Wednesday, 4 December 2013

PhotonStar announces controls collaboration with Lutron

PhotonStar LED Ltd formally announced a collaboration with controls specialists Lutron at Lux Live 2013 in order to enable ‘seamless compatibility’ between products.

The announcement, which took place prior to show opening on Day 1, will allow PhotonStar customers to have the option of ordering many of the company’s high performance LED lighting products with a prewired Lutron Ecosystem® driver, straight from the factory.

Lutron‟s EcoSystem protocol seamlessly communicates with all Lutron EcoSystem digital controls from the recently launched Energi Tripak solution to the complete building system Quantum and all systems in between. 

PhotonStar‟s Marketing Director Fenella Frost commented: “Adding seamless Lutron EcoSystem protocol compatibility as an option on our products is in line with our mission to provide the most reliable and workable control and lighting solutions to our customers. We intend to further deliver on this aim through collaboration with many respected industry leaders.” 

Monday, 5 August 2013

PhotonStar Board Changes

PhotonStar LED Group plc (AIM: PSL, "PhotonStar" or "the Group"), the British designer and manufacturer of smart LED lighting solutions, has appointed Philip Marshall as a non-executive director with immediate effect.

Philip most recently served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at GE Lighting EMEA, the $600 million turnover division of General Electric specializing in lighting solutions. In this role, he led the infrastructure development across the entire region for GE's Lighting business, which included transitioning the business to an energy solutions provider, encompassing LED technologies. 

Prior to this, he served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at GE Industrial (low voltage) Systems & Consumer Products EMEA, a division of GE integrating the GE Industrial Systems and GE Appliances & GE Lighting ("Consumer Products") groups in Europe, Middle East and Africa. Philip holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Thames Valley University, and is a qualified Chartered Management Accountant

Also, PhotonStar’s Chief Financial Officer, Russell Banks, who joined the Group in April 2013, has been appointed to the board with immediate effect.

James McKenzie, Group Chief Executive, commented:
"We are very pleased to welcome Philip to the Board. He has a strong industry background and brings valuable experience in technology commercialisation and strategy at an exciting time for our business.”

Disclosures required pursuant to paragraph (g) of Schedule 2 of the AIM Rules:
Philip Antony Marshall (aged 43) currently holds, and has during the last five years immediately 
preceding the date of this announcement held, the following directorships or partnerships:

About PhotonStar LED Group PLC

PhotonStar LED Group PLC (“PhotonStar” or the “Group”) is a British designer and manufacturer of smart LED lighting solutions. The Group’s proprietary technology seamlessly integrates LEDs, sensors and controls to provide intelligent lighting for commercial and architectural applications which benefit from greater CO2 reduction, lower cost of ownership & improved functionality compared to other available light sources. PhotonStar’s lighting products have won numerous awards for performance, innovation and reliability, and are unique in the industry for the use of recycled, and recyclable materials, which means they have 90% less embodied CO2 than equivalent products providing the same levels of illumination.

PhotonStar comprises two divisions: LED Lighting Fixtures which works with lighting designers, architects, house builders, facilities management companies and sustainability consultants to provide intelligent, high-end LED lighting solutions for the commercial and architectural market, and LED Light Engines which provides LED lighting solutions for specialist applications such as film & television production lighting, UV curing and medical applications.

PhotonStar is based in Romsey, Hampshire with manufacturing in Wales. The Company was admitted to AIM in December 2010.

Study shows benefits of better lighting for the visually impaired

Brighter lighting improves quality of life for the elderly and can reduce the number of falls, according to a study commissioned the Thomas Pocklington Trust, a charity for blind and partially sighted people.

The study looked into the needs of nine visually impaired people. It found evidence that, after lighting was improved at their homes, their standard of living was raised.

Adaptations were made in their homes, with particular attention paid to the kitchen, where all nine homes were altered. Lighting was improved by installing fluorescent strip lighting, with triple tubes replacing single or double tubes to increase the light levels. In some of the homes, spotlights were added to focus light on specific problem areas, such as the cooker.

Sarah Buchannan, research director at Thomas Pocklington Trust, believes the research is significant. ‘Our research into lighting continues to show dramatic improvements for older people’s independence and quality of life,’ she said. ‘But we believe the costs of care and support, particularly following falls, might also be cut if older people’s lighting was improved.’

However, a review by the University of Cambridge found a substantial lack of data on falls and lighting. It called for more research to establish the wider value of improving lighting for older people, to see whether taxpayer money could be saved if improved lighting reduced the risk of falls.

The study found that currently available data contains too many uncertainties and assumptions to make a calculation about the savings for the NHS if lighting in the homes of elderly people were improved.

Buchannan stressed the importance of lighting knowledge, saying that retail customers have very little awareness of the vast range of products available. 'There is so much information, and people can be nervous about electrical products. There is a real gap in getting people aware of what works. LEDs are not visible enough in the market,' she said.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Awarded Department of Energy and Climate Change grant

PhotonStar LED Group plc (AIM: PSL, "PhotonStar" or “the Group”), the British designer and manufacturer of smart LED lighting solutions, has been awarded a grant by the UK Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for up to £372,269.

The grant has been awarded by the DECC Energy Entrepreneurs Fund and will be used to develop further PhotonStar’s ChromaWhite smart circadian retrofit LED lighting solutions, particularly the ChromaWhite smart lamp, a standard lamp form factor, with full wireless control. The grant will be paid in instalments on the completion of development certain milestones in the 
current financial year.

ChromaWhite is the Group’s next generation light engine technology, which allows microprocessor controlled colour tuning and superior light quality, at an extremely competitive price-point.

The Group displayed its first ChromaWhite smart lamp prototype at London’s Ecobuild exhibition in March 2013. 

James Mckenzie, CEO of PhotonStar, commented:

“This grant is a great endorsement of our energy-efficient ChromaWhite technology and will enable us to accelerate the development of our exciting product range. We are already making good progress with ChromaWhite and are on track to have both new installation and retrofit products available for the market in 2014.”

For further information:

PhotonStar LED Group PLC (“PhotonStar” or the “Group”) is a British designer and manufacturer of smart LED lighting solutions. The Group’s proprietary technology seamlessly integrates LEDs, sensors and controls to provide intelligent lighting for commercial and architectural applications which benefit from greater CO2 reduction, lower cost of ownership & improved functionality compared to other available light sources. Photonstar’s lighting products have won numerous awards for performance, innovation and reliability, and are unique in the industry for the use of recycled, and recyclable materials, which means they have 90% less embodied CO2 than equivalent products providing the same levels of illumination. PhotonStar comprises two divisions: LED Lighting Fixtures which works with lighting designers, architects, house builders, facilities management companies and sustainability consultants to provide intelligent, high-end LED lighting solutions for the commercial and architectural market, and LED Light Engines which provides LED lighting solutions for specialist applications such as film & television production lighting, UV curing and medical applications. PhotonStar is based in Romsey, Hampshire with manufacturing in Wales. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

PhotonStar Win Greenbuild Award with Leisure Retrofit Project Arcola Theatre

PhotonStar’s most sustainable project, the Arcola Theatre in Hackney, has been awarded the Leisure Retrofit award in the 2013 Greenbuild Awards.
The Arcola theatre is the forerunner in measurable sustainable practices within the arts community and is on the way to becoming the world’s first carbon neutral theatre. The theatre recently underwent complete sustainable refurbishment, a key element of which was the installation of PhotonStar LEDs throughout to improve the overall efficiency and quality. 
Arcola has a strong focus on environmental performance, regularly carrying out sustainability projects not only to increase efficiency but also to educate and inspire the community.
Aiming to celebrate true sustainability, the Greenbuild Awards recognise buildings in use that focus on actual measured performance rather than design intent or performance specifications.
The award for the best leisure retrofit project was given by a panel of distinguished industry leaders who were looking for the project that had reduced its environmental impact more effectively than its rivals.
The Arcola Theatre was revealed as the winner of this category at the award ceremony at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on the 8th May.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Government's Part L decision due by July

Changes to Part L of the building regulations, including a decision about LENI, will be announced by July, in a report from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

The possible introduction in Part L of the lighting energy numerical indicator benchmark, known as LENI, as an alternative to minimum luminaire lumens per circuit watt, would be a major departure for the government.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for DCLG said: “We are expecting to make an announcement about Part L in June, or July at the latest.”

LENI is an index that describes the energy used by a lighting system over the course of a year, measured in kilowatt hours, per square meter, per year. The campaign for LENI has echoed calls from industry bodies such as the SLL, IALD, PLDA and LIA to have LENI in Part L, which takes into account consumed energy rather than installed load.  

The lighting industry had been expecting the government department to announce Part L changes in April, after positive responses to a public consultation about LENI were published at the end of last year.

Peter Raynham of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL) said: “It’s good to know they’re back on track. We thought there would be an announcement in April. At the end of the year, politicians were talking about having a bonfire of the regulations to help the construction industry. It’s a big step forward that they’re going to take. I’ve seen positive responses to the consultation. I don’t think a red line will be put through LENI. I think it is being seriously considered.”

Friday, 5 April 2013

Turn your lamps down low...

The incompatibility of legacy dimming systems originally designed for use with incandescent lamps is causing headaches for lighting designers when they use them with LEDs. Nick Martindale reports and collects some best practice tips
Over the past few years LEDs have emerged as a viable means of enabling clients to save energy while giving lighting designers flexibility and the scope for greater creativity. Yet for many designers and customers there is a flaw: the thorny issue of dimming, particularly when attempting to retrofit LED lamps or luminaires into existing mains-dimmable systems.

For Peter Veale, co-director of Firefly Lighting Design, this has become an issue of late. “When a manufacturer comes in to show us their wares my first question is to ask whether they dim,” he says. “They say we can have any dimming we want, and that used to reassure me.
“But, after a particular project last year, where the LEDs weren’t dimming as much as we or the client had hoped, we now have to go a bit further and ask if we can have a sample of the driver we would get if we specified it, so that we can test it,” he adds. “A lot of clients have been in the halogen world and are now using LEDs and expect them to dim in a halogen way. But that’s not necessarily the case.”
James McKenzie, chief executive of LED solutions provider Photonstar, says the whole industry has made heavy weather of the dimming issue by attempting to support legacy systems such as trailing and leading edge that were originally designed for incandescent lighting. One problem is that of minimum load – the point where legacy dimmers cannot cope with the low power required by LEDs – while the quality of the dimmers themselves can also cause problems in an LED world.

Minimum load

“LED drivers are having to get incredibly sophisticated in a bid to guess what dimmer you’re going to use with the system,” he says. “It’s not just the dimmer that’s the problem, either. The wiring can create extra rings that the dimmer manufacturer doesn’t have a clue about. You have to ask why we’re trying to dim LEDs using an incandescent dimmer.”

The issue of minimum load is a particular problem with LED lamps, which often have an integrated driver and electronics combined with the LEDs themselves, says Peter van der Kolk, business development director at controls manufacturer Helvar UK.
“In many cases these LED lamps use phase-cut dimmable technology, which was originally optimised for conventional light sources, such as tungsten and halogen,” he says.

Alan Hayllar, engineering director at Mode Lighting (UK), says the problem has been made worse by the failure of LED manufacturers and distributors to confirm which products will dim, and to what extent. “Many of the LED manufacturers claim dimmability, sometimes with certain caveats, but many products do not fully live up to that claim,” he says. “If they stated they could be dimmed but also specified any limitation, it would enhance the reputation of LED products in the market.”

Fred Bass, managing director of Neonlite International – the brand owner of Megaman – suggests that only the “more serious industry players” are prepared to put in the legwork and provide accurate compatibility lists, but also points to the lack of a standard for phase-cut dimming.

“When making a lamp, because there is no standard for the dimming circuit it is going to run on, the only way to know if it will dim correctly on a circuit is to put it into a luminaire and see if it works,” he says. “In the worst cases, the lamp won’t work at all, but more commonly you may get unstable operation at lower dimming levels.”

As a partial solution, designers are sometimes advised to install resistors or even phantom loads to ensure transformers are able to detect the LEDs.

“We’ve talked to lighting controls people who have suggested putting in a ghost load, like a bulb in the ceiling, but that seems a bit detrimental if we’re trying to be energy-efficient,” says Veale. “I might suggest it as a last resort but I’d hope we could get transformers that could take a very low load.”

Compatibility issues

The issues of minimum load and lack of compatibility are not confined to lamps.

“Despite luminaires and downlighter fittings having more room for the electronic driver, they appear to be just as difficult to dim,” says Julian Kay, managing director of controls firm Danlers. “The only way to determine whether any lamp, dimmer and ballast combination will be successful is to carry out detailed analysis of the electrical waveforms.”
Guy Simmonds, head of sustainable solutions (Europe) at Lutron, warns that compatibility can be a significant factor in the overall performance of an installed scheme.

“One of the complexities is that there are two factors to consider: the compatibility between the LED driver and the control, but also between the driver and the lamp,” he says. “Everything needs to be working together in order to maximise performance for the designer and end-user.”

Controls protocols

The use of controls protocols such as DALI, DMX, DSI and 1-10V goes some way to alleviating these issues, with the dimming carried out by the ballast itself and the dimmer only acting as a controller, particularly in new installations.

“The use of controls protocols allows the employed electronics – drivers and ballasts – to control the lighting in an optimal manner for efficiency, long life and performance, whereas mains phase dimming compromises the ability of the electronics,” says Jason Ford, project manager for lighting management systems at Osram.

Even this is not without problems, however. Darren Orrow, director of lighting design consultancy Into, points out that on 1-10V with a good driver, LED and controller combination it should be possible to achieve minimum dim levels of 2-5 per cent of maximum brightness.

However, some combinations may only allow an LED to dim to 10 per cent of its maximum level, and this will need to be borne in mind at specification stage.

“DMX, DALI and mains dimming where remote drivers are used will allow you to dim lower, to 0-3 per cent of the maximum level, depending on the combination, but there are different costs associated with such dimming systems and compatible drivers,” he says.

But, on mains dimming where the driver is integral to the LED lamp dim, levels below 5 per cent are sometimes not achievable without instability, he adds.

The whole area has become such a headache that his firm has had to employ a full-time technical manager whose job it is to ensure compatibility.

Test samples

For now, the best designers and specifiers can do is to ask manufacturers for accurate information on compatibility or request samples of equipment so they can run their own tests before they make any purchase.

For McKenzie, though, there’s also a role to play in educating clients, possibly steering them away from dimming altogether.

“People mostly dim to save energy and they’re already doing that by installing LEDs,” he says.

In the longer term, he adds, the easy retrofit might be to replace the switch plate with something that could talk wirelessly to the fittings, thereby bringing down the cost of the more expensive protocols by making them less difficult to install.

In the short term, though, lighting specifiers will have to make the best of a bad situation.

“LED dimming compatibility is only likely to get worse on existing installations using phase cut dimmers, as more people transfer their incandescent lamps to LEDs,” says Bass. “In the long term, the only way that people are going to overcome this will be to replace their existing dimmer with a more LED-compatible model if they want the best of both worlds: energy-efficient lighting from LEDs and dimming.”


Because there are so many variables in LED dimming, it is difficult to produce a definitive checklist for lighting specifiers. So Lighting teamed up with the specialists quoted in this feature to highlight five tips which apply across the board:
  •  Manufacturer advice on compatibility is not exhaustive. Request a sample and test it yourself. 
  • Remember that with luminaires or downlighters you will need compatibility between the driver and the lamp, as well as dimmer and the driver. 
  • Consider the use of controls protocols such as 1-10V, DMX or DALI in new builds or large refurbishments. 
  • Be conscious that certain systems will not dim all the way down. If you want complete dimming, use DMX, mains or DALI with the correct drivers. 
  • Ask clients if they really need to dim. If it’s for energy- efficiency reasons, point out they will use far less energy than before, even without dimming.