Combating Evil With LED Lighting - A Guest post by John Fox
When it comes to church, the last thing you would expect to find is evil. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Churches around the world showcase some of the most beautiful and vivid pieces of art, many dating back centuries. To properly showcase their beauty, lighting is required and in this case light can become evil. Ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation are known to ruin and fade any art collectible, whether it is a photograph, sculpture or painting.
UV exposure is a real demon when it comes to pigments. As UV rays flood a piece of art, it starts to react with the artworks pigments, reducing vibrancy and eventually turning the piece yellow. IR exposure is another artwork destroyer, not affecting the colors but instead the physical painting. IR heats paint, creating a chemical reaction that causes ugly cracking. When you really think about it, the whole situation is beyond ironic: The very light we use to admire artwork, slowly destroys the beauty we intended to enjoy in the first place.
LEDs: A Heavenly Light Source
When the Caruso Catholic Center on the campus of USC in Los Angeles, contacted us with this unique project, we were excited to take on the challenge. But this wasn’t just any old project we had done millions of times before. There were many requirements that had to be met. Our lighting and integration solution had to match the existing fine millwork, and this meant finding a solution that was hidden and could achieve precise lighting. Furthermore, Father Lawrence didn’t want his church to turn into a construction site in the process. The lights had to be adjustable, dimmable and contain no UV or IR rays, all while being as discreet as possible during installation.
The limitations didn’t stop there. As we dug into more detail with our partnered construction manager, Jill Short of Short & Associates, we found many physical limitations which continued to narrow or options even more.
The biggest problem we ran into so far seemed like a deal breaker at first. We needed to distribute power to all 14 art stations. “We had 120v power in only four (4) semi convenient locations and distributing power to all but two (2) of the stations of the cross would require conduit and wire installed by an electrical contractor.” In most cases this is an easy fix but since this would require removing massive amounts of finished carpentry and millwork, it was back to the drawing board.
We also needed to allow these lights to be dimmable, but since we couldn’t distribute 120v to each of the 14 Stations and only had two circuits that were available at the ETC Dimming rack, we had to figure out a way to utilize what was available. We knew we needed some extra help from the best of the best to complete this project properly. We recommended that Jim Short contact Martin Seelos at Fulkra, a full service technology and low voltage service provider, to see if their team had any solutions to make this project a reality. If we didn’t find a solution quickly, we feared this project would be a failed attempt.
After a handful of surveys of the site along with a partnership with Berg Electric we had come to a solution. All of the Stations of the Cross would be set on one dimming control zone. To do this we used the available circuits and distributed power to three Magtech LPF-60D-12 Class 2 single output Switching Power Supplies with built-in 3-in-1 dimming function. With the help from Fulkra, we added a new zone to the existing keypads. The first road block had a solution, but this was just the beginning.
LED’s are not created equal
The next road block was creating the perfect LED lighting situation to properly display the art work. Most LEDS use blue LED and a dual phosphor (red and green) to achieve white light. While this would work, we knew there was a better solution lurking around that would produce special, spectacular and vibrant (SSV) lighting. To quote my explanation from my original article:
“We needed to find an LED that would have a warm temperature, but not too warm, about 3000K. This is a common color for LEDs, but I always felt the light was too green. When you go even warmer, its even more pronounced. These art pieces were FULL of bright colors and if we went down to 2700K, it would shift the entire artwork away from the vision intended by the artist. Peter Adams used a reasonably good LED from CREE when he painted these pieces. Since Peter was using the CREE LED with high CRI @ 3000K to paint under in his studio in Pasadena, CA, if we shifted away from that, it would be very disappointing.”
The solution was Violet LED with tri-phosphor coating (red, green and blue). This mixture produces a much better color range than your typical LED lights. Our lighting solution was found, now we needed a way to make these lights invisible while still maintaining adjustable functionality, all without compromising our carefully planned lighting effect.
“The function of the Saberlyte by Reyk Products was to produce an even illumination with a narrow beam (3-4 degrees x 120 degrees wide). After some in-house studies, we knew we could adjust the brightness of each fixture independently on site with a slight angle adjustment. Combine that with the dimming system controlling the 0-10v dimming on the remote driver, and we have plenty of individual adjustability in the field with full dimming control for setting scenes throughout the day. This solved the budget restraints and maximized the flexibility in the field after installation. It was a good compromise.”
The design was perfect and the project was nearly finished. Fulkra continued to work closely with Berg Electric, Jill Short and Casey Fox at MPA Lighting to solve and install the electrical distribution issue and secure the proper dimming modules for the ETC dimming system. With the incredible team work from these industry leaders, the fixture was hidden from sight, adjustable, and dimmable without impinging the beauty of the church.
The Final Product: