Fountain lighting is a basic feature ornamental fountain design, relevant to make them shine in all their glory. The choice of the lamps and their distribution are crucial in the design of a fountain, but it also important to choose the right control system that will rule the light effects. Today there are a lot of interesting options for any type of fountain lighting. The beauty of the night water features and the elegance of the whole installation will depend on a clever choice. Read More
In general, there are two big groups of fountain lighting control systems – for traditional lighting and for LED lighting. The control systems for each type of installation are completely different and have nothing to do with each other. Now we will examine their characteristics and main uses.
Traditional Lighting Control Systems
With regard to architectural fountains, as it happens in many fields, traditional lighting is based incandescence lamps. This type of lighting is starting to lag behind mainly because of the boom of much more efficient, economic and sustainable devices such as LEDs.
Depending on the control capacity they provide, the traditional lighting control systems can be divided in two groups:
- Adjustable intensity lamps: incandescent and dichroic lamps. The electronic control system is responsible for switching on and off the lights, and also for adjusting the light emitted by the lamps.
- Non-adjustable intensity lamps: fluorescent and discharge lamps. In this case the electronic control system can only control the switching on and off, not so the light intensity. All these disadvantages make them less appropriate for ornamental fountain lighting.
The intensity problem
Why is it so important to adjust the light intensity in an ornamental fountain? Basically, to control the power consumption. The light intensity depends on the jet height: if it its height-adjustable, the light will have to match its rhythm and changes.
Some years ago it was not possible to adjust the intensity of incandescent lights and the light they emitted kept a constant flow. Consumption rocketed… and consequently, monetary expenses too. On the other hand, incandescent lights need a high electrical power and so do their control systems: this feature contributes to increasing the costs.
Switch On/Switch Off
As stated before, traditional lighting control systems in ornamental fountains are also responsible for switching on and off the lights. This feature has some disadvantages:
- The switching on and off of incandescent lamps reduces considerably their life span, something that does not happen with LED lamps.
- In order to control the switching on and off it is necessary to include a programmable clock. This clock can be programmed so the lights are off in the daylight and on through the night.
LED Lighting Control Systems
Nowadays, LED lighting has displaced traditional lighting in most ornamental fountains. The majority of the installations mount LED lights – lamps with light emitting diodes, with a very long life span and a considerably reduced power consumption. As well as these undeniable advantages, LEDs have another characteristic that turn them into the best choice for ornamental fountain lighting: they make it possible to control many features and details through the proper electronic systems.
The features managed by a LED lighting electronic control system are light intensity, light color and on/off switching. In this case, the switching does not interfere with the lamp life span or durability.
Types of LED control systems
There is a wide array of systems. The choice will normally be based in the available monetary budget and the features of the ornamental fountain to be lighted.
Whatever system we choose, it should be noted that LED lamps always mount a control system equipped with drivers (signal adapters). Among other features, these drivers are responsible for adjusting the voltage and current to the ones each device needs.
- DMX Protocol: It is a communication protocol specific for LED lighting whose control software generates a DMX signal. It is the most complete electronic control system available and makes it possible to adjust every feature, from intensity to color. Protocol DMX lets the user combine every color through a RGBW system in order to create any other shade of the color spectrum from the basic light-colors (red, green and blue).
- RGB Controller: This system consists of a device that stores a series of pre-recorded sequences, aiming to program the apparition of the colors that will dress the ornamental fountain lights. One of its bigger advantages is its easy programming and operation: it is great for non-specialized users. The RGB Controller is always integrated in the general operative system of each fountain.
- PLC System: It is scarcely used nowadays, as it needs additional hardware that turns it into an expensive and barely efficient system.
The light control system in an architectural fountain is a key factor to get a good aesthetic efficiency, reduced power consumption and a proper operation. It is very important to carefully assess all these features in order to choose the right system. The control options available today have turned lighting into one of the most important features in every architectural fountain.