switched off. This is because two-wire smart switches need to draw a small amount of power through the switched live connection to operate the switch whilst in standby. While such currents are far too low to have caused an issue with older lighting technologies, they are sufficient to cause the LED lamps to flicker.

This is an issue that has now been solved with Timeguard’s patented ZV900 universal Automatic Switch Load Controller. It’s a compact device, fitted one per lighting circuit, and which neatly tucks through a standard 50mm aperture. It has the added advantage of providing built-in surge and current inrush suppression.

LED lighting, now that it is dimmable, available in different colours and easily controlled by smart switches (when used with our automatic switch load controller), is widely accepted for both commercial and home use. There is still huge potential to integrate the control of lighting and heating/air conditioning but, for now, they seem to be seen as quite separate services. For installers, the quick wins are to be had from timed, PIR and lux level switching which add extra value to a basic LED lighting installation.’

For more information, telephone (NI) 020 8452 1112 or (RoI) 0044 20 8452 1112, e-mail sales@timeguard.com or visit www.timeguard.com