Buying Guides

Guide to Emergency Lighting

Emergency lighting is lighting that works during a power cut, normally using a battery for up to 3 hours of standby power. Emergency lights might be anything from green signage lights to everyday fittings that blend into standard lighting schemes.

Escape & Standby

Emergency lighting falls into one of two categories: escape lighting or standby lighting.
Standby lighting allows work to continue during a power loss, but is not a legal requirement.
Escape lighting is far more critical and subdivided into three categories:

  • Escape route lighting identifies and lights exit routes and enables safe evacuation of a building.
  • Open area (anti-panic) lighting is intended to avoid panic in large spaces (above 60m²) where occupants are likely to gather.
  • High risk task area lighting enables hazardous processes to be closed down so that operators or occupants are not put at needless/further risk.

Emergency lights and their roles are defined by British Standard 5266-1, which is a code of practice for emergency lighting. Up-to-date advice on how to conform to this standard is available for download (PDF) from the ICEL website.

Maintained & Non-Maintained

Emergency lights generally come in maintained or non-maintained forms:

    • A maintained emergency light functions as a regular fitting but stays switched on during a power cut.
    • A non-maintained light is kept switched off and only triggers when the mains supply is lost.

Maintained lights are required in premises where visitors may be unfamiliar with their surroundings (e.g. cinemas, nightclubs, public buildings), while non-maintained lights are used more in private workplaces.

Please take a look at our full range of Emergency Lighting.
For more advice, inspiration and news, check our Lighting Advice section.

Buying Guides

Cheap imported LED lighting – is it worth the risk?

The global LED market has exploded in recent years as the benefits of LED bulbs over traditional CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and incandescent bulbs have become more widely recognised. As a result, the demand for cheap LED lighting has rocketed, with many consumers looking to lower-priced imports as a cost-cutting solution. But whilst everyone loves a bargain, price should not be at the expense of safety.

What to look out for when buying LED bulbs online:

When selling electrical products in Europe and the UK, there are numerous legislative requirements and trading standards that must be met by manufacturers. One of the main risks when buying cheap imported products online is that they may not meet these standards, making them unreliable at best, potentially lethal at worst. When buying products online, be sure to check that they meet the necessary standards and legislations, including:

  • the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 2016 which ensures that all electrical equipment designed for use within certain voltage limits is safe to use
  • a CE marking which allows manufacturers to legally market and distribute products within the European Market, and declares that the products comply with all applicable European Directives and Regulations
  • the BSI Kitemark which is an optional certification for emergency lighting, luminaires, and LED retrofit bulbs. Manufacturers can use the BSI Kitemark to differentiate their products from their competitors, using it as proof of quality, safety and reliability.

Dangers of buying cheap products online

In recent years, thousands of cheap, potentially dangerous LED bulbs have been intercepted at ports, airports and postal hubs across the country. Between July – November 2014, National Trading Standards reported that 64% of LED bulbs tested across various UK border points were found to be unsafe or noncompliant.

In a case reported on the BBC’s Fake Britain in 2015, a shipment of 1,000 LED bulbs, imported from China, was intercepted at the Port of Felixstowe. When tested, a sample of these products were found to have inadequate insulation, as well as exposed wiring and metal bodies, making them extremely dangerous.

Tips for buying safe online:

National Trading Standards offer some useful advice when shopping online for LEDs, including:

  • look closely at the website on which you are shopping – is it a genuine business with a UK address and phone number? If in doubt, move on
  • if prices look too good to be true, they probably are
  • if you believe a seller is pushing potentially dangerous goods, report it to the Citizen’s Advice Consumer Service.

When buying lighting products online, the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ couldn’t be more true. Whilst the promise of cheap bulbs may prove a tempting proposition for many, safety must always be the number one consideration and you should always use a trusted supplier such as Lyco: http://www.lyco.co.uk/led-lighting.html

Buying Guides

Landlords, is your emergency lighting up to scratch?

When it comes to fire safety, landlords have certain legal obligations to which they must adhere in order to ensure the protection of their property and the safety of their tenants.

As part of these obligations, landlords must make sure that all emergency routes and exits are adequately lit by emergency lighting, in accordance with The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 – the key legislation that drives the implementation of fire safety systems within non-domestic premises. All emergency lighting systems must also adhere to a number of British and European standards, details of which can be found in our emergency lighting guide.

What is emergency lighting?

In simplest terms, emergency lighting is battery backed lighting that switches on automatically when a building experiences a power outage. There are two main types of emergency lighting; emergency escape lighting, and standby lighting. Standby lighting allows normal work to continue after a power failure, but does not form part of a building’s fire protection.

Emergency escape lighting

Emergency escape lighting is defined by The British Standards Institution (BSI) as ‘that part of emergency lighting that is provided to enable safe exit in the event of failure of the normal supply’. Emergency escape lighting is part of the fire safety provision of a building, and a requirement under The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, and is subdivided into the following three areas:

  • Escape route lighting – Escape route lighting ensures exits can be easily identified and used by occupants in the event of an emergency. Emergency sign boxes are a common example of emergency escape route lighting.

Eterna 8W Emergency Exit Box SignEterna 8W Emergency Exit Box Sign

  • Open area lighting – The main aim of open area lighting is to reduce panic in the event of an emergency and help occupants reach an area where an emergency exit can be found. Bulkhead lights are a common solution for open area emergency lighting.
  • High risk task area lighting – High risk task area lighting is less relevant for landlords as it is the part of the emergency escape lighting system that aids the safety of those who are carrying out a potentially dangerous task at the time of an emergency. This could include anyone using dangerous machinery or equipment that could endanger the user or other people if not shutdown properly.

Points of emphasis – lighting the way

The critical areas of an emergency escape route are called ‘points of emphasis’. An emergency escape lighting system should cover the following areas:

  • Emergency exit doors
  • Exit and safety signs
  • All flights of stairs
  • Changes in floor level
  • Changes of direction
  • Intersections of corridors/escape routes
  • Fire alarm call points
  • First aid posts
  • Firefighting equipment
  • Outside and near (within 2m) each final exit

The risk of getting it wrong

Non-compliance with emergency lighting standards and legislation can result in heavy fines or worse for landlords and property agents, not to mention posing a significant risk to tenants. Earlier this year the owner of a Nottingham-based letting company was fined £200,000 and sentenced to three months’ imprisonment after admitting to a number of breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which included, amongst other things, a failure to provide adequate emergency lighting.

To avoid the risk of fines or worse, landlords should ensure they routinely review their emergency lighting in keeping with recent legislation and emergency lighting standards.

Lyco offers a wide range of emergency lighting solutions, including emergency fittings, exit signs conversion kits and more, to help landlords fulfill their obligations and keep their tenants safe. Further information about emergency lighting more generally can be found in this guide, compiled by the Industry Committee for Emergency Lighting (ICEL).

Buying Guides

Guide to fluorescent tubes – T4, T5, T8, T12

Introducing fluorescent lights into your business or home could save you considerable amounts of money, both in running costs and in replacing old lights. They’ll also light up your environment better than standard fittings with incandescent light bulbs.Fluorescent lighting is more flexible than most people think, with variations to suit most needs. In this guide we take a look at the different types of fluorescent tubes, identify the best use for each and highlight the benefits they offer to the user.

 
 

T4 fluorescent tubes

T4 fluorescent tubes are compact and easy to install, making them the ideal way to light-up kitchen counters and worktops.

These tubular bulbs use between six and eight times less energy than standard light bulbs, making them a good choice for households looking to cut down on their energy footprint and businesses looking to save money on energy costs. Furthermore, these compact fluorescent tubes last for up to 9,000 hours, so you’ll hardly ever have to replace them.

Our T4 fluorescent tubes come in a variety of lengths and wattages.

 
 

T5 fluorescent tubes

T5 fluorescent tubes can be installed to efficiently light everything from aquariums (specialist tube) to factories, schools, offices, supermarkets, and even underground railways.
They’re a cost effective way of lighting large spaces because they typically last up to 30,000 hours and have low mercury content, ensuring that they have a minimal environmental impact. The T5 tubes achieve this by using a coating on the inside of the glass wall that stops the glass and phosphors from absorbing mercury.

T5 fluorescent lights use ballasts – the device that limits the amount of current passing through the tube to stop it from overloading. Additionally, these ballasts enable T5 fluorescent lights to work at frequencies above 20kHz, giving you features such as instant start, rapid start and programmed start.

Another advantage that T5 fluorescent tubes offer is that they produce high levels of colour rendering and efficacy. The correlated colour temperature (CCT) and colour rendering index (CRI) of the lamps is determined by the phosphors used in the manufacturing process. The CRI of the T5 lamps can be specified from 70 to the mid-90s. For good quality lighting, we recommend to specify a CRI of at least 80. With T5 fluorescent lights you can choose different shades of white light, such as cool white, warm white and daylight.

Taking T5 lighting one step further, our HE (High Efficiency) and HO (High Output) tubes really deliver. T5 High Efficiency Triphosphor Tubes last up to 50% longer, meaning they will deliver up to 30,000 hours of light, whilst equal in life expectancy, the T5 High Output Triphosphor Tubes are ideal for rooms with high ceilings.

 
 

T8 fluorescent tubes

Our T8 fluorescent lights are some of the most widely used, and are perfect for places where you need to see lots of detail. Our T8 tubes have excellent colour rendering capabilities, bringing out the details of clothes and furniture. Retail stores, garages, offices, schools and conference rooms can all benefit from T8 lights.

They’re also extremely energy efficient, lasting up to 15,000 hours, and even longer in some cases. They require minimal maintenance and come in a choice of straight and U-shaped designs.

Some T8 tubes can even rid you of those wretched winter blues. The T8 Tubes for SAD provide more natural light, similar to daylight; unlike the often artificial-looking and harsh light that’s given off by some fluorescent tubes. This can combat against Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), which can leave you feeling depressed or worse. They’re perfect for reception areas too, as they give a warm, welcoming feeling to customers.

 
 

T12 fluorescent tubes

T12 tubes are the largest fluorescent tubes available, but they’re being phased out in favour of T8 tubes, which are smaller and more energy efficient. They’re good at lighting large areas, such as offices and retail space, but because of their higher running costs, and the fact that availability will soon become an issue, we’d recommend changing to T8s.
If you are still definite about wanting T12 tubes we stock different lengths, wattages and colours, including warm and cool white. Take a look at which T12 fluorescent tubes are available through Lyco.
Why not browse our full fluorescent tube range?
Looking for more lighting information and inspiration? Take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

 
 

Where Next?

Fluorescent tube lookup chart where next light bulbs where next CFL bulbs where next

Buying Guides

Dimmers – trailing edge v leading edge

Dimmers allow you to achieve the exact light level that you desire in a room and consequently alter the mood. There are various types of dimming control devices available, but the most popular are ‘phase control’ (or phase-cut) dimmers.

Phase control dimmers work by chopping out parts of the voltage and reducing power to the light source. The two types of phase control dimmer available are ‘trailing-edge’ and ‘leading-edge’. These two different types work in different ways. To find out exactly how they work click here.

Because they work differently, this ultimately affects their compatibility with certain light forms:

  • Leading-edge: inductive loads (e.g. magnetic low voltage transformers), resistive loads (e.g. incandescent).
  • Trailing-edge: capacitive loads (e.g. electronic low voltage transformers, LED drivers), resistive loads (e.g. incandescent).

There are also other differences between the two types of dimmers…

Leading-edge dimmers (TRIAC dimmers)

Leading-edge dimmer switches are cheaper and simpler than trailing-edge, and were used originally to dim incandescent and halogen bulbs or wirewound magnetic transformers. They use a ‘TRIAC’ (Triode for Alternating Current) switch to control power, and are sometimes called TRIAC dimmers.

Many existing leading-edge dimmer switches have a relatively high minimum load, which often rules out their use with modest LED or CFL lighting circuits. However, leading-edge dimmers are by far the most common dimming control in existence.

One example of an excellent leading-edge dimmer switch is the BG Screwless 1-Gang 2-Way 400W Dimmer, which is perfect for LED, incandescent and halogen dimming circuits with a 60-400W minimum/maximum load.

Trailing-edge Dimmers (Reverse phase dimmers)

Trailing-edge dimmers are more sophisticated than leading-edge dimmers, and usually use a MOSFET (Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor) or IGBT (Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor) switch rather than a TRIAC and coil. This benefits the user with smooth, silent dimming control, absent of any buzzing noise.

A trailing-edge dimmer has a lower minimum load (often 10W) than leading-edge dimmers, making it a better choice for dimming modestly sized low-powered lighting circuits.

Particularly beneficial for incandescent and halogen bulbs is the ‘soft start’ feature in trailing-edge dimmers, which prevents filament bulbs from dying or exploding of thermal shock when first switched on.

LED lights and dimming

Unlike incandescent bulbs, which are all dimmable by default, LED retrofit bulbs have a built-in driver in their base. The driver converts AC power to DC power and maintains a constant current to the LED. This is at odds with a phase control dimming system, since the driver attempts to compensate for the sliced out portions of input voltage.

LED fixtures such as downlights usually include an external driver, either of a ‘constant current’ or ‘constant voltage’ type, depending on the LED array design. In either case, the same issue arises: the LED driver or power supply will try to patch up the missing parts of input voltage.

In theory LEDs should be fully dimmable, and they are when paired with a compatible driver. In fact they’re impressive when everything is working right; they maintain their luminous efficacy when dimmed (unlike incandescent sources) and barely shift in colour, plus they last longer by running cooler.

Widespread LED compatibility problems exist, with supposedly dimmable LED driver designs often only working with selective dimming control systems. These problems show up in a number of ways, including flickering, flashing, dead travel, ghosting, dropout, pop-on, and popcorning.

How to avoid LED dimmer compatibility issues

For an LED lamp or luminaire to be functional with a phase control dimmer, the electronics of its driver have to be compatibly adapted.

Leading-edge dimmer switches are sometimes called ‘incandescent dimmers’, because they were originally designed to handle the resistive load of incandescent light. Existing dimmer switches tend to have high minimum loads and may require multiple LED lamps in order to even have a chance of working.

For an increased chance of compatibility, trailing-edge dimmer switches tend to work better with the capacitive load of an LED driver. The Varilight V-Pro LED Dimmer 1 x 400W is from the award-winning V-Pro range. It has an industry-wide reputation for delivering one of the best LED dimming performances available.

Research & investment

If you’re installing a dimmable LED circuit from scratch, it’s worth checking out the bulbs you’re likely to buy and looking online for a list of tested dimmer switches. Most leading bulb manufacturers test their dimmable lamps with a variety of switches and publish lists of known compatible models.

Similarly, you can upgrade your existing dimmers to completely avoid compatibility headaches. Such an investment is likely to extend the lifespan of the lamps you buy, too, so there is a payback.

Remember, also, that LED bulbs are more complex than incandescent, so sticking to the same model of bulb is advisable when you find a winning formula. Once you have everything working, the many benefits of LED dimming will become apparent, to you and your business!

Why not take a look at our full range of dimmers?


And now for science…

How trailing edge and leading edge dimmers work

Before getting to the intricacies we need to understand the basis of mains power:

Mains power consists of an alternating current that flows in one direction and then another at a UK frequency of 50 cycles per second (50 Hz). When viewed on a graph, each cycle is shown as a sine wave, resembling an ‘S’ on its side, with a horizontal line drawn straight through its centre.

Every time the sine wave (representing alternating current) decreases in amplitude it returns back to the horizontal line, where no voltage is present (known as the ‘zero crossing point’), and it is around that point that phase control dimmers strike.

A trailing-edge dimmer fades voltage by applying resistance as the sine wave decreases in amplitude and falls back to the zero crossing point (zero volts) whilst a leading-edge dimmer chops voltage abruptly at the zero crossing point and as the sine wave increases in amplitude.

The Sine Wave

Go back to the different types of dimmers

For more informative articles and guides, take a look in our Lighting Advice section

 
 

 

Where Next?

Sockets and switches where next lighting in layers where next Decorative lighting where next

Buying Guides

CFL Bulbs – a handy guide

A compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) is a slim fluorescent tube folded or twisted into a small size. This type of bulb first emerged in the 1980s, but never sold in the desired numbers. Since then, the appearance of CFLs and their quality of light have been greatly improved.

Advantages to CFL

LED technology is better in some respects than fluorescent, but both offer major advantages over filament lighting. Here are some CFL benefits:

  • A CFL uses about 70% less energy than an equivalent halogen bulb and is often close to LED technology for efficiency.
  • A CFL emits light in all directions, so it is a natural replacement for incandescent lighting. (Tip: always check the size of a CFL against your light fitting before buying, as the bulbs tend to be a bit larger than originals.)
  • The lifespan of a CFL is usually between 8,000 and 20,000 hours, which is 8 to 20 times longer than most traditional incandescent bulbs.
  • CFLs are still cheaper, on average, than LED bulbs. They needn’t cost much more than halogen when sourced from a specialist seller such as Lyco.
  • CFLs emit a soft light that flatters nearby decor.

The main drawbacks of a CFL are lack of dimmability and the warm-up time needed to reach full power.

CFL examples: lamp types

The various CFLs available include the following:

    • A 2D lamp produces lots of light for slim fittings such as bulkheads. Note that 4-pin CFLs are usually dimmable, which is rare in CFLs (requires dimmable control gear in the fitting).
    • Pin-fitting CFLs are used in dedicated low-energy fittings. Just to confuse you, these bulbs are named differently according to brand. If you’re looking for a specific pinned CFL and have a code, find it quickly with our handy CFL code look-up chart.
    • Spirals and sticks have standard bayonet or screw-fit bases. Their look takes some getting used to, but is often hidden anyway by shades. The stylish Plumen bulb is designed to be seen and is a popular choice in hospitality settings and homes.
    • GLS bulbs are available in CFL form, and they make a good replacement for incandescent bulbs with their bright, omnidirectional light. Our Low Energy GLS Bulbs last 5 times longer than most original filament bulbs while costing only a little more.
    • CFL candles tend to be slightly larger than other types of candles and don’t have a clear finish (sometimes preferred for decorative fittings). They do emit a soft light with little glare, however, which makes them ideal for eye-level fittings as well as some ceiling lights.
    • Golf balls and globes are both sold in CFL form. A CFL like the 20W Low Energy Globe is usually used in open ceiling lights and emits enough light for a large room.
    • CFL reflectors replace the incandescent reflectors often used in ceiling lights. Like the originals, their reflective interior coating gathers light and creates a spotlighting effect. Unlike the originals, they are energy efficient.

Feel free to browse our full range of energy saving CFL bulbs.

For more advice and guidance take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Buying Guides

Daylight Tubes Explained

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Daylight tubes are fluorescent lamps that emit light with a natural daylight colour. Daylight seems neutral to our eyes, especially in the middle of the day, but in fact it’s a cool bluish white. It has a colour temperature of between 5000K and 6500K. The higher the figure along the kelvin (K) scale, the cooler or bluer the light is. Most daylight bulbs and tubes are rated at around 6500K.

Daylight benefits

A chief benefit of using daylight tubes is that the light looks brighter and more natural than other artificial lighting and is less likely to cause eyestrain. Cool white light also increases alertness and concentration, making it ideal for offices and schools. It’s a good choice for high productivity and exam success. You’ll find it in city cafés, too, where fast customer turnaround is needed.

An example of how light colour affects us is seen in a computer screen. This is effectively a 6500K light that upsets sleep patterns if used late at night. The reason we have warmer lights in the home, generally, is that they help us unwind at the end of each day. Daylight is for our busier times.

Daylight tubes v SAD tubes

You can think of SAD tubes as enhanced daylight tubes. They’re used to help or prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder: a form of depression caused by lack of exposure to daylight.

Like regular daylight tubes, SAD tubes emit a daylight coloured light, but they are more consistent at bringing out natural colours in surrounding items. This superior colour rendering also makes them useful in settings such as art studios, photo labs or print shops.

Tube sizes

The most popular fluorescent tube sizes are the T5 and T8. The ‘T’ tells you the lamp is tubular, and the digit indicates the tube’s width in eighths of an inch (e.g. the T8 has a 1” diameter).

Fluorescent tubes generally increase in energy efficiency the thinner they get, to the extent that some compete with LED technology. You can see that in the G.E. 28W High Efficiency T5 Daylight Tube, which produces an impressive 87.5 lumens of light per watt.

T8 tubes are popular partly because they replace phased-out T12 tubes in older fittings. The two use identical caps for connection. To extract the best possible performance and lifespan from a T8 tube, modern high-frequency (HF) fittings are recommended.

Positive light

Poor lighting is dismal in a home and creates a downcast mood in a workplace. Daylight tubes or SAD tubes produce lots of natural-looking light for work or pastimes and will put you in a better place. They’re also cheap to buy and run.

Why not take a look at our current range of daylight tubes.

For more advice, inspiration and news take a look at our Lighting Advice section.

Buying Guides

IP Ratings – The definitive guide

When you look at the description or specification of a piece of electrical or electronic equipment you will quite often find that an IP Rating is quoted. It consists of the letters IP and a two digit number. IP simply stands for “Ingress Protection” and the number indicates the degree of protection that has been provided to the item of equipment.

The reason why IP Ratings exist is basically twofold. First and foremost is the safety of persons using or coming into contact with the equipment. The most obvious example here is protection against the ingress of water. Everyone knows that water and high voltage electricity are a very dangerous combination so any electrical equipment used in a wet environment needs to be well sealed to keep its electrical parts dry. The second issue is the life expectancy of the equipment itself. Using the same example, it won’t work for long if water can get into it.

Of course water is not the only thing that needs to be kept out of electrical devices. Casings or enclosures need to be sealed against intrusion by tools and fingers as well as keeping out dust and foreign bodies of all kinds.

International Standard

IP ratings are internationally recognized and are defined by International Standard EN60529 (British BS EN60529:1992, European IEC 60509:1989), so the numbers that follow the letters IP, mean the same everywhere. The meaning assigned to each digit is quite specific.

Digit 1

The first digit deals with both the level of protection afforded to people from moving parts and the degree of protection for the equipment inside from foreign bodies.

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1st Digit

Protection against solid objects

O

Not protected

1

Protected against solid objects greater than 50mm (e.g. hands)

2

Protected against solid objects greater than 12mm (e.g. fingers)

3

Protected against solid objects greater than 2.5mm (e.g. tools)

4

Protected against solid objects greater than 1mm (e.g. wires)

5

Protected against dust (where there is sufficient amount to interfere with teh satisfactory operation of the equipment)

6

Total protection against dust

X

Indicates that protection against solid objects is not defined

Digit 2

The second digit refers to the level of protection provided against various degrees of moisture such as drips, submersion in water, sprays and so on.

2nd Digit

Protection against liquids

0

Not protected

1

Protected against dripping water greater than 50mm (drip proof)

2

Protected against dripping water when titled up to 15°

3

Protected against spraying water (rain proof)

4

Protected against splashing water (splash proof)

5

Protected against water jets from any direction (jet proof)

6

Protected against heavy seas

7

Protected against the effects of immersion between 15cm and 1m

8

Protected against long periods of immersion under pressure

Bathroom Zones are dictated by IP ratings

For most of us the IP ratings of lighting equipment take on the greatest degree of relevance when we are considering the purchase of lighting for either outdoor situations or in bathrooms, where moisture is the great enemy. Bathrooms are actually divided into zones for electrical safety purposes. Zone 0 is inside the bath or shower cubicle and requires at least IP67 and must be low voltage. Zone 1 covers an area up to 2.25 metres above the bath and requires IP44 plus an RCD device if mains voltage. Further from likely contact with water is Zone 2 where IP44 is the minimum rating allowed. Beyond that is Zone 3 or Outside Zones where an IP rating is not normally required. For a more in-depth look at this topic take a look at our Bathroom Zones – what can go where guide.

Suggestions

Lyco always quotes IP ratings on all relevant products and you can check these against the above chart to confirm the suitability for the particular location. Let’s take a look at some examples.

The Carina is a 28W flush fitting ceiling or wall light, which is ideal for basic bathroom lighting and is rated at IP44. The first figure 4 means that it is protected against intrusion by solid objects bigger than 1mm such as fine tools and obviously, fingers. The second figure 4 refers to moisture protection and tells you that it is protected against water spray from any direction which is why it is suitable for general bathroom lighting. It’s ideal for stairwells and corridors too using low energy bulbs for economy.

If you need something even better protected for somewhere like a swimming pool or outdoor car park you should consider the 5ft Twin T8 Weatherproof Fluorescent Fittings  with its sealed casing rated IP65.  That’s 6 because it is totally dust tight and the 5 means it’s protected against low pressure water jets from any direction.

Ground lights in drives and pathways may need to withstand weight as well as getting submerged in water from time to time. The Albany Submersible Ground Light fulfils these requirements admirably. Its rating of IP68 means that it is dust tight and is protected against continuous total immersion in water which also makes it ideal for use in water features.

Whatever your particular requirements, check them against the chart to make sure you get the right IP rating for the job. That way you and your customers will be safe and you’ll get the best life out of the products you choose.

Looking for more news, information or inspiration? Try our Lighting Advice section.

Buying Guides

What Are Fire Rated Downlights?

The most common questions we get on downlights relate to the term “fire rated”. It’s a really important point, so here’s a simple explanation of what it means and how it applies.

What is a fire rated downlight?

In any building, a ceiling helps slow the spread of fire. The ceiling will have a fire rating depending on how well it slows the spread of fire. If you install a recessed downlight into a ceiling, chances are you are reducing that fire rating. The hole you cut for the fitting lets flames spread between floors more easily, often causing the ceiling to collapse within a few minutes instead of the usual half hour or more.

A fire rated downlight includes special materials that expand when heated and seal the cutout. This slows the fire long enough for anyone overhead to escape.

Does every downlight have to be fire rated?

Downlights should be fire rated to protect people on the floors above and aid evacuation. Slowing the spread of fire makes escape easier for all concerned and reduces risk of harm from falling debris.

You can use a standard downlight with a fire hood, but this often ends up being more expensive.

The Electrical Safety Council (ESC) recommends that fire rated options should be used in all buildings even though fire resistant downlights aren’t legally needed under a roof void (e.g. An empty loft).

What fire rating do I need?

The fire rating of a downlight has to match the fire rating of the ceiling, maintaining its minimum period of fire resistance. Luckily, most downlights are tested for up to 90 minutes of fire resistance, which is enough for most ceilings in most buildings.

Tables A1 and A2 of Part B Building Regulations volume 1 (dwellings) and volume 2 (commercial) provide specific info on this topic if you need it.

Product samples

Below are three ranges of downlights sold by Lyco.

Downlights Versofit

Megaman VersoFIT

The VersoFIT range comes from leading manufacturer Megaman, which specialises in energy efficient bulbs. Notable features of this superb downlight range include:

  • Replaceable LED module so the fitting can be maintained for longer
  • Fire rating of 90 minutes
  • Lifespan of 30,000 hours
  • Available in a fixed and 12.5 degree tilt option for directional lighting
  • Megaman honeycomb lens for minimal glare, improved focus and beam control, and traditional GU10 look
  • All fittings are dimmable
  • Manufacturer’s guarantee of 4 years

JCC Fireguard

The JCC Fireguard range offers a wide selection of options, including an emergency model. Its selling points include:

  • Lifespan of 75,000 hours in some models—whole fitting must be replaced at end of service
  • IP65 rated for bathroom suitability
  • Long commercial guarantee of 5 years and domestic guarantee of 10 years
  • Diverse range with dimmable, non-dimmable, square, round, fixed, and tiltable models
  • All products fully tested for 30, 60, and 90 minute fire-rated ceilings

Robus Fixed Downlight with Lyco LED Bulb

Offering amazing value, we stock a Robus fixed downlight with a high quality Lyco LED GU10. This solution offers several advantages:

  • Fire rated for up to 90 minutes
  • Replaceable light bulb to extend the lifespan of the fitting
  • Bulb lifespan of 25,000 hours (included bulb)
  • Guarantee of 3 years

For more useful information and buying guides visit our Lighting Advice section.

Buying Guides

Choosing A Floodlight

Floodlights are useful for many purposes, whether lighting a building, car park, driveway, garden, fountain, patio, tennis court, tree, or yard. They can be used in accent, task, or security lighting. You’ll want to choose the best floodlight for the purpose you have in mind; this article will look at various floodlight specifications and steer you towards the correct choice.

Equivalent wattages

With filament lighting (i.e. incandescent), bulb wattage and the amount of light produced are directly related. LED technology is not like that. Two LED products of equal wattage can emit different amounts of light, depending on energy efficiency. Comparing LED products by actual wattage is therefore meaningless.

Equivalent wattage addresses this problem by translating the amount of light produced by an LED (or fluorescent) product into the wattage of an equivalent filament lamp (in this case halogen). You can use the table below to choose floodlights by their equivalent wattage for various applications.

Application Equivalent (standard halogen) wattage
Small patio (9m²) 70W
Back yard of house 70W
Small garden (50m²) 120W
Driveway (10m) 120W
Medium patio (25m²) 120W
Building façade 120W
Medium garden (200m²) 250W
Large patio (100m²) 250W
Car park 400 to 500W
Industrial loading bay 400 to 500W

These are estimations only and may not be applicable on every occasion.

Floodlighting technologies

The light source used by a floodlight is likely to affect your buying choice. Each technology has a particular set of attributes.

    • LED floodlights are 80 to 90% more energy efficient than halogen equivalents. Significantly, they also operate reliably in cold temperatures (normally down to -20°C) and are resistant to shock or vibration. Long lifespan makes LED lighting an excellent choice for hard-to-reach places and reduces maintenance costs.
    • Halogen floodlights consume a lot of energy, but they emit an excellent quality of light with vivid, accurate colour rendering. Their poor energy efficiency can be mitigated by using a PIR motion sensor to limit the amount of time the light is switched on.
    • Low energy fluorescent floodlights offer a combination of energy efficiency and modest upfront cost. Modern high frequency CFL lamps are liked for their flicker-free, noiseless performance. Disadvantages include warm-up time and a cold temperature performance that is not quite as resilient as LED.
    • Metal Halide floodlights use a lot of energy, but are energy-efficient light sources that emit a phenomenal amount of light. They are ideal for lighting car parks, industrial areas, or sporting facilities. Energy efficiency is roughly on a par with LED in terms of lumens produced per watt (i.e. luminous efficacy).
    • SON floodlights are the most energy efficient of all lamps, with a typical luminous efficacy of over 120 lm/W. They are ideal for lighting large areas, though colour rendering is poor compared to competing technologies. This makes a SON floodlight useful as a practical light source (i.e. for open car parks) rather than an aesthetic one.

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Controlling light

One aspect of floodlighting that needs attention is containment of light. If you have neighbours a short distance away, chances are they won’t appreciate their property being blasted by escaped floodlighting.

Most floodlights, as their name suggests, produce a wide beam of light. The beam angles do vary, but you can also control light by ensuring it’s only as powerful as necessary and with careful positioning. The naturally directional output of an LED floodlight helps to cut out stray light.

Choosing a colour temperature

One important specification in floodlighting is its colour temperature. If you’re looking to highlight architecture, warm white floodlights help create a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. They’re ideal for many home or hospitality applications.

A cool white or daylight floodlight is arguably a better choice for security purposes. This is because cool white light appears brighter to our eyes and hence starker and more of a deterrent. This is even more the case when it is suddenly activated by a PIR sensor (see below).

A cooler colour temperature is wise if you’re looking to buy a floodlight for working under. Not only does it look more natural, but it also stimulates alertness and concentration.

You might choose a colour temperature to emphasise garden hues. Cool white is good for water features or silvery metallic surfaces while warm white does well with brick or wooden structures, plants and shrubs. Colourful autumn and winter growth benefits from warm white light.

PIR and dusk to dawn sensors

A PIR sensor triggers light automatically when it senses movement within a given range, making it especially useful in security lighting. The duration of light can often be set by the user.

A dusk to dawn sensor is slightly less economical than a PIR sensor, because it automatically keeps light switched on for the duration of the night. This is useful if you want to create the illusion of a property being occupied and/or to enhance surveillance.

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Solar floodlights

A solar floodlight is costlier than a standard luminaire to buy, but is subsequently free to run. The award-winning Premium City Solar LED Twin Floodlight with PIR Sensor combines a solar panel with a PIR sensor. It charges by day (even in overcast conditions) and delivers up to a hundred 60-second bursts of powerful security lighting per night.

Floodlighting versatility

Floodlights brighten up an exterior for aesthetic or security purposes, and they’re available these days with sleeker, more attractive, less conspicuous designs. Check out Lyco’s extensive floodlight range and discover how you and your property or business can benefit.

For more useful information and guidance see our Lighting Advice section.