AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 4 of 4

AWA NEWS: “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series- Part 4 of 4

PART 4 of 4
Where Are We Going?

The past 2 decades have brought tectonic shifts in lighting hardware. The design community is struggling to keep up with what these changes mean for us in the big picture. It’s a changing world and the new paradigm does not look recognizable as yet. The questions raised are a lot larger than just whether an LED fixture will work well or not. To share one short example, for the first time in the history of humankind, we have the option of using a planar light source (OLEP) that looks like a big sheet of paper and emits substantial light. This means that walls, complete ceilings, and possibly complete floors can be glowing with light— the architecture and form turn into large “chandeliers” that we live and work in— like Lilliputians, these Gulliverian technologies dwarf us. We are not dealing with point sources anymore. The sun and moon as point sources have defined creation in many ways— providing one beautiful shadow as we journey through life. The new world may be shadowless given that the light sources are bigger than human beings or, as it is happening already, multiple shadows from a perceived single light source. A majority of the current streetlights and downlights often provide multiple shadows as we walk and work under them. All of our art and cinema has shown point sources with single shadows, but now the reality is different. Imagine John Wayne riding into a planar illuminated wall (not a sunset) or Amitabh-Smita dancing in the rain, not to a point-source street light with single beautiful shadows and silhouettes but multiple shadows.

It’s a changing world that we have to recognize as different than what we have grown up in. It provides an opportunity to analyze and embrace what the future holds. In this changing world, one of the biggest areas of concern is really how these fixtures will be maintained when they do not actually fail in the traditional sense. To further elaborate on the dilemma, when our lamps du jour (LEDs) do not fail anymore, how does one “change the bulb” or maintain bulbs that don’t burn out? The other vexing issue in the same scenario is that many of these fixtures do not come with replaceable lamps, which means you have to change the complete fixture as an assembly. This is a new paradigm that many of us are still getting used to, and questioning.

Another industry standard that leaves us perplexed is that of lumen depreciation in LED lamps. Lamps are now rated for 80% lumen maintenance or 20% lumen depreciation at a specified number of hours (mostly 50,000 hours). Though it is good to have standards to regulate less than honest manufacturers, this metric does not really translate as well for the end-user. For most of the end-users, there is no real way to measure the lumen output. Besides that, if you are using the light for 4 hours a day, it is still only 1,500 hours a year, and chances are you will forget about how bright the light was on day one. So, how will you know when it is time for re-lamping? The drivers and power supplies are the weakest link in this new system. They will fail in a conventional sense before the LEDs— meaning the lights will stop working because the driver has failed. A replaceable driver and ease of access to the driver become imperative for maximizing the utility of fixtures.

In a nutshell, the maintenance systems have to be revamped to address the changing world that we live in. There is no measurable metric existent that is enforceable in an easy way. However, certain performance specifications can be utilized to reduce the angst of maintenance and energy and system efficiency.

Abhay Wadhwa
Design Principal  l  CEO
AWA Lighting Designers


If you have missed any of the “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Series you can catch up with these links:

  • Read Part 1 of 4 – “Getting It Built- No Excuses!” Introduction Newsletter HERE.  
  • Read Part 2 of 4 – Overcoming Site Conditions – AWA Showcase Project: Ark of Return HERE.
  • Read Part 3 of 4 – Performance Specifications – AWA Showcase Project: ICC Towers HERE.

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