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Elegant Luminaire Designs Made Possible by ‘Driver on Board’ Solution

In 2014 the Noble Prize for Physics was awarded to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura for producing bright blue light beams from their semi-conductors in the early 1990s. In doing so, they triggered a fundamental transformation of lighting technology and started the switch from electrical lighting to LED.

By 2014 most of us had already made the move to at least some form of energy saving lighting product. We probably had less than ideal experiences with a compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), due to the poor colour quality and the downside of having to plan to switch on the lights in a room 5 minutes before undertaking any activity in that room. It saved energy but the user experience was far from ideal. Then came the much more efficient and practical adoption of LED lighting.

LEDs are great; they turn on instantly, reduce our energy bills and have a much longer life compared to any other lighting bulb. In addition, their benefits to the planet are unquestionable. Just by having 25 times longer life than an incandescent bulb means that we are creating less waste that we either bury in the ground or use energy to recycle. Here in Europe, the EU (along with many countries around the world) has seen the benefits of LEDs and created legislation to ban incandescent bulbs and will be extending this ban to halogen bulbs next year. With discussions about how LED luminaires could further contribute to the circular economy, we are likely to see further EU legislation.

LED lighting – a complex way into the future

Is it all good news with LED lighting? I would say yes, but they are certainly a lot more complicated than incandescent bulbs. I recently had a CFL bulb go pop, rather dramatically. Naturally, I selected to replace it with an LED bulb. I’ve been working in the lighting industry for only a few years but would consider myself a lighting professional and due to my background in mechanical and electrical engineering, I certainly have a good understanding of all the terms and measurements used. Even so, I had to spend 30 minutes at my local superstore staring at the shelves, picking up, reading and putting back down the selection of bulbs, in a vain attempt to recreate the scene that I’d become used to. I’m embarrassed to say that I did get it wrong and needed a second trip.

In a commercial environment when you want to dim lights or add lighting control, there is a whole new level of complexity. A year ago I sat at a meeting table with a large M&E contractor based in the heart of London. They were mourning the days when any light switch worked with any luminaire, expressing how confusing it was with all the different protocols and techniques. When you think about; it is confusing. Just to dim a luminaire you can use triac dimming (leading or trailing edge), 0-10V (sink or source), DALI or even DMX.

The reason I raise this complexity issue is that I don’t think anybody would say that LED lighting is a bad thing, but there is certainly a romanticism around incandescent lighting and a call for simpler days. For example, LED manufacturers have spent engineering budgets for many years trying to replicate the colour temperatures of incandescent lighting and now have turned their focus to tuneable white to replicate the warm feel of dimming a traditional bulb. Cities in Italy have installed LEDs with the same yellow hue as sodium streetlights, ensuring those cities retain their historic feel.

Back to design focus and TE’s solution

To a large extent, track and spot lighting has reaped the benefits of the CoB (Chip on Board) LEDs. We, the users, are therefore no longer subjected to the concentrated heat generated by traditional light sources being beamed down upon us. Though it has come at a cost. Spot and track lights have lost their sleek design as the driver must be hidden in a housing usually fixed to the side of the lamp. This has become even more pronounced as the efficiency of LEDs has increased. The housing for the driver now takes focus over the lamp itself.

TE Connectivity (TE)’s LUMAWISE drive LED holder Type Z50 is a solution to this problem. TE has taken its already successful range of LUMAWISE LED holder Type Z50 and integrated a DC/DC driver into it providing a compact, low profile, integrated LED holder and driver combination. This allows a luminaire manufacturer to fix the driver directly into the spotlight and, when connected to a 48V track, there is no need for the additional driver housing. With this solution, lighting luminaire designers can focus on the lamp instead of the driver box and design can once again be prioritised over practicalities

The LUMAWISE drive LED holder Type Z50 is compact with a diameter of 50mm and a height of only 7mm, meaning that a luminaire design does not have to be compromised and can still take advantage of increased LED efficiency. Designs do not have to be elongated or diameters increased to house the driver. Again, design can be prioritised over practicalities and a pleasing form can rightfully follow function.

TE has designed this product with commercial lighting solutions in mind with flicker being a major consideration. For example, in retail security, cameras are placed throughout most stores today. LED lighting with high flicker will interfere and degrade those images meaning that it becomes difficult to see clearly what is happening in the store (including crimes being committed and identification of the offender for prosecution purposes). Another example; in galleries and museums, the visitors would not want their photographically captured memories being affected negatively by the lighting. To solve these issues, TE has engineered the LUMAWISE Drive LED holder Type Z50 with a maximum of 3% flicker while still maintaining dimmability down to 3%.

Two initial versions (on/off and 0-10V dimming) of TE’s LUMAWISE drive LED holder Type Z50, are now available. Both offer flicker-free as standard and come with 4 output currents, 350, 500, 700 and 1050mA. With other ‘Driver on Board’ solutions, luminaire manufacturers must use the fixed LED they are supplied with. TE’s product is not supplied with the LED but is compatible with over 70 different commercially available CoB types and manufacturers. This allows luminaire manufacturers to continue to design with the CoB manufacturer of their choice.

In addition to the on/off and 0-10V dimming series, a DALI version will also be available in the first quarter of 2018. Since it will share the same form factor as the other variants, it enables late stage configuration of light fixtures.

Please contact TE for further information about LUMAWISE Drive LED holder Type Z50, but also for insights into other future versions with additional integrated functionality in this platform.

© 2017 TE Connectivity. All Rights Reserved. LUMAWISE, TE, TE Connectivity, and the TE connectivity (logo) are trademarks of the TE Connectivity Ltd. family of companies. Other logos, product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Mechanical Engineer by trade but have worked the last 20 years on electrical components. Have been an engineer at TE Connectivity developing new products from interconnect, power resistors, sensors, modular wiring to 25kV rail components for 14 years.

16 Oct 2017, 11:05