Every year the Fire and Rescue Service is called to over 600,000 fires which result in over 800 deaths and over 17,000 injuries.
About 50,000 (140 a day) of these are in the home and kill nearly 500 and injure over 11,000, many which could have been prevented if people had an early warning and were able to get out in time. In fact you are twice as likely to die in a house fire that has no smoke alarm than a house that does.
Buying a smoke alarm could help save your home and the lives of you and your family.
It’s very important to check that the proposed dimmer works with the selected LED lamp before committing to a specification
Some months ago, Lux Review opened this discussion with Dimming LED lamps: the dos and don’ts. Here we delve further into the issue and look at what it means once the decision’s taken to go ahead with a dimmable LED installation.
Here are a few things that you need to avoid:
Failed LED driver
These are all inconveniences that are await you should you mismatch the electronics of the LED driver and the dimmer.
Choose the dimming method first
There are thousands of different dimmable LED light fixtures on the market, but only three major types of dimming method: mains dimming, Dali or DMX. (see box, below) So choose what kind of dimming you want before you select any LED luminaires. More lighting control manufacturers are providing lists of LED products that they have tested for compatibility with their equipment and this is a very useful service to any specifier.
Don’t buy cheap drivers
Most lighting control systems offer a variety of dimming protocols, the languages which they use to communicate with the lamp or driver. When you’ve chosen the method that’s right for your installation, you need to get LED drivers which match the performance and the protocol. A common problem lies in the design and build quality of the LED driver, leading to poor performance and occasional failure of either the LED or the dimmer circuitry.
For instance, the digital signaling from a Dali control system cannot always be translated by the driver into the appropriate lighting state that’s required. Beyond a certain level of dimming, the LEDs may simply switch off. But be pragmatic; if you’re only looking for dimming down to 50 per cent there’s no need to search for a driver that will take the lighting down to 5 per cent.
Similarly, where DMX signaling is ideal for colour-change installation, not all RGB drivers can cope with the demands of the system, and that can lead to some very poor colour effects. There’s a simple commercial equation that should be borne in mind: cheap = risky. Avoid cheap specifications, particularly of products like LED tape (see our recent review of LED tape) and always check with the control manufacturer that your preferred LED product is compatible with their system.
Test before you buy
In the domestic and small commercial environment, the lighting specification is very likely to be built around retrofit LED lamps, but the ‘retrofit’ title is becoming a misnomer because there are many new specifications making use of the technology to deliver relatively low-cost installations.
Being designated ‘retrofit’, customers often think that’s all there is to it and will simply swap a tungsten halogen lamp for an LED lamp. It doesn’t help that manufacturers of these LEDs also suggest the same thing on their packaging. But remember that this is an unregulated marketplace, so it’s very important to check that the proposed dimmer works with the selected LED lamp before committing to a specification. Test before you buy.
Although safety standards are still required in the manufacture of the LED because it’s an electrical product, there is no standard based on the performance of an LED. Each manufacturer produces LED products according to their design parameters and comparing two apparently similar products can be a nightmare of dissimilar specification reporting.
Use dimmers designed for LEDs
Most domestic dimmers are still designed for tungsten loads, typically rated at 250W and 400W, which is far higher than the electrical loading of the LED lamps taking over from them. Some domestic dimmers cannot ‘read’ the low loading of a LED lamp, so requiring an additional electrical load to be connected in order that the light will be recognized by the dimmer, contrary to any desire to reduce energy consumption, of course.
The simple answer is to use only those dimmers that have been designed for LED loads. More of these dimmers are becoming available, and are designed to operate at far lower loads. There is also a new style of intelligent dimmers – such as the Hamilton LEDstat – that take full advantage of new electronic technology, enabling it to match its performance with the requirements of the connected LED lamps.
Check the LED lamp fits – many don’t
All retrofit lamps are intended to replace an existing filament lamp, tungsten or tungsten halogen. That means that there are alternatives across the range, from the ordinary GLS lamp (the light bulb), to directional lamps for spotlighting and even chandelier-style candle lamps, some of which work to great, sparkling, effect. The inherent problem in every retrofit lamp is the limitation on physical size.
A retrofit lamp is no good if it doesn’t fit in the intended light fixture. And however perverse this may sound, that essential feature of a retrofit lamp hasn’t stopped some LED lamp manufacturers from producing lamps that simply don’t fit. It might make for a better engineered product, but it may not fit into the required fixture – so it’s good to check.
Only buy brands you trust
All of the LED circuitry, usually found in a separate driver housing in the more upmarket architectural luminaires, has to be contained within the given physical space of a retrofit lamp. And if the lamp is dimmable (and please remember that not all of them are) that means that the dimming components must also be housed in the same tiny space. This can cause thermal and mechanical stress and seriously affect the life of the lamp.
Buying anything with confidence means knowing the provenance of the product, and this is of primary importance when purchasing LED retrofit lamps. Either trust the brand, or trust that the company that you’re buying from has done the necessary investigations into the product’s quality. Never buy on-line unless you know the product or the company.
Be super cautious of GU10 lamps
GU10 LED lamps are replacements for mains voltage tungsten halogen lamps and are probably the single most popular of all LED retrofit lamps. The ubiquity of the downlighter has ensured that this lamp will survive long after the ‘retrofit’ tag becomes meaningless.
A dimmable GU10 lamp is a very busy piece of equipment indeed. Every LED source is an SELV (safety extra low voltage) device, so the GU10 also needs to house a transformer, as well as its dimmable driver components.
Because of the unregulated nature of LED manufacture, ensuring product worthiness of these GU10 lamps is an absolute priority. If you’re looking for a dimmable version, it’s all the more important to know what you’re buying and to trust who you’re buying from. Start by checking out our recent review of GU10 lamps.
Only use a LED MR16 LED if it comes with its own separate driver
There is an alternative to the GU10 lamp but it tends to be sidelined because it suffers from the same problem as the original low voltage lamps – it requires a separate component.
The LED MR16 lamp is the LED retrofit for the 12V tungsten halogen lamp. Although the 12V tungsten halogen lamp was superior to the GU10 mains voltage halogen alternative, it lost ground to the GU10 because it was more expensive, requiring a transformer that had to be mounted close by, usually in the ceiling void adjacent to the downlight containing the lamp.
The low-voltage MR16 LED lamp is also a superior lamp to the GU10 lamp because there is less stress in the lamp housing as the transformer electronics are remote from the housing. But there is a risk of this benefit being outweighed by a disadvantage. Most MR16 LED lamps are advertised as being compatible with tungsten halogen transformers and this is not necessarily the case. Electronic incompatibility rules supreme in these circuits and there have been plenty of flashing LEDs in evidence to demonstrate that truth.
The best way to use a dimmable LED MR16 lamp is to select a lamp that is supplied with its own remote driver housing. This provides the additional benefit of removing even more circuitry from the lamp housing so leaving maximum space for the light source to do its work.
Never mix and match
It’s never a good idea to mix LEDs from different manufacturers on the same dimming circuit. On the basis that every LED will have its own design of electronic circuitry, the dimmer probably won’t be capable of providing a common signal to each light source. This is a recipe for flicker and hum. While this restriction may be a headache for some of the more creative schemes, it’s a sound precautionary measure. And if it icreative schemes, but demonstrate that truth. source to do its work.ox). s essential to the scheme, we recommend that you mock-up the entire circuit on a workbench to test the design.
Because there are no performance standards for LED lamps and drivers it’s impossible to know whether future replacement equipment will operate in the same way as those originally installed, even if the new lamps are from the same company and carry the same part number. The same compatibility checking process has to start again, though it’s probably safe to assume that the dimming equipment won’t be compromised.
And when it comes to an isolated lamp failure in a circuit, the expensive news is that it’s best to change all of the lamps on that circuit to prevent a mismatch in circuit characteristics. It’s a damage limitation exercise and ensures that, with the proper checks mentioned above, the installation will continue to perform as required.
Check, check and check again
The message that is heard repeatedly is not to assume and always to check. The days when a filament lamp could be dimmed by almost anything and would always perform in the same way are gone. We are now in a world where electronic circuitry speaks to electronic circuitry and there is no over-arching standard yet in place to guarantee a unified performance.
Speak to the lighting control manufacturer. Have they tested the LED that you’d like to use and are they happy to see their equipment connected to it?
If you’re able, run a test yourself in as close to the operating conditions as possible.
Check minimum dimmer loadings if the dimmer is required to control just one of two LED lamps and, if so, test it yourself. And, if necessary, be prepared to adjust the scheme design to keep the LED-dimmer interface within safe operational bounds.
Check out our range of dimmable LED lightbulbs – http://www.lamps2udirect.com/led-light-bulbs/12
Ikea will no longer sell halogen and ‘energy-saving’ compact fluorescent bulbs from September, when it switches all its lighting sold globally to super efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
The move affects over 2.3 million bulbs sold by the Swedish furniture chain each year in the UK and an undisclosed number in its markets elsewhere in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
The EU was expected to ban certain halogen bulbs from sale from September 2016 but earlier this year delayed the ban until 2018, saying LED technology would not be ready in time.
Steve Howard, Ikea’s chief sustainability officer, said that three years ago, shoppers experienced ‘price tag shock’ with LEDs, but now their quality and cost had reached a tipping point, and the time was right for the switch.
“If it’s right for the customer, it’ll be right for Ikea. If you can produce a product that can last 25-30 times longer and save you 85% of the energy and have fantastic light quality, then that’s the right thing for the customer.”
He said the company’s scale had enabled it to reduce the cost of the plastics and other components of the bulbs. It becomes the first retailer in the UK to sell only LEDs for lighting.
As well as using much less energy than halogens – around 85% – and even less than CFLs, LEDs last longer, with an average lifespan of around 25,000 hours. Ikea estimated that a household switching from 10 incandescent bulbs – which were banned from sale in Europe in 2012 – would save £300 a year on energy costs by switching to LEDs.
“If you can help customers save energy and help do something towards climate change, that’s the right thing to do,” Howard said.
He said that while households and businesses had to be engaged in tackling climate change, they could only do so much and that governments had to act too.
“We’ll keep going with our direction regardless. But we recognise not every business is responding [to climate change], so at a national level we need strong regulation.
Howard said it was important that government agreed a strong climate change deal at the later this year. “Business can do a lot, but we need good policy frameworks from governments, so Paris is important,” he said.
In June, Ikea said it would spend €1bn ($1.13bn) on renewable energy and measures to help poorer countries adapt to climate change. The company has said that it will generate all of the energy used in its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020.
The EU review found no reason to delay the ban on mains voltage directional halogen lamps
The European Commission has stuck with its decision to phase out mains-voltage halogen directional lamps from the European market in September 2016 following a review. The move has divided opinion among industry figures.
As part of the review of the lighting directive EC 1194/2012, four criteria needed to be assessed before a phase-out could be confirmed. Issues of affordability were under scrutiny, as well performance, equivalence to existing models and compatibility. The EU has confirmed that there is no reason to delay the ban on mains voltage directional halogen lamps, as all these areas have been sufficiently met.
“Earlier this year we saw an EU vote delaying the phase out of non-directional halogen lamps until 2018 and this threw into question which way the balance would swing for their mains-voltage directional cousins,” commented Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International, owner of Megaman. “However, common sense has ruled and these highly inefficient light sources will now be phased out within a year.”
LightingEurope, the trade association representing 31 European lighting manufacturers, national associations and materials producers, accepts but disagrees with the EC’s decision. It argues that the decision has been taken by the Commission against the opinion of a large number of European Member States.
According to LightingEurope, the technological arguments which led to the delay of the ban on non-directional halogen lamps are equally valid for mains-voltage directional halogen lamps. These arguments are specifically related to dimmability, affordability and dimensional compatibility.
“Although the European lighting industry is prepared, within today’s technical limits, this decision will cause confusion and restricts European consumer choice,” said Diederik de Stoppelaar, secretary general of LightingEurope. “LightingEurope has always been strongly supportive of the European Commission energy-saving strategy and will further contribute to all relevant regulations for lighting systems.”
“This ruling brings us one step closer to the eventual removal of all high-energy consuming halogens and can only be a positive move for both consumers and the environment alike,” Bass told Lux. “I stand by what I said when commenting on the delay in banning non-directional halogens earlier in the year, I truly believe that market forces will begin to take over in Europe and LEDs will win through, no matter when all halogens are eventually banned. High quality LED lamps are out there already, they do save money and energy and consumers will begin to convert to them more and more as they realise the benefits.”
I do not smoke, but even I know how hard it is to kick the habit.
Having grown up watching my Mum smoke at least pack a day, I can understand that quitting really is not as easy as it’s said.
It is very hard for me to get into her head and explain, that she slowly ruining her body. Even advising her that she may not live to see her Grandchildren grow up has failed; a harsh truth, but a truth nevertheless.
The reality is, that having smoked for nearly 40 years, I think she would miss it. Miss holding one, dragging on one, and thought of needing one and not having one at hand if required. I think she is scarred to quit more than anything else
‘What is the point in giving up something I don’t really want to. I’ve tried before. I just end up miserable, putting on weight. The patches give me nightmares, ‘ The amount of excuses not to quit smoking are almost as long as the reasons to try stopping.
However, In November 2013 she decided to try using e-cigarettes and has never looked back. Whilst I am sure they are not as good as completely stopping and we are yet to see the real effects of using them, they have been proven to be better for your health than smoking. They are a much cheaper option – With cigarettes now costing about £10 a pack, a heavy smoker can save hundreds of pounds per month. They also have a much better scent. Personally I could not recommend trying these enough and with suggestions from health ministers to start offering them on the NHS it must be worth trying to make the switch…..
We offer a small range of e-cigarettes and e-liquids, take a look – http://www.lamps2udirect.com/new-to-lamps2udirect-and-festive-lighting/vapour-cigarettes-and-flavoured-e-liquids/40/505
So, the Summer has now and truly deserted us for another year, and already I am beginning to see more and more people wearing jumpers and jackets to stay warm outside.
We might get lucky with some sunny Autumn days, but the hard truth is the Sunniest, warmest weather has now left us for 2015.
So, the next things to look forward to – Hibernation – Getting home and staying in the warm – Halloween, Fireworks and then….Drum roll please…..Yes – You guessed it – Christmas 2015.
We really cannot wait. I understand that Christmas at times can be hard for some…but it is hard not to look back and think of how excited you felt as a child.
For the large majority of people, young and old, Christmas is about family. If you have children you will understand how magical Christmas can be. It is great getting the kids into the spirit of Christmas – If all else fails – You at least get to use bribery – I cannot tell you how many times the ‘Be good, Santa is watching’ line will be used between now and the 25th of December.
One way to enhance their experience and get everyone in the mood is to get the perfect Christmas lighting display.