William Heath, Commercial Director, OMC UK Ltd discusses how LED technology has brought ??daylight?? lighting to a major Cornish Church.
The world at large has been slow to implement LED technology in area lighting. Despite promises of very long lifetimes and massive power savings, the initial cost of LED light sources, poor quality from some early offerings and the perceived risk of changing from the simple, well understood, standard incandescent bulb has limited the uptake of solid state lighting on a large scale. A further problem is that while incandescent bulbs produce a very warm yellow light, LED lighting can be perceived as delivering harsh blue-white illumination ?? a misconception that stems from the technology??s early days. Given these objections, perhaps the last place one might expect to find LED technology being readily embraced would be an English church.
The Parish Church of St Martin & St Meridoc in Camborne is one of the biggest in Cornwall and, according to its rector Mike Firbank, attracts a lot of visitors. Parts of the building date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries, although the site may be Celtic or pre-Norman and significant additions were certainly made in the 14th, 16th and 18th Centuries. The building was gutted and a new roof added in the great restoration of 1862.
The interior lighting project evolved from a much smaller project to replace an exterior arch and lantern. John Woodward, MD of specialist decorative ironwork and Cornish Range company, JW Engineering explains: ?The original arch and lantern which hung above the entrance gates at Camborne Parish Church was removed over 40 years ago and relocated nearby in a parishioner’s garden. We took measurements and produced drawings of the irregular octagonal lantern holder. We were then able to produce a replica arch and replacement lantern from mild steel and solid brass. We also then designed and made a second lamp for a surviving Victorian post ?? working only from one surviving photograph.??
The Victorian lamps were both powered by gas, but the new lamps were lit up using efficient LED lights and sensors developed and produced by The Optoelectronic Manufacturing Corporation (UK) Ltd. (OMC).
OMC is one of the longest established specialist manufacturers of optoelectronics in Europe, headquartered in Cornwall, UK. With close to 30 years of history designing and manufacturing LED components and systems from chip level upwards, OMC can justifiably claim to be a pioneer in solid-state lighting, having first demonstrated effective LED area/room lighting almost a decade ago. Those original demonstration units are still in use today, and now the company offers a wide range of filament and fluorescent replacements, luminaires, high power floodlights and interior luminaires.
OMC takes a pragmatic view of the technology, believing that for LED lighting to achieve widespread acceptance in all lighting applications, it has to become simpler to use and easier to understand and apply. So the company has applied its experience to develop a range of Light Engines ?? named SPECTRALUX® – designed to help customers in a broad range of markets to benefit from solid state technology without having to learn all about driving and managing LEDs. SPECTRALUX Light Engines consist of arrays of highly efficient, tightly-matched LED die material bonded directly onto a thermally optimised substrate, encapsulated with a precision-applied phosphor coating. Total chip area is substantially greater than other solutions and chips are distributed optimally across the substrate surface to reduce current density, achieving more light output for the same drive current, optimising heat-dissipation and vastly increasing life-expectancy.
The SPECTRALUX products and OMC??s approach were well-suited to the Camborne Church installation since there were some very specific challenges to address and a high degree of sensitivity was required, given the specific nature of the building and its use.
Prior to the switchover, illuminating the church required in excess of 10kW of electricity. The entire LED scheme uses less than 800W. This translates into a saving in the region of £1,300 per thousand hours of illumination on electricity alone, along with a corresponding reduction in carbon footprint. Maintenance costs will also be substantially cut since there are no more bulbs to change and the solid-state light sources will hardly ever require servicing.
Reverend Firbank, JW Engineering and OMC all hope that other churches will visit Camborne to experience for themselves how successful the project has been so they can see whether a similar scheme would be appropriate for their building. But the Camborne Church lighting scheme is a testament to LED area lighting for secular as well as spiritual projects, demonstrating that, if applied empathetically and skilfully it can enhance the quality of light without compromising the atmosphere of the place and provide significant cost-savings on an on-going basis.