It would be hard to imagine another technological upgrade to a church that has the immediate impact of LED lighting.
Once a humble on-off indicator replacing a tungsten or neon lamp on a car or electrical device, the Light Emitting Diode now provides an uplifting, energy saving, maintenance-free enhancement to thousands of houses of worship.
‘The vast array of modern light fittings, providing opportunities for multi-beam angle – spotlights, floodlights and everything between – and variations of colour temperature (warm, cool white, daylight) can be used alongside a digital control that’s not as scary as it sounds,’ explains Stuart Graham of CRE exhibitor Clarity in Sound Light and Vision Ltd.
Adding to the character and versatility of traditional spaces and providing the current power infrastructure that meets regulations, LED fixtures can be direct replacements for existing fittings, without any additional control cabling.
‘This reduces cost and makes the whole upgrade process more palatable to diocese, faculty and congregation,’ says Stuart.
On the Great Somerford Church page on Facebook, Revd Steve Wilkinson shows the improvements to his church after an upgrade to LED lighting. He comments: ‘The lights and the controls are fully flexible allowing us to focus attention on different areas of the building according to need. We are really pleased with the back-lit internal stained-glass window which was previously ineffectively lit. It is now a real feature and draws the eye.’
Wireless digital control can be used to establish ‘scenes’ – setting pre-programmed lighting scenarios around the space for a range of activities or to highlight an architectural feature within the building.
St Mary’s Church in Standon, Hertfordshire is a Grade 1 listed building whose original structure dates back to Saxon times. The growing use of the space for a wide variety of functions meant that the existing lighting provision was inadequate and the church turned to Clarity to determine the best way forward.
‘As well as the practical aspects of re-lighting the church, there were many important aesthetic considerations to take into account,’ explains Stuart. ‘There was a strong wish to highlight the beauty of a number of the church’s historical internal features, as enhancements to creating a warm, welcoming and beautiful space.’
The sensitivity of the interior fabric of the church meant Clarity had to be painstaking in their approach to the installation. The delicate ancient floor could not support heavy machinery, so ceiling access was obtained by the careful use of scaffolding. Every part of the job demanded careful attention to detail.
Different feature areas of the church were lit with appropriate fittings from across the ETC ArcSystem range. In the chancel, two important tombs were lit with ETC MR16 fixtures, with the same units being chosen as uplighters for the ceiling.
‘The resulting installation looks stunning,’ says Stuart, ‘and highlights the rich architecture of the building whilst offering a warm, bright, practical lighting solution for the staging of worship and events.’
Lighting accounts for 20 per cent of the energy used in the UK which means it also accounts for a significant chunk of our energy bills. LED lamps use less than 15 per cent of the energy of their tungsten counterparts which impacts directly on CO2 emissions.
‘Let’s not forget the benefits of a product that boasts a lamp life of 55,000 hours when it comes to scaling the dizzying heights of the existing light fittings at 8, 10, or 12 meters, usually with annoyingly limited access!’ concludes Stuart.
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• Clarity in Sound, Light and Vision Ltd are exhibiting at CRE National 2021 (12-14 Oct, Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey)