I was at a local restaurant this weekend and noticed the lighting, which is a Bad Thing – if you notice the lighting it’s almost always because it’s annoying.
In addition to being a random mix of lighting types with the corresponding wobbly mix of color temperatures, the lights were all full-on. This was the middle of the day and dimmed lights would have saved on the electricity bill since most were incandescent. (The room also would have benefited from skylights, but that’s another story.)
I noticed that the retro style of some of the fixtures was that of some new LED lights recently introduced at Barn Lighting Electric. These lights combine LEDs with vintage fixtures to make for dimmable, warm white lights. (The lights use Cree’s TrueWhite technology, whose claim to fame is that over the entire range of dimming, the lights keep their same color temperature.) The Barn Light Electric fixtures have a CRI of between 92 and 94 which compares to fluorescent lights’ CRI score in the 70s; Natural sunlight is 100.
For public places such my local restaurant, dimming provides not just room ambiance but a significant energy cost savings. This dimmability, along with the lights’ efficacy of 95 lm/W higher energy efficacy of LEDs, makes for a power savings that pays off over competing lighting technologies. The lights are available in 850 lm (60W equivalent) and 1250 lm (75W) versions. (Example pictured below, $249 single quantities.) The Barn Lights are also made in the US.
While some lighting vendors chase high-volume, low margin products like incandescent light replacement bulbs, companies like Barn Light see a greater opportunity in designing high-quality lights, good margin lights that still have a fast ROI. Smart. I look forward to seeing them soon in restaurants and retail stores as well as residences.