An LED picture light is the safest, longest lasting and most precise form of art illumination on the market, and it can be retrofitted into existing fixtures as well. LED picture lights have already earned an excellent reputation with art galleries and museums, and have been installed in major venues, including The Smithsonian and Sistine Chapel. LED lighting is not just available to the professionals, though, as collectors can harness its power and efficiency for their own artwork. LED framing projectors, in particular, offer an unbeatable combination of precision and aesthetics, making for a memorable display.
LED lighting has potential in many sectors, but it may be best suited for art illumination. There are several reasons why that’s the case, including:
1. Art preservation – Most artwork is sensitive to light, at least to an extent. Textiles suffer rapid deterioration in the presence of most art lights, and watercolors and oil paintings will also fade and may even crack under intense illumination. This is due to the presence of UV and IR radiation emanating from the fixtures. Neither are visible to the human eye, but together, they can damage artwork beyond restoration.
An LED picture light, though, produces much less UV and IR radiation than other forms of illumination. As a result, LED picture lights can be used with most artwork without fear of causing damage to the subject.
2. Safety – LED fixtures are so efficient with energy that they produce little radiant heat. In fact, an LED lamp is normally cool enough to safely touch. This reduces fire risk, and what also reduces fire risk is the fixture’s design.
LED optical framing projectors, like those produced by Phantom Lighting, are available with insulation contact, or IC, rated housings. An IC-rated housing is safe enough to use with building insulation, to the point where the housing can be covered in insulation without increasing the chances of causing a fire. An IC-rated framing projector is the ideal choice for energy efficient buildings, where additional insulation is usually present.
An IC-rated projector is safe to use with heavy insulation because heat radiates very slowly from the housing. It’s not enough to cause combustion or even affect anything nearby.
3. Longevity – LED lighting is an attractive choice for all kinds of venues, if only because it lasts much longer than other lighting technologies. This is a major point in favor of LED picture lights, and optical framing projectors, in particular. That’s because these art lights are usually installed inside the ceiling, where they may not be easy to access. Most property owners would prefer a light that lasts a long time, if only to reduce replacement frequency.
LED fixtures are rated far beyond incandescent and halogen in terms of rated life. An LED engine will offer at least 50,000 hours of quality illumination, and some lights make it to the 100,000-hour threshold. At 50,000 hours, an LED lamp will last for 11 years, if it is kept on for 12 hours a day. Compare that to an incandescent bulb, which is rated for about 1,000 hours, and halogen, which is rated for around 2,500 hours. By the time you’ve replaced a single LED engine, you would need 50 incandescent or 20 halogen bulbs. The costs associated with that many replacements, both financial and time-wise, will add up over the years.
4. Quality and Aesthetics – If there was an area where LED lighting once lagged behind it was lighting quality. Until recently, halogen was considered the optimal choice for art lighting, due to its superb color rendering capabilities. As color rendering was once halogen’s only significant advantage, LED lighting engineers have sought better color rendering as well as a better-looking LED fixture.
Optical framing projectors built with high performance LEDs can now render color at a level that most people would find indistinguishable from halogen. Many LED picture lights have attained color rendering index, or CRI, ratings above 90, which makes them well-suited for artwork.
As art lighting manufacturers transition from halogen to LED technology, many art collectors, galleries and museums will need their own plan for making the switch. It’s a solvable challenge, though, because reputable manufacturers have retrofit solutions for their art lighting products.
For example, Phantom’s optical framing projectors have traditionally been fitted with halogen lighting, but they can now be retrofitted with LED. This is done using an LED conversion kit, and is a quick modification that brings all the same benefits that a new LED system would provide. No special tools are required, as only a few components need to be switched out. That includes the power supply, the optical system and the light engine itself. It’s a project that can be accomplished in a single afternoon and provides long-term benefits for the display.
An LED picture light represents the peak of art illumination technology and is slated to be the top choice for art into the foreseeable future. That’s because LED fixtures offer better efficiency, longevity, durability and safety than all other forms of lighting. The only question is when to make the transition to LED, and with economical retrofit kits available, it’s never been easier.