How has the insurgence of LED influenced your lighting designs compared to other technologies such as incandescent or fluorescent?
Like everything, there are plusses and minuses to LED. On the plus side, working with miniature-sized LEDs is great in that it allows better concealment and integration with architecture; allowing spaces to be lit with smaller, less obvious luminaires. Precise optical control allows us more control in achieving design intent using considerably less energy, especially in exterior designs.
Dimming control and ability to integrate smart technologies inherent to LED allows present time response, integration with any computer-based environments, and more flexibility in exterior space design than HID and fluorescent systems. “Smart” controls, long life, miniature size and ability to save energy, are benefits that I consider top in LEDs.
On the other hand, I find that more attention is needed when designing with LED because often they’re less predictable in creating lighting effect than other sources. Intensity, diffusion and color variances are difficult to predict from information provided by specifications, and integration is difficult, especially with LEDs from different lighting manufacturers on the same project. Even though LEDs may have very similar specifications in terms of wattage, color temperature, CRI (color rendering index) and R value, they are often very different in intensity, color and color rendition.
The other element of LED that I find frustrating is controls compatibility. With one control system and luminaires from different manufacturers, you can bet your bottom dollar that luminaires will all react differently. So in terms of how LED has impacted our design process, it definitely takes more time to design a system with LED. However, LEDs are an incredible resource in today’s toolbox that allow us to achieve amazing things that were just not possible previously. I think we’re all still on a learning curve.