Residential lighting is an application that puts LED replacement lamps to the test—many tests actually. Light quality that we might accept in less demanding environments, like offices, supermarkets, or parking garages, is not good enough for our homes, where it’s closer and affects us more noticeably. LED technology has changed significantly in the past two years, and now there are many excellent products with warmer colors and high color rendering that are ideal for all residential applications. Consumers can get the best of both worlds: excellent light quality and an astounding 80 percent energy savings, with much longer lamp life.
The availability of a full range of high-quality LED products means that designers and homeowners can focus on the important aspect of home lighting—design. According to internationally acclaimed residential lighting designer and author Randall Whitehead, the best residential lighting design is for people first, and interiors and objects second. This means creating the right balance between many different layers of light—ambient, task, decorative, and accent.
Great lighting in a room makes people feel and look better. This is something that not everyone is always aware of, since the first goal for many interior designers and their clients is often to show off their exquisite taste in furnishings and art in order to impress their guests. The good news is that we can accomplish both comfort and dramatic display with the correct lighting design balance. Also, having a full range of LED lamps to work with makes it easier to have great design and save energy. The most common LED lamps for residential applications are MR16 and PAR lamps.
Although all homes can now take advantage of LEDs as products become more widely available and more affordable, in general higher-end residential applications have proven to be the most demanding. Here designers want to match the performance of their favorite incandescent sources, like the aforementioned MR16 and PAR lamps. Lamps for high-end residential use need to meet or exceed traditional incandescent sources like halogen in output, beam quality, full dimming, warm dimming, color temperature and color rendering.
As technologies continue improving in LED lamps, they will offer all of the same design options of traditional light sources while requiring significantly less energy and lasting considerably longer. Ledzworld’s MR16 LED bulbs for instance, come equipped with a three-year warranty with 24-hours/day use, over 25,000 hours of guaranteed illumination. By contrast, traditional halogen MR16 bulbs frequently used in architectural lighting applications (especially high-end residences) have an average life range between 2,000 and 5,000 hours.
The single greatest challenge for residential applications for LEDs is compatibility. First, LED is a different technology in that it is fundamentally a unidirectional source, rather than omnidirectional. Both fluorescent and incandescent sources were originally only omni-directional and only later became directional with the development of reflector lamps and other luminaires. But these two technologies are dramatically unsustainable: incandescent lamps are essentially “heat lamps,” turning 95 percent of power into heat, not light. Also, fluorescent lamps suffer large fixture efficiency losses and, although more efficient than incandescent, have not been widely adopted for residential use because of their poor quality of light – that bluish tint most users despise.
Second, the entire infrastructure of lighting evolved over several decades based on only two technologies—incandescent and fluorescent. LEDs have different technical requirements that frequently don’t mesh with the existing lighting infrastructure. This has caused many difficulties as manufacturers first developed LEDs as replacement sources without always taking into account deeper issues of integration and eventual replacement of infrastructure with systems that are better suited to LEDs. Fortunately these issues are beginning to be resolved, as manufacturers are working more closely with designers to develop products that can be more easily integrated into fixtures and systems, while also pursuing dramatically new and innovative uses and distributions for LED technology.
In commercial applications, LEDs are meeting and exceeding the performance and quality of incandescent and fluorescent light sources—but for residential applications, it‘s often difficult for users and designers to find suitable LED products, mostly because of compatibility problems. “In my experience with high-end residential projects, these problems typically include: transformer and dimmer compatibility problems as well as overall inferior dimmability and control; power problems; thermal performance in enclosed and poorly ventilated fixtures; and poor fit in certain fixture types,” said Randall Whitehead.
Mass retailers have pushed inferior LED products on the market in a rush to get costs lower and respond to compliance driven mandates to eliminate incandescent lamps. But customers demand better quality lamps in their residences that also work with their control systems.
Realizing the benefits to that will be realized by solving compatibility problems, Ledzworld works to guarantee that our LED lamps work in the legacy lighting infrastructure by proofing every one of our LED lamps against hundreds of popular dimmer, transformer and fixture combination applications. And we recently launched a breakthrough MR16 LED lamp that incorporates our patented Chameleon driver. The Chameleon driver adapts to its electrical environment and adjusts itself to make a perfect electrical fit with the particular transformer or dimmer in a fixture or system. This innovative driver makes the company's MR16 LED retrofit lamps truly “plug and play” devices that can be specified and used with confidence in a wide variety of residential applications.
We see the bigger picture—across the globe, scientists, designers and manufacturers are responding with new innovations that will result in better, cheaper, more energy efficient, and more beautiful light at affordable prices. Residential applications will play a key role in this adoption, because this is where people first see the results of lighting products that are better for humans at a human scale.