Improving light performance with lenses

CML Innovative Technologies explains why light distribution and focus are often more important than brightness in LED lighting applications

Technology advances in LED design and manufacture continues to rapidly develop. With pressure mounting on businesses and consumers to lower their energy consumption, the use of LED lighting—and demand for improved life, performance and output at lower cost— continues to push the lighting industry.

LED light output has significantly improved in recent years, although some costs have risen in the last twelve months or so. High energy costs are driving new lighting initiatives and replacement projects which further justify their financial viability. With energy prices expected to continue rising, the momentum will push investment at pace.

Light output (lumen) does not necessarily mean the product will appear brighter when looking directly at the light source. Many LEDs are designed to focus light in a single direction. This may give the appearance of brightness however, from a different direction, the brightness may decrease sharply. In some applications a reflector may help control the light. perhaps redirecting and focussing it where more useful.

Lenses are being designed and used more regularly to increase lighting distribution. Clever designs can more evenly distribute light, mimicking an incandescent lamp. Housing design and diffusers can help replicate older technology. The use of better distribution can reduce the LED count per unit, reducing component volume and associated costs.

Getting light distribution right can be important. For example, in an aircraft cockpit, a replacement lamp behind a switch or panel instrument must not be so intense the message or symbol is lost or provide bright spots that only partially illuminate the lens. It is the same for replacement lamps in vehicle dashboards. Brightness and distribution are critical for safety and user comfort. We have all seen applications where a replacement does not always achieve the intended result, such as a car headlamp where distribution is focused rather than evenly distributed. Similarly standby or power buttons can sometimes be too intense or create glare. Brightness is not always the ultimate goal.

CML Innovative Technologies’ lighting solutions address applications including aviation, automotive, lamp replacement and signal lighting. Its UK manufacturing facility offers bespoke solutions and short lead times.