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Cooledge SQUARE LED system

Issue 85 June / July 2015

One of the hits of Lightfair International was innovative Canadian LED company Cooledge, which made an impact with its new look courtesy of industrial designers Billings Jackson. David Morgan takes a look at their new SQUARE snap and trim LED system.

SQUARE - the latest product from Vancouver-based Cooledge  - combines the characteristics of a floor tile with those of LED tape. This could potentially be the product that OLED suppliers have been promising us for the past decade but have not yet delivered.

Cooledge started life with a team of engineers from TIR systems and Philips who, in 2009 began to develop flexible LED sheets for use in architectural lighting. It is backed by venture capital investors including ARCH Venture Capital Partners.

After various false starts, their first product, Cooledge LINE (originally known as light sheet) was launched at Lightfair International in 2013 where it was given the Design Excellence Award.

The Cooledge design approach is to mount a grid of medium power LEDs onto a flexible polymer PCB material with a large surface area of copper and then run the LEDs at a very low drive current, which enables the sheet to work without any additional heat sink.

Efficiency, projected life and rate of lumen depreciation are all better than for traditional light panels using multiple medium power LEDs run at conventional, higher, drive currents. Efficiency levels of 120 to 140lm/W are quoted by Cooledge.

Cooledge now offers a number of products with different LED spacing. The tightest pitch is 7mm with 30mm / 34mm being the widest on the SQUARE system, the latest product to be launched by the company.

The W028 light sheet has the highest light output per m² with 7mm LED spacing and could be used for linear cove lighting applications providing over 1,000lm/m as the sheet is only 28mm wide. As an alternative to LED tape that could provide the same light output, the Cooledge sheet needs no extruded heat sink housing and has longer life.

Cooledge systems are UL listed as class two, under 100W and 60V, which means they can be used in North America without many of the restrictions of higher power Class 1 lighting systems. This classification is only applicable in North America, so in Europe the normal SELV restrictions would apply.

This may require all connectors to be fully insulated. Cooledge provides its own power supplies, which at the moment are limited to maximum of 90W. On larger projects, this could mean that the number of power supplies and mains power feeds would be higher than if systems run from larger power supplies were used. 

The SQUARE is a 12-inch square flexible LED panel that can be clipped together with battery type of snap connector in each corner to make up large areas of flat or curved light very much like laying carpet tiles or wood flooring. SQUARE comes in two levels of light output 300lm and 600lm per sheet and a variety of colour temperatures.

The sheet can be cut to size with a 2.3-inch cutting module so that any rectilinear shape can be completely tiled. Plastic side rails on two edges of the sheet provide a means of fixing and are pre scored to snap on the cutting module. SQUARE is ideal for backlit ceilings, panels and light boxes. The spacing required from the panel to a diffuser to eliminate any visible LED dots, ranges from 25mm to 40mm depending on the diffuser panel material.    

It is understood that the medium power LEDs used to make Cooledge products are binned prior to assembly and then arranged according to an algorithm to minimise any perceived colour or intensity variation between panels even though there may be quite obvious colour differences between the individual LEDs. This effect is clearly demonstrated when a diffuser panel is placed directly over the Cooledge Square panel and then moved away to the recommended spacing

In terms of applications the Square offers a cost effective and easy to install solution for backlit ceilings and walls. It would seem to be a good alternative for side lit LED light sheet as it is lower in cost and higher in efficiency although it needs much greater distance to the diffuser to ensure dot free illumination 

Cooledge describe their products as delivering on the promises made of LED and OLED technology, having ‘the potential to fundamentally change the way lighting is integrated into the built environment.’ What they have created is a low temperature, high efficiency flat and flexible light source which can fit seamlessly into architectural spaces.

However, as functional as this may sound, it may be that panelling entire walls and ceilings with an ambient light-source isn’t something that lighting designers and architects will always favour for their new buildings and projects. 

The Cooledge SQUARE is an exciting new product and has already being specified by lighting designers on a wide variety of retail and architectural projects in North America. For product designers these reasonably priced, easy to use, ready-made LED panels which will fit any sized curved or straight surface are bound to be a valuable tool.

David Morgan runs David Morgan Associates, a London-based international design consultancy specialising in luminaire design and development and is also MD of Radiant Architectural Lighting.


© David Morgan Associates 2015


SQUARE by Cooledge

  • SQUARE by Cooledge
  • SQUARE by Cooledge
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