Charge of the light brigade

Energy-saving lighting that allows individuals more control over creating their ambience is now de rigeur, as Jill Entwistle witnesses at this year’s Hanover show

Rather like the summation of China given by one of Noel Coward’s characters in Private Lives, “very big” is a comparable understatement of the Hanover Fair. The lighting section can rival a modest department store in size.

It is an exhibition where technological trails are blazed – especially in light sources – and where future trends can be gleaned. Where Milan’s Euroluce, just a few days earlier, is more concerned with putting on the style, Hanover concentrates on the substance.

Regulations governing glare on VDTs and a growing awareness of the role light plays in well-being have resulted in an increasing preoccupation with quality of light, both in practical and aesthetic terms. Providing lighting which allows tasks to be performed efficiently and comfortably, creating a pleasing ambience for workers and allowing them greater individual control of light levels are all increasingly crucial factors in lighting the working environment. Combined with a growing concern for energy efficiency, the result is an exploration of ever more sophisticated ways to control and distribute light. Gone are the days of the simple overhead lighting solution.

The Sinario system which Siemens is launching at Hanover this year takes a radical step by replacing a ceiling luminaire with a reflective device – which the company describes as a “light point resolution reflector”. With four units, each individually adjustable in three dimensions, the reflector comprises a myriad of tiny convex mirrors, rather like the compound eye of a fly. Using a floor-mounted parallel beam spotlight which sits at the side of the desk, the beam of light is bounced off the reflector and distributed over the working area.

Providing both task and ambient lighting by adjusting the spot and the reflector panels, the system eliminates the problem of glare. Additional ambient light is provided by ceiling washers horizontally mounted in or on the walls. With power supply only necessary for the floor-mounted spot, the Sinario is ideal for buildings without suspended ceilings.

The concept was originally developed on a larger scale for Frankfurt Airport. There, upward-facing floodlights were mounted on columns, and domed mirrors were used to re-reflect the light so that taxiing planes were not subjected to glare.

Meanwhile, conventional luminaires become increasingly sophisticated. The growing demand for energy efficiency – driven by both government regulations and commercial considerations – has seen a burgeoning of intelligent lighting as well as control systems. At Hanover, Thorn Lighting is launching the latest developments in its Sensa lighting range which it first introduced in 1990.

According to the company, the Sensa 2 range saves more than 50 per cent of energy costs. Like other intelligent luminaires, it incorporates a photocell for daylight compensation and a passive infrared (PIR) sensor to detect the presence of people. Its advanced electronics, says Thorn, give greater adaptability.

For daylight or absence functions, the user can choose to set the fitting’s switches off completely or pre-set it to remain at its lowest dimmed level of 10 per cent of its maximum output. Light output is automatically adjusted to maintain one of four preset illuminance levels: 200, 350, 500 or 750 lux. There is also a choice of 2.5 minute or 12.5 minute absence time delays.

New electronics drive a larger range of fluorescent lamps, from single 18W linears to twin 55W CFLs, which means more choice of fittings.

With its greater emphasis on architectural lighting nowadays, Thorn is also launching the Coordinated Environmental Lighting (CEL) range. Created by two Finnish designers, all products are linked by style, colour and motif and include uplights (in four options), downlights, decorative fluorescents, task lights, exit signs and outdoor fittings. The range is also energy-conscious, with the majority of fittings designed for either compact fluorescents or low-wattage metal halide lamps.

Where low voltage was the main obsession in track lighting in the early Eighties, several companies are now looking to mains voltage options with the development of par 30 and then par 20 lamps. Erco’s Unipar range of spots and wallwashers has been designed for these two sources, while Illuma is launching the Delta line of par 30 spots complete with louvre and eyebrow attachments, plus a choice of three colour filters.

Concord Sylvania’s Compact mains voltage spots will complement its latest discreet track system. Provisionally called the Low Profile Track, it obtrudes no more than 16.5mm from the ceiling, almost half the depth of standard track, though slightly wider at 44mm.

One of the more spectacular introductions on the spot front is Irideon’s AR5, the diminutive answer to its AR500 programmable, colour- changing exterior cousin and designed for the architectural interior. With full pan and tilt capability, the AR5 can reproduce the entire colour spectrum through computer-controlled dichroic glass filters. With a PC-based programmer it can create synchronised movements for kinetic lighting of themed areas or individual static lighting programmes for interiors. While there has been a fastidiousness among lighting designers about the use of colour lighting effects, the AR5 is at the forefront of a trend to introduce a touch of theatre to interiors.

Downlighting is a rather more overcrowded field, with more models weighing in every year. Concord Sylvania is introducing a recessed low- energy version designed especially for high ceiling applications. The LED 300 uses a single vertically mounted CFL and gives an LOR of up to 75 per cent. I Guzzini’s latest is the Quasar series of adjustable and fixed low-voltage downlighters which have patented built-in supporting springs for ease of installation in a variety of ceilings. Quasar is also suitable for applications such as ships and elevators as it has been designed to withstand vibrations and jolts.

Kreon is launching new ranges of down- and uplighters at Hanover, including Flat Ups, an extension of the Upstream series of recessed luminaires. Available with a piece of gravity-fixed toughened glass in either clear or sandblasted versions for use in public places, it can be recessed into floors, walls and ceilings. It accepts a maximum 20W lamp and comes in either round or rectangular shapes.

There is a theory that while the recession persists in Europe, lighting manufacturers will continue to pull their punches, conserving their efforts for the good times. There is little point in squandering vast resources on research and marketing when potential clients are reluctant to invest their money. But even if some launches don’t make it beyond the prototype stage, Hanover continues to light the way forward.

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