LEDs are becoming increasingly popular within businesses, councils as well as our own homes but buyers are being warned to keep an eye out for products that may not necessarily meet EU standards. The prices of LEDs are dropping sue to competition between suppliers but some suppliers may unknowingly be supplying dangerous lamps to unsuspecting customers.
LEDs are known to save money on a long term basis, as well as increased longevity and consuming less energy. But now with dangerous and faulty lamps making it onto the British market the reputation of LEDs is being tarnished.
A recent episode of BBC 1 program Fake Britain highlighted the concerns surrounding imported LED lamps. The program showed a shipment of around 1000 lamps that had been imported from china into the east coast of the UK, when samples from this shipment were tested it was found that there was an inadequate amount of insulation as well as live elements that were exposed.
When the samples had been tested it was found that the voltage running through the lamp was much higher that the 60 vaults outlined in the European Safety Standards. What seemed to cause real concern in this shipment was the fact that all lamps had been marked with the CE mark that all products should have to show it complies with the regulations set out for products within Europe.
Advice given to consumers who want to buy LED products is that when buying stay away from products that are in plain unbranded boxes and buy from reputable retailers as tests will have already been carried out to assure the safety of the product.
Offices tend to have a wide range of ages within their company from late teens to mid sixties, it is obvious that a wide range of ages means that the needs of employees are different, this is also true wen it comes to levels of lighting. Phillips are now saying that employees should have control of their own lighting.
The Dutch company have tried to introduce the concept of ‘Connected Lighting for Offices’ which was first introduced a year ago. It involves employees having access to a smartphone app that is connected to the lighting that is above each individual which they can adjust to their needs, each of the lights would have their own internet address that is connected to an Ethernet network.
During a press release Philips mentioned that a person aged forty-five or over tends to need twice as much light than a person who are in their twenties for even everyday tasks and jobs. They also said that the workforce is slowly aging with up to fifty percent of office workers being over the age of forty-five and as they need up to twice as much light having the ability to adjust this to their preferred settings would have the potential to increase productivity of the workforce for the older and younger.
Philips also suggested that the wrong lighting within the office could affect a persons health and the ability to work productively. One of the scientists who works for Philips stated that many people will phone into work with sickness due to headaches and fatigue, it is suggested that maybe eyestrain over a prolonged period could be an underlying cause of their complaints. Poor lighting has the ability to cause eye-strain, headaches, neck pain and possibly prolonged sick leave.
Carried out in 2013 a survey by Philips found that 90% of people who had the ability to change their own lighting levels for their desk had many positive side effects such as ‘sharper vision’ the ability to see fine detail and ‘optimum eye comfort’.
Philips also think that government should introduce regulations for individualized lighting for employees, as up to 20% of the time spent indoors is working. If the employees are comfortable their performance on the job should be effected in a positive way.
Imagine a world where your lights don’t just brighten up dark areas and light up our streets at night, but help to guide you around a shop to find what you need as quick as possible. This is now a very possible reality with the help of Visible Light Communication (VLC), this technology has encoded data embedded within the LED light. though this sounds complicated in actual fact all LEDs flicker but the human eye is not capable of picking this up whereas the cameras inbuilt into our Smart phones are, turning this slight flicker into a digital flicker means that our phones would be capable of picking it up while still not having an effect on the human eye. The cost of this would not be much as it is as simple as installing a driver that has been programmed in a way to emit these signaling flickers.
This concept it currently being aimed at being used within indoor spaces such as shops and museums. VCL has the ability to be even more precise that GPS with a 10cm dependency for accuracy. To make it work each Lamp needs to emit a unique signal continually so when the phone picks up the signal it pinpoints where you are within the shop.
to retailers the use of VCL seems like a logical one because many of their customers already use mobile devices within their stores, some stores also have a digital layout of the shop ready to be used within this system, to guide their customers to the item that they are looking for and also advertise any special offers or promotions. this could have a large difference on larger stores, supermarkets, department stores and shopping centers where its not always easy to find what you are looking for.
A trial of a similar system has recently been installed by Philips in a museum in the Netherlands and it is hoped that this system could be adapted for use in retail settings.
Kent Council are the latest council to have the streetlight switch off overturned and instead have opted to change to more efficient forms of lighting. Originally it was decided that between the hours of 1am and 6:30am street lights in a number of areas were being switched, this was done in an attempt to save £1 million over the course of a year. Many people within Kent had strong objections towards the move including the police who feared that crime may increase in the prolonged darkness.
With the street light switch off now being overturned the council have decided that investing in LED could help make the savings in government funds needed while keeping its residents safe. From now on street lights will be on throughout the night though in some areas they may be dimmed slightly as despite protests about crime increasing there were no figures to prove this. Kent County Council are investing in 120,000 new streetlights, with a projected cost of around £40 million and up to 60% savings in energy it seems like a logical step forwards in terms of energy saving.
The council is planning to start the swap over to LED in the next year starting in residential areas before moving onto the more public areas, and is expected to take around three years to complete.
Many councils have already opted for the move over to LED after having backlash towards turning of streetlights due to public fear of crime increases and road safety issues for drivers and pedestrians.
A school in northern Sweden has developed the practice of having brighter classrooms within their school to try and increase the productivity of its students. The school is in the north of Sweden and in the winter months sees only a few hours of daylight each day with these daylight hours being while students are in school meaning that when they are traveling to and from school it is usually in darkness.
The secondary school which has around two thousand pupils from the age of sixteen and upward have installed ‘full spectrum electric light’, in a bid to overcome the tiredness exhibited by many of its pupils. The system will provide lighting that tries to mimic that of natural light to try and keep the student’s body clock in check with the time of day that it is.
Whether the light will have the intended effect may or may not happen but currently the students within the school claim they are seeing the positive effect it has on their day to day lives. One student mentioned that with this lighting his brain believes that outside it is sunny and feels the effect that it is having on him is very positive, while another student stated that on his way to school he no longer falls asleep and during the day feels more awake and alert.
Dr Mariana Figueiro from the Lighting Research Centre in New York makes a point saying that the comments made by the students in this Swedish school make sense as being in a brightly lit room can have the same effect on a person as consuming caffeine. This Form of light can bring melatonin production to a halt, and it is melatonin that makes us tired.
While positive effects of ‘full spectrum Electric light’ can be seen in this example many schools are worried that it would make their students over excitable and rowdy, other schools in other countries have also seen positive effects with performance of students raised while sickness related absences have fallen.
For some time now it has been known that Halogen lamps will be phased out of our stores, originally the European Commission (EC) came to the decision that from 2016 onward halogen lamps would no longer be available. Recently though there has been talk of postponing the ban even further.
In the next few weeks yet another vote will be cast within the EC on whether the ban should be postponed until 2018 or possibly 2020. There are a number of arguments on why to postpone the ban coming into effect as well as counter arguments on why the ban should be coming into effect in 2016.
Halogen bulbs have been seen as having ‘eco’ benefits but compared to traditional filament lamps, but these differences are only slight, on the other hand if you were to compare halogen lamps to Compact Florescent (CFL) or LED they are nowhere near as efficient. In 2009 the EC originally said that the ban of halogen lamps would come into effect in 2016 but if the vote cast over the next few weeks sees a postponement it could become as late as 2020.
One company who works within Europe is against the ban coming into effect next year, they feel that CFL and LEDs are not yet up to the job of replacing halogen in terms of price and the lifespan of the lamp, they also feel that the changes needed would not be ready by 2016 and possibly not ready by 2018 either. One final issue that was flagged up was the availability of replacements for halogen bulbs as CFL and LED lamps don’t always provide a direct replacement or one that looks the same as halogen, because of this customers no longer know if lamps will fit in existing fittings.
On the other hand there are those who think that CFL and LED lamps are more than capable of taking up the challenge of replacing halogen lamps. It is claimed by newer companies who have never dealt with halogen that companies who sell halogen bulbs that they are trying to keep a percentage of the market if not only for nostalgias sake as most of these companies do actually produce LED or CFL lamps. It is also said that though a lamp may not last the 20 years many LED manufacturers claim that they will last, even if they were to survive for only ten years this is still better than the lifespan of halogen lamp.
LED lighting hasn’t always been easy to recycle but with new changes in the way that LEDs are recycled it should become easier for everyone to do.
The Environments Agency published new guidelines in December 2014, the changes to these guidelines mean that when recycling LEDs they will now be classes as ‘lighting equipment’ rather than having the classification of ‘lamp and lighting source’ which they have previously held. Because of these changes less material will be classes ans being hazardous which in turn makes recycling easier.
The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) directive have stated that those who produce lighting and lighting equipment must declare the weight of their products to the recycling authorities for those products that are on the market. these guidelines apply to commercial lighting while residential lighting is not yet part of this requirement.
Lighting within retail is just one of the many existing areas of lighting that faces many challenges, some of the biggest challenges include getting the correct product for you as well as warranty periods and longevity of the product.
Within the lighting industry there are yet to be official standards set regarding LED lighting and getting the best specifications at the best price. Within the UK to deal with this issue the Lighting Industry Association have created an independent verification program for LED products.
Retail units also wont upgrade their lighting for savings alone, if there was evidence backing the idea that sales increased more retail stores could be willing to upgrade their lighting, but with this comes the issue of weather the lighting would change the atmosphere of the store that a brand puts time and money into creating.
Finally LED has a longer lifespan than that of a halogen or energy saving bulb which is beneficial for a long term investment but many retail units only have a short leasehold period meaning that the lifespan outlasts that of the lease so the investment is not seen as being as significant. Related to this, concerns over warranty periods and the lifespan of the product are seen as important, if a product fails before the predicted lifespan given retail need to be able to contact the company who provided the lighting but as lighting is an ever changing environment companies disband and expand making it harder to get replacements and repairs where necessary.
The UKLED office will be closing today at 5pm and reopening at 8am on Monday 5th January 2015. We look forward to hearing from you in the new year.
From everybody at UKLED we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Across the UK supermarkets are starting to adopt a more energy efficient approach towards lighting, with the installation of LED lighting.Marks & Spencer Food Halls and sainsbury’s supermarkets are aiming to eventually replace all their old lighting with LED.
Over the next two years all food halls within Marks & Spencer will be replaced with LEDs aiming to reduce carbon emissions and reduce lighting costs of up to 35% by the year 2020 alongside government legislation.
Sainsbury’s are another supermarket who are embracing energy efficiency and opened their first all LED Store in 2013 and have built a further five stores since as well as retrofitting 100 more supermarkets, these new all LED stores costs a fraction of the normal price to run and have so far saved an estimated 35% on lighting costs. as with Marks & Spencer Sainsbury’s are also trying to meet the target set with regards to reductions in carbon emissions.