These recessed fittings are used to illuminate the façade of a building. They are more powerful than the narrow lines of light you sometimes see in outdoor architectural spaces.
When choosing inground luminaires, there are two crucial aspects you need to consider. Firstly, the fittings have to be solidly manufactured with good seals and joints. These luminaires operate under rougher conditions than most.
They will have people walking on them and, depending on the location, may even be driven over by vehicles. The luminaires must also be vandal resistant.
Being flush with the ground, rain water will not naturally run off them and the top surface may be wet for long periods. As such, the luminaires need to be IP67 or IP68. Remember that the cable entry is always under the ground so you need to make sure the gland is properly sealed. The fittings can also experience extremes of temperature; receiving direct sunlight during the day and maybe freezing conditions in winter.
These arduous conditions are maybe why there are far fewer manufacturers of inground units compared with their surface and wall mounted equivalents.
The other aspect is that the luminaires must have good optical control. The reason being is that to achieve the greatest lighting efficiency (lux on the building for the lowest energy consumption) and to minimise upward light pollution, the luminaire needs to direct most of its light on to the face of the building. This means the luminaire must have a range of beam spread options and/or be capable of being aimed or tilted.
One last point about installation is that these luminaires need to be held firmly in the ground and so the manufacturers usually supply a supporting box; often called a blockout. This can be much larger than the luminaire itself. Make sure you have sufficient depth – I once specified this type of luminaire and it broke through to a hidden cellar underneath.
Most of the manufacturers mentioned have a wide range of options. If I haven’t mentioned a feature, that doesn’t mean it’s not available. All the fittings here are well made; it’s just a matter of finding what you want.
ACDC Blade Pro
The unit supplied had a black anodised finish and is very handsome. This is enhanced by the micro louvre inside which does a good job of blocking any stray light. You could easily use this unit in an haute couture boutique.
There are different colour temperatures and beam angles. A feature I like is the two options for light output. The standard is 1,500lm/metre (for 3,000K) and the extra bright emits 4,500 lm/metre. This is achieved by spacing the LEDs closer. It is rated at IP67 and is vandal resistant at IK10.
iGuzzini Linealuce Compact
iGuzzini have a huge range of luminaires in the Linealuce range. We looked at the tunable and dynamic white version which gives a range of Whites from Warm 2,700K to a Cool 6,000K
There are a couple of features that set this luminaire apart from the competition. One is that the LEDs at the ends of the luminaire have half spacings. This means that where you have a row of luminaires joined end to end, there isn’t a darker space in between them.
When you have continuous rows, installation is made much easier by the small, external connector box which allows for tool-free in/out electrical connections.
This particular unit is designed specifically for wall washing and iGuzzini offer a wide and narrow beam.
LEC Lyon Passy
LEC Lyon have been making LED luminaires for 40 years so they know what they are doing. This is a very versatile unit offering six standard optics (from 6° to 120°) and another seven elliptical. There are five white colour temperatures from 2,200 K to 6,000K plus a range of colours and RGBW.
Depending on the distance away from the building, it is often useful to be able to tilt the beam. In the Passy, the direction of the beam has a 0° - 20° adjustment so you can direct it exactly where you want. A real benefit of this luminaire over its competitors is that this adjustment can be done without removing the front lens. I.e. there is no risk of breaking the IP68 seal. It also saves a lot of time during the final commissioning.
The construction is also as tough as you can get. The lens is 12mm thick polycarbonate and IK10. The end caps are machined from solid aluminium.
Lumenpulse Lumenfacade Inground
This ten year old Canadian company has grown enormously since its beginning and has established a well-deserved reputation.
The Lumenfacade units is constructed of extruded aluminium with die-cast end caps. These are sealed in place with self-threading screws and a liberal application of clear silicon adhesive.
At least ten beam widths are available including an asymmetric wallwash. If you need to aim the beam, there are factory set tilt options of 2.5°, 5° and 20°. The narrowest beam can achieve 60,000 Cd but purely in terms of appearance, the frosted, non-slip glass version may be preferable if there is likely to be a direct view of the LEDs.
Philips Color Kinetics eW Graze Powercore
The inground unit is, in effect, the standard range of Powercore linear luminaires which are then fitted inside an additional ground recessed box with a sealed front glass.
The Powercore family of luminaires is immense. The lumen output ranges from 770 lumens per linear metre up to 11,000 lm/lin.m. The colour appearance, CCT, options range from 2,200K to 6,500K. You can have tunable white, a whole range of colours, eight beam angles. You can also you can angle the luminaire but this appears to be a lot trickier to do on site than some of its competitors.
In terms of choice, this seems unbeatable. However, if you just want to specify a ground mounted unit to light up a building, the decision process may seem overly complicated. The installation instructions, for example, run to 28 pages, albeit in six languages.
This is a solidly constructed unit which can withstand a load of 5,000 kg and can be driven over at low speed. It is rated at IP67 and has an impact resistance of IK08.
A lot of thought has gone in to making installation simple. The ETV series is designed with modularity in mind. Previously installed luminaires can easily be retrofitted with different lenses. The luminaire is factory sealed. Similarly, a complete luminaire can be replaced without having to touch the blockout support.
There are five light distributions available and the wallwash at 12° x 43° would be particularly useful.
It would be fair to say that Wibre are best known for their underwater and fountain luminaires; they have been making them for over 50 years. They are experts in preventing water entering luminaires.
It is a real pleasure to see a stainless steel fixture with smooth welded seams. The body and lens frame are made of marine grade V4A 316L. The thick, toughened glass lens can be supplied with an anti-skid coating, a soft diffuse finish, completely clear or with an anti-glare louvre.
It is rated as IP67 but with 20 hidden clamping screws holding the lens on a 600 mm long luminaire, I suspect the ingress rating could be a lot higher.
Three beam widths are available.
As you might expect from Simes, this is a good looking unit. There is a seamless, brushed stainless steel (316L) trim around a clear or etched 10mm toughened glass lens. The appearance is different from all the other uplights in that the LEDs are mounted on the vertical side and cannot be seen. These shine across onto a curved aluminium reflector which produces the asymmetric wall wash beam. All you see inside the luminaire is the brushed aluminium reflector.
The choice of beams and colour temperature is less than some other uplights, but they are CRI 90. But if you want a well-made, attractive unit that looks good by day and night, this is it.