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ERCO LED Pollux range

Issue 72 April/May

ERCO will be appearing at a UK exhibition for the very first time when they exhibit at The ARC Show @ May Design Series. David Morgan takes a look at one of the products that will be on display.

ERCO is one of the leading architectural lighting companies and from the late 1960s was one of the first to promote itself as selling ‘light’ rather than luminaires.

Despite this emphasis on light outputs, ERCO worked with many leading industrial designers over the years to produce distinctive andcutting-edge luminaire designs.

In recent years however, the luminaire design style has become much more muted and neutral with an overall corporate product design style being applied to luminaires and with no input from external designers.
The recently introduced Pollux LED spotlight range exemplifies this change of luminaire design approach.

The previous Pollux models, which remain in the range, were designed for use with MR16 and capsule halogen lamps up to 50 watts. The appearance design is very distinctive and slightly quirky. When first introduced, it was ground-breaking as few other lighting companies had developed such a complex yet miniature luminaire with so many light control accessories for 50 watt halogen lamps.

The appearance of the LED Pollux range follows a much simpler discrete design style with a cylindrical 99mm diameter body and a central swivel arm enclosing the cables to the three circuit track box, which houses a manual dimming driver.

The excellent attention to detail in all areas including the smooth mechanical movements, paint finish on the castings, minimal draft angles on castings and mouldings, consistent surface texture on the mouldings and neatly applied product graphics all imbue the product with a premium quality look and feel but the underlying design lacks much personality. I assume that this approach is the result of careful market analysis and feedback from architects and lighting designers that a neutral design is required that will not clash visually with the architect’s vision and style for their building. While this is perfectly understandable it does cause a problem for luminaire manufacturers as there is only so much that can be done to create brand differentiation via ever finer attention to details.

The LED Pollux was designed in house at ERCO under the direction of Henk Kosche who heads the ERCO design team. Rolf Lechtenberg was the designer who worked on the LED Pollux over a two year development programme.

The overall size of the LED Pollux spots does seem rather large given the wattage and light output options. There are two power levels in the range, a single LED at a nominal two watts providing 160 lumens at 3,000K and a 4-LED array running at a nominal six watts for which ERCO claim 480 lumens output at 3,000K. When I measured the power consumed by the review samples on a simple power meter, the 2W single LED version consumed around five watts and the 3-LED 6W version consumed eleven watts. These figures are confirmed by ERCO and I am not sure why they give the rather confusing lower power rating in their data sheets.

The heat sink body of the 2W version hardly gets warm and although the 6W version does run a bit hotter I would have thought that a higher power LED array could safely be used in this product to provide a higher lumen output. The overall height of the track, adapter and spotlight is around 200mm from the mounting surface depending on the aiming angle. This seems too large for cabinet fixing and would seem to limit the applications to ceiling mounted projects. However the light output does seem a bit low for ceiling mounted track except for the narrow beam versions where the centre beam is bright enough to compete with other lighting in the space.

The halogen version of the Pollux with a 50 watt capsule lamp provides 1,250 lumens and, with the current LED output figures provided by ERCO, the LED Polux does not meet the same peak intensity levels, but they are getting close.

Over time, as the efficiency of LED sources will rise so the lumen output figures will increase. Perhaps ERCO has also decided that light levels required for gallery and museum lighting will be lower in future than in the past.

The quality of the light output from the LED Pollux spots is very good. ERCO use a three level optical system, passing the light output from the lens on the LED emitter through a secondary TIR optic to give the collimated parallel beam and then adding a third ‘Spherolit’ lens, which can be a micro prism, fresnel or spread lens to create the particular distribution required for the application. While the third level of lensing must reduce overall efficiency it does produce well blended and controlled light patterns.

The lenses snap into a bezel ring and incorporate indexing features so that the elliptical lens can be rotated through any angle while the other lenses are fixed on the horizontal axis. It is very easy to remove and replace these lenses and the detailing of the catch works well.

A gobo projector / framing projector accessory is also available which follows the same body diameter as the standard LED Pollux spotlights. The light output for these versions is shown on the data sheet at the same level as the standard LED 6W spotlight. I assume this figure relates to the light output from the LED rather than from the complete luminaire as there must be significant losses through the projector optics. I was not given a sample of this version to review but from the photographs it looks very neat with the same careful attention to detail as the standard spotlights.

ERCO make the point that as the LED source does not generate heat they have been able to make the framing shutters in polycarbonate, rendering them cool to the touch and so making adjustment a much more comfortable process than with halogen framing projectors. There does not appear to be a lock on the shutter blades but, since periodic relamping is not an issue for LED spotlights, the need for this is much reduced.

The LED Polux is a neatly designed and well-engineered range and will fit into the ERCO spotlight range well. It has a useful role in the portfolio in that it provides a smaller, lower power LED spotlight along with the many other spotlight products they produce.

See the Pollux range and many more at ERCO’s stand (Q50) at The ARC Show, May Design Series, London ExCeL, 19-21 May.
David Morgan runs David Morgan Associates, a London-based international design consultancy specialising in luminaire design and development.


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