Residential lighting will change in the next few years as the phased-in Congressional ban on incandescent bulbs takes effect from 2012 through 2014. The illumination characteristics of the two likely replacements for incandescent lighting, compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, differ from one another, and both differ substantially from incandescent lighting. Lighting level calculators make it easier to create effective lighting using these newer, less familiar light sources.
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Lighting Layout Estimator
GE Lighting offers a free Lighting Layout Estimator. This simple calculator asks you to input the room's square footage, the lighting level desired and a few more details about fixtures. It provides suggested values, which you can change, for things many householders will not know, such as the ballast factor, which applies only to fluorescent lighting. It provides the estimated number of fixtures and lamps, the estimated spacing between fixtures, watts per square foot, the total power load in kilowatts and the energy cost per year.
The calculator offers no calculations specifically for LED lighting and does not take into account light loss factors, such as ambient temperature. It assumes normal line-level voltages. More professional programs allow you to adjust for abnormal voltage levels.
Enviro-Systems offers its PC-only Light Calc software as a download for £26 (as of September 2010). See Resource 2. The software "assumes you have a fundamental understanding of lighting theory." For another £19 it offers a book, "Kitchen and Bath Lighting...Made Easy," which purports to explain lighting theory. The software asks for information similar to that asked by GE Lighting's Lighting Layout Estimator. In addition to the information provided by the Lighting Layout Estimator, the LightCalc software provides information about directional lamps and spacing, pendant lighting, lighting for artwork and takes into account room colours and surface reflectance. It also has an online help function.
LTB Light 9.1
LTB Light 9.1 provides many functions not provided by either LightCalc or the Lighting Layout Estimator. The program, for Macs only, costs £195. It includes an internal CAD (Computer Aided Drawing) system. It allows the user to import and modify photometric data (light measurement data) in standard file formats. It can convert AutoCAD DXF files to photometric data. The user can control illumination levels, lighting positions and desired energy requirements. Unlike many programs, it can calculate energy requirements and lighting needs for complex volumes, such as a trapezoidal room with cross-vaulting. It also has a default module that allows the user to quickly calculate rectangular rooms and a "road tool," which provides the most efficient installation with respect to fixture types and light levels, distance between lighting objects and fixture heights.
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