Case study – LEDing the way

LED lighting is becoming an increasingly popular choice for saving energy, with new LED installations being rolled out by some major household names. Most recently, Next announced the roll out of 110,000 LED luminaires across its UK stores before February 2013. One company which was well ahead of the curve is BMW, which has already installed LED solutions in a number of showrooms including those in Rome, alongside controls supplied by Harvard Engineering.

BMW is well known for being a luxury and exclusive brand, something which does not ordinarily spell out energy efficiency. However, the company has established strict energy efficiency plans in order to help lower energy usage, and the associated costs, as well as CO2 emissions.

In order to do this, BMW has introduced a number of stringent measures, including energy efficient lighting across a number of its showrooms, with one of the first to have a new lighting system installed being Rome.

BMW had a number of objectives it wanted to achieve with the installation of the new energy saving lighting solution. The company wanted an efficient low maintenance system that would last for a minimum of five years. It also wanted to be able to change the lux level in different locations within the showroom, to especially highlight the cars.

Projection Lighting

After trialling a number of different solutions, Projection Lighting’s AlphaLED Gyro Cube was chosen, alongside Xicato LED modules. As LEDs also need special control gear, the LED driver, in order to deliver the correct voltage and current to the light, Harvard Engineering, a leading designer and developer of control products for the lighting industry, was chosen to supply the company’s CoolLED drivers for the project.

Based near Leeds Harvard Engineering has grown substantially over the last few years. In 2011, the company invested more than £3 million in a 40,000 square foot manufacturing facility allowing them to keep all their business operations, including manufacturing, based in the UK and under one roof. In 2012, Harvard opened offices across Europe, in Germany, France, and Italy, and in the USA.

Harvard’s CoolLED drivers are designed and manufactured at the company’s UK manufacturing facility, and provide a high performance solution for powering high-brightness LEDs from a mains supply. The drivers also allow control over the lights and allow lights to be dimmed. Together, with the AlphaLED Gyro Cybe and Xicato Modules, they were able to meet all the objectives BMW had requested.

LEDs have an average lifespan of over 100,000 hours, the equivalent of 11 years of continuous operation or 22 years at half power, and more than 10 times longer than any other light source currently on the market. This meant that the solution would easily out last the five years initially requested by BMW. Due to their long life and high efficiency, LEDs also provide a very low maintenance solution, which was perfect for the BMW showroom as they could ‘fit and forget’ the new system.

Lighting flexibility

The AlphaLED, Xicato and CoolLED lighting solution was also able to meet BMW’s objective of having a different lux level for the general lighting of the showroom in comparison with the lighting level on the cars. BMW wanted a general showroom lux level of 600 and the lighting over the cars to be at a higher lux level of 800-900. Due to the drivers dimming capabilities, this was easily achieved. The drivers also kept the overall appearance of the lighting around the showroom consistent, something which was also important to BMW.

LEDs are the most energy efficient light source currently available, particularly when installed with controllable and dimmable drivers, such as the CoolLED range. As a result they are able to provide better energy savings and reductions in the amount of CO2 the BMW Rome showroom was previously emitting.

The CoolLED driver specified for the Rome Showroom was the CL Standard class II driver. This power factor corrected driver has a fully isolated, SELV output and delivers up to 33W of power with dimming capabilities.

Russell Fletcher, sales and marketing director at Harvard, commented, “The success of the BMW installation and the benefits gained in the showroom emphasise our commitment to gaining a true understanding of each customer’s individual requirements and to delivering bespoke UK manufactured solutions that are thoroughly effective in retail applications.”

Harvard’s drivers have also been installed in Nike and Jaeger stores. The drivers have also been installed in a number of diverse applications including industrial facilities.

DALI drivers

At Harvard’s own premises DALI drivers, which allow digital dimming of between 100% and 0.1%, have been installed throughout the facility, including in the large open plan office, meeting rooms, showroom, and factory. The DALI interface is the leading dimming protocol for LEDs with widespread installations in prestigious commercial buildings across Europe.

The installation at Harvard has also been a huge success, not only helping the company to save on CO2 emissions and energy costs compared with what they would have been spending, but also to demonstrate to potential customers how effective LED solutions are. The drivers allow Harvard to set different lighting and ambient levels for visiting customers, allowing them to showcase how their products work in a ‘real life’ situation.

Harvard has also installed sensors alongside the drivers in order to provide additional energy and CO2 savings. All Harvard’s lighting is motion activated, which means the drivers turn lights off completely should a room be empty, ensuring there is no wasted energy.

Both of the installation at Harvard’s premises and the BMW Showroom in Rome show the positive effects that LED lighting can have on a company’s energy bills and CO2 emissions, which can only grow as the technology develops.

As only the fourth light source the world has ever seen, after candles, incandescent lamps and discharge (fluorescent) lamps, LED lights are changing everything and are poised to replace conventional light sources in many different markets.


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