LEDs gain popularity for household illumination
By Hannu Pöppönen
New technology poses challenges for lamp design Finnish interior decorators, lamp designers, and lamp retailers say that light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are increasingly in demand as sources of household illumination.
Interior decorator Päivi Bergroth says that the option of LED lamps come up in nearly all projects that her office is involved in, even if the client ultimately opts for something else.
LEDs are especially in demand for places in which it would be difficult to change a bulb or a tube - in storage areas, for instance, or inside kitchen cabinets. LEDs are also used in saunas, although they are not recommended for that purpose, because they do not withstand heat very well.
Håkan Långstedt, the managing director of Saas Instruments, which sells LED lamps and illumination sets, says that sales of LED lamps have tripled in the past year.
Advantages include durability, small size, and an ability to withstand exposure to cold temperatures.
"What is most exciting about LEDs is that they make it possible to bring light to places that have not had it", Långstedt says.
"In the future, LEDs can become more common as Christmas lights on balconies, for instance."
LEDs are energy-efficient, but they also have an important role in creating atmosphere in different places. This is why they are often used on ships and in hotels.
The main problem with LEDs is their weak light output and fairly high price.
If several LEDs are placed in a single lamp, overheating can be a problem. LED light has also been criticised as cold, and the light can also be uneven, especially if several LEDs are used in conjunction with each other.
A number of LED reading lamps and spotlights are available, but as the technology becomes more widespread, and as components develop further, there will be room for new solutions and inventions.
"Thanks to various kinds of lens techniques, the light output of LEDs has improved significantly. Development is still needed, but I believe that the matter will surge forward", Bergroth notes.
On the other hand, lamps might become invisible, because LEDs can be installed directly into furniture and kitchen cabinets.
Many international manufacturers have design lamps in which LEDs are used as sources of light.
One of these is the Lamppu floor lamp designed by Harri Koskinen for the Italian company Oluce three years ago.
Lamppu is a reading lamp in which the light source can be detached from its stand and used as a flashlight.
Koskinen originally designed it as a halogen lamp, but the manufacturer preferred the LED option because it could be used more efficiently with a rechargeable battery.
Koskinen notes that the use of LEDs as light sources give designers more freedom in the choice of materials.
"As LEDs do not get hot, paper, or wood fibre can be used in the lamps."
Saas instruments will soon introduce a very basic table lamp designed by Timo Väisänen.
Another example of a domestic LED light source is the spearfishing torch by the Metro Helsinki Hunt Club run by Ville Kokkonen, Teemu Oksanen, and Jukka Pasanen.
The torch, designed to attract fish at night, is made of wood and aluminium, and uses 29 LEDs as its light source.
A pioneer in LED technology is German-born Ingo Maurer, who produced a number of different kinds of LED installations at the end of the 20th century. They give an indication of the possibilities that are inherent to the technology.
In 2003 he designed a glass table whose surface is illuminated by at 300 LEDs.
Maurer has also designed "LED wallpaper" out of circuit boards. Some of them have profuse arrangements of LEDs whose colours and brightness can be altered.
Helsingin Sanomat / First published in print 8.12.2006
Description of the Lamppu floor lamp by Harri Koskinen
Metro Helsinki Hunt Club
HANNU PÖPPÖNEN / Helsingin Sanomat