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Types of fountain lighting

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Architectural fountain lighted with LED RGB

Fountain lighting is a basic factor when enhancing all their beauty and attractive. A good lighting configuration can highlight some features of a fountain that would go unnoticed without it, especially when there is not natural or environmental lighting. In general, we can divide all types of lighting in architectural fountains in two groups: traditional lighting and modern lighting. Read More

Traditional lighting

Modern lighting has nothing to do with old-time lighting, as the later was just a pale reflection of the one currently used. Though traditional lighting (not only in ornamental fountains) is still used, nowadays it has been widely outweighed by technologically innovative elements such as high-performance LED’s.

Incandescent lamps

Traditional lighting is based in incandescence. This type of lamps mounts wolfram filaments that conduct electricity and warm up until red-hot. The filament is encapsulated in a glass ampoule, making up what is commonly known as ‘bulb’.

Incandescent lamps used in ornamental fountains are typically of the PAR 36 and PAR 56 types. The constant contact between the lamps and the water makes it compulsory to achieve a perfect waterproof joint between the glass and the outside holder.

The disadvantages of incandescent lighting are widely known:

  • It generates much more heat than light, so its luminous efficacy (lumens/consumed watts) is quite low. Most watts are consumed in the form of heat.
  • The lamps show an extremely short lifespan, no more than 1000 hours long.

Halogen lamps

Over time, technology evolved and halogen lamps started to be produced. In these lamps, filaments (made of tungsten) get red-hot inside a quartz ampoule full a mixture of inert gas and a small proportion of halogen gas – hence the name. While standard halogen lights are no longer in production, as it they prohibited under the law all over the world, halogen lamps are still produced and commercialized.

In the field of fountain lighting, the most commonly used halogen lamps can be divided in two types:

Sodium-steam and fluorescent lamps

Though traditional lighting evolved over the years towards the production of sodium-steam lamps, this type of luminaires were never used in fountain lighting. But… Why? Basically, there are two motives: they are slow-starting lamps and the light they emit is orange. This color overrides the rest of the tones and is not attractive at all. In the same way, fluorescent lamps have no place in fountain lighting as they need quite a high tension (more than 1000 volts) to work, something impossible to achieve in this kind of installations.

Modern lighting

Modern or contemporary lighting, as stated before, has practically nothing to do with traditional solutions. In architectural fountains, technology allows undreamed-of possibilities that will provide every fountain design with all kind of decorative effects.

What is a LED?

This type of lighting is based on high-performance LED’s. LED is the acronym of light emitting diode. A diode is a semi-conductor electronic component – when electricity is conducted through it, the atoms get altered. During this alteration, electrons and protons (negative and positive electrical-charged particles) combine and release energy in the form of photons. When they reach the reflecting chip located into the lamp, photons increase their brightness and light is created.

LED lamps: advantages

The advantages of the LED technology are quite clear:

  • It involves a significant energy saving.
  • The lamp can be switched on and off many times without its lifespan being reduced.
  • LED lamps have a much longer lifespan than incandescent and halogen lamps.
  • They make it possible to create different colors of light (RGBW) without using filters.

These advantages result in two very positive consequences:

  • The lamps show a real durability, that is, their lifespan is really as the manufacturer indicates
  • They show a constant luminous efficacy (lumens/watt).

More light, less heat

What is the reason for the higher luminous efficacy of LED’s when compared to incandescent lamps? It is easy: the absence of heat. As stated when talking about traditional lighting, the heat generated in a filament causes an important decrease in luminous performance. When heat disappears, a constant brightness is created so the lamp will provide the light it was originally designed to emit.

The onset of high-performance LED lamps marks a before and an after in the field of lighting. The aesthetic possibilities of this technology make it especially interesting with regard to fountain lighting.

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Guest Tuesday, 28 September 2021

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