U.S. Stations Relying on Incandescent Fixtures Must Plan for LED Upgrades
by Kathy Katz, Co-Founder, Brightline
While there’s been a lot of talk about the banning of fluorescent fixtures and the need for stations to upgrade their tv studio lighting to LED, there’s been less discussion around the many stations still relying on incandescent lights. While these fixtures are a generation back from fluorescents, they remain a widely popular lighting source for broadcast tv lighting in the U.S. Those with incandescents, such as the widely used quartz-halogens, will skip over the fluorescent stage entirely. They’ll need to transition straight to LEDs once the reliable fixtures finally burn out.
As background – in December 2022, the Biden administration and the Department of Energy announced a rule to double the minimum light bulb efficiency to more than 120 lumens per watt for bulbs commonly used – which effectively banned compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. The rule is expected to go into full effect before the end of 2024. Lighting manufacturers were required to stop producing inefficient bulbs for the U.S. residential market as of January of 2023. In 2020, it was estimated that incandescent and halogen lightbulbs made up 30% of the entire lighting market.
A halogen lamp (also called tungsten halogen, quartz-halogen, and quartz iodine lamp) is an incandescent lamp consisting of a tungsten filament sealed in a compact transparent envelope that is filled with a mixture of an inert gas and a small amount of a halogen. Incandescent bulbs produce light by heating a metallic filament. Fluorescent lamps generate light by gas discharge, i.e. by exciting the gas.
Switching from flourescents to LEDs is very similar to switching out incandescents for LEDs, with the following exceptions. Incandescent lights are known for their ability to dim smoothly, which creates exactly the right ambience, essential for creating the optimal lighting for broadcast tv. Make sure the LEDs you purchase are dimmable with a solid lighting control system to manage them effectively. Be sure the staff is up to date on how to operate the new fixtures so you’re able to take advantage of all the benefits your new broadcast tv lighting design has to offer. There are many features on the latest LED lights that will be new to them.
Another consideration is the ability of incandescent lighting to produce a warm and continuous spectrum of light, while some LED lights can emit a very different color temperature. Carefully test the color quality in the LEDs you select so that they closely match your existing set up or what you’re looking for in your upgraded studio. Adjust the color temperature and intensity as needed. Most LEDs closely replicate the feeling of natural light with their adjustable color temperature.
Energy and heat reduction benefits are greater with the incandescent to LED switch since incandescents are far less energy efficient and generate more heat than fluorescents. That reduced heat output in your studio will result in adjustments to cooling the studio and could require changes to the ventilation and cooling systems. Keep track of the ROI on the LEDs. The reduced energy consumption and lower maintenance costs will result in substantial savings.
You’ll also need to stay up to date on the latest regulations and standards on LED lighting technology, including any energy-efficient lighting requirements. There will also be upgrades unveiled that you will want to consider to keep your broadcast tv lighting design up to date.
Lastly, since LEDs have a far longer lifespan than incandescents, the maintenance required is reduced, but LEDs will still need regular checks and replacements. Make sure you’ve got a maintenance plan in place to keep your new LED fixtures alive and kicking for many years to come. With the proper maintenance plan in place, the new lights could provide peak performance for a decade or more.
As lighting designer Bruce Aleksander writes in his column in TV Technology, broadcasters need an exit strategy when upgrading to more energy-efficient lighting. He offers: “While the cost of the new equipment can be substantial, the supporting infrastructure is actually simple by comparison to what was needed for incandescent.”
Aleksander points to the Brightline LED upgrade kit: “I admire that this company figured out how to extend the life of their legacy fixtures while maintaining exceptional performance. The upgraded light is fully DMX controllable, has an excellent 97 CRI (Color Rendering Index) at 5600K (daylight) color temperature, and all of their well-designed accessories still fit.”
The benefits of upgrading to more efficient LED lighting far outweigh staying with older generations of lighting design, but as discussed, the implications reach beyond simply swapping in a new fixture. Please get in touch with our team if you have any questions about what to expect or how to make the transition as smooth as possible for your studio and staff.
A leading manufacturer of energy-efficient lighting systems for broadcast, videoconference, e-learning, and government, Brightline’s mission is to enable communication through clarity. With more than 5,000 customers in over 35 countries, Brightline specializes in enhancing the presentation of visual images by providing high quality, environmentally responsible, and cost-effective evolutionary lighting solutions. Get enlightened at brightlines.com.
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