Northern Light Fair

Yesterday I was at the Northern Light Fair in Stockholm to check out the latest lamps.

CFLs

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by most CFLs displayed. Both Osram, Megaman and italian Leuci had CFLs in good incandescent-like colour, looking decently bright too.

One of Osram’s displays. The lamps left and middle are CFLs, and the 5 to the right are decorative incandescent (which looked brighter in real life).

LEDs

While the LEDs certainly have improved since my last visit to the Light Fair two years ago, there are still huge quality differences between different types of LEDs.

First I checked out the holiday lights; strings, icicles, candelabras etc.

As usual, coloured ones were great, the cool-white horrid, and the warm-white ones of varying quality. Some were pink-white, others ugly yellow, but a few were actually very incandescent-looking, so clearly they are improving. However, only in light colour, not in light output.

In this picture the difference between the somewhat pale LEDs (to the left) and the glowing traditional incandescent strings (to the right) is clearly visible, even though it is clearer in real life.

Strings with many little light points still work as decorative lights, but in the candelabras there wasn’t enough light to radiate outwards, just a dull and gloomy glow inside the little bulbs, clearly not nearly as bright as the incandescent candelabra next to it and not at all giving that warm Christmas feel that you want from an electric candelabra.

In this picture the real incandescent candelabra is the glowing one in the lower left corner. The duller ones that don’t radiate are LED.

Next, I looked at non-decorative LEDs. Again I found great quality variations in the various attempts at producing bright warm-white light. I was not impressed with any of the LED retrofit bulbs from Osram, Megaman and Leuci. Bleak light, colour not quite right, still insisting on the less-than-great idea of putting LEDs in a retrofit bulb etc.

The best LEDs came integrated in luminaires from Norwegian luminaire company Lampkonsulenten. Their high power LEDs were of a completely different quality class and came in white and warm-white light which both looked decently incandescent-like and decently bright and radiating (as far as I was able to tell in this well-lit commercial setting; I’d have to try one at home to see if this impression holds). Compared to these quality LEDs, all others on the fair looked like a joke. But it made me a bit more optimistic regarding the options available for professional lighting designers even if their output is still limited and the quality not quite as high as real incandescent light. But I think they would do well compared with metal halide for example, at least quality-wise.

Halogen

Both Osram and Leuci had excellent halogen energy savers. The Osram representative said it is technically possible to make halogen lamps much more effective even without the integrated low-voltage transformer (which Philips use for their B-class halogen lamps) but it requires more R&D so they want to be sure there is enough market for it before investing and didn’t seem in a hurry to do so before EU bans C-class lamps in 2016.

So do let them know if you’re interested in even more effective halogen lamps now! If you like real incandescent light, this is the replacement to go for.

Luminaires

On the luminaire side, I found a great variety and much creativity. General trend seems to be softer shapes compared to the cold, hard designs that totally dominated the market just a couple of years ago, fewer black lamp shades (finally!) and much playfulness, e.g. integrating decorative LEDs in the design, using new materials in creative combinations, and making crystal chandeliers that truly look like something from this century.

Just a brief example.

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3 Comments

  1. February 14, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you for your impressions from NLF!
    May I comment?

    – CFLs –

    What I find impressive about the Osram display is that they dare display their CFLs right next to the halogens. Well, they definitely avoided showing anything “outdated” like white-coated or frosted incans, thus the clear ones on display look comparatively glaring. Hitting somewhere reasonably close to Planck’s at 2500K (what Osram calls 825 comfort warm white), and color rendering sure remain two different things. Untrained observers, please note that the display background is white, not multi-colored … for a reason.

    Did Leuci have that low-tech “hybrid cfl” on display that has a 20 watt halogen lamp that starts instantly, and dims with the cfl around it slowly brightening? I remember it from looking at their catalogue, never saw it in stores. Probably also “outphased” now ….

    – LEDs –

    Could you learn which LEDs were used in Lampekonsulenten’s nice-looking products? Do they add higher-wavelength-LEDs to whites, as Cree does in their luminaires, or use high-color rendering Seouls, Nichias, Rebels, or GE/Lumination Vio’s? (interesting discussions on some of these in candlepowerforums.com’s “led” or “fixed lighting” sections)

    – Halogens –

    Somehow, I doubt that the loud-mouthed Siemens rep was actually talking about more than a *technical* possibility, like that of drawing nanoholes into tungsten, and expecting them to stay there throughout lamp life. Looking at what is offered commercially, Osram/Radium have had a hard time even positioning the filament accurately in their IRC lamps, and some issues with their filament automotive bulbs, too. From a display of dozens of Osram 14 watt G4 lamps in a store, I actually found ONE which was, visually inspected, centrally positioned well enough to fully benefit from the IR reflection.

    As you didn’t mention the other big EUP-ban-accomplice, i.e., Philips, let me report that I bought one of their LV-transformer bulbs, and performed “destructive inspection” of the “ivory” tinted hull. Unfortunately, you can’t just pull the old halogen capsule out and replace it with a new one, it’s kinda stuck in there (full disassembly to be performed later).
    Disclaimer: Kids, don’t try this at home, and certainly not with full-voltage capsule bulbs!

    – Luminaires –

    Did you see any edison socket retrofit products that are built around a replaceable G9 or transformer+12V socket, like screw-on “bulbs, candles and globes” made of plastic or frosted glass? Those I have seen in stores are way too ugly to consider using, though.

  2. halogenica said,

    February 14, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    All comments are welcome.

    CFLs – I didn’t see any hybrid lamps in the Leuci booth. Only a hybrid chandelier with blue LEDs included as decorative element.

    LEDs – Lampkonsulentens’s did mention using Cree and other top-quality LED manufacturers (though the Cree for home use that I reviewed earlier sucked!). He explained the process that guarantees the high light quality, which I can’t quite repeat from memory. Something about adding phosphor layers in a special way early in the process.

    Halogens – could not find a Philips booth at the fair. Not sure why they’re keeping such a low profile in Sweden, most shops only have Osram bulbs. Perhaps too small a market to be bothered with?

    Interesting about the poor positioning, I didn’t know that.

    I have an LV-transformer bulb and quite like it. Of course the inner bulb can’t be replaced, you’re not meant to break the outer glass… But that could probably be a more economical solution: an unscrewable bulb with a replacable capsule inside.

    I think some Asian firm did this with CFLs, since the tube will usually burn out long before the ballasts/electronics need to be replaced, which is truly a waste.

    Luminaires – If I had known I could have looked, but I was more interested in the lamps than in looking closer at all the luminaires. Just wanted to get an impression of current design trends.

  3. Patty said,

    June 23, 2010 at 4:54 am

    We loved the holiday light display-
    Energy Savings All Green


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