Spotlights are getting smaller. The simple reason: light sources are getting smaller too.
Not so long ago, the standard display lamp was the PAR 38 which was 120 mm in diameter (4.75”). Better technology then gave us smaller tungsten halogen MR16 lamps which are 50 mm (2”) in diameter. Nowadays, we use LEDs where the actual source of light is less than a millimetre across.
Here we are looking at small display systems where all the spotlights are less than 25 mm (1”) in diameter. Some are used with track and some are stand-alone.
Mini display systems are commonly used in domestic, museum and retail locations where the spotlight has to be close to the item being displayed. Cabinets and shelves are obvious examples. Of course, if you are close to the object, you need less power to achieve a high level of illumination. Most of these spotlights are less than 3W.
Linear track systems are much more versatile than they used to be. Apart from the usual surface mount, there are recessed versions, ones you can plaster over, tracks can fit in a slot in a shelf, vertical corner mount types etc. There are even some which can be constructed as a hanging 3D sculpture.
You need to read the data sheets carefully. For example some manufacturers offer only one colour temperature. Other manufacturers will offer a greater choice of colour temperature but the colour rendering index, CRI, may differ between, say, the 3000K and the 4000K spotlight even within the same product range. Don’t make assumptions!
This is a simple, budget range track system which you would typically use in a retail display cabinet. There are just two spotlights, either fixed or adjustable. Both have a 20 degree beam and are only available in 4000K. The LEDs are not dimmable but do have a CRI of 95.
The 24V track, itself just 18mm (0.7mm) wide and 6mm (0.24”)thick, can be fixed to a mounting surface using screws or double-sided tape.
A neat feature is that the spotlights attach to the track using magnetic contacts and these also carry the power. You simply place the spotlight wherever you want on the track and it lights up instantly.
Lux rating: Simple and good value
This classy little spotlight was supplied to us by Atrium in the UK. Strictly speaking, it’s not a track system but instead, the Squad is available in two configurations. The Spot can be supplied as one or two spotlights mounted on a slim, rectangular base. The other configuration is a continuous line of light in a rectangular strip which as the same dimensions as the standalone units. I.e. you can mix and match the spotlights and linear strip.
Three beam angles are available: 15, 23 and 27 degrees. The colour rendering index, CRI, Ra8 is >90. Flos Architectural emphasise the high R9 value (how accurately red colours are rendered) as a strong selling point for retail applications. It is also 4W so it has greater light output than much of the competition.
Lux rating: Where you want greater punch
The Palco family encompasses spotlights in eight different diameters. They range from a tiny 19 mm (0.75”) diameter (the one we tested), all the way up to the biggest which is 142 mm (5.6”) dia. The three smallest sizes will fit on the same track and there are larger tracks for the larger spotlights.
There are beam shaping accessories such as a refractor which gives an elliptical beam. There are also anti-glare devices such as honeycomb louvres and spill rings.
The 19 mm (0.75”) spotlight is available in a 15 degree, 25 degree or elliptical shape beam. Both the 2700K and 3000K have a CRI >90.
- Lux rating: Very comprehensive range
This spotlight has just been launched and is the latest from a wide range of display spotlights from Lledo. The XXS denotes ‘extra extra small’. The spotlights have an attractive fine-textured, matt ‘black iron oxide’ paint finish. This helps dissipate the heat and promotes a longer life from the LEDs. The flood and spot beams give fairly smooth uniform lighting and, all together; the Carso makes a nice display package.
Lux rating: Definitely worth considering
One of the main reasons why people buy Mike Stoane luminaires is because they look great and are beautifully made. The anodising is flawless and the machined metal components look as if they come from a Swiss watchmaker. To lock the aiming angle of the spotlight, you use a 1.5mm (0.06”)Allen key which is no larger than a needle. There’s a range of colour temperatures and beam angles available. The CRI is always >90 and the chip used has a high R9 meaning, it’s particularly good at reproducing reds.
Lux rating: Use where the spotlights will be seen.
You can always rely on Radiant to produce a well-made product and its Micro Track Nano is no exception. The actual spotlight is chunkier than some of the other suppliers but it is still only 25 mm (0.98”) diameter. However, the chrome plated track is much smaller at only 9 mm (0.35”) wide and less than 12 mm (0.47”) high.There are five choices of colour temperature from 2700K to 5000K. This latter cool temperature is useful where you are displaying diamonds or cut glass. There are four beam angles from a punchy, narrow angle 14 degree to a flood 39 degree version.
All in all, a comprehensive, adaptable system.
Lux rating: Solidly constructed
This is the smallest spotlight I have ever seen, being just 14 mm (0.55”) diameter and 11 mm (0.43”) deep. It is tinier than my little fingernail but still manages to have aiming angles inscribed on the side. Each spotlight has its own on/off switch.
It’s a perfect example of the trend towards miniaturisation. There are bigger spotlights in the range but this is the smallest one at 1W and it has a CRI of 95. The 13 degree beam provides a surprising amount of punch. You can construct ‘sculptures’ with the track and its various 3D connecting pieces. To this you can add the display spotlights and linear systems of different sizes. Both functionality and aesthetics can be combined in a single feature.
Lux rating: Smallest and very adaptable
Data as supplied by the manufacturer.