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LED Magic Gets Mundane
Cree.Who among us was not dazzled by the lighting displays at the Beijing Olympics? The lighting effects for two of the most visible venues, the Bird’s Nest (National Stadium) and the Water Cube (National Aquatic Center), were stunningly achieved with LED technology—all manufactured in the U.S. by
Approximately 496,000 Cree XLamp LEDs in red, green, and blue illuminate the exterior of the Water Cube, and are computer controlled to display a different color pattern each evening. Modules of eight to 16 LEDs are integrated into the steel structure of the building’s four walls and the roof. Each module is uniquely designed to focus the light on the 3,000 individual "bubbles" that make up the structure. Cree LEDs were also used to light the exterior of the Bird’s Nest, and to achieve the remarkable "scrolls" that lit up the floor during the opening ceremony.
The XLamps, in the hands of brilliant designers, made the magic in Beijing possible. For the rest of us responsible for more mundane—err—routine lighting, Cree has just introduced its LR4, an architectural downlight with a 4-inch aperture and a moderate to deep recess angle. Designed for new construction only, it is suitable for mood lighting or as a complement to other sources of general lighting.
This new introduction follows Cree’s very successful LR6 downlight, which most users agree is the best incandescent and CFL-replacement LED on the market for its efficacy, color rendering, and energy savings potential. Though the fixture cost is high, a lifecycle cost analysis shows payback in approximately 18 months, with additional savings continuing to accrue over its lifetime. The LR4 has similar performance and payback numbers.
The LR6 with its Edison base retrofits into most standard 6-inch housings; the LR4 is ordered as three components: the housing, lamp, and reflector. Both fixtures are dimmable to 20 percent, available at 2,700K or 3,500K, and will last 50,000 hours. Cree is working on a directional wall washer version of the LR4. My wish list also includes a track light. They can’t come fast enough for me.