Wherever you have an office or similar space with a ceiling height, typically above 3m, you can always achieve a good-looking result using suspended direct/indirect luminaires. These direct the light both upwards and downwards.
These luminaires have the obvious advantage of illuminating the ceiling and this makes the space look more light and airy. It also reduces the contrast between the luminaire and ceiling – recessed units have a tendency to appear bright against a “dark” background, albeit the ceiling is usually white. The amount of contrast depends a lot on how much light is reflected back from the floor and desktops.
We are all doing much more video conferencing nowadays and that means you need a decent level of illumination on people’s faces. We have all been in meetings where the speaker’s face is in shadow.
Good vertical illumination also means the walls are brighter and this means the space will appear lighter overall. But there is a balance to be achieved. Too much vertical illumination can lead to reflections of the luminaires on the computer monitors and glare. Thoughtful design is the key.
Another aspect to check is the angle of the beam of the light emitted upwards. It needs to be fairly wide. If it is narrow, you will have bright patches of light on your ceiling. Related to this, you should check with the manufacturer as to the minimum suspension distance below the ceiling. A wide angle means the suspension length can be shorter.
If you are installing a Human Centric Lighting, HCL, system, you will want to dim the luminaires. Many direct/indirect luminaires enable you to control the up and down output separately. A further refinement is to have a different colour temperature, CCT, for each. You can thus achieve a wide range of appearance and illumination levels.
Beta Calco Le Louvre
I chose this simply because it looks different from many of its competitors. It also performs better.
The main thing you notice is the deep diagonal, cross-blade louvre which gives a “closed” appearance when switched off and open when on. The upward beam has a wide, batwing distribution which spreads the light evenly across the ceiling.
There is a further refinement in that the louvre is available in five finishes. For general office use, there is a frosted for high performance and a black darklight. For high-end interiors, Le Louvre is also available with a satin chrome, satin gold or satin champagne finish. The body of the luminaire is offered in ten standard paint finishes including metallic colours and wood grain effects.
You can specify the light output in terms of lumens/m independently for the direct and indirect distribution. A range of dimming options is also available.
There is a move away from offices which are bland, white painted boxes. Instead, the more edgy businesses can be found in refurbished industrial premises, riverside warehouses, power stations etc. This is where the aesthetics of the Pondero are ideally suited.
The circular body is made of untreated steel and the ends are cast, unpainted aluminium. It looks as if it could have come direct from a foundry. Being Fagerhult, it has modern optics comprising cross-blade louvres and double-parabolic side reflectors. There is also a fine diffusing optic which obscures the LEDs.
Control is via DALI or the Fagerhult e-Sense Organic. Constant Light Output, CLO, is a standard feature.
One possible disadvantage is that it only emits 7 per cent of its light upwards. This won’t provide much illumination on the ceiling and would tend to get lost with long suspension lengths.
Hubbel MOD X 23
The MOD family was originally launched over 50 years ago and a dedicated LED design, called the MODx introduced in 2016. As you would expect, there is a huge range of options including four different body widths, six lengths and six types of diffuser.
The diffusers range from a simple opal finish to cross-blade louvres, wall-wash and asymmetric. I particularly liked the uplight beam option which is available either for short suspension lengths (and wide spacing) or a more intense beam which has a Lambertian distribution where you have high ceilings.
Colour temperatures range from 2700 – 5000K with colour rendering of CRI 80 or 90. There is a tunable white, 2700 – 6500K and, less commonly with this type of luminaire, a Dim to Warm at 2200 – 3000K.
A variety of control options is available including DALI and 0 – 10V.
iGuzzini iN60 Space
This is a brand new product. For people in the know (or should I say cognoscenti?) iGuzzini are one of the leaders in luminaire optical technology. Their latest offering is the Opti Diamond and this uses a combination of refraction and reflection.
Technically, it is known as a catadioptric system and the really clever aspect is that the reflector does not have to be metallised.
This means that the thermo-plastic used in the optical system is 100 percent recyclable. It also delivers more lumens/W.
Another interesting aspect is that the Opti Diamond can be black or white, the latter being slightly more efficient.
Away from the optics, the iN60 Space can be stand-alone or in continuous runs and there are also corner pieces to form rectangles and squares. In terms of controls, it can be fitted with an integrated beacon to link to a Bluetooth-DALI interface. A multi-sensor for KNX systems is also available.
Lug Volica 2.0
This is a simple range of luminaires for individual, continuous, surface, recessed and suspended mounting. There is either an opal or micro-prismatic diffuser option, both with a claimed UGR of <19.
Both up and down beams have a cut-off of about 2 x 60 degrees – so they are similar in distribution to the familiar Cat 2 type. There is also a Volica Dot version where the LEDs are recessed in round or square reflector “cells”. This has a cut-off of 50 or 70 degrees.
It’s good to see that 25 percent of the light output is emitted upwards (and 75 percent down); it means the Volica should produce fairly well illuminated ceilings.
It is available in 3000 and 4000K, CRI 80, with DALI dimming.
One of the advantages of the Volica is that continuous runs have tool-free connectors.
One of the main selling features of the Infinit is the Lightstream optical system. Omlight say that one of the causes of glare in conventional LED optics is stray light emitted at low angles from each lens. The Lightstream system has what Omlight describe as “small structures” between the lenses and these reduce the stray light.
Depending on the downward beam angle chosen of the Infinit, you can have the option of glare control to UGR <13, <16 or <19. The upward beam has a wide batwing distribution so you can have a suspension length as short as 0.5m. Typically, about 40 percent of the light is emitted upwards so the ceilings will appear well illuminated.
Colour temperatures of 3000K, 4000K with colour rendering of CRI >90. A tunable white ranging from 2200K to 5000K is also available.
This is real industrial chic. On one hand, the body can have a bronze, copper, gold, silver, coal or petrol finish. There are polished stainless-steel fixings. On the other hand, it is IP69K, IK10, submersible and resistant to many chemical environments such as formaldehydes. You could use it in an office, laboratory or under arduous conditions in a factory.
The overall polycarbonate enclosure is smooth and totally clear, so you can see all the components and wiring inside. Optical control comes from a specular aluminium reflector with a satin opal diffuser. The glare rating, UGR, is <19. There is plenty of light, with 33 percent, emitted upwards.
As well as 4000K, it is also available in 2700K and 3000K and a tunable white with CRI 80 or 90. You can have DALI or push button control and the up and down can be dimmed independently.
Siteco Arktika-P LED
I love this because it is so slim. It measures just 8 mm high; half that of a T5 fluorescent lamp. This is achieved partly by having a remote driver.
The Arktika is designed as a stand-alone luminaire rather than in continuous runs. The other dimensions are 1,250 x 120 mm wide.
The LEDs are set in individual hexagonal reflectors (576 of them) which also have a darklight function to minimise glare. Being designed for offices, it has a UGR <19. About 25 percent of the light is upwards.
It is available in 3000 and 4000K with a CRI >85. Dimming control is by DALI.
Thorn IQ Wave
The main promotional feature of the IQ Wave is the light distribution which creates a soft, diffuse light with plenty of vertical, horizontal and cylindrical illumination. Due to its shadow free distribution and putting plenty of light on people’s faces, it is ideal for video conferencing and presentations. It also keeps any possible glare below UGR 19.
The overall effect is to create a light and airy space.
Unlike many of the other luminaires, the body, diffuser, frame and endcaps are made of polycarbonate with a TPa rating. The curved shape and translucence of the polycarbonate mean that it does not look so “blocky” as some luminaires of extruded aluminium.
As well as DAL, Thorn have their BasicDIM wireless control which, despite its name, is an easy-to-use but quite sophisticated control and mesh system based on Casambi BLE technology.
This is a true direct/indirect luminaire with 45 percent of the light emitted upwards. Maybe that’s why it has received so many product design awards.
It is just 27 mm high and the white painted extruded body means it is very inconspicuous. The micro-prismatic diffuser protrudes just slightly below the body producing a very slim line of light around the perimeter.
As well as 3000 and 4000K, there is a tunable white from 2700 to 6500K. The up and down directed light can be individually controlled and dimmed so you can have both the illumination and colour temperature changed throughout the day. There is a very wide range of control options using their LiveLink app where you can program pre-set scenes, use daylight control and presence detection or even have purely manual operation.
Zumtobel Ecoos II
This is another suspended, direct/indirect luminaire where the emphasis is on producing an all-around volume of light with plenty of illumination on the vertical surfaces. Zumtobel describe the effect as “floating character – light everywhere”.
At a quick glance, it appears to have a retro-style wraparound diffuser but, unsurprisingly from Zumtobel, there are some precision optics inside. What you see is the micro-pyramidal base and the prismatic sides which direct the light in specific directions.
The Ecoos is available in a slim version approximately 32 mm deep and this includes a patented wave guide and diffuser to obscure any direct view of the LEDs. The more conventional standard version is 60 mm deep and emits 27 percent of the light upwards. The slim version emits 18 percent upward light.
The luminaire can be stand-alone or in continuous runs and the latter has translucent connectors to maintain the luminous appearance.
The appearance of the Ecoos can be enlivened by the choice of white, black, silver or bronze end-caps.