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Stanley Electric LLM0545 narrow beam architectural exterior projector

Issue 77 February / March 2014

David Morgan discovers a little known exterior architectural lighting ultra-narrow projector from a Japanese manufacturer with a history in the automotive lighting sector. It’s a fitting that could be treasured by specifiers.

Stanley Electric was established in 1920 by Mr. Takaharu Kitano to manufacture replacement automotive lamps for the very small number of cars (all imported) then on the roads in Japan.

The company was named after the intrepid 19th-century British journalist and explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley, famous for his exploration of central Africa and his search for the missionary and explorer, David Livingstone. Upon finding Livingstone, Stanley allegedly uttered the now-famous greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?”

The company has prospered and now employs around 13,000 people with over 30 offices worldwide and around 75% of global sales are still to the automotive lighting sector. The company was early to research and develop LED light sources in the late 1970s and introduced a number of innovative LED car stop lights in the 1980s. The first white light LEDs were introduced in the late 1990s. The company also produces a variety of sensors, indicators and other electronic components for the automotive and industrial markets.

The company has developed a Stanley Group Vision statement and is now reinventing itself as a company that innovates with light in ‘all areas of human activity’. One element of this strategy is a move into the architectural lighting market and the new Stanley corporate headquarters in Tokyo showcases a variety of LED luminaires developed with Motoko Ishii, the leading Japanese lighting designer. It is not entirely clear if these luminaires were custom designs specifically produced for this project or if they will become standard Stanley products for sale in Japan and in overseas markets.

Some of the first non-automotive lighting products that Stanley are marketing is a range of exterior architectural LED projectors including ultra-narrow, dynamic white and colour changing types. The most interesting of these is the LLM0545A narrow beam architectural exterior projector. Despite the prosaic name this is an exciting product incorporating a highly effective lens system that produces a very well controlled 3 degree beam with almost no spill light. The heart of the product is a 60mm diameter lens that apparently was developed from one of the Stanley automotive headlight designs. Nine of these lenses, in a square format, are used in this luminaire. There seem to be two versions of the product using the same optical system with different drive currents and heat sink sizes. The LED light sources used in the review sample were 5,000K 70 CRI LEDs run at 700mA. Total power consumption is 22 watts to create around 400,000 candelas in the centre beam. At a distance of 90 metres there is a light level of 50 lux in the centre beam according to the Stanley data.

The construction of the projector is simple with a die cast aluminium passive heat sink that runs at a remarkably cool temperature when saturated. I was not able to open the luminaire to confirm the pcb temperature but I assume that the LEDs are operating at the right temperature to give an estimated working life of 40,000 hours to 70% of original lumens.

The projector is rated at IP65 with a clear polycarbonate cover over the lens and pcb assembly. The cover moulding snaps over the heat sink casting and is also fixed with four stainless screws. A simple stainless mounting U bracket with robust fixing and clamping hardware ensures that the projector can be aimed and locked. The Chinese-made driver supplied with the sample is remote and the sample we tested is provided with a long exterior grade cable.

While the optical performance of the projector is very impressive, there are a few detail design issues that could be improved. The use of clear polycarbonate for the enclosure cover may cause problems in markets such as the Middle East where this type of luminaire could have a large potential market. High levels of UV from sunlight will cause yellowing over a period of time with even the best grades of polycarbonate and abrasion from driven sand will also tend to damage the exterior surface and affect the distribution. I would prefer to use glass covers for architectural projectors to minimise these problems but that would necessitate a redesign of the luminaire.

The design is functional and while the mounting bracket and the die cast heat sink are undoubtedly effective they lack design quality or any branding identity. The only distinctive visual features of the luminaire are the lens system and the high perceived quality of the lens mouldings.

The LLM0545A has already been used on some noteworthy projects in Japan including lighting various towers as well as some offshore islands over a distance of up to 700 metres without any problem spill lighting effecting shipping. It is understood that the luminaire has already been specified for use on some high profile UK projects.

This luminaire is an impressive example of optical engineering and will be a very useful part of the lighting designer’s tool kit where ultra-narrow exterior projectors are needed. To develop a larger presence in the international architectural project lighting market, Stanley may benefit by adding a more distinctive product design identity to their engineering excellence.

Had Dr Livingstone not been wearing his pith helmet and trademark khaki, it is unlikely Stanley would have recognised him on that fateful day in Africa. Similarly, the 20th century Stanley, for all its advanced optical engineering, could benefit from more attention to branding. Architects wandering through the Middle East, stumbling upon this LLM0545A projector are unlikely to say, “Stanley, I presume?”.

David Morgan runs David Morgan Associates, a London-based international design consultancy specialising in luminaire design and development.


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