The light distribution of a luminaire defines how the luminous flux of that luminaire is distributed in various directions. The luminous intensity table is the digital form of the light distribution of a luminaire. It is the basic input for all lighting calculation software. To facilitate a quick preselection of suitable luminaires for a particular application, the polar luminous intensity diagram, the utilisation factor table and the UGR table of the luminaires considered are indispensable. The polar diagram gives insight into which directions the light is radiated. The utilisation factor and UGR table give insight into, respectively, the efficiency and the degree of glare of a particular luminaire type used for the lighting of rooms of different dimensions and room surface reflectances.
The optical system of a luminaire may make use of mirrors (reflectors), micro lenses (refractors) and diffusers. These possibilities of shaping the light of a luminaire are used in both gas-discharge lamp and LED luminaires. With the introduction of LEDs, another possibility, that of total internal reflection (TIR), can also be used to produce precisely controlled beams.
The thermal characteristics of a luminaire influence light output, colour quality and lifetime. Lifetime of LED modules (not in the luminaire) has been discussed in Chap. 11 . Having the LED module in a luminaire reduces its lifetime, particularly because of temperature effects. Methods of predicting LED luminaire life, based on measurement durations considerably less than the predicted life, are discussed.
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