RETROFIT & UPGRADE OF TRADITIONAL LIGHTS TO LED BY CHARTER LIGHTING
The Throw Away Culture we have lived with for the past two or more decades is gradually being subsumed by a greater awareness of the value of thrift and re-purposing.
In the lighting industry, the arrival of LED technology was hailed as the savour of the earth’s resources – but when the new replacement LED light bulbs failed to perform adequately, mountains of traditional lighting fixtures were jettisoned in favour of new fittings with integrated LEDs in the stampede to gain the benefits of energy savings.
Little thought was given to the hardware that was being thrown away – and the mindless waste this actually represented in valuable materials. However, with judicious care and attention to detail, we at Charter Lighting have found many nifty ways of upgrading these lovely, traditional, fixtures, often improving their performance, and extending their life for decades to come.
This graceful, traditional pendant chandelier in the Library at Fishmongers’ Hall in London had suffered under the switch from incandescent to compact fluorescent light bulbs in a move to reduce energy consumption. The new lights were cold, and dull, and members were soon complaining that they could not see well enough to read comfortably.
Our solution was to rip out all the old electrical elements and replace these with a bespoke LED array, which also incorporated a new emergency light feature. Not only are light quality and output both greatly enhanced, but the additional safety feature included within the new design has saved another fixture having to be drilled into the Grade I listed ceiling.
We have encountered these high-performance projection spotlights in several private residences over recent months. Their power, and the array of optical elements they contain, enables uniquely-controllable precision spotlighting. But the original lighting components are getting harder and harder to find, and nothing like these sophisticated spotlights seem to exist in today’s plethora of LED high-beam offerings. So – with some difficulty, but with a determination to surmount all the challenges of optical control and thermal management – we have now successfully repurposed considerable numbers of these with carefully-engineered and combined LED elements.
Not only have the original lights been restored to full functionality, but the light quality has been dramatically improved and the need to change lamps (previously a somewhat irksome task, given their often- elevated locations) has been eliminated for the next twenty-five or more years! Quite long enough for new lighting technologies to have emerged when they next need to be re-purposed….
Charter Lighting’s original claim-to-fame in the retrofit game has been with our picture lights. We have re-purposed an astonishing number of different styles and sizes of these with our high-quality, warm-toned LED components – to the joyous delight of our clients:-
“The lights are now magical! My pictures have never looked so good!”
This exercise really is transformative. Most traditional picture lights featured no optics at all – just an array of different light bulbs. Not only were these often very hot (bad for most paintings) and emitted UV rays (harmful to colour pigments), but the lighting coverage was appalling. Usually, just the top of the painting was illuminated with a bright, glaring splodge of light, with the rest of the details being shrouded in gloom and lost to the viewer.
Our picture-light retrofitting service is especially welcomed by heritage properties up and down the country – for example, where the interior of a National Trust or English Heritage residence needs to be preserved as faithfully as possible to its last owner’s tastes. But many people have picture lights that have aged comfortably in their homes, and our clients are generally happy to engage with us in the demounting of their old lights and their despatch to our workshop. Here, with our specialist crafting and painting, metal-machining and even 3-D printing facilities, we can ‘make do and mend’ in a truly liberating way. And, because the LED modules that we fabricate in-house are fitted with a range of optically-variable lenses, the newly-restored picture lights – when returned – will actually illuminate their painting properly for the very first time.
This wonderful old Church on Fleet Street in London was given a complete lighting overhaul some ten years ago – with some specially-fabricated cylindrical brass fixtures designed to be suspended high and to harmonise with the soaring architecture of the vaulted space. So, when the light bulbs kept failing – with the attendant travails associated with such high-level fittings – it was clear that a solution was urgently required which would re-use these special fittings, distribute enough light for the congregation to read by, and fit within the constraints of the fixture body.
This, in fact, was one of the earliest light fixture retrofits that Charter Lighting undertook – we learnt a tremendous amount in the process, and much of the technology and hardware we developed for this application have been modified for use in subsequent exercises.
There will be different challenges in the future and more to learn, we are sure, but our skilled craftsmen and pro-active and creative facility is waiting to be of wider service to the market.
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