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Energy-saving solutions in the spotlight

17 May 2016

New LED technology is providing substantial energy savings in the commercial and retail sectors. Thomas Holgeth, joint managing director of High Technology Lighting (HTL), explains what’s on offer and how to make the right choices

Installing LED lighting is a very simple and cost effective way of reducing a company's carbon footprint. LED lights are at least five times more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs and more than 65% more efficient than fluorescent tubes. 

Acknowledged as the dominant light source for the foreseeable future, LED technology has risen meteorically over the last 30 years and the benefits are plain to see. They use less energy, require little or no maintenance and now provide a better, brighter quality of light than ever before. New developments mean that they illuminate quickly and can be controlled to provide an infinite variety of lighting options. 

But with so many LED products available in an unregulated market, how do you choose between them and what does all the terminology mean? 

Colour constancy

The ‘root colour’ of an LED is blue and the white light comes from the application of a mix of red, green and blue phosphor most commonly applied directly onto the LED clip. In the case of our partner Xicato, though, the phosphor mix is tuned to optimise the light wavelength of the LED clip, this and a patented system to keep the phosphor cool, allows us to ensure that common issues, such as colour shift and poor uniformity key criteria, don’t occur. We can offer a white light solution with correct colour rendering, perfect for galleries and retail applications where such a solution is paramount.

Colour temperature 

Colour temperature is another factor and is measured in ‘kelvins’. They range from 2700k which gives a cosy, warm white light, similar to incandescent bulbs, through 3500k which is the standard colour for many fluorescent and compact fluorescent tubes, to 6000 which simulates natural daylight.

Most reflector lamps are available in different beam widths, from narrow to very wide, and good advice on getting the angle right is vital to providing adequate distribution of light while avoiding glare. Getting this wrong can alter the entire light pattern of a room and could mean that additional task lighting is needed to compensate for poor light levels.


The long life of LEDs is one of their major selling points. A 50,000-hour life term is the norm. LEDs don’t suddenly stop working like old-fashioned filament lamps; instead there is eventually a gradual loss of light output and colour quality. Manufacturers’ figures depend on the confidence that they have in their product. Our partner, Xicato, quotes a less than 20% fall-off in light output over 50,000 hours and no fall-off in colour constancy. We use Xicato in our Quartet light fittings.

Beware retro-fit

In the short term it might be worth introducing LED lamps into existing fittings to reduce energy consumption – from a 60W filament light bulb to, for example, a 10W LED lamp. However, fitting a properly embedded LED module is always a better option, particularly in a new installation. Embedded LED modules are tested to ensure that thermal performance is within limits. We see LED lamps in retro fittings which have burnt out after just a few months when they’ve been used in enclosed fixtures.

Choosing the most appropriate luminaires, using dimmer switches and motion sensors and utilising daylight where possible are fundamental to saving energy. Wireless technology can provide additional options to dim or switch off individual lights without too much disruption.

Energy savings

LED systems generate high-quality, fully controllable, directional lighting while minimising power consumption. Sports Direct has been a client of HTL for more than 10 years. There are currently more than 470 stores across the UK and Europe fitted with HTL equipment. Over the past three years, we have been working with them to introduce new technology, capable of delivering a two-year pay-back on capital expenditure.

New technology, in the shape of the architectural LED module, is out-performing comparable light sources. At Sports Direct, conventional high-power sources such as ceramic metal halide lamps (CDM) are being replaced with Quartet SG3 fixtures, giving them a maintenance-free lighting solution combined with a 40% energy saving. 

This level of saving is typical and gives an indication of the enormous potential that exists to save energy and reduce carbon emissions in every organisation, using technological expertise and good lighting design.