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Shedding Light on Lighting Architects have more options to meet increased demands
Many architects remember a time when incandescent and T12 fluorescent lamps occupied a large part of our light fixture schedules. It was not really all that long ago. But now, there is a new game in town. Well, actually, lots of new games. Lighting today’s projects is challenged by new regulatory factors, stressed construction budgets, and increasing client expectations. Today’s projects require better and more versatile lighting while using less wattage and costing less. The demand for quality lighting is greater than ever. Even more so today than in years before, there are few absolutes in lighting. Generally, there are no good or bad lighting products. The quality of the lighting result is based on how the products are combined in our projects. It’s all about design application. While most of us are very comfortable with the process of design, today’s lighting options can be confusing. We are being asked to meet challenging project programs, with a seemingly endless range of lighting options. When carefully applied, lighting becomes another resource in the architect’s tool box. Successfully implemented, lighting can have one of the largest positive impacts on any project.
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An effective lighting solution should always begin with choosing a light source. A few of the most versatile options follow. Linear Fluorescent Lamps — Don’t underestimate the value of T8 fluorescent lamps with electronic ballasts. Keep them as your standard. These products have proven successful and will meet most of your project needs. Don’t be too quick to jump to T5 fluorescent products. These smaller lamps are another tool at our disposal, but you can’t justify using them in every application. A two-lamp T8 fixture might be replaced with a single-lamp T5HO fixture. The single-lamp product can be smaller and a bit more effective in light output. Compact Fluorescent Lamps — CFLs are available from 13 watts to 80 watts, although most projects will have trouble justifying any CFL in excess of 42 watts. A 26-watt CFL produces 1,700 lumens, about equal to 100 watts of incandescent light. Avoid specifying incandescent fixtures with a plan to install screw-base CFL retrofit products. The lamp portion of the retrofit lamp may fail before the ballast portion, forcing disposal of the entire unit. CFLs are the likely default source in downlighting. The range of wattages makes CFLs a
good choice in some cove lighting, task lighting, and 2 x 2 ceiling fixtures. Halogen Lamps — Because incandescent sources are the dinosaurs of lighting, halogen is a good option when the color of light is critical (in museums, for example) or where full-range dimming is required. These lamps are a great alternative to incandescent and are slightly more efficient. Halogen Infrared Lamps — Halogen IR lamps are a new twist on halogen, a default for many lighting solutions. With these lamps, a coating is applied inside the halogen bulb wall to redirect IR energy back to the filament. Sending this energy back to the filament increases the filament temperature. What’s the big deal? By redirecting the IR energy, the filament reaches operating temperature at lower wattages. Lighting output of a 37-watt halogen-IR lamp is the same as a 50-watt halogen lamp, but saves 13 watts (about 30 percent of the energy). Halogen IR lamps should be considered an upgrade for any standard halogen products. But, be aware they may not be in stock and will certainly cost more. Ceramic Metal Halide Lamps — This rather new light source provides a more efficient option
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top left photo by Chris Cooper; bottom right photo by Charles Thompson, AIA
b y C h a r l e s T h o m p s o n , AIA
This issue features the 12 projects awarded with the Texas Society of Architects' 2009 Design Awards. Texas Architect, the official publicat...