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Balancing lux & watts

Lux vs. Watts

With the gradual phasing out of 50-watt halogen and incandescent lights over the next few years, business and commercial facility managers have begun to face the dilemma of finding a suitable replacement for the tried and tested 50-Watt halogen that falls in line with the Building Code of Australia’s new regulations of only 5-watts per square metre.

Compounding this situation is the fact that while the wattage per square meter has changed, the regulations for lux levels have not, and commercial properties are still required to meet the minimum lux levels based on the Australian Standards Lux Levels (AS 1680 series) for commercial settings.

Finding a Solution

Facility managers are going to need to find a solution to the problem of complying with the new energy efficiency codes as well as maintaining the required lux levels as part of their OH&S guidelines.

Lux standard levels, while legally required, are also a necessary regulation for your workplace, ensuring it is a safe environment to work in and also being a component of many facility’s insurance policies.

Levels of Light

In general, good lighting should enable people to easily view their work and environment without the need to strain their eyes. However, different activities require different levels and qualities of light. The visual demands of the activity or task performed determine the lighting needs of an area. Activities that do not require a high level of visual acuity — for example, walking through a corridor — do not require high levels or an optimum quality of light.

On the other hand, tasks such as drawing or checking a document for errors involve fine and detailed work requiring a moderate to high level of visual control, and so greater levels and a higher quality of light are required.

Poor light levels can be an Occupational Health and Safety concern causing problems for workers. Eyestrain, general vision problems and headaches can all be caused from poor or defective lighting. One solution to this issue that has recently come to market is high quality Light Emitting Diode (LED) downlights.

Growth of the LED

LED technology has gone through something of a revolution over the last few years with many LED products now able to reproduce the same lighting quality as the common 50-watt halogen globe, effectively becoming a direct replacement.

LED technology has gone through something of a revolution over the last few years with many LED products now able to reproduce the same lighting quality as the common 50-watt halogen globe, effectively becoming a direct replacement.

LED’s have major advantages over halogens as they can produce high luminosity from a low wattage, easily complying with the new building codes and lux level standards. In fact some high quality LED’s can produce up to 720 lumens while only running off 10-watts of power, making them a direct replacement for 50-watt halogen.

Getting it right

With a flood of new LED products on the market, it is important to make sure you choose the right LEDs that meet the specifications you require for your commercial property.

So as a facility manager, what is the best course of action?

One important specification in maintaining lux levels will almost always be the luminosity of the LED. A lumen is a unit of measurement that is used to express how much illumination a light source provides. An easy way to illustrate this measurement is to imagine a birthday cake with candles. A lamp that puts out 1 lumen of light is as bright as 1 birthday candle. A lamp that puts out 100 lumens of light is as bright as 100 candles. Thus, the higher the amount of lumens the brighter the light.

Most importantly, you should thoroughly read the specifications of an LED light to work out whether it meets your requirements. You should make sure that any LED you choose can produce a minimum of 720 lumens without exceeding 20-watts.

It is also a good idea to investigate the colour temperature and Colour Rendering Index (CRI) of the light; two important factors that determine how well the light is capable of reproducing vibrant colours. This is particularly important in workplaces where visual clarity is needed.

Energy Smart Buildings - Issue 3 summer 2011

Balancing lux & watts | Technilux Lighting

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  • Nunawading, Victoria, Australia
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