Selecting LED Floodlights for Structural and Area lighting

LED floodlights have significantly longer ‘lamp life’ and also higher reliability in comparison to incandescent and tungsten lights. The solid state light-emitting diodes (LED) switch on/off instantly and produce a high level of  light for a relatively small amount of power. The distribution of a beam of light from an LED floodlight is “shaped” and directed by the reflector and/or the optical lens.  Floodlighting is generally utilised outdoors and luminaries can be mounted on a pole, mounted onto the side of a building or installed at ground level.

Floodlights need to meet two very specific architectural requirements: they need to perform well in terms of area lighting requirements as well as being aesthetically in keeping with the function of the area. To illustrate: a marine loading dock would have a lesser aesthetic floodlighting requirement than a hotel or public roadway.

Ground level LED floodlights (often called LED Groundlights) are often used to light-up landscaping and architectural features. Such highlighting helps bring focus to specific structural details because light instinctively attract a viewers attention. It helps to avoid trying to highlight too many architectural elements at once because this destroys the “dramatic” appeal of focused lighting.

When choosing lighting for buildings it is important to be aware that under lighting the base and upper levels of a structure while focusing lighting on a mid-section of it can create a “floating” effect which is rarely visually appealing. A good rule of thumb would be to use smaller washes of lighting for the entire structure and to couple this with stronger LED floodlighting to emphasis desired feature or features.

Whether you are lighting a retail park, a parking lot or a small office complex you will want to maximise the amount of “usable” light (i.e.: light that falls on structures and pathways) and minimise light that spills into unused areas such as reflection to the sky or light scattered onto neighbouring areas. It is also useful to note that a high percentage of reflected light is reflected upwards. This can be exacerbated when up lighting a feature. It is usual to minimise the  up lighting when the physical material that a structure is built on has a highly reflective surface.

Curved reflectors in an LED floodlight will result in a conical beam of light which is useful for targeted lighting. Rectangular reflectors form a more scattered beam and are often used to light up larger areas such as parking lots or sports fields.  The costs of installing and maintaining secure lighting in large areas will be of primary concern because they are typically more expensive.  Additional options such as louvres and visors will also affect the shape of the beam.

For parking areas and roadways LED floodlights will usually be set atop high poles and it is best to choose energy efficient, strong scattered luminaries to maximise spacing between the units. Fewer poles incur lower installation and maintenance costs and the selected wattage (250 watt or less) will directly influence maintenance costs.  At present, LED lighting provides energy saving in comparison to conventional lighting in car parks, but usually means than significantly more Poles (and capital cost) is required.

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