LED lighting has proliferated significantly in recent years, with significant development by major lighting companies, as well as through research supported by the Department of Energy. Lighting for museums requires a challenging blend of beam control, longevity, track flexibility, and color rendering performance. Until recently, halogen was the only source suited to museum applications. Now, several manufacturers have developed LED fixtures, both for retrofit and new construction applications that meet the needs of curators, conservators, and lighting designers. Litelab is one of three major manufacturers (Edison Price, LSI) that have invested significant research and development in LED fixtures.
Lighting designers need to carefully consider:
-Fixture availability: tight beam spreads (narrow angle) are still harder to find with LED fixtures. Some designers now use a hybrid approach, blending both LED and halogen sources to properly provide object lighting.
-Track system: designers have to work carefully with an Owner to select a track system that will provide sufficient long-term flexibility in support of a manufacturer with a strong R&D plan. The dynamic nature of the LED market is both cause for excitement, as well as concern. A product line available today may be discontinued in less than a year.
-Life-cycle cost: LED sources have a significantly higher luminous efficacy (lumens per watt) than halogen sources. Combined with five to ten times the lifespan of halogen sources, investment in LED will provide a favorable financial return for institutions with high labor and energy costs. Energy use reductions must be evaluated holistically in relation to HVAC energy use. Most museum systems rely on constant volume with reheat systems - traditional halogen lighting provides reheat in support of dehumidification processes that would otherwise need to provided at the system (air-handling unit) level.