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Display Lights

Apr 27, 2008
The first display lighting fixtures were fluorescent lights. They were highly valued for their ability to use less electricity than incandescent bulbs. They were also valued for their long, tubular design that enabled them to cast an evenly distributed down light over collectibles, merchandise, and various ornaments. There were two main drawbacks, however, to fluorescent lights. For one thing, they produced a yellowish, flickering light that annoyed people and even produced headaches in some. Even worse, they radiated ultraviolet light that was harmful to sensitive items such as certain dyes, paints, and fabrics. Lighting manufacturers began to develop alternatives to fluorescent bulbs, creating a diversity of forms in the process that over time produced even more cost effective forms of lighting, minimized or completely eliminated ultraviolet light, and created a multitude of colour temperature options ideal for specialty lighting.

A few of the more popular types of display lighting fixtures are discussed in this article, with special attention paid to linear strip lights. Linear lighting strips have proven to be some of the most versatile - if not the most versatile - form of display lighting fixture. Other types of fixtures enjoy wide use, however, as well in any number of specialty applications and specific environments.

Puck Lights

Puck lights are common used as under cabinet lights and are not strictly classified as display light fixtures. However, puck lights tend to be the light source of choice in curio cabinets with mirrored back planes. Because the puck light occupies a central location at the top of the cabinet, the light radiates downward in an expanding cone. The mirror catches a portion of this light and throws it forward, thus magnifying its intensity and creating a field of light that fills the space inside the display.

Other types of cabinet lighting fixtures do not work nearly as well in curio cabinets or showcases with mirrored back planes. Mirrors will reflect equipment as well as light, and the appearance of a metal or linear fixture can be an eyesore to an otherwise ornate showpiece.

Flex Lights

Flex lights are display light fixtures that mount on movable arms that can be positioned over the top of a display. They are commonly used in museum lighting exhibitions to illuminate large displays that are not contained in a case. In fact, very large displays may have two or more flex lights positioned over the top as either a way of creating a central spotlighting effect using a slightly stronger, central flex light, or an even wash of light by using three identical fixtures in a row.

Flex lights are also a favorite display fixture for lighting trade show booths. They can be attached rather quickly to walls and booths and angled toward banners, marketing materials, and merchandise to create a spotlight on your company brand, products, or services.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are used heavily in museums to light paintings and statuary. Recessed lighting fixtures offer the advantage of concealment, residing in the ceiling far above the display and casting a precisely aimed beam at the artwork. Halogen lamps are the favored light source for these unobtrusive display fixtures - provided proper glare shielding and dimmers are wired to the units to control brightness levels and heat.

Linear Lighting Strips

Linear LED strip accent lights combine almost every advantage of other forms of display lighting fixtures and also offer a few additional benefits found in no other light source. Linear strips are usually very thin and mount either to the topside of a cabinet, case top, or shelf, concealing themselves in much the same fashion as a recessed light. The tiny lamps that line the strips emit a combined radiant down light reminiscent of yesteryear's fluorescent bulbs, but with none of the negative drawbacks.

Linear display lighting fixtures like those made by Phantom feature a high level of precision lighting control. Sophisticated glare shields, color selections and dimmer controls allow the Phantom light strip to be adjusted at optimal brightness levels and lighting angles for virtually any type of shelf lighting or display case lighting application. A patented method of electrical conductivity makes the Phantom linear strip even more unobtrusive than its counterpoints because it is a virtually wireless device with the smallest magnetic transformer on the market. Any number of lamping options can be installed on Phantom display lighting fixtures as well, including LED festoon lamps that use only 20% the electricity as other bulb types and produce no UV radiation.

Incidentally, LED linear lighting is quickly becoming a smash hit among commercial lighting designers with retail clients. Although the initial purchase price tends to be a bit high, the return on investment in the form of monthly and annual power savings quickly offsets this expenditure and ends up putting money back into the store's budget over time.

One more thing that makes the Phantom linear strip competitive with undercabinet puck lights is the special way Phantom strips angle the light backward away from the eyes. This creates a softer, more ambient quality of light more appropriate to both personal antique and bookshelf lighting. It is also ideal for high-end museum lighting of artifact and rare document display cases.
About the Author
Phantom Lighting is a manufacturer of high end lighting projectors and linear strip display lighting fixtures. Phantom operates throughout North, Central, and South America through a network of agent representatives. Visit http://www.phantomlighting.com/retail-display-lighting.htm and http://www.phantomlighting.com for more details.
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