Thursday, June 13, 2013

SAFETY IN LIGHTING- The Use of Products Not Listed to UL Standards

We all know the importance of safety and its role on Athe trade show and event floor.  Despite this, we repeatedly see some companies selling, importing and using products that are not listed to UL standards. 
The trade show industry is not alone with having problems in this area.  A discussion has been taking place among LED Lighting Professionals on Linked In on the unsafe nature and unfair competition that has arisen as a result of some companies selling (LED) lighting products that are not LISTED to UL standards.  Even at LightFair in April (the largest lighting trade show in the U.S.) attendees had to specifically inquire among some exhibitors as to whether or not their products were listed to UL standards – and not all were listed.
Yes, non listed products are almost always less expensive than listed products.  Logically, this is because of those companies are not incurring the significant expense of testing and maintaining records to assure their customers and the facilities where the products are installed that the products they are using are safe and meet a minimum standard.
So, what does all of this mean and what is the difference between a product that is listed to UL standards and those that are not and just use some UL approved components?  Let’s explore!

What does it mean for a product to be LISTED to UL standards? 
A product that has the listing mark of UL or ETL means that the entire product and all of its components have been tested as they are used in connection with one another and have been deemed to meet the applicable UL standard.  This means that the entire product meets the standard - not just the power supply or cord.  The denotation by the mark “US” stands for the United States and “C” for Canada.
This is not a trivial or inexpensive standard.  Testing is completely documented and reported components used are essentially registered in connection with the testing process.  Assembly factories are subject to unannounced inspections to assure ongoing compliance.  Independent testing authorities, if the product passes testing, issues an authorization to mark or label the product for the particular compliance that has been achieved.

What is the difference between the ETL Listed Mark and those issued by others?
Certification marks – like the ETL or UL Listed Mark – demonstrate compliance to the requirements of widely accepted product safety standards, as determined through independent testing and periodic follow-up inspections by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs).  ETL and UL are recognized as an NRTL in the United States and, in a similar capacity, as a testing organization and certifying body in Canada by the Standards Council of Canada.  Interestingly, Canada has legislation requiring products being sold to be listed to the UL standards.  Still, not all companies are complying.
Is the ETL Listed Mark the legal equivalent to the UL Listed Mark?
Yes. The true legal requirement to test and certify products for sale in the United States is a designation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as a NRTL.

Do local inspectors know the ETL and UL Listed Mark?
Yes. Inspectors and the Authorities having jurisdiction recognize and accept the ETL and UL Mark as proof of product compliance throughout North America and in some areas of South America.

Why does DS&L primarily use ETL and others use the services of UL?
One of the key reasons we choose to use ETL certifications is that the timeframe in which Intertek™ (ETL) can test and certify products is usually much faster than UL.  ETL tests to the exact same standards as UL and their certification has the same recognition by OHSA since they are both NRTLs.  DS&L also distributed products that contain the UL mark.

What’s the difference between the UL and ETL Listed Marks?
Nothing. Both marks demonstrate that the product that bears the mark has met the minimum requirements of widely accepted product safety standards as determined through the independent testing of a NRTL.  As part of that testing regimen, the product manufacturer has agreed to periodic follow-up inspections to verify continued compliance.

What does the ETL or UL Mark mean when displayed on a product?
The ETL or UL Listed Mark indicates to distributors, retailers and customers that the product has been tested by a NRTL and found in compliance with accepted national standards.  This means that you can rest assured that you are purchasing and using products that minimize the risk of damage when used as intended.

Why do some companies choose not to test?
As DS&L is committed to providing safe products for use by its customers, we cannot offer an answer to this question.  Certainly the time, expense, management and understanding of the testing process as it relates to the product development cycle may play a role in this decision making process.

Why is DS&L so committed to safety?
Aside from a long standing belief that providing safe products to use is the responsible thing to do, DS&L’s management team includes an accountant and an attorney who believe that part of the obligation of manufacturers and suppliers is to provide safe products that minimize risk and exposure to liability.  Selling products that are ETL or UL listed provides that security not only to DS&L but to its customers who re-distribute its products as well.
(some of the information provided in this section has been adapted from the Intertek/ETL website)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lighting Basics

A Brief Introduction
We are starting to embrace the importance of good lighting.  Eighty percent of our decisions are based on what we see. Seeing is the interaction between the eye, the object viewed and light. Light, determines how we perceive the object in view.  So SEEING REALLY IS BELIEVING!!! 
Lighting controls visual impression. In order to achieve a desired environment, knowing how to use light and lighting is essential. Even with smaller budgets, the impact can be significant – remember, in the dark, it only takes a flashlight to create a visible monster.
Know your lights
Since we can acknowledge the importance of how light cascades on an exposed object, we need to educate ourselves on how our choice of lighting interacts with the object when it comes to color representation.   
It is important that a lighting environment enhances the objects being illuminated to make them most appealing.  The red color of the tomato, for example, must be vibrant to appeal to the customer in the grocery store.
Quality, not quantity of light
Elements like color of light, degree or beam spread and brightness are also important factors to the environment and the object being illuminated.   A display may be made dull by a poor choice of lighting. The quantity of light does not create good lighting.  For example, a large floodlight provides the quantity of light needed for a night time outdoor ball game, but would simply be the wrong choice for most exhibit or retail displays. Instead, to catch our attention, narrow beam spotlights should be used to make products or areas “pop” or stand out while playing down the surroundings.  This type of lighting creates contrast through interaction between darker and well illuminated sections.
Energy efficiency 
Energy efficiency is increasingly important in all lighting decisions, both for economic reasons and for sustainability reasons.  With the development of emerging technology, it is possible to make good lighting choices for a project for illumination purposes, as well as for the well-being of our planet.  Ordinary light bulbs produce 95 % heat and only 5 % light and often require additional cooling units, which make them quite inefficient when it comes to energy consumption.  There are many options today that allow for a more energy efficient lighting solutions.  More information on this subject can be found in the Tools and Products section of this report.
Light – not only for exposure
Light can make a display or retail environment more competitive and attractive, but it is also a workplace where staff and visitors should feel at home. Research shows that our sight grows weaker as our age advances. A 60-year-old requires a lot more light than a 20-year-old in order to experience the same brightness.  At the same time, the 60 year olds eyes are more sensitive to sharp light, which is why properly placed sources of light are of the upmost importance.

Light and Vision
What is Light?
Describing and understanding light requires that we understand a few key terms. Below are short descriptions of five commonly used terms and a short introduction to them.

Color temperature K = Kelvin

Color temperature describes how light appears when the human eye looks directly at the illuminated source. Color temperature is measured by a unit called the kelvin (K), a scale that starts at absolute zero (-1273 degrees C). Imagine heating a bar of steel and observing the color of the bar at increasing temperatures. At some point the bar will appear to glow a dull red. As heat is added, the dull red turns to yellow, then to white, then to bluish white and finally to blue.
A light bulb that produces light perceived as a yellowish white color output will have a color temperature of around 2700K. As the color temperature increases to 3000K - 3500K, the color of the light appears less yellow and more white. When the color temperature is 5000K or higher the light produced appears bluish white. The color temperature of daylight varies, but is often in the 5000K to 7000K range.
It is important to note that color temperature is not the same as color rendering. The color temperature of a light source does not describe or predict the ability of that light source to render color accurately. 

Lux = Luminous intensity
Lux is the measure of illumination on a surface at a particular distance from the source of the light.  It answers the question – how well is this object illuminated at a particular distance from the light source?  For indoor work, a luminous intensity of 500 up to a 1000 lux is common. In our homes, the intensity is often around 200 lux. These numbers pale in comparison to the luminous intensity on a sunny day, which can exceed 100,000 lux!

Candela (cd)
Candela is the measurement of light brightness in a certain direction. Knowledge of the Candela of a light source allows us to calculate how much light will reach a specific surface. Candela answers the question – How well is an object illuminated at a particular distance from a light source?

Lumen per Watt (lm/w)
Lumens are a property of light that more and more people are aware of when choosing which type of light source to use. It measures how effectively a lamp uses the supplied energy (watt). An effective light source will turn the supplied energy to light, while a more ineffective one will turn it into heat.

Color rendering (Ra)
Color rendering describes how a light source makes the color of an object appear to human eyes and how well subtle variations in color shades are revealed. The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is a scale from 0 to 100 percent indicating how accurate a "given" light source is at rendering color when compared to a "reference" light source.
The higher the CRI, the better the color rendering ability. Light sources with a CRI of 85 to 90 are considered good at color rendering. Light sources with a CRI of 90 or higher are excellent at color rendering and should be used for tasks requiring the most accurate color discrimination.
It is important to note that CRI is independent of color temperature (see discussion of color temperature). Examples: A 2700K ("warm") color temperature incandescent light source has a CRI of 100. One 5000K ("daylight") color temperature fluorescent light source has a CRI of 75 and another with the same color temperature has a CRI of 90. 

Tools and Products
The Tools
Good lighting application engineers and good tools can create wonderful illumination results, even with small budgets. Product development in the light area may be greater than even before.  The choices that can be presented for consideration offer many different qualities, types and price points of lights today.


 Incandescent light bulbs
Incandescent light bulbs, or lamps, have always had a good rating on color rendering index (RA), but are now making way for a new generation of energy-efficient light sources. Why? Because only 3% of the energy they consume becomes light – the rest becomes heat radiation.

Line voltage halogen
Used mainly in home lighting and more common in Europe than the U.S. Only 6-7% of energy consumed becomes light. Approx. 10% less system efficiency than low voltage halogen bulbs, mainly due to a larger burner arrangement inside of the lamp. No transformer is required.

Low voltage halogen lamps
Widely used in exhibition and retail lighting during the 1990s. Good color rendering, but consumes too much energy to be suitable for the modern retail lighting of today. Lamp lifespan is also too short. Requires a transformer to operate. Only 6-7% of energy consumed becomes light.

Compact fluorescent lamps, CFL
Fluorescent lamps are good for ambient (general) lighting but are not the ideal choice for showcases. There are optical difficulties in controlling light flow from the lamps as there are no reflectors or optics integrated into the lamps. Requires a ballast to operate, which is usually built into the lamp. Approx. 20% of energy consumed becomes light.

Linear fluorescent lamps
Many types.  Nowadays, T5 and T4 are most common. Linear fluorescent lamps are good for ambient (general) lighting but are not the ideal choice for showcases. There are optical difficulties in controlling light flow from the lamps as there are no reflectors or optics.  Requires a ballast to operate which is usually built into the light fixture. Approx. 25% of energy consumed becomes light.

-->Discharge lamps (HID)
Single-ended, double-ended or also available as PAR lamps. Currently the most widely used light sources in European exhibition and retail lighting. Double-ended types usually have a longer lifespan, but difficult to design narrow beam spread reflectors. Approx. 25% of energy consumed becomes light. Requires electronic ballast to operate which is usually built into the light fixture.

”PAR” HID-lamps
Widely used in North America, but have a limited lifespan due to their design. Difficult to use for accent lighting applications because of inherent optical limitations in controlling light flow. Approx. 15-20% of energy consumed becomes light due to the optical design of the reflector.  Pros & cons: can be used in less expensive light fixture, but more expensive lamps.

Here you can find out more about which products lighting
professionals use in trade shows, stores and other locations.
Arm lights for exhibitions and display systems
Arm lights are suitable for use in temporary installations or when ceiling height does not allow for other types of lighting to be installed. Can be mounted on a permanent wall section or on portable display systems.  
Track Lighting Systems
Tracks allow the user to connect several lights to a track with the flexibility of moving the light along the track where needed. Great flexibility in the event that displays are reconfigured over time.  Tracks can be used wherever needed for accent and ambient lighting.  Surface mounted, recessed or suspended installations are possible.
LED (Light Emitting Diodes) can also used, but remember – cooling is of the utmost importance to ensure the longevity of the LED.  High quality fixture have custom heat sinks incorporated into the fixture to achieve the necessary cooling.  Available in various color temperatures of white as well as color changing versions.

Spotlights are a flexible and efficient way of focusing light where you need it most. Spotlights draw attention to your message and highlight your products.
Down Lights
Down lights create ambient (general) lighting. Pull-out and rotational down lights can also be used as spotlights. Light levels should not differ by more than ~30% at any point across the floor.