Lighting Designer, Andrew Orange, takes a look at a shift in LED lamp design toward the familiar.
For many, the appearance of the ﬁrst generation LED lamps explained the level of resistance to the new lighting technology among trades and customers. LED design seemed to have learnt little from the negative reaction compact ﬂuorescent lamps received with their ‘spiral’ looks. Many LED lights looked more suited to a scene from a science ﬁction ﬁlm than illuminating a home. After all ‘lightbulbs’ have a decorative role, not purely functional. Also, many existing luminaires and light ﬁttings have been created with the classic globe or candle lamp in mind. The constraints of the technology were key to the outlandish shapes not just the inﬂuence of over-zealous product designers. With the emergence of new innovations, especially in heat management – it seems LED lamps will be returning to a familiar form factor.
In two particular categories; GLS ‘globes’ and GU10 spotlights, a new trend has emerged which indicates a return to original form factors that are ‘true’ retroﬁt lights. British manufacturer Integral LED is a good example as it has focussed its new product development on technologies that will deliver LED lamps that replicate the halogen lamps that they are designed to replace.
“With the emergence of new innovations, especially in heat management – it seems LED lamps will be returning to a familiar form factor.”
GU10 in the Spotlight
In the development of the Classic Glass GU10 range, Integral recognised that luminaires in the halogen era were designed to allow light to pass through the wall of the globe – effectively shining light backwards. Many luminaires (especially in bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens) are designed to allow this attractive iridescent and multi-coloured light to be pooled on the ceiling. To enable this effect, the lamp holder in many ﬁxtures was cut back to the stem of the lamp itself. Essentially this glass bodied LED GU10 has revived the aesthetic look of a traditional spotlight. The solid therma-plastic body of current LED models has been replaced by glass, which is a perfect complement for many existing decorative luminaires. It is a recent innovation that has allowed this traditional look. The light source consists of several LED chips or surface mounted devices that combine to generate a ‘COB-like’ light that decreases the heat proﬁle of the lamp thus allowing for the use of glass. Effectively, the design has mimicked the good looks of the halogen dichroic GU10, whilst exceeding the lumens levels at a fraction of the wattage.
The case of the Classic GLS Bulb
I won’t have to remind you of some of the truly weird shapes that have emerged in the attempt to replace the commonplace incandescent ‘bulb’. Essentially, most of us want a light source that is identical to the ‘Edison’ shape – visually compatible with table lamps, chandeliers (in the case of candle bulbs) and wall lights. Again, recent technological developments have helped manufacturers to ﬁnd a design route to the past. In the case of the Integral GLS range – the LED ﬁlament provides an ideal solution for a lamp that emits light evenly in all directions akin to the traditional tungsten and halogen lamps that we know well. The mid-powered LEDs are aligned on a thin strand of a thermally conductive substrate and require relatively low power which translates into less heat. Additionally, the surrounding inert gas which is again highly thermally conductive, dissipates the remaining heat and effectively removes the need for an unsightly heatsink.
So the Dr. Who props department can pack up and go home – the message is that we will be going back to the future of lighting!