The word LED stands for "Light Emitting Diode", which means that LED luminaires consist of a diode that produces light. Since their appearance, LED luminaires have evolved from what initially only produced red, green or yellow light with a fairly low intensity, to what today is capable of illuminating entire rooms with different colour temperatures and intensities.
The wide range of lighting possibilities offered by LED luminaires, together with their many benefits, has meant that traditional halogen bulbs have been completely phased out in favour of the LED era.
Although it is a more environmentally friendly, longer-lasting and better quality solution, there are also other reasons why it has become a key tool in architecture and interior design.
Here we tell you everything you need to know about LED lighting, techniques, luminaires, trends, etc., so that you can make the most of it in your architecture or interior design project. Don't miss it!
Characteristics of LED lighting
LED luminaires have proved to be the most practical and efficient option when it comes to lighting, and this is due to several factors:
- It provides a brighter and sharper light.
- LED luminaires consume very little energy. In fact, while an 800 lumen halogen bulb consumes 1000 W, an 850 lumen LED light consumes only 10 W, so we would have a consumption of up to 90% lower for greater luminosity.
- They have a lifespan of 20,000 to 100,000 hours.
- They are vibration resistant because they have no filaments.
- They heat up less.
- No ultraviolet or infrared emissions.
- They are more environmentally friendly than any other type of luminaire.
These characteristics make LED luminaires perfect for all kinds of spaces, from homes to restaurants, shops and hotels. In addition, the wide range of possibilities in terms of types of LED luminaires, their intensity and colour rendering make it possible to use them to achieve very different results and atmospheres.
How LED Lights Work
LEDs are electronic components that allow current to flow in one direction, but do not allow current to flow in the opposite direction. Besides enabling the flow of current in only one direction, they also emit light in the direction in which the current flows through the diodes.
When a direct current passes through the light-emitting semiconductor, electroluminescence or light is produced. There are different types of LEDs based on the technology used to manufacture and assemble electronic circuits.
Types of LEDs
There are different types of LEDs that are more suitable for various environments, depending on the atmosphere you want to create and the functionality of each room. In many cases, different types are even combined to serve at different times, highlight specific areas, or achieve more unique results than general lighting.
LED DIP (Dual In Line Package)
They are not exactly the most luminously efficient, so they are primarily used as indicators in various electronic products and appliances.
SMD LEDs (Surface Mounted Diode)
These types of LEDs allow including 3 diodes on the same chip to achieve white light through the combination of the three primary colors. This is why their development marked a significant technological advancement.
COB LED (Chip on Board)
They boast high luminous efficiency, being able to exceed 120 lumens per watt. Additionally, their design efficiently dissipates heat, making them the ideal LED type for luminaires that need to remain illuminated for extended periods.
As the name suggests, these are microscopic types of LEDs frequently used in designing flat screens.
Types of LED Lighting
Let's transition to another classification type. In this case, we consider the location of the space where the fixture will be installed.
Indoor LED Lighting
Indoor LED lighting is of paramount importance in any interior design project, and the two best pieces of advice we can provide are:
- Install fixtures only where necessary.
- Ensure fixtures are glare-free.
- Opt for color temperatures ranging from 2200 K to 3000 K.
- Select fixtures with closed apertures to highlight specific points or elements.
- Choose fixtures with open aperture degrees for achieving more uniform illumination.
- The closer the color rendering index is to 100, the more accurate the color rendering will be.
Considering this data, it's possible to create vastly different indoor spaces and even completely transform a location by combining various fixtures to convey a sense of increased spaciousness or to establish a cozy and serene atmosphere.
Alternatively, the use of one LED luminaire type over another will largely depend on the space itself. Even within the same setting, variations can arise when combining multiple types or when areas within the room will serve different activities, such as a dining area and a lounge with sofas and armchairs.
- In homes, fixture choices will differ based on whether they are placed in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, etc.
- In hotels, relaxation areas might benefit from indirect lighting combined with other lighting types.
- In restaurants, for instance, it might be necessary to combine general lighting with fixtures illuminating tables and other diverse luminaires to create ambiance or accentuate architectural or design details.
In any case, the key is using the appropriate fixtures for each space, purpose, and area, distributing them in a useful rather than counterproductive manner, and preventing glare.
LED outdoor lighting
Outdoor areas such as gardens or terraces also need customised lighting, just like indoors. It is easy to create an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquillity by using LED outdoor luminaires, but it is important to avoid general flat lighting that tries to imitate natural daylight.
In these cases, it is only necessary to choose the right luminaires, with a Protection Index adapted to the type of space in which each luminaire is to be placed. This will ensure that the luminaires will last longer, taking into account that they will have the necessary protection to withstand the sun, rain, etc.
This type of lighting can vary greatly depending on the place where it is placed. Regardless of whether they are outdoor spaces, they can be transit areas, relaxation areas, working areas, etc. In transit areas it is possible to illuminate from the wall or from the ground to frame paths and illuminate stairs or facades.
For outdoor lighting with relaxation areas, on the other hand, it is advisable to avoid general lighting, so it is more appropriate to use mainly floor and table lamps or garlands. In work areas where activities are carried out for which a little more light is needed, such as barbecue areas, another type of outdoor lighting such as a cape or toni will be necessary.
Architectural LED lighting
Architectural LED lighting is an element that can go unnoticed in most occasions, however, a wrongly designed and organised lighting can create an uncomfortable space, where the visibility is not enough or the intensity is too much. This is why the first objective of LED lighting is to achieve comfort in any space.
But it is also a tool that can make any architect's work be perceived as genius if it is used correctly to highlight architectural details, specific areas or to create the exact right ambience for each room.
Types of LED luminaires
Let's now look at LED luminaires classified according to their shape. There are as many types and shapes as there are spaces to fit, so it's hard not to find the perfect luminaire for your project, whether it's indoors, outdoors or in any possible style.
LED surface mounted luminaire
Surface mounted luminaires are used when there is no ceiling space available for recessing. In this sense, they are usually more economical to install, as they do not require the manipulation of walls or ceilings.
Like watertight luminaires, they are highly watertight, making them suitable for use both outdoors exposed to rain and in damp interiors such as bathrooms or changing rooms.
In addition, surface-mounted LED luminaires are easy to install, as they have a frame that houses the LED driver, so there is no need to make any openings in the surface. There are two types:
Commonly called wall lights, these are luminaires that are fixed to a wall or ceiling. Depending on the number of luminaires that are placed, they can be a decorative element or configure the general lighting.
These are usually more decorative elements that accompany the general lighting. For example, they can be placed on bedside tables, in a living room or hallway. They are more mobile than wall or ceiling lights.
Track projector are especially recommended for accent lighting in retail, catering and exhibition areas, as the different spotlights can be moved along the track to concentrate the light on one point or create several points. In this sense, they are a very versatile resource.
They consist of a series of luminaires distributed on a metal track mounted on the ceiling. In addition, the track can be more or less visible, depending on the desired style.
For example, it is common in restaurants for the tables to be distributed in one way and sometimes in another. If we have track spotlights, we can move the spotlights and adapt to any situation.
LED profiles and strips
LED strips are an efficient and flexible lighting system, collected by means of a ribbon that allows them to be manufactured in very small sizes and different measurements.
Its characteristics facilitate its installation in a multitude of spaces and adaptability to various shapes and surfaces, especially to illuminate any linear element, unlike what happens with luminaires with more specific light sources.
Currently, LED strips can be dimmed using almost any existing control protocol such as PWM, DMX, KNX, 0-10V, DALI, etc., as well as connectivity via various WIFI, Bluetooth or Alexa systems, and the incorporation of sensors.
Thanks to their use and the multiplicity of formats, nowadays it is possible to give light to corners and places that otherwise could not be illuminated. LED strips are used when you want to hide the lighting, both as general and indirect lighting and for accent lighting and signage.
LED linear luminaire
LED linear luminaires can be either recessed or suspended, and are one of the most practical ways to light large spaces. In fact, their versatility makes them one of the most popular options in places such as offices.
These luminaires can have different lighting characteristics, intensity and even colour temperature, so that by combining them it is possible to achieve an infinite number of different designs adapted to all kinds of requirements.
Why is it a favourite? They are very versatile pieces that adapt to very diverse spaces and also offer a continuous, homogeneous and comfortable light, avoiding annoying glare or shadows. There are two types:
Recessed linear luminaire
This is the linear luminaire that is embedded in walls and ceilings.
Surface mounted linear luminaire
Normally, the surface mounted linear luminaire is one that is suspended or attached to the ceiling.
Wall surface luminaires, better known as wall lights, are placed on walls and are used both for lighting and as a decorative element.
This type of luminaire is widely used in homes, terraces and gardens.
A recessed luminaire is any luminaire that can be recessed in the floor, wall or ceiling, and is used to create indirect light as well as accent light, such as recessed spotlights.
These are often used as focused light to highlight specific areas or elements such as pictures or shelves due to their angle of aperture. With this type of luminaire it is important to consider factors such as design and angle of light.
Recessed outdoor floor lighting
This type of outdoor lighting is commonly used to illuminate walkways, garden paths or to achieve a soft light that illuminates the entire outdoor space.
There is one type of luminaire, the recessed downlight, which is ideal for accentuating textured surfaces and adds a third dimension to facades.
LED design pendant lamps
LED pendant lamps are a key element in the final result of an interior design project. They are devices that hang from the ceiling, where height is a relevant factor to take into account.
It is not only necessary to fulfil the function of lighting in the right way, but also to have a design that brings quality to the space in which it is and that is consistent with the overall style of the place.
In this sense, having designer lamps such as those designed by Nahtrang, Nutcreatives, Andreu Carulla or Isaac Piñeiro for FARO Barcelona can give the space you are creating a personal, elegant and stylish touch that will undoubtedly bring great originality and added value to your interior design.
Ceiling fan with light
Ceiling fans are not only a great option to ventilate, renew the air and refresh any space, but there is also the possibility of using fans with built-in LED light to fulfil several functions with a single device, illuminating, refreshing and ventilating at the same time. This is a very practical option for homes, where a single LED light incorporated in the ceiling fan would be enough to illuminate a room completely.
LED colour temperature
LED colour temperature is a value that is measured in degrees Kelvin (K) and determines what we consider to be warm light tones and cool light tones. When a black body is heated, it radiates a different type of light depending on the temperature, creating that warm or cool light that we understand as colour temperature in LED luminaires.
We can distinguish 3 types of colour temperature: cold, neutral and warm, and each of them is used for specific spaces.
- Cold light: more than 4000k
- Neutral light: between 2700 and 4000K
- Warm light: 2700K or less
LED lamps can be manufactured with a specific colour temperature or incorporate a dimmer to control the desired temperature at any given moment.
In addition, unlike other types of lighting such as fluorescent tubes, LED lighting does not alter or damage the objects it illuminates as it does not emit ultraviolet or infrared radiation.
LED light intensity
Light intensity plays a crucial role in almost every day-to-day activity. Seeing clearly and distinguishing objects is important in activities that require more precision, however, in other spaces for different purposes, the intensity of light needed can change a lot. While this is to some extent subject to individual preference, the intensity of light will never be the same in spaces such as an office or living room. Although light intensity can be measured in different ways, the most common measurement is in lumens and lux.
- Lumens measure the luminous flux of a luminaire, i.e. the intensity of the light emitted.
- Luxes, however, relate the intensity of light to the square metres to be illuminated.
Factors such as the opening angle, colour temperature or distance to the light source can greatly influence the lumens.
How to position and install LED luminaires
Installing an LED luminaire can depend on many factors. First of all, the type of luminaire, the surface on which it is installed, the light points, etc. Each type of luminaire can be easier or more difficult to install depending on whether it is a recessed luminaire, pendant luminaire...
However, it will also be necessary to take into account the points where the luminaires are going to be placed from the very first moment the lighting project is designed. The placement of LED luminaires cannot be something random, but rather a project studied in detail that takes into account the type of light needed in each area, the activities that are going to be carried out in each space, the atmosphere that is intended to be created and how each type of light and its arrangement will affect the final result.
At Faro Barcelona, we have almost 40 years of experience working on lighting projects. We are experts in all types of LED luminaires, their installation and their arrangement in spaces, in addition, our technical team supervises and provides monitoring of each lighting project from start to finish, and with our after-sales service you will have nothing to worry about. Entrust your lighting to experts and your interior design project will be a guaranteed success.
LED lighting trends
The new trends in LED lighting point above all to a type of lighting that is integrated into the space in such a way that it is not directly perceived. The aim is to subtly use this element to create atmosphere, but without showing it.
However, where LED lighting is visible, the design must be carefully planned in a way that is consistent with the rest of the space. Straight lines and sharp curves are now one of the most widespread trends.
Minimalism has become one of the most successful and in-demand options, and with LED lighting it is now easier than ever to highlight these forms.
In addition, the need to look for products with less impact on the environment has also made LED lighting a trend in its own right within architecture.