July 27th, 2020

LM79 and LM80 – a short overview

Paolo, What are LM79 and LM80?

Before the introduction of LM79 and LM80, there were no standard ways to meaningfully compare manufactures’ data on their luminaires. This was because they were free to publish data based on their own different types of tests.
This was resolved when the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) introduced these two standard methodologies.

LM79 measures a luminaire’s performance as a whole and covers things such as output/flux, colour characteristics, light distribution, power use, and overall effectiveness. The European equivalent of LM79 is the EN 13032-4:2015.

LM80 just covers an LED’s lighting depreciation and can be used to determine the lifetime of a product.

How accurate are they at predicting performance in the field?

LM79 data gives the exact figure of what a luminaire is emitting down to one lumen. So, it’s as accurate as you can get. Of course, there’s always going to be a small difference between each luminaire produced and its flux. This is so small though it’s insignificant.
LM80 data is based on large sample tests of LEDs over a long time. So, it’s pretty accurate.

Are these values easy to fake?

No, and in a way, yes. But ultimately no.

Most of the time external labs are used. So, producing fake results is impossible.

To fake them you’d have to have control over the lab testing and the data produced. It’s only very large manufactures that have their own labs. And it’s down to their honesty to release accurate data. As these in-house labs have to be certified, and regularly recertified by external labs, it’s highly unlikely they’d take that risk.

Can we compare one luminaire’s value to another?

Yes. You can compare these results on paper. But the best comparison is always the lighting simulation data.

What should the end-user consider when looking at these values?

LM79 is just supporting documentation to confirm the numbers used in a simulation are correct. But with that alone, you can’t choose which product is the best. It’s just a guarantee that someone is using the correct data to run a simulation.

LM80 depreciation values are obviously useful to consider too.

The best things to look at when you want to choose between products are the simulations themselves. That’s where you’ll always get the most useful data.

Paolo Corno, Technical Director & Co-Founder, Midstream Lighting

With over ten years of LED lighting industry experience, Paolo is an invaluable and highly regarded member of our core leadership team. Coming on board as one of the company’s co-founders in 2013, Paolo’s responsible for overseeing our Lighting Design, Engineering, and R&D Teams. He personally leads the design and development of Midstream’s comprehensive product portfolio – including the Atlas, Titan and Modus Floodlight Series – which are installed in over 85 airports globally.

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July 1st, 2020

Product certification – our expert’s guide to why, what, how… and more

Product certification is something you can’t ignore – especially when it comes to electrical safety. But it can be a bit of an ordeal to navigate your way around its complexities. How do you know what products must be certified? Who do you need to certify them with? And do you have to get your products certified in every country you operate?

Andrea Peratello, our product manager, is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing process and certification of all Midstream products. So, we’ve asked him to guide us through the world of CEs, ENECs, ULs, and CBs

Andrea, why do we have product certification?

Nearly every product needs some sort of certification to prove it complies with market standards.

So, to keep this as short, focused, and useful I’m just going to talk about electrical products. And the short answer here, on the whole, is customer safety. Here it’s not a ‘nice to have’ – it’s absolutely essential and in most cases mandatory. There are also benefits for manufactures to make sure their products have been certified too.

Let’s look at customer safety first. Imagine Christmas is approaching, and you need to get your child the latest, must-have, electronic walking and talking doll. Which would you feel more comfortable buying? The official version that’s been thoroughly tested, certified as safe, and has the quality marks to prove it? Or one from a local market that looks virtually the same, but hasn’t got any product certification marks? I know which I’d go for. In this context, it’s all about guaranteeing product quality and giving customers peace-of-mind.

For manufactures, having your products certified can give you a competitive edge. And, if the worst should happen and one of your products develops a serious fault, it shows you’ve put product testing and your customers’ safety high on your agenda. Would you like to turn up in court with no proof you’ve done either of these?

What is the CE mark?

The Conformité Européene (European Conformity) CE mark is an EU wide compulsory, quality standard mark.

It’s there to show a manufacturer guarantees a product complies with any relevant European Directives. And if you want to market any product or an updated version of it, you need to make sure it carries the CE mark – no matter where it’s made in the world.

For some industries, like ours, this guarantee and use of the mark can be based on a manufacturer’s tests only. A word of warning though, you can’t just make up your own tests. They must prove you’re meeting the relevant directives. And whatever you do, don’t forget to keep all your test documents and results so you can prove what you claim. Believe it or not, some companies have failed to keep their results and have had to face the consequences of not having them.

However, third-party testing and verification are needed in some other industries, like medical equipment manufacturing.

What about the ENEC mark? If I’ve got my CE mark do I need this too?

ENEC (European Norms European Certification) is the EU quality mark especially for electrical products, including lighting. It doesn’t replace or take priority over CE certification – so you’ll still need that.

It’s there to prove your products are safe in accordance with any relevant EU regulations or directives, like the Low Voltage Directive. It’s a voluntary mark, so you don’t need to get it.
But, as I was saying earlier, it’s additional proof for customers that your product is safe. And having it can help you stand out from any competitors who don’t.

To use the ENEC mark on your products they all need to be independently tested by laboratories such as BSI. And they need to be retested every two years to allow you to keep using the mark.

The USA has its own UL marking. Is it different from European markings?

UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories, a USA third-party certification company founded in 1894.

UL no-longer just tests products, however. It’s now responsible for setting industry standards on products being marketed in the USA. It can also authorise manufactures to test and certify their products using UL standards.

The UL certification covers a broad variety of goods – not just electrical products. Just like the European CE and ENEC marks in Europe, it’s there to show a product has passed tests and it complies with U.S. and Canadian safety standards.

The UL mark isn’t 100% mandatory. But, to give you some idea if its reach and importance, around 14 billion products with the UL seal of approval enter the global marketplace each year.

What about the CB (Certification Body) scheme? What does that do?

Basically, the CB scheme is there to save you the time, hassle, and money of having to get your product certified for each market’s regulations.

It’s based on a multilateral agreement on the use of internationally recognised electrical and electronic product safety standards. And it operates through a global network of CB laboratories who test products to confirm they meet the standards needed.

These laboratories submit their results to national certification bodies, like UL. These certification bodies can then allow access to their markets for CB tested products. So there’s no need for further, potentially costly, and time-consuming national testing.

This doesn’t mean only one mark is needed to cover all markets though. It just makes getting, for example, the UL mark easier if you already have your ENEC mark.

How is certification checked?

After you’ve done all the work to get your products certified it’s not the time to sit back and think you’ve done all you need. Far from it.

You have to keep making sure your product maintains its standards. This is because compliance with ENEC and UL standards is strictly monitored by third-parties – who can do things like factory inspections to scrutinise manufacturing processes. And if your standards have slipped, you’ll lose the right to use their marks.

If you want to see if a particular product has achieved an ENEC or UL mark, you can easily check their certified product databases. They’re there for anyone to consult.

Is there any extra testing needed to work at airports, ports, and sports stadia?

No. The CE, ENEC, and UL don’t have any additional tests or requirements for working in these areas. Horticultural lighting, another of our sectors, is on the whole subject to the same electrical safety standards as traditional lighting. However, UL has recently introduced UL 8800 that includes a new series of product evaluations for things like the photobiological effects on the human eyes and skin of a light source. This is particularly relevant to horticultural lighting.

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June 17th, 2020

Designing Market-leading Luminaires

Designing or commissioning new luminaires can be a technical nightmare full of pitfalls and problems. So, who better to answer some of the questions we often get asked than our Technical Director, Paolo Corno. With years of experience in designing and delivering lighting solutions, he’s the industry expert.

Paolo Midstream Lighting

Paolo, what are the key things you think about when starting a new project?

The client. The client. The client.

If they’re in a specialised sector their needs can really vary. Airports are totally different from sports stadia – especially when it comes to lighting, believe me.

You need to understand what issues they are looking at and work closely with them to see if they’re the things that really need addressing. Simply selling them the same thing you’ve done for another company can mean you’re not really tackling what’s needed for them and can cause them problems that have to be fixed later.

You’ve also got to understand their business constraints. For example, if they don’t have the money to pay for the solution you suggest, you’ve done nothing for them at all apart from wasting their time. But if you know what’s what you can, more often than not, find a way around these things. I had one client whose budget was incredibly tight, but the problem incredibly big. When we factored in things like payback and reliability though, compared to other ‘traditional’ solutions, it was a ‘no-brainer’ and they got approval for the project as planned.

The next step is totally key. Create a draft project spec that includes input from all the areas of the business involved. And get them all to sign that off too.

What technical qualities do you think are key?

Firstly, delivering the correct light distribution that’s in the tech spec – on budget. We like to call it ‘efficiency through efficacy’. If you can’t get that right, the project has failed – big time.

You’ve also got to take into account things like the materials used. Does it need to be tough enough to withstand a harsh environment where things like corrosion can cause problems such as a port?

Infrastructure costs are highly important too. For example, if it’s a retrofit job, you can keep costs down by designing a solution compact and light enough to go on existing masts.

Making sure your solution is scalable and future-proof is important too. Your client will love you for it and make you their ‘go-to’ supplier in the future.

What tools and software do you use when designing a new luminaire?

There’s a lot of kit out there you can use. DIALux is the worldwide standard in lighting design software and you can get it for free in over 25 languages. You’ll also need to use 3D CAD, and thermal, optical, and lighting simulation kit too.

Having said all that, the most important we use at Midstream though is the brain! As they say, experience matters. And our team has more experience – and brains – that anyone else out there.

Who are your key players when it comes to delivering a project?

We’ve got Product Developers who are 100% devoted to creating totally new solutions or develop existing products to meet different challenges.

Then it’s the job of our designers to bring those solutions to life and make sure they deliver things like the right lighting distribution etc.

Project managers are needed too. It’s their job to keep the project focused and deliver it on time, budget, and spec.

And last, but not least at all, is the production team. They obviously deliver the finished product. But, thanks to their experience they can add value by giving feedback on the solution overall or by suggesting better, more efficient ways to manufacture the luminaires.

How and when should testing be done?

Any test you can do, at any stage, do it! Make your maxim ‘measure twice, cut once’. That’s what we do. We’ve got our own facilities to test prototypes. And, of course, we get any new lighting solutions tested and approved by third parties like Underwriters Laboratories, Oxytec, and Nemko. That’s not a nice-to-have. It’s a must – legally.

How long does it take Midstream to develop and launch a new product?

This is a ‘how long is a bit of string’ question. It depends on the product and who you are working with.

Here at Midstream, we allow six months for a totally new line and two months to repurpose an existing solution. However, that’s all down to the calibre of our teams. Again, brains and experience come into play. Other providers will usually take a lot longer.

What’s the biggest challenge when designing new luminaires?

The big one is making sure you 100% comply with all the regulations needed when you’re developing a product or using one in a new market. We’ve worked all around the world, so we’ve got that down to an art.

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