The Quest for Quality Light

Since the advent of the incandescent (and even before), quality of light has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Regrettably, that quality has mostly been unfortunate. When incandescent lights were the only choice, the early 20th century population complained about the glare and the possible dangers of electricity.

Case in point: on an episode of Downton Abbey (Masterpiece’s smash hit about an elite family living on an estate in the early 1900’s), the prim and hilarious Dowager Countess laments the new electric lamps:

“Such a glare! I couldn’t have electricity in the house – I wouldn’t sleep a wink. All those vapors seeping about. Feels as if  I were on stage at the Gaiety.”     

The Countess shielding herself from the electric lights. Courtesy of Downton Abbey.

Not only were people of the time dissatisfied with the brightness of the lights, they also were afraid electricity was going to leap out of the walls and plug points and infect them!

Even when fluorescent and mercury vapor lights came along in the 1930s, their blue-green hues and poor color rendering indexes made them sorry alternatives. The people were left to compare the poor quality of gas-discharge lamps vs. the poor quality of phosphor-generated lights vs. the incandescent lights they had learned to live with.

Finally, according to the LIGHTimes Online, quality of light may be gaining a positive spin thanks to LEDs. Yes, like many of the lights before them, LEDs have provided their share of poor quality with cheaply manufactured lamps that claimed way more than they actually could deliver. But now, all the major LED manufacturers have incorporated quality of light into their daily vocabulary.

Now we’re seeing improved color renderings and temperatures, with impressive efficiency rates that redefine what quality of light means in the first place.

Still skeptical? Manufacturers are also following up on their promises. CREE just issued a new 10-year warranty on nearly all their indoor and outdoor commercial grade LED fixtures. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Next Generation Lighting Industry Alliance (NGLIA) have partnered to create the Lighting Facts Program to ensure LED products are represented accurately on the market. Before you purchase an LED product, you can request a Lighting Facts Label (or visit to ensure the fixture’s performance is up to snuff.

Looking to the future, I’m sure everyone won’t be completely satisfied with the quality of LEDs and other light sources – but that’s one way we develop, right? Not only should we hope for improved quality of light output, but also an enhanced lighting experience combining efficiency, controllability, and customization. Things can only get better.

Are there any specific lighting improvements you’re hoping for in the next few years? Do you find the LED manufacturer’s new promises convincing? Who’s excited for the third season of Downton Abbey?

Annie Josey

Annie was the E-Commerce Marketing Specialist at Pegasus Lighting from June 2012 to October 2013. She has a background in English literature, and loves using language to help illuminate the world. So covering lighting news and tips naturally fit her interests. In her personal time she enjoys painting, biking, and reading.