New Homes & Downlights

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New Homes & Downlights

Postby RikB » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:11 pm

Why do Architects & Builders continue to offer new homes full of Halogen Downlights?
Surely these professionals see the ongoing issues that these lighting products create in terms of energy efficiency!
Some of the very latest homes being offered by some of the largest companies in the marketplace are still full of these 50watt downlights. Anywhere up to 20, 30 or even 40 of these lights are still being installed in new homes to this very day. Why, oh why? Well they're cheap to buy and cheap to install & highlight areas of the home whilst not providing sufficient light for
many rooms.
If you're building a new home, please take a few minutes or longer to research other options on the market.
The world will thank you for using a lot less power.
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby Tracker » Sat Jan 16, 2010 9:31 am

RikB wrote:Why do Architects & Builders continue to offer new homes full of Halogen Downlights?
Surely these professionals see the ongoing issues that these lighting products create in terms of energy efficiency!


Because Architects are often stupid... Only thinking of what is Architecturally Pleasing.

RikB wrote:If you're building a new home, please take a few minutes or longer to research other options on the market. The world will thank you for using a lot less power.


I do hope that some people heed your comments, if only for their own safety.
So many fires are started by HALOGEN Down-Lights, and people just don't think.
There is never a home that I visit, where one or two are out.
People get tired of replacing/repairing the contacts, which because if the high current, easily burn out.

These days, people should be looking for a combination of CLF downers for work lighting and LED lights for mood lighting.. You can have the best of both worlds!
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby zzsstt » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:51 pm

Go to your local newsagent and pick up any "home fashion" magazine. You will rarely see anything that is genuinely environmentally friendly even mentioned. You may find an article paying lip service to "green design", but inevitably if you analyse what is said you will find that it is talking about a very expensive and trendy product that in reality is not even close to "green". It doesn't matter if you are looking at kitchens, bathrooms, lighting or anything else, what is being pushed as "desirable" inherently falls in to the category of conspicuous consumption. Human nature means that we have a desire to demonstrate our wealth and power, and sadly that creates "fashion". It is very hard to create something desirable that is genuinely friendly to the environment, at best these solutions are "marginally less bad".

In the area of lighting, what looks good is an acceptably bright level of general lighting, with highlights picked out in a brighter light to create what could be called visual glitter (shiny things!). Unfortunately this is very hard to achieve in a "green" way. Fluoro's, either compact, linear or circular, create a very uniform light without any real interest. If you put them in a luminaire that attempts to create such an effect, they tend to lose their efficiency advantage - they may still use less power, but also produce much less light. The LED's that I have tested use very little power and produce very little light. There has recently been a posting or two about newer better LED's, but unfortunately these were made by an online retailer of LED's posing as his own customer - if he needs to stoop that low to sell his product, I personally would tend to dismiss any claims he might make about the performance of his products!

There are other issues at play as well. Fluoro's do not take kindly to repeated frequent switching, and CFL's especially often have a lengthy warm-up period.

Put these facts together and, from my research, whilst blanket lighting is best supplied by linear or circular fluoros, task lighting (and short duration lighting like bathrooms) is still best achieved with halogens. Of these, the best by far are the 12V energy saving 20W and 35W units produced by Osram. When an energy saving 20W 12V halogen is used with a high efficiency electronic power supply, the results in terms of light output per watt consumed are actually quite reasonable (no, I'm not linked to any lighting company!).

Mood lighting, pool lighting and deck/step edge lights can be LED's, but again these are all low intensity uses.

If accent lighting is required, again halogens are the best option. Accent lighting is obviously not required, but it's hard to make a room appealing without it. How does anyone see the masterpiece on the wall unless it is bathed in light?

CFL's are, in my opinion, only to be used in situations where there is a need to use old luminaries designed for standard globes. They warm up slowly, fail if switched on/off frequently and have an appalling power factor (hence require close to double their stated power in terms of the generation and distribution network).

The real issue here is that the best form of lighting is that which provides the correct level of light. Sadly the correct level of light from an energy consumption viewpoint is the least amount of light that will do the job. This means just enough to walk across the room without hitting anything, with additional lights that are on for the duration of a particular task. Very few people are willing to accept that level, and you would struggle to sell a house thus equipped!
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby Tracker » Sat Jan 16, 2010 8:37 pm

.
zzsstt wrote:CFL's are, in my opinion, only to be used in situations where there is a need to use old luminaries designed for standard globes.


Wow, do I disagree.. Remember that there are CFL's and CFL's. I am not talking about the self contained CFL's that we are seeing all the time as incandescent replacements, but the ones using discrete PL-C plug-in tubes. Deep recessed Downers, where you can't see the tubes (except from directly under)
I've used them for near 20 years now ( I think ), and have never looked back.

There are other issues at play as well. Fluoro's do not take kindly to repeated frequent switching, and CFL's especially often have a lengthy warm-up period.


Disagree - I have some rooms with PIR movement sensors (manual over-rides) , so if you sit still for too long, the lights go off.
Those globes give me no trouble.

whilst blanket lighting is best supplied by linear or circular fluoros, task lighting (and short duration lighting like bathrooms) is still best achieved with halogens.


Yuck - Mostly the 50W halogens are used, and mostly supplied with cheap Iron-Core supplies. Few people think to specify 20W halogens.
If highlight is needed LED's can suffice here..

Yuck -- Linear and circular Flouros...
My kitchen is over lit with two 18W PLC downers (Warm White)

I guess it's a case of each to their own. We are over-lit and it's costing us very little..

Asa for the classic Lounge-Room with 76 Halogens equally spaced across the ceiling.....?

I still hate Halogens.. Sorry

.
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby zzsstt » Sun Jan 17, 2010 7:11 am

The trouble with most fluoro's is that they emit light "sideways". They use less energy per unit of light produced, but they rely totally on the fixture to produce any direction to the light produced. This means that unless the luminaire is well designed, highly reflective and spotlessly clean, much of the light will be lost. To produce a "highlight" beam of light with a fluoro is therefore not an easy task! This is also why the replacement CFL's when used in normal fittings often give poor results, they emit light sideways, which often means it never escapes the luminaire which was designed for a globe that produces light in all directions. I investigated the PL-C fluoro's but the luminaires I saw all had a vertical lamp mount (i.e. the tube hanging straight down). This results in the majority of light having to be reflected off at least one reflector before it leaves the luminaire, which given the quality of the reflectors (and their tendancy to become dirty) seemed to be a hinderance to efficiency. A PL-C luminaire with a horizontal tube mounting would only require half the light to be reflected (that produced by the upper surface of the globe) and would therefore seem a far better concept, but then a recessed fitting would also be much larger. Part of the attraction of recessed halogens is the "light from nowhere" appearance, which is obviously diminished with an increase in the size of the luminaire to allow a horizontal PL-C.

Any deep recessed light would seem to be very poorly suited to efficient general lighting, unless it has a surface mounted defractor. A deep recessed light, no matter what type, would seem to be limited to producing a pool of light beneath it? This is of course the reason why the "76 halogens" syndrome exists, it's not that they produce insufficient light, but rather that they only illuminate the patch of room below the fixture! [It's also why they look so good, they produce "interest" rather than a blanket, unchanging illumination.]

Logic would suggest the best form of general light (from the "eco" viewpoint) is one that produces light over the largest area for the smallest amount of energy used. This is why circular or linear fluoro's work so well in this regard, one mounted centrally in a room can light the entire area using very little energy. Whilst it has no soul whatsoever, an example of efficient lighting is that used by supermarkets, which is simply linear fluoro's. They provide just about the most light for the least energy in a cheap and easy to manage system. A marginal improvement over fluoro's would be metal halides which produce more light per watt, and also have a very pleasing colour. The expense of the fittings and management issues however normally prevent their use in that environment.

When I designed the lighting for my house, I didn't want any breaks in the insulation (sound or thermal) so I used no recessed lights at all. Main room lighting ("blanket" lighting) is provided by T5 circular fluoro's, where possible (and applicable) these are actually in ceiling fans and so hang below the ceiling and create a degree of interest to the light. Bathrooms use either circular or linear T5's, in "nice" fittings. The circular T5's take a few minutes to reach full brightness, but because they are used for long periods (dusk until bedtime!) that's not a problem. 20W halogens (Osram energy saving, so 20W = 35W "normal") are used for short duration task lighting such as over the kitchen benches. These task lights are turned on and off as required and produce a bright light as needed when cooking. There are a few other halogens around, also in task specific positions. Exterior floodlighting is metal halide (just about the most efficient form of lighting around, but very slow to start and won't restart when hot), and other external lighting is by CFL's because I can't find any LEDs that produce enough light!

The down side of such a system (the interior system) is the tendancy for it to look like a supermarket, adequately lit but utterly uninspiring! To combat that I have used interesting light fittings, and combined centrally located dimmable fluoro's with secondary lighting such as floor lamps and table lamps to provide interest. The secondary lights, which are not providing much real light but are creating "mood", can of course be LED's. And obviously, because they are only creating "mood" they are inherently not energy efficient because they are using power unecessarily!

Lighting is always interesting. Making something that looks good, provides sufficient light and uses minimal power is quite a challenge. When cooking, I detest working in my own shadow and so I "need" (?) task lighting above the benches. However when I am not actively using the kitchen, such lighting is wasteful. Therefore I ended up with kitchen lighting being a window, two independently switched circular fluoro's and task lighting (20W halogens) above the benches and in the extractor hood. That's potentially a massive overkill, but of course it is not normally all in use. For perhaps 30 minutes when I'm cooking I may have most of it switched on, but for most of the day the window provides enough light! I'm also still toying with the concept of a light tube to boost natural lighting..........
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby bradley.jarvis » Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:42 am

Unless you have used the new LED downlights (good quality ones that is, XCree based for instance, I have heard that they are the equivalent of a standard ~30W halogen) I wouldn't be turning people off trying them (we use them quite successfully). Downlights in general however are not good because they are basically a spotlight. We have them in directional light fittings so that we can point them where we want the light. We bought 60degree angle which was a bit too focused a beam, so we removed the lens which has given a lower light level but more spread.

We had a thin tube fluro in our kitchen at our last house that turned on instantly with no apparent warmup time. It was also very efficient (from memory it was 15W). It was a very thin tube and lit the kitchen very well. It was microprocessor controlled. It was suspended from the 2.7m high ceiling and was inside a nice looking housing. We had it running for over ~4 years with no problems.

We are not at all associated with the sale of LED downlights, we have found them to be very good. I can't comment on the lifespan because we have only used them for ~6 months.

If your building a new house at a cost of ~$100k then I think it is certainly worth investigating a few options in terms of lighting. Don't go cheap, but buy a few samples of different lights and try them out personally.

Thanks, Brad
Living off-grid and loving it!
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby zzsstt » Tue Jan 19, 2010 1:42 pm

bradley.jarvis wrote:Unless you have used the new LED downlights (good quality ones that is, XCree based for instance, I have heard that they are the equivalent of a standard ~30W halogen) I wouldn't be turning people off trying them (we use them quite successfully).


The fact is that these products are developing all the time, so there is always a new version that may be better. The Cree 9W units are specified as equivalent to a 30W 12V halogen, and therefore a 20W "energy savingl" halogen. As such, they should be reasonable in general use. I find it interesting that most of the LED suppliers choose to specify their products in lumen (luminous flux). This is not really standard for directed lights, as it refers to total light produced and does not include losses in the reflector or lenses. It is more normal to use luminous intensity (candela) when specifying a directed light source, as this is a measurement of the actual light beam emitted from the unit. Converting from the lumen number specified for the Cree 9W LED gives approximately the same candela rating as the 20W energy saving halogen, but that assumes the reflectors and lenses in the LED unit are loss-free, and 100% of the light produced ends up in the beam. Though obviously I cannot say for certain in this particular case, it is not uncommon for "marketing" to use units of measurement that make a product look good!

Unfortunately, whilst on paper they give a 50% energy saving, LED's are also still quite expensive and the overall amount of energy saved is very small. To be a financially viable proposition they have to last several years to pay back their purchase price. In terms of saving energy (without risking a financial loss if the LED should fail prematurely), making one less cup of coffee/tea each week would provide a bigger energy saving.

I would suggest that people try any new technology in a limited way before spending too much money, and assess for themselves not only if it works, but whether it is worthwhile. What is worthwhile to one person may not be so to another. In an off-grid situation (such as yourself), minimising absolute usage may prevent the need for a bigger battery or inverter and may therefore be a very attractive option. Equally anybody determined to minimise their absolute use of power may find them of benefit. In my case, I am not yet convinced that the capital outlay on a product of as yet unproven longevity, to save a minimal (on an overall scale) amount of power is worthwhile.

In the case of lighting, the problem is made worse because what is an acceptable level of light to one person may be too bright or too dark for another. This is of course trumped by the fact that the eye adjusts to differing light levels - an adequately lit room appears dim to someone who has been in full summer sun, and very bright to somebody who's eyes have adjusted to a dark night!

bradley.jarvis wrote:We had a thin tube fluro in our kitchen at our last house that turned on instantly with no apparent warmup time. It was also very efficient (from memory it was 15W). It was a very thin tube and lit the kitchen very well. It was microprocessor controlled. It was suspended from the 2.7m high ceiling and was inside a nice looking housing. We had it running for over ~4 years with no problems.


Fluoro tubes are described by their diameter in eigths of an inch, so the "normal" tube is a T8 i.e. 8/8ths of an inch thick, whilst he more modern tubes (likely to be what you had) are T5 - 5/8ths of an inch. Like you, I have also found that the linear T5's have minimal warm-up, but for some reason the circular T5's (still with electronic controls) seem to take a few minutes to reach full brightness. They are all very efficient, however and appear to be free from the flicker that sometimes affects fluoro's.
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby tonydav » Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:58 am

We're in the process of building a new home (very early stages - still in council) and my wife is a lover of the downlights they have in display homes.

I've told her flat we're not having halogens due to the myriad of reasons mentioned on this site.

However, in some places I would think they would suit and I've been looking at the compact flourescent downlights such as this one here:

http://www.beaconshop.com.au/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=1214&category_id=22&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

(NB: I have no affiliation etc with Beacon).

Is this an acceptable alternative to the halogens in terms of light generated? I'm intending to have a T5 type light in each room that has these so the downlights are mainly for secondary lighting (e.g. in the lounge room when watching TV we would turn off the main lights and use these).

What about insulation, possibility of fire etc?
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby zzsstt » Thu Jan 21, 2010 7:58 am

Things to consider:

I have tried some of the GU10 fluoro's (which would seem to be what is fitted in this unit). They were very slow to reach full light (several minutes) and for the first few seconds produced no light at all. Try them first - get a cheap surface mount GU10 light (if you don't have one in your current house), then buy an energy saving GU10 globe and see what happens..... We tested three different ones for several months and eventually decided we couldn't live with them!

The beam angle on the GU10 fluoro's is often about 120 degrees, as opposed to the 60 degree angle that would be the norm with halogens. This means two things, firstly the brightness is greatly reduced (less light in total, but also spread over a much larger area), and secondly in a recessed fitting you may not get the same affect as with a halogen (broad area lighting as opposed to a narrower beam).

Any recessed light inevitably breaks thermal and sound insulation.

Heat generated and fire risk should not be a problem if the unit is fitted correctly.

The GU10 globe could be replaced with an LED at a later stage, if these give a better price/performance result.

Tracker, in an earlier post, suggested that the downlights using PL-C type fluoro's give a better result, so they might be worth trying.
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Re: New Homes & Downlights

Postby tonydav » Thu Jan 21, 2010 8:52 am

Very good points. I'll have to discuss this with my wife. It may be a good thing to have the beam spread as it may be a softer, more suttle light. Not what I'd want for my reading nook though.

They had LED downlights as well:

http://www.beaconshop.com.au/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=shop.flypage&product_id=2376&category_id=59&manufacturer_id=0&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1

They're very expensive so I hadn't considered them. I'm also not convinced that they produce the type of light we'd require. And then there's the cost again....
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