Useful LED knowledge when talking custom lighting
People all talk about LED lighting nowadays, especially when you decide to have custom lighting for your project, no matter it is for a hotel, or just for a restaurant, LED is something good in your mind, more energy saving, more high-tech, even more fashionable? Here we would like to share what needs to be considered when choosing LED light for your projects.
What is LED Lighting
LED is short for Light Emitting Diodes, which is a semiconductor that can emit visible light when the electric current passing through. Before the LED lighting, what we use most is fluorescent light, the light created from the chemical reaction between short-wave ultraviolet(from mercury vapor) and phosphor coating. And before fluorescent light? It is halogen light, and incandescent light which is the oldest type, the light generated when electric current heats the filament wire.
So you see, whether LED or not, it’s about the light source, not the design (some cases the light source can affect the whole design). For same pendant light, usually, you can choose either an LED light source or old type light source, same situation for the table lamp, floor lamp or wall sconces. You can select the design firstly then decide to use LED light source
Why choose LED light?
Firstly, the LED life span lasting up to 3~5 times longer than fluorescent light, while 50 times longer than incandescent light. Secondly, LED light is more energy-saving, means using less electricity with the same lighting output. Thirdly, it’s about environment protection, LED light is mercury-free, unlike fluorescent light. Last but not least, actually very important for custom lighting, LED light can be small in size and with a flexible structure, this can give you unlimited choice for the lighting design.
Built-in LED or Standard LED Bulbs
After you decide to choose LED for your custom lighting fixture, you can still have the choice to using standard LED bulbs(such as E27/E26, E14/E12, GU10, G9, G4, etc…), or use built-in LED.
We suggest that the first choice will be always standard LED bulbs if their design allowed, as this will be easy for maintenance purpose, when any issue with the bulbs, you can change it very easily.
While some lighting design there will be not enough space for the standard light bulb or need much more lighting output, in this case, you need to consider built-in LED for your custom lighting, means the LED light source will be not a separate part of the lighting fixture.
What are the most important part of LED custom lighting?
The LED Chip, LED Driver and heat-dissipating structure are the most important parts for making a good LED light. When you plan for LED custom lighting, it will be the same.
The LED chip will guarantee the lighting efficiency and light quality, LED driver will make sure the correct and stable electric current passing through the LED chip, to make the best of its lighting output. The heat-dissipating structure including not only the heat sink but the whole design whether the heat can be dissipating easily, to make sure LED chip not burn by heat.
So if you want to check LED quality of custom lighting, firstly you need to note the brand name of LED chip & Driver using, then need to check if design structure is good for heat dissipating.
You all know the voltage in your area shall be 220~240V or 110~120V, you can understand it is the pressure to push the electrical current running through the wire (or any conducting loop), this decides what type of LED driver will be selected for custom lighting.
Specially, you may need to consider low voltage as 12V or 24V for LED custom lighting which used in the outdoor environment, for more safety purpose.
The LED wattage is a measuring unit for energy use, also you can think it as the amount of light that from a LED light. Simply, if you need more light, ask for the higher wattage LED, if need less light, ask for lower wattage LED. You need to consider it together with luminous Efficiency and luminous flux, so to decide the suitable LED wattage for your custom lighting.
Luminous efficacy is a measure of how well a light source produces visible light. It is the ratio of luminous flux to power, usually, write as “lumen/Wattage” or “LM/W. For any qualified LED light, usually it is 80~105 LM/W, for fluorescent light it is appr. 50 LM/W, while for incandescent it is appr.15 LM/W. From this way, you can know it clearly why LED light is more energy-saving, and can save how many percentage.
Also known as lumens output, is a measure of the amount of light produced by the light source, calculated as “Wattage*Luminous efficiency”, then you will know total how many lumen your LED light source can generate. This is the precise calculation in your mind when thinking about how many lights you need for your space.
Nevertheless, it will be a little complicated for custom lighting, no matter it is a chandelier, pendant light, table lamp, floor lamp or wall sconces, there are always some other materials cover the light source, so their actual lumens output will be much less than your calculation. That’s why in most project cases, the custom lighting is seen as decorative lighting, interior designer arranges extra functional lighting on the ceiling or the wall for illumination purpose. In case there is no functional lighting and you need the custom lighting to light up your whole space, need to check with lighting consultant for your plan.
Color rendering index
Known as CRI for short, it ranges from 0~100, which indicating the lighting quality to translate an object’s accurate color. The higher the number, the more accurate colors in your room will be presented. For hotel and restaurant project, we suggest min. CRI80 as a quailed light source. By selecting the well-known brand of LED chip, you can get the LED custom lighting with qualified CRI. For example, in most of our LED custom lighting, we are using CREE LED Chip, its CRI can reach 85~95.
Color temperature is a linear scales for measuring the color of light, measured in degrees Kelvin. Warm light is measured in lower numbers, and cool white is in a higher number.
The most popular color temperature you will see when selecting the light will be 2700K, 3000K, 4000K, 6000K, 6500K. In most projects, the custom lighting will be in 2700K or 3000K, known as warm white, because this light can give out yellow hue similar as an incandescent bulb, can create a warm and comfortable atmosphere, especially for the hotel lighting. In some commercial projects, such as office, shopping mall, retail shop…you may need the custom lighting have more cool white, then you will select 4000K, known as natural white, or 6000~6500K, known as daylight.
Beam angle describes the wide or spread of light generated from LED light, a narrow beam angle means it generates the concentrated light that will be better for accent lighting, while a wide beam angle means a more general and softer light.
So when deciding for a custom lighting, if you need to use the lighting to highlight something, for example, need a pendant to have some concentration on a desk, then you need to consider narrow beam angel as 5~15°
This rating describes the degree of protection provided against the intrusion of dust and water.
It will be fine for custom lighting with very basic rating IP20 for indoor use, while if the custom lighting using in moisture location(damp location), in outdoor under the roof, or the total outdoor environment, you need to consider if their IP rating suitable based on the actual condition. Sometimes you even need some compromise on the whole lighting design so to reach the required IP rating, only in this way the custom lighting can work properly and safety after installation.
You can refer to the IP rate table here to figure out what IP rate need for your custom lighting. To make it simple, you can follow our guide as well. For example, now you are selecting lighting fixture for your hotel, IP20 is the suitable rate for most of the indoor and dry environment, most of the decorative lighting for guest rooms and public area are good enough with IP20. Then you plan to select a wall lamp and mirror lamp for bathroom, it is a damp location you need to consider IP44. For wall lamp on the hotel outside wall, or in the hotel garden, it can be min. IP44 if roof on top, while if total outdoor without a roof, they need to be at least IP65. Any custom lighting need to be used underwater, will need to consider min. IP67, if a long period of immersion in water, have to be IP68.
This indicates the lighting fixture is suitable to be dimmed. In some projects, you will need the same lighting fixtures with different lighting output at different time of a day, especially for the hotel. In this case, you will need your custom lighting to be dimmable.
Once decide that your custom lighting need to be dimmable, you must decide what kinds of dimming method you will use for your custom light. Just remember that the dimming function is related to the LED driver, not the LED chip. Different dimming method requires for different types of LED driver. Currently, the most popular dimming methods include:
- Triac /phase-cut dimming
- Constant voltage 0-10V/1-10V/10V PWM /Rx. dimming
- DALI dimming
Different type of dimming method requires different wiring connection as well, so the advice is to decide which dimming method you will use, then to design or select a suitable dimmable custom lighitng.