Flicker-Free Lighting: Learn How & Why It Is Important

Flicker-Free Lighting: Learn How & Why It Is Important

Recently, a customer contacted Access Fixtures looking for a lighting solution for his new “man cave.” The area being lit was just recently built and featured a 15’ ceiling. The customer intended to use the space for martial arts, activities with his son, and for storing his four-wheelers and guitar/band equipment. His primary goal was to create a comfortable, well-lit space in which he and his son could spend time. With the basics outlined, the customer mentioned he had one big concern: The fixtures needed to be flicker-free. He had an extreme sensitivity to light; bright LEDs often irritated his eyes, causing him to experience bad migraines.

Fluorescent Light Sources

When this customer first made contact with Access Fiman cave, garage lightingxtures, he was considering fluorescent fixtures for his project. He had carried out some research of his own prior to calling and had found that some suggest fluorescent lamp sources to prevent flickering. While it is true that not all fluorescent light sources cause flickering, it is a common occurrence when fixtures are not correctly maintained. The effects of a flickering light are not uncommon—many people have a sensitivity and aversion to flickering light sources. Along with migraines, eye discomfort and eye strain are common effects caused by a flickering fixture.

A fluorescent lamp produces a gas discharge that excites mercury vapor. As energy is thrown back and forth within a fluorescent lamp, the emitted light can sometimes flicker. The ballast, which feeds and controls the energy going into the lamps, sends electric pulses through the gas causing the light to quickly turn on and off; this can also worsen the flicker. With a high-quality ballast and tube, this flicker is usually undetectable, but those with high light sensitivity may be affected.

After his initial research, the customer called to ask about the HENO 2-lamp fluorescent high bay fixtures. While the HENO fixtures use top-of-the-line ballasts, exhibit tremendous rated lifetimes and high lumens-per-watt ratios, the unique needs of this customer needed to be considered. His migraines and light sensitivity meant a fluorescent light source would have been a risky move.

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LEDs and Kelvin Temperature

high bay fixtureAccess Fixtures next introduced the customer to some of our LED high bay options. He was a little uneasy about “bright LED lights,” as he had worked under LEDs in the past and experienced migraines and nausea. He was afraid all LED lights would have this same effect.

Our customer intended to use this space as much as possible, which meant the solution we provided had to be even, consistent, and not fall into the painful “bright LED light” category. Our lighting specialist suggested the use of a lower Kelvin temperature; the bright LEDs the customer described likely fell into the 4000K–6500K range.

One option was the 110w OTAT high bay, which would sufficiently light the space with a reasonable number of fixtures. This luminaire has a clean, professional look and comes with an impressive efficacy of 130 lumens per watt. However, our specialist decided to cross the 110w OTAT off the list because it can only be built to 4000k or 5000K. We did not feel 100% confident this would be a low enough Kelvin color, so we decided to explore other fixtures.

This brought the search to KOTA LED fixtures, which stand out for a number of reasons. They use patented, copper-cooled heat sinks; a super-modern IP65-rated housings; and an unmatched ability to redistribute heat.

Copper-Cooled Heat Sink and LED Chips

The copper-cooled heat sink in each KOTA high bay allows it to send heat away from the COB LED, which keeps crucial components cool and functioning at full capacity. The core of each heat sink is a root system of copper pipes, through which heat travels on its way to the black, cold-forged fins.

In addition to the copper-infused heat sink, each KOTA features one super-powered COB LED. These LED chips feature a heat dispersion tunnel that allows heat to leave the surface of the chip. This allows the fixture to run longer and deliver more consistent light, unaffected by both ambient heat and the heat generated by the fixture itself.

How Many Flicker-Free Lighting Fixtures Did He Need?

high bay fixtureOur lighting specialists used an in-house high bay calculator which uses data from our photometric analyses and square footage to determine how many fixtures this customer needed. We were particularly careful not to overlight the area; even at a lower Kelvin temperature, too many fixtures could be unhealthy for this customer. Of course, not using enough fixtures would mean uneven light, which could be just as troublesome. We used this in-house calculator to narrow our search to the 100w KOTA and the 185w KOTA. The 185w KOTA would provide approximately 30 footcandles in this space, which is enough for many kinds of facilities (Rule of thumb: 30 footcandles is about as bright as a Walmart). Still, this was far more light than this customer needed or wanted, so we instead moved to the 100w KOTA High Bay fixtures. Three of these units would provide 16 footcandles in the customer’s space, meaning the light would be able half as intense as a Walmart. At 3000K, this would make for sufficient and comfortable light for this customer.

This customer also asked about IP ratings and whether they were important for him to consider. KOTA fixtures are versatile in that they can be wall mounted, pole mounted, ceiling mounted, and are built for high performance indoors and outdoors; every KOTA fixture features an IP65 rating.

Because this customer was installing the fixtures in a covered building, the high IP rating of 65 wasn’t hugely important, though protection against dust, debris, and moisture can never hurt. This rating also means the customer could clean the fixtures simply by spraying them with a hose; he wouldn’t have to rent out a scissor lift or risk injury climbing up a tall ladder.

High Color Rendering Index

cri - color rendering indexWith all the information relayed to the customer, the customer decided to add a few extras to his lighting. He wanted to make sure his fixtures were dimmable, just to make sure he could lessen the intensity of the light when desired. Secondly, he chose to increase the CRI of the KOTAs to 95. Some studies suggest that low CRIs can cause irritation and potential migraines (people need to strain their eyes to see colors under this kind of light).  With that in mind, the customer chose the highest CRI possible to improve visibility and accuracy. A fixture with a CRI close to 100 will more accurately render color.

With these additions, the customer and our lighting specialist were confident the solution would provide great light output, high performance, and energy efficiency. Most importantly, it would finally resolve the customer’s search for migraine-free lighting.

Speak to an Access Fixtures Lighting Specialist about Choosing the Right Fixture

Are you looking for an affordable LED replacement for your for backyard sports court? Access Fixtures is your factory-direct source for all light fixtures needed to suitably illuminate your arena. If you have a lighting question, we will be glad to help get you answer. We want to make sure you get the exact fixture for your needs, your budget, and your goals. We are passionate about lighting and love what we do. To speak with an Access Fixtures lighting specialist, call (800) 468-9925.