Technical Investigations

Technical Investigations

Because of our in-depth knowledge of lighting systems and their interactions we are often called in to carry out investigations on installations where there are problems or to confirm that installations meet regulations or standards. These can involve complex interactions between items specified by different members of a design team or incorrectly specified components within the lighting system.

Planning, bats and the environment

We have looked at many proposed external lighting schemes to determine if the resulting lighting levels will affect local wildlife and/or comply with Local Authority planning conditions. Sometimes the design will need adjusting to comply, but more often it is simply to reassure the planners that the lighting proposed is not excessive for the local environment.

Railway level crossings

We were asked by the Ergonomist CCD to assist them in part of their investigation into the operation of remotely controlled level crossings. Our part of the project was to examine the lighting in the gate control boxes and to survey the levels and distribution of the light across the level crossings themselves. This was used to help determine the visibility of the images on CCTV screens.

External lighting failure – bridge and city square

Two similar problems: the failure of decorative lighting on a bridge and the failure of external feature lighting in city square. These investigations involved site surveys, forensic examination of design documentation and correspondence and commissioning of independent testing to ascertain the reasons for the technical failures and the likely organisation(s) involved in the design, supply or installation mistakes that led to the failures.

Bank HQ, London

This was a particularly complex problem. This large office building had a state-of-the-art lighting control system controlling a high-quality lighting system. The problem was that in some areas the lighting system was turning itself on and off at random intervals. Our investigation found that all individual parts of the system were operating correctly but that the high frequency ballasts in the luminaires were operating at near to the frequency of the infrared hand-held controllers used to operate the lighting. Under some circumstances the amount of infrared light from the luminaires was enough to swamp and confuse the control system’s receivers.

Sensitivity to light

We have looked at several cases involving people at work reporting sensitivity to flicker or glare or other issues around the lighting in their workplace.

University Lecture theatre

We were called in to investigate problems that the University was having controlling the lighting in the lecture theatre. The users of the room were finding it difficult to use the system and were reporting low lighting levels and system instability. We investigated the problem and found it to be caused by an incompatibility between the dimmers and the ballasts in the luminaires. After analysing the technical and cost implications of possible solutions we recommended that the existing ballasts be replaced, and a new interface module added to the existing dimmer system to control them.

Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton

We were asked to investigate whether there were higher than normal levels of UV radiation coming from some of the existing lights in the main museum space. This was important to the museum as unnecessarily high levels of UV results in increased fading of sensitive fabrics and dyes on some of the exhibits. The investigation required testing of the lamps and the luminaires that housed them and discussions with the manufacturers concerned.

MOD computer centre

We were involved in an extensive lighting and user survey of the buildings, which consisted of a central mainframe computer room and ancillary offices and equipment rooms. All areas had their lighting levels checked and a report was prepared on the types of luminaires in use, the resultant lighting levels and their suitability for use in those rooms. The users were surveyed as to their response to the lighting and the visual environment of the spaces. This exacting Health and safety study led to improvements to the working environment for the staff.