LED art lighting systems are steadily replacing halogen technology as the first choice in art display illumination. Art museums and galleries, including the Smithsonian, are making the switch to LED in rapid fashion because of the efficiency, longevity and controllability the technology offers, as well as its low UV and infrared output.
With fine art displays, though, the light engine is only one part of the equation. The fixture’s housing and positioning are also critical, and that’s why most art lighting applications call for contour framing projectors. Phantom’s contour framing projectors, for example, have recently been updated so they can accommodate LED technology. This imbues the projector with many favorable characteristics that property owners should consider.
How LED Technology Improves Art Projectors
Contour framing projectors are almost always installed in the ceiling and fire a precisely-shaped beam of light through a small aperture. This minimizes the fixture’s presence while still delivering an arresting aesthetic. LEDs can be adapted for this use, and the introduction of high performance LEDs has leveled the field between solid state lighting and halogen fixtures.
Here’s how LED technology is boosting the quality of art lighting projectors:
- Safety – LED fixtures output close to zero UV and infrared radiation, which slows down the rate at which subjects deteriorate. Some subjects, like oil paintings, are badly affected by UV radiation and heat, both of which can cause the paint to crack. Other mediums and canvas are also discolored with long term exposure to UV, so a fixture that produces little ultraviolet radiation is a valuable one. LED fixtures are that technology, and can be safely positioned at nearly any distance from the subject.
- Efficiency – Art museums and galleries may keep their lights on from morning to night, and if they aren’t efficient, it will cost the venue. LED fixtures are anywhere from twice to 10 times as efficient, depending on the exact lights involved. While LED fixtures are more expensive upfront, their lower operating costs ensure venues achieve an ROI on their system within a handful of years. Even after the fixtures pay themselves off, it may be several more years before replacements are necessary.
- Longevity – LED framing projectors are rated for around 30,000 hours, and high performance lights like the Cree XHP series offer this extended lifespan even while operating at higher temperatures. Compare this to halogen lights, which may only last a couple thousand hours before replacement is indicated. That’s a lot of maintenance calls if the venue is making extensive use of halogen projectors. LED framing projectors can be installed and forgotten about for years before they require any maintenance.
- Power and color rendering – High performance LEDs can now compete with halogen technology in color rendering and output intensity. The Cree XHP70, for instance, can output more than 4,000 lumens, which is greater than all other commercial LED fixtures. It’s also comparable to halogen. Higher performance LEDs are also nearing halogen in terms of color rendering, with some LED lights scoring 90+ on the color rendering index.
These are inherent features of Cree’s XHP LEDs, which are built for specialty lighting applications. As such, it is a perfect option for art lighting projectors. However, as impressive as the Cree XHP engine is, it is only one element of Phantom’s contour framing projectors.
A New Way of Viewing Art
Phantom’s art framing projectors are compatible with halogen or LED light engines, and they offer numerous features in addition to this choice. Some of those features include:
- Variable optical system – Phantom’s projectors come with a high performance optics system that consists of condensing and focal lenses. These lenses are achromatic and work together to produce a sharp edge and eliminate any lighting abnormalities. The lenses can be customized for different ranges, and if an extremely long throw is needed, like down a hallway, Phantom’s projectors can accommodate special lenses to make it happen.
- Housing options – Phantom’s projectors are available with one of several housing options, each built for a different setting. The New Construction housing, for example, is designed for installation before sheetrock has been applied. The Top Access housing is designed for applications where it would be impractical to access the projector from below. With several housing options, there is always a perfect fit.
- Masking attachments – Phantom’s art projectors create a lit-from-within effect that makes the subject appear as if it is glowing. It’s something most people haven’t seen before, and the result commands attention. In producing this look, the magic is in the mask. Phantom offers a few masking attachments to shape the projector’s light to a precise degree, resulting in no spill illumination. Those attachments include adjustable aluminum shutters (for square or rectangular-shaped subjects), custom-cut brass templates (for sculptures and installations) or stainless steel gobos (for complex or theatrical lighting patterns). With these masking options, there is a setup for every subject.
LED art lighting systems leverage the efficiency, reliability and longevity of LED technology, and combine it with the most advanced art lighting technology on the market. The result is a standout example of what LED lighting can do when harnessed for art displays.