Trends are not just for the world of fashion. In the technological world, there is an impressive abundance of trends that are seriously lighting up 2021 and beyond: AI and machine learning, virtual reality, quantum computing, blockchain, 5G – and the list goes on. But here’s something that is also turning more and more heads at present, and being embraced by industries and organisations of every type: 21st century light.
Traditionally, businesses lit things up for their products, workplaces and clients with traditional lighting solutions – technologies like the good ol’ incandescent bulb, halogen, fluorescent lights, and so on. But the advent and subsequent meteoric march of LED (light-emitting diode) lighting technology are changing that – radically.
Here’s the lowdown: LEDs last 2-4 times longer. They’re up to 75% more energy efficient. They don’t heat up, so they’re safer and more reliable. They can be tiny, but they also have incredible design flexibility, making even hugely powerful LED floodlights the product of choice today in grand settings. They contain no harmful mercury and produce no UV emissions.
There’s no doubt that all of that is attractive, especially when organisations are looking to drive down costs, drive up productivity, and create innovative, attractive and ‘green’ products and brands. But let’s face it – they really big selling point of LED lighting is, well, the light itself. It’s directional, making LED perfect for highly efficient LED floodlight applications, and LEDs are also fully dimmable.
But LED is also increasingly popular because of striking technological advances in its colour rendering qualities, despite its incredible efficiency. Colour rendering refers to the light’s ability to brighten things up just like full, natural light, as opposed to some solutions that can make it hard to distinguish between, say, dark green and blue. Some people believe that because an incandescent bulb can have a perfect CRI value (colour rendering index) of 100, that makes them better in this area than LED. But the stunning progress of technology means that LED setups producing a CRI of 99 are now on the market.
But what about the actual brightness? Previously, it was fairly easy to select lights that are bright enough based on how much power they use – the wattage. But with LEDs, they’re capable of producing the same or superior levels of brightness with a lot less power – making shopping based on watts pretty pointless.
Rather, you’ll need to consider the ‘lumens’, which in lay terms is the amount of light emitted per second – and its nothing to do with wattage. These days, as LEDs compete against other lighting technologies, lumens has become the standard for comparing the basic brightness level for your particular application.
But when it comes to LED light, that’s most certainly not all. Also crucial is a measure referred to as CCT – or correlated colour temperature. This is indicated by the LED product’s kelvin (K) number: the lower it is, the warmer the light will be. For instance, a 3000 K LED light is warm, cosy and yellow, much like the incandescent solutions you may be used to. 4000 K is whiter, while 5000 K LED lights – a similar kelvin number to natural daylight at noon – produces the brightest kind of light. It’s bluer, cooler, more energetic, and perfect for productive workspaces and dynamic, detailed work.
Given the superb efficiency, reliability, longevity and performance, it is no surprise that the global LED market is forecast to grow by 13% annually at least until 2027 – especially as ‘green’ regulations and consumer expectations march on, technologies keep improving, and prices head sharply south. Is your organisation ready to make a bright lighting switch?