LED lamps first appeared as a green dot on computers, but in recent years they have graduated to outdoor and indoor lighting. Initially hampered by their low power, their advantages have become more important in today's world in which efficiency is at a premium. Unlike fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, which emit light in all directions, much of which is lost even before leaving the lamp, LED light is directional and so can be pointed exactly where it is required. This also means that diffusers and reflectors are not so important within the lamp structure. LED bulbs are available in different colours: warm white, cool white, red, blue and green..
LED lamps have not achieved massive market penetration to date principally because of their relatively high cost. But they will be fighting in the market of the future, alongside fluorescent tubes, halogen, and compact fluorescent bulbs, because, at least in the European Union, traditional incandescent bulbs will be outlawed in 2016.
LED sources offer advantages over compact fluorescent bulbs in that they do not need a warm-up time to reach full brightness, and do not contain mercury. The greatest advantage of LED bulbs is their lifespan, generally rated at 50,000 hours. This means ten years at 12 hours a day. An example of how LED technology is becoming more widespread can be seen at the Dubai Festival City hotel, where exterior façade lighting has been converted to the new technology, which will also be extended to interior lighting over the coming months.
Some leading lighting manufacturers have taken up the challenge, and are already manufacturing their classics in LED version. The Kelvin lamp by Flos is an example, a new edition of the famous table-lamp designed by Antonio Citterio. The original had a conical head that cloaked the lightbulb, while the LED version has a flat, square head with 30 LED bulbs, economizing on space and weight, and permitting an even tighter and functional design. The unit is switched on simply by touching the head, which has a built-in dimmer. It is made in aluminium, methacrylate and ABS, in white, anthracite grey or black finish. Price is around €300. Luceplan's Berenice LED table lamp is a model with similar design.
Artemide is another Italian manufacturer that has reissued a famous classic – Tolomeo – but its products also include the more advanced "Cosmic Leaf" by Ross Lovegrove, which resembles a luminous digital leaf from another world. It is conceptually interesting because it produces ambient light by directing the LED sources in a lamp body on the ceiling downwards onto the transparent, textured, curving methacrylate diffusers. It is also available in floor-standing and table versions.
The Brazo desk lamp is a superb design in aluminium, reaching utmost simplicity. It has 18 high-power LEDs, which can be dimmed and adjusted in direction and height. It is the first light to provide focus control, which makes it ideal for use near computer monitors. It is available in silver, black, white and bronze, and it is available directly from Pablo Designs at www.pablodesigns.com
The i-Tower high power LED floor lamp by Koncept is a Z-bar design of minimalist appearance that brings light exactly to where you need it. When not in use, the arm folds into itself for optimum space-saving. It is available with daylight or warm white bulbs, with four-step dimming. Its power rating of just 9 watts is an eloquent expression of the direction in which technology is moving.
So, when thinking about lighting, remember LED technology. It is the only lighting technology in which it is likely that the bulb will last longer than the lamp!
UAE Spring 2011