This review concerns recessed fittings that are used to illuminate walls and façades. Typically, they will illuminate higher than 3m. This means they’re more powerful than the slim lines of light (often called homogenous lighting) you sometimes see in outdoor architectural and public realm spaces.
When choosing in-ground luminaires, there are two crucial aspects you need to consider. Firstly, the fittings have to be solidly manufactured with good seals and joints. In-ground luminaires operate under tougher environmental conditions than most.
There will be people walking on them and, depending on the location, may even be driven over by vehicles. Plain glass can be slippery when wet; think about whether it needs to have an anti-slip surface treatment. The luminaires must also be vandal resistant.
Being flush with the ground, rainwater will not naturally run off them and the top surface may be wet for long periods. As such, the luminaires need to be IP67 or IP68. Remember that the cable entry is always under the ground so you need to make sure the gland is properly sealed. The fittings can also experience extremes of temperature; receiving direct sunlight, and no cooling air movement, during the day and maybe freezing conditions in winter.
These arduous conditions are maybe why there are far fewer manufacturers of in-ground units compared with their surface- and wall-mounted equivalents.
The other aspect is that the luminaires must have good optical control. The reason being is that to achieve the greatest lighting efficiency, in terms of lux on the building for the lowest energy consumption, and to minimise upward light pollution, the luminaire needs to direct as much light as possible (ideally, all) on to the face of the building. This means the luminaire needs to have a range of beam spread options. Some luminaires are also capable of being aimed or tilted.
If you are illuminating the face of a building, some manufacturers offer both a wallwash optic and a wall graze optic. The difference is that wall washing is intended to produce as uniform as possible illumination on the façade whereas grazing uplighters are mounted are mounted much closer to the building and the light skims up the face.
This graze reveals the texture, such as stone or brick much more than a wash effect. Conversely, a low window ledge can cause a long shadow up the building if used with a grazing beam.
One last point about installation is that these luminaires need to be held securely in the ground. Manufacturers usually supply a supporting or recessing box.
This is sometimes called a blockout. The box can be much larger than the luminaire itself. Make sure you have sufficient depth in the ground – I once specified a deep version of this type of luminaire and it broke through to a hidden cellar underneath!
Most of the manufacturers mentioned have a wide range of options. If I haven’t mentioned a feature, that doesn’t mean it’s not available. All the fittings here are well made; it’s a matter of finding exactly what you want.
ACDC Blade LRi
This is a brand new luminaire with sophisticated optics at its heart.
The LEDs are located deep inside so there is minimal direct view of them. Above this is a light mixing chamber which is especially effective where you are combining RGBW. You can then add an optical control diffusing film on top which produces a totally homogenous beam which can block the light either sideways or towards/away from the wall.
A further refinement is the optional 17 degree internal micro louvre which blocks the light towards pedestrians and drivers but does not obstruct the light directed towards the façade.
The overall effect is to produce a totally uniform beam without any glare.
The Blade is available is available in lengths approximately 360, 660, 960 and 1,260 mm long by 80 mm wide. 2700K, 3000K, 4000K and RGBW are offered with a CRI >80. It is rated at IP67 and is vandal resistant at IK09. Surface and wall mount are also offered with and without integral gear.
Finally, I should mention that the accompanying sales and technical literature is excellent. It has useful design hints showing how best to use the various versions of the Blade.
This is available in two sizes, a nominal 700 and 1,300 mm long rated at approximately 50W and 90W respectively.
One of the Eminere’s strengths is the range of beam angles. I counted six symmetrical, eight bi-symmetrical plus two wallwasher optics. Furthermore, the LEDs can be manually tilted +/- 15 degrees. The benefit of all these features is that you can choose exactly the right beam to suit the proportions of your building and the offset distance available.
White light is offered ranging from 2500 – 6500K. RGBW, RGBA are also standard versions. The Eminere has integral gear, so connection is simply plug and play. Control is generally by wired, or wireless, DMX.
It is good to see that a 23 kN anti-skid cover glass is an option; the standard glass resists 45 kN.
Color Kinetics Graze
The Graze family of luminaires is immense with over 700 products. It includes both surface and recessed units, the latter having an additional ground recessed box with a sealed front glass. As you would expect from Color Kinetics, the Graze has a huge range of optics available. The colour appearance, options range from 2,700K to 6,500K. You can have tunable white, a whole range of colours.
Control is generally via their Powercore system. This controls power output to luminaires directly from the line voltage. It merges line voltage with control data and delivers both over a single standard cable. Color Kinetics claim that this dramatically simplifies installation and lowers the total system cost.
In terms of choice and functionality, the Graze seems unbeatable. However, if you just want to specify a ground mounted unit to light up a building, the decision process may be a bit daunting.
EWO IN Series
EWO is most probably best known for its high output, high precision floodlights. The IN series of inground uplights is a recent development to expand into new markets.
In essence, the IN is a modular system ranging in length from 340 to 980 mm.
Light output varies from all the way from 340 lm using a single line of LEDs to almost 8,000 lumens from a twin row of LEDs running at higher power. As a result, you can use the IN to illuminate surfaces from low to very high levels of illumination. The CCT offered is from a warm 2200K to a neutral 4000K with a colour rendering of CRI >80.
Five symmetric beams are offered but of particular use in these applications are the two asymmetric optics which throw the light ‘forwards’ towards the face of the building. The beam can be further adjusted manually by +/- 5 degrees.
Control is via DALI or 1-10V.
Currently, colour and RGB are not available.
Hoffmeister Hi-Vertical 2.0
I first came across the Hi-Vertical in 2006 when it contained a high power T5 fluorescent lamp and, at that time, it was almost unique in its performance.
This latest LED version greatly extends the range in terms of light output, beam width and peak intensity. There is an extremely narrow beam, 2 degrees, for illuminating very tall facades all the way to a 45 degree version for archways.
Another big advantage is that the optics can be tilted using an external screw so there is no need to disturb the IP sealing when adjusting the aim of the beam.
Ten standard lengths are available from 220 mm to 1m. Typically, it ranges from 10 – 83W. Colour temperature is offered in 2700K, 3000K, 4000K with a CRI> 90 and RGBW. Control is a simple on/off, DALI or DMX.
It is also remarkably tough being able to withstand a 3 tonne load and an impact of IK10. Recessed uplights are often submerged for long periods due to the topography of the adjacent land so it is reassuring that the Hi-Vertical is IP68.
iGuzzini Linealuce 47
iGuzzini has a huge range of luminaires in the Linealuce range both surface and recessed. The latest in the range is the Mini and Compact 47. The number refers to the width in mm. Although this review is about in-ground luminaires, the Linealuce has eight different mounting orientations.
As well as symmetrical beams, there are three specifically for wall grazing. What I particularly liked is that the Linealuce can be fitted with internal louvres; lateral, transverse and honeycomb. These can block the light from certain viewing positions to minimise glare to, for example, residents or motorists.
A neat feature is that the LEDs at the ends of the luminaire have half spacings. This means that where you have a row of luminaires joined end to end, there isn’t a darker space in between them.
Typical lengths are from 610 – 1,500 mm, 3750 – 6,300 lm in White. RGB, RGBW and Tunable White are also available.
The Linealuce is IP67 and a robust IK10. It will resist a static load of 2 tonnes.
LEC Lyon Passy
LEC Lyon has been making LED luminaires for 40 years so they know what they are doing. This is a very versatile unit offering six symmetrical optics (from 10 to 120 degrees) and another five elliptical. There are four white colour temperatures from 2700 to 6000K plus a range of colours and RGBW. Furthermore, the LEDs can be manually tilted +/- 12.5 degrees from the outside without removing the front lens. I.e. there is no risk of breaking the IP68 seal.
An important aspect of the LEC Lyon offer is that the luminaires are made specifically for each project. For example, you could mix lenses or have different colour temperatures. The Passy can be made in a range of custom lengths.
The typical output of a 1m length, using 3W LEDs, at 6000K is 7,130 lm and 80W.
The construction is also as tough as you can get. The lens is polycarbonate rated >IK10 and withstands 4 tonnes. The end caps are machined from solid aluminium.
Lightalk has recently been upgraded and comprises a range of in-ground, surface, wall mount and pendant luminaires. This IP67, IK10 unit is available in 455, 655 and 1,250 mm lengths from 16 – 70W. There are six symmetrical beams and a dedicated wallwash. Colour temperatures are 3000, 4000K with a CRI >80 and RGBW.
A particular feature not often available with other manufacturers are the special finishes. For urban locations you can have concrete, stone and Corten type finishes. For rural spaces or maybe indoors, there are oak, walnut and pine finishes.
Switching is via DMX and there is a variety of cloud-based and LAN control options.
Lumenpulse Lumenfacade In-ground
This Canadian company has grown enormously since its beginning in 2006 and has established a well-deserved reputation.
Fourteen beam widths are available including an asymmetric wallwash. Another optic allows you to graze a 30m high wall from less than 1.5m away (the peak intensity is almost 60,000 Cd). These features mean that the Lumenfacade will suit any geometry of building and offset distance. If you need to aim the beam, there are factory set tilt options of 2.5, 5 and 20 degrees.
As well as colour temperatures from 2200 to 4000K, Lumenpulse offer RGB, RGBW, RGBA, a dynamic white 2700 – 6500K and a dynamic Warm where the range is 2200K to 3000K.
Clear glass, opal glass, anti-slip glass and internal anti-glare louvres all form part of the Lumenfacade offer.
As you would expect, there is a comprehensive range of control options.
This is a solidly constructed unit which can withstand a static load of 3,000 kg and, under certain conditions, can be driven over at low speed by vehicles up to five tonnes per wheel. It is rated at IP67 and has an impact resistance of IK08.
It is available in three lengths, a nominal 600, 900 and 1,200 mm and 20, 20, 40W respectively. There are six light distributions available but what would be particularly useful are the wallwash and wall graze options. There is the option of a honeycomb louvre to reduce spill light and you can also have an opal glass to reduce the intensity if it is likely to be viewed directly.
As well as, 2700, 3000 and 4000K colour temperature, there is a tunable white ranging from 2700 to 6000K and an RGBW version. Control is via DALI or DMX.
The luminaire is factory sealed and does not need to be opened during installation. Similarly, a complete luminaire can be replaced without having to touch the blockout support.