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Paviom LoFoot

Issue 52 Dec / Jan 2009/10

Paviom, a new British lighting company headed up by an ex-Havells Sylvania director, has launched its first range of products. David Morgan puts the LoFoot through its paces.

It is encouraging that a new UK based lighting company, Paviom, has launched a new range of highly tooled exterior luminaires despite the gloomy economic background for the lighting industry.

Fred Bass, a veteran of the Havells Sylvania group, founded Paviom along with a team of ex-colleagues from SLI and backing from a private investor. The aim was to create a company that would work with independent UK designers to create ranges of professional, sustainable exterior luminaires that would be produced by factories in Asia.

The first fruits of this investment are now being launched in the form of the LoFoot exterior lighting range. This modular exterior range was designed by ‘eco designer’ Jason Thawley, formerly an engineer in the audio industry who has now migrated into the lighting field. The range name of LoFoot comes from Low Carbon Footprint so we would expect that the range should incorporate the most environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and efficient light sources combined with high efficiency optical components and control gear. LoFoot attempts to win plaudits both for its design quality and for its ‘eco’ credentials, which are what Paviom believes sets LoFoot apart from its competitors.

First then, the design. The concept for the range emerged after the first product, the in-ground uplight, had been designed with visual inspiration taken from the aerodynamic navigation lights on the Hawker Hunter Jet, an RAF jet fighter from the 1950’s. The design of the in-ground uplights is based on a sealed lamp enclosure that sits within a plastic installation sleeve. This ribbed, elliptical shaped enclosure is removed for relamping after disconnecting the IP68 plug and socket. Apparently this will enable relamping to be undertaken in a clean and dry interior environment and thus avoid trapping damp air within the enclosure that subsequently could cause condensation to form on the inside of the cover glass.

Access to the lamps is achieved by unscrewing the threaded bezel. This design detail carries across the range with all lamp access being achieved via a large threaded front ring or in the case of the bollard the diffuser moulding.

The visual identity of the whole Lofoot range is determined by the use of this lamp enclosure as the basis of a variety of product types. The danger with this approach is that while tooling costs are minimised, which is good for any start up company, the performance of the luminaires could be compromised as lamps, optics or control gear may be crammed into an inappropriate shape or sized enclosure. Due to this modular concept the wiring to the lamp enclosure in the projector versions is exposed in a rather vulnerable looking way with a plug and socket connection to the smallish wall mounting wiring box. For such a sophisticated range I would have expected the wiring to be concealed within the luminaire housings in some way.

Having established the product architecture with the in-ground luminaire the various components were then further developed to create the range that now includes a surface mounted spotlight, and a bollard. Two larger sizes of lamp enclosure are in the pipeline that will complete the LoFoot range, encompassing a variety of post-top lanterns, bollards and projectors.

There are also some mechanical issues with the samples that I was given. The screw on front cover assembly that is used throughout the range is based on a large threaded front glazing ring that compresses a silicone rubber O ring. I was unable to unscrew this large threaded ring on a couple of samples. It is understood that a tool will be supplied with each luminaire and that all theaded parts will be greased prior to assembly. Hopefully these measures will be sufficient when the luminaires are opened after some years in service. The main sealing O ring is left exposed between the castings so that dirt and grit may get trapped during relamping and there is no limit on the amount of gasket compression that can be imposed. During relamping the user will have to decide how much torque to apply to the front ring. On the largest size of enclosure, which is not yet in production, it is difficult to imagine if it will be possible to unscrew the glazing ring assembly by hand. For low mounted luminaires such as the small bollard there is currently no tool operated locking device to prevent access which does pose an electrical safety issue for a mains powered product.

Now to the question of environmental sustainability. Firstly, it should be pointed out that all luminaires in the Lofoot range are designed to accommodate a variety of low energy light sources including CFL, metal halide and line voltage retrofit LED lamps from Megaman. However, as far as the mechanical construction of the range is concerned it is hard to see any particular ‘eco’ advantage of Lofoot over many similar exterior lighting products already on the market. There is little difference in terms of the numbers of aluminium die castings used, their weight or the percentage of recycled material used. In fact the body enclosure in all LoFoot versions incorporates an additional cover casting that would normally be integrated with the body casting. It creates a visual styling and colour contrast opportunity but is not really an eco solution.

There are some other eco issues with the range. In order to use the Megaman retrofit LED lamps in an enclosed luminaire a substantial, additional die cast aluminium heat sink has to be fitted to the lamp before it is inserted into the luminaire. In this respect it could be argued that a dedicated LED luminaire would be more eco-friendly as the luminaire housing could be used directly as the heat sink for the LEDs and the overall construction could be simplified as relamping would not be required.

The lighting efficiency of the small size bollard may also have some eco issues as the light source is a Micro Lynx type of CFL. These disk shaped, ballast incorporated lamps are convenient but not efficient and given the relationship between the lamp and the opal diffuser the LOR is likely to be below current Part L requirements.

I am sure that the teething problems that were evident in the first pre production samples will be overcome by the experienced Paviom technical team in due course. The overall appearance of the range is attractive, well co-ordinated and the attention to some of the details is excellent. As a first market introduction for Paviom the LoFoot range will attract interest as it is well differentiated visually from competitor’s products. I hope that UK and international distribution, specifications and sales will follow and that Paviom has a bright future.


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