18 April 2019
More and more of us spend our lives in artificial light because of the way we live – commuting and working in spaces without windows, shopping in supermarkets and evenings watching a screen.
It turns out that this lack of daylight is bad for us – not only because we also miss out on fresh air and connection to nature – but because our bodies rely on the way that light changes through day into night to manage vital physical functions like digestion and temperature.
It became clear that living in this ‘biological darkness’ was bad for us – and even more so for people working long shifts or living in a care home. Seasonal Affective Disorder lamps were designed to deliver a burst of daylight to beat winter blues.
But to actual replicate the subtle modulations of brightness and colour temperature of the daylight cycle was incredibly complicated: until about 5 years ago, you had to change the lightbulb to shift from warm to cool white.
But now a single, high-quality LED chip will do the whole lot.
It’s not quite that simple because the colour output of an LED will change over time as some elements burn out more quickly than others. And other light sources like windows and screens will affect the balance of light in a space. But basically, the bulb is no longer the problem. The focus has now shifted to the system you use to control the light. There are three broad approaches.
The ‘SceneSwitch’ from Philips – a £10 bulb that fits into a standard lamp holder. It offers three built-in settings, eliminating the need for special switches or routers. These combine brightness and colour temperature to reflect early morning, midday and evening lighting conditions. As you turn the light on and off, the bulb simply cycles through the settings.
Timed / wireless
The next level works on the principle of a timed daylight cycle. The bulb fits into a standard fitting and has a wireless receiver in the base. This communicates with a router or switch and an online app such as Alexa or a branded interface like the Philips Sleep Cycle. At this point it’s the quality of the bulb and the ease of use of the interface that makes the difference. Again, Philips seems to be the most reliable and affordable -although a starter kit will set you back £140 or so.
Then there are the integrated systems where lighting levels will respond to ambient conditions and be programmed for individual preferences, are motion-sensing and can even communicate with each other to create a tailored energy-efficient sequence of light levels through an entire building. There are lots of players in this sector responding to the growing awareness of the commercial and health benefits of circadian lighting – increasingly called ‘human-centred lighting’. The German company Waldman is a good example of the approach. Their range of light fittings are designed to be driven by their Lum Connect system - https://www.waldmann.com/home/industry/smart-lighting~8a8181f347628df3014762c722e50163.en.html?highlight=true
This video is quite informative- although it obviously sells the Philips product…
I’d be delighted to talk you through the options – do get in touchfor a free conversation.
Let's create a lighting solution that looks amazing
and really works.
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