An increased demand for energy efficiency, as well as the electricity supply pressures experienced by State-owned power utility Eskom, have contributed to an intensified focus on lighting and developing solutions to reduce energy consumption through lighting technologies, says Illumination Engineering Society of South Africa (Iessa) incoming president Trevor Milne.
He adds that, while South Africa previously imported a significant portion of its lighting technologies, the current energy demand environment has encouraged local innovations that are now being sought by international companies.
The requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Act are also contributing to developments in the local lighting industry, says Milne. As an industry body, Iessa is promoting the OH&S Act standards, particularly for commercial and industrial environments.
He says that increased efficiency in lighting needs to be achieved without compromising the quality of light. Improved reflector technologies have contributed to greater efficiency of light distribution and, in some cases, fewer lamp ways can be used to provide the same amount of light in a space. Having fewer lamps burning also has the benefit of reducing the heat emitted from lights, which could have a positive impact by reducing air-conditioning costs.
Another significant development that is contributing to energy efficiency is an increase in the use of electronic ballasts in light fittings. Milne says that electronic ballasts can contribute to between 25% and 30% in savings on electrical energy costs.
In commercial applications, a significant development has been the introduction of the T5 fluorescent light systems that are more efficient than the earlier T8 version as they use less power and are able to work with electronic ballasts. T5 technology is also experiencing increased use in the industrial sector as it affords users a greater degree of control over sectional lighting, it can be controlled using sensor technology and has a quicker run up rate than some older technologies.
Sensor technology and daylight harvesting are additional technologies that are increasingly being used in the commercial and industrial sectors.
Safety is another factor that has influenced lighting technology developments and tools, such as sensors, digital emergency converters and management systems being able to provide lighting solutions that are efficient but do not compromise safety, says Milne.
Iessa has a number of internal committees that aim to contribute to safety, standards monitoring and training for the local illumination industry. The society is working in collaboration with local standards bodies to provide expertise and guidance, says Milne.
Iessa will be hosting the global International Commission on Illumination next year, which Milne says is a valuable opportunity for the local illumination industry to benefit from international expertise and to showcase local lighting solutions.