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GE Iberia street lighting

Issue 53 Feb / Mar 2010

David Morgan takes a look at the LED Iberia street lighting luminaire, a collaboration between GE Spain and its Lumination Centre of Excellence in the USA

A major player in the global lighting market, GE Lighting supplies a wide range of light sources and luminaires. Their luminaire range incorporates an eclectic variety of functional interior and exterior lighting products including some road and amenity lighting.
It is surprising that a company as large as GE with such a long history in the lighting industry and with a strong capability for technical innovation would not have put a bit more effort into creating a visually integrated luminaire range with a clear brand identity.

While some products are housed in generic US enclosure designs, others have a much more European appearance. It would appear that the range incorporates luminaires from a number of GE factories and suppliers on different continents without any design coordination.
The GE Iberia LED amenity lighting luminaire is a combination of a European designed and manufactured housing with a US developed LED light engine and optical system. The die cast aluminium enclosure utilises components from the original HID Iberia product that was introduced a few years ago. The Iberia enclosure was designed and is manufactured at the GE factory in Madrid in Spain. The optical system for the LED version uses a GE proprietary design developed at the GE Lumination Centre of Excellence in Cleveland, Ohio in the USA.
Unlike other LED street lights that control the light output from each LED emitter with a separate lens, such as the We-ef RFL500 series, the optical system in the Iberia controls the light emanating from rings of LEDs with a series of circular profiled vacuum metalised moulded reflectors. While this makes a simple and elegant mechanical design, the failure of any individual LED would affect the light distribution as well as the intensity. It is understood that by changing the number and arrangement of LEDs on the PCB and adjusting the relationship between the reflector elements three different high efficiency and low glare lighting distributions can be achieved. The options are the 90 watt Asymmetric Type III for street lighting, the 63 watt Asymmetric Type IV and the 90W Symmetric Type V.

The 60 LEDs in the 90 watt version are mounted onto a single flat metal PCB that transfers heat directly to the large die cast heat sink. Two colour temperatures of LED are available at 4100K and 5700K with a CRI of 70.

The optical system is sealed with a simple gasket between a formed profiled clear cover and the aluminium die cast heat sink. It would appear that all the optical control is via the reflectors with the cover moulding just acting as a protection rather than acting as a refractor.
The heat sink is not particularly well thermally linked to the main body casting and nor is there any direct path for heat from the LED heat sink to radiate out into the environment. I was therefore concerned that the LEDs may overheat in this arrangement but from some simple measurements the heat sink appears to be running at an acceptably low temperature. The overall size of the luminaire seems to allow the heat to dissipate effectively without needing direct radiation.

It is understood that the same optical system is also used in the GE LED Area Lighter but this luminaire was designed as an integrated LED solution where the heat sink can dissipate heat more effectively. Due to this better thermal management the maximum power of the LED Area lighter is almost twice that of the Iberia at 189 Watts for a type V distribution.

The Iberia optical system is fully sealed to IP65 but the driver is housed outside this assembly and is mounted directly to the enclosure housing. The IP rating for this area of the luminaire is only IP44 and the driver is only specified for dry or damp locations. The steel case of the Xitanium driver had already begun to rust slightly on the sales sample that I was given so, perhaps towards the end of the ten to twelve year service life, the driver might not have been in very good condition. Given that the ballast was mounted in an ungasketed area, an IP67 driver might have been a better choice.

To justify the use of LEDs for street lighting GE have prepared some examples to show that due to the improved light control possible with LED sources and their optics, a smaller number of Iberia 90 watt LED luminaires can be used to illuminate a given project to the same lighting levels compared to the 171 system watts used by the CDM Iberia and thus achieving a total energy saving of 60%.

While this is an impressive calculation it might be more useful to compare the LED Iberia with the highest efficiency CDM luminaire available on the market from other suppliers to see if the savings are quite as significant.

The reduced maintenance costs for exterior LED luminaires with a service life of 50,000 hours compared to the lamp changing cycle of 12,000 hours for CDM luminaires will also play an important part in calculating potential cost reductions. However the LED product will still need to be cleaned periodically to maintain lumen output so there will be an ongoing servicing cost to be considered that seemed to be omitted from the GE calculations.

In conclusion the GE LED Iberia is a fairly effective retrofit of LED technology into an existing luminaire design. The appearance of the Iberia is pleasant if not distinctive and it would fit into many urban amenity lighting schemes with its variety of mounting options. The optical system is the most interesting part of the product and produces a low glare but efficient distribution with a novel construction. It is a pity that so far GE has not developed a distinctive and elegant luminaire design to match the performance of their LED optical system.

© David Morgan Associates 2010. David Morgan runs David Morgan Associates, a London-based international design consultancy specialising in luminaire design and development.
Web: Tel: +44 (0)20 8340 4009
The views expressed in this article are entirely those of David Morgan and not necessarily those of mondo*arc.


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