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What is lighting?

Lighting aims to offer the right level of light to the place where it is used, in accordance with the activities people do in that space. It may need to be brighter or dimmer.

Lighting is also the term for the set of lights used to achieve sufficient light.

What are the ways to generate light?

Light can be generated by:

  1. Thermo-radiation: lighting generated by solid or liquid materials.
  2. Electricity: lighting generated when an electrical current passes through a gas to emit light radiation.

The latter category includes the following lighting devices:

  • Incandescent bulbs: a type of electric bulb with a filament that reaches high temperatures under the Joule effect to emit light. These bulbs are wrapped in glass that is filled with gas to prevent the thread from burning; over time, they grow dimmer due to the evaporation of the chemical element of the filament.
  • Fluorescent lamps: these consist of a tube that’s closed at each end, where the electrodes for connection and ignition are located. This type of lamp is filled with mercury vapor at low electrical pressure, with a small amount of gas so that it can be ignited and also control the electrodes’ discharge.
  • Mercury vapor lamps: these low-pressure lamps are named after the content of their interior. 
  • Halogen lamps: a type of lighting that differs from the previous categories because they have a mixture of inert gas and a halogen that makes a higher luminous capacity possible without the inner filament melting.
  • LED bulbs: one of the most efficient, durable, and resistant inventions in terms of lighting, consumption, and energy use. It is a semiconductor that uses LEDs (light-emitting diodes) to generate light. They have elements like heat sinks or cooling fins that manage heat intensity. Today, most bulbs are LED; other technologies have largely fallen by the wayside because they are less efficient and have a greater environmental impact.

What are the main elements in a lighting system?

A lighting system consists of all the elements that work together to provide light in a space. They are:

  1. Bulbs: responsible for providing artificial light. 
  2. Luminaires: lamp containers designed to control and direct the flow of light from one or more lamps.
  3. Ballasts: responsible for limiting a lamp’s current and even the voltage to turn it on. These devices are electromagnetic or electronic, or a combination of the two.  
  4. Control mechanisms: the part responsible for controlling the lighting system, such as motion sensors or timers.

Why are lighting control systems important?

The technologies that make it possible to control an electric lighting system enable:

  • Conscious energy use: artificial light is only used when necessary. This way, energy efficiency is improved, and the carbon footprint is reduced.
  • Taking advantage of natural lighting, complementing it with artificial lighting only as necessary.
  • Financial savings. While installing lighting control systems can be expensive, the savings on electricity bills are significant in the long term.
  • Extending the useful life of luminaires since they are only used when truly necessary, consciously, and on a schedule, thanks to control sensors. Prolonging the useful life of bulbs and luminaires also means generating less waste from polluting devices.

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