Lighting : Lighting October 2014 - Vol 34 Issue 5
22 LIGHTING MAGAZINE | October/November 2014 October/November 2014 | LIGHTING MAGAZINE 23 use and long lamp life, are now dominating the industry, and shaping it in ways that other technologies are unable to replicate. While some designers caution against embracing LEDs as a cure-all for every lighting project – “I think there is a misconception in the public [of] LEDs being the saviour of all energy consumption, so that kind of gets into a lot of clients’ heads. I think it’s important to keep your eyes open to the bigger picture,” Lefort says – and while concerns still exist about poor quality imitations delivering poor results for clients looking to save a few dollars, the technology itself has reached a level of maturity that is seeing good quality LEDs delivering on their promise. “LED technology as a light source is probably the next 10 to 20 years of our commercial future, and I don’t think we’ll see any massive changes in the core technology,” says lighting consultant Julien Freed, a retrofit and heritage lighting expert who was instrumental in the development of the Office of Environment and Heritage’s online Calculight product comparison tool. “We’ll see some improvements in energy efficiency, but the technology is pretty mature in the sense of changes to it now being incremental rather than revolutionary.” While their green credentials are second to none, LEDs still face a number of barriers in the retrofit space. Two of the most significant, according to Glen Meyers at Green Building Elements, are cost and incompatibility with traditional luminaires1. While LED prices are continuing to drop, they can still be a relatively pricey option, and the return on investment (that is, the time it takes for the energy savings to pay back the cost of the installation) for a high quality LED retrofit is still calculated over a period of years, making it an option that won’t suit those looking for quick savings. According to Freed, however, this is a false economy: “It’s a bugbear of mine that people are using energy efficiency upgrades as the reason to replace clapped out, worn out, destroyed lighting systems,” he says. “The argument we keep running into with people is okay, so you’ve got 95 per cent through your lighting system – it’s falling out of the ceiling. Where’s the budget you’ve allocated to replace it? And then all we need to is look at the distance between that budget and what it costs to retrofit the lighting system properly and energy efficiently, and it’s that gap we should be funding with these savings we generate. And that would mean the simple payback would turn into months instead of years.” As well as the perception of lengthy returns on investment, LEDs also bring complexities to traditional retrofitting processes – in pre-LED days, retrofits could often be done relatively simply by replacing existing lamps with their more energy efficient equivalents. However, conversion, thermal dissipation and driver incompatibility between traditional light sources and LEDs generally mean that direct lamp replacements are not a viable option. “There are various standards and rule requirements about how a light fitting must perform, and when you change them in component form, you run the risk that they’re no longer compliant. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say they probably aren’t,” Freed says. In this retrofit project at the Sydney Opera House, custom recessed LED downlights were designed to replace the existing compact fluorescent downlights. Photos courtesy of Steensen Varming. Black anodised reflectors were used to minimise glare and provide a more integrated solution at the Sydney Opera House, with the materials and finishes during both daytime and nightime. The LEDs are dimmable to enable a balanced output with the new LED timber wall washers. Photo courtesy of Steensen Varming. As well as the perception of lengthy returns on investment, LEDs also bring complexities to traditional retrofitting processes – in pre-LED days, retrofits could often be done relatively simply by replacing existing lamps with their more energy efficient equivalents.
Lighting December 2014 - Vol 34 Issue 6
Lighting August 2014 - Vol34 Issue 4