This article was published in the July/August 2012 issue of LEDs Magazine.
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Lighting Research Center (LRC) and Osram Sylvania are working with Paramount Pictures (Hollywood, CA) on a study of LED-based lighting in a conference room that uses modular lighting tiles on the ceiling and wall, a DC-powered grid, and energy-harvesting wireless control. The solid-state lighting (SSL) project is meant to explore sustainable lighting systems that can also be adapted over time with tiles that snap in and out of a grid as the usage needs of the space changes.
“Lighting has fundamentally changed with SSL,” said Makarand Chipalkatti, senior director of SSL and emerging market initiatives at Osram Sylvania. He pointed out that lighting installations have been dictated by things such as wiring and traditional fixtures, and that changes typically require new holes in walls and ceilings. Chipalkatti said that with SSL you have a “new opportunity to think about how you light space.”
A look at the conference room in the nearby photo or on the cover of the magazine scarcely reveals the technology involved. The ceiling tiles measure 2×2 ft. The tiles snap into the 24V DC grid that is compatible with the standard being promulgated by the EMerge Alliance (www.ledsmagazine.com/press/31914). The wall tiles use the same power grid although the EMerge standard doesn't presently specify a wall-mounting system so the LRC and Osram adapted the technology with hooks for use on the walls.
The luminaires that are mounted along the centerline of the room provide both task and ambient lighting. In the center of each luminaire, there is a section of the diffuser that allows a directional group of LEDs to light the conference table. The rest of the diffuser spreads light from LEDs spaced around the entire area of the fixture.
The wedge-shaped luminaires along each side of the centerline include a diffuser and an LED array for ambient lighting. And as you can see from the photo on page 9 the fixtures also emit light from the side of the wedge. That color-tunable light might be set to blue or violet during a video presentation, but might be more effective when set to white during a discussion session. The wedge-shaped wall fixtures, located on both sides of the whiteboard, emit light upward to fill out the ambient lighting needs of the room.
Nadarajah Narendran, LRC director of research and head of LRC’s SSL Program said “the fixtures become part of the architecture of the room.” Meanwhile, the design was conceived to enhance the productivity in the space. The team uses the term cloud to describe the overhead lights and notes that the design produces no glare and you can’t see any pixel effects from the LEDs.
The team used two EMerge Alliance power supplies to supply the DC power, although once it was complete they learned a single supply could handle the room. Note that the posters on the right side of the room are lit from behind and powered by the same grid. Those posters don’t match the 2×2-ft size of the tiles, but such elements could be part of any tile-based system.
The control system in the room uses wireless technology from Illumra that is based on a standard being promulgated by the EnOcean Alliance that was originally developed by the commercial company EnOcean. The switches harvest the kinetic energy created when a person depresses a switch. That small amount of energy allows a microcontroller to awaken and quickly transmit a command to the fixtures. The switches are not connected by wires of any kind. The wireless receiver in the fixtures is powered from the DC grid.
The team chose the EnOcean Alliance technology due to its simplicity and inherent energy savings. The control box you see in center of the conference table on page 9 includes a number of switches. The EnOcean technology allows simple linking of each switch to one or more of the modular tiles.
The team working on the Paramount project has yet to fully characterize the installation in terms of power consumption or photometric performance. The installation was designed to meet California’s Title 24 energy-consumption requirements. Moreover, the project has been funded in part by the California Energy Commission’s Public Interest Energy Research Program (PIER). It’s also a follow on to the Future Ties project (www.ledsmagazine.com/news/2/12/20) that the LRC and Osram partnered on back in 2005.