Reviewed: LED battens

Did you know that the first batten luminaire, with the fluorescent lamp packed inside the box, was marketed over 60 years ago? In those days it had a 37 mm diameter halophosphate lamp (known as a T12) and heavy, transformer type wire-wound control gear. By today’s standards, it would be considered very inefficient.

Our workplaces have changed dramatically since then but there is still a need for a basic luminaire for undemanding lighting applications. This is reflected in that LED battens are still usually sold as being 4ft, 5ft, 6ft rather than 1.2m, 1.5m, 1.8m.

Some early battens consisted purely of a bare fluorescent tube on a folded white steel spine to which you could add accessories such as a reflector. Nowadays, all LED battens have some kind of integral diffuser and so the luminaires tend to be either IP rated or have a slightly more attractive cover for office and commercial applications. We have reviewed both types.

A conventional 1.2m batten with a single T5 or T8 fluorescent lamp emits about 2,500 lumens and all the LED versions we looked at have a greater output. Most manufacturers offer a standard and high output version, with the higher wattage LED being equivalent to a twin lamp fluorescent.

If you are retrofitting on a one for one basis, decide whether you want a similar or greater illumination level. If you want the same amount of light, you can save energy by using a lower wattage LED version. Remember to compare like with like. A dusty fluorescent luminaire with an old tube might only emit half the light it did when it was new. Don’t compare it with an LED fitting straight out the box.
If, on the other hand, you want greater illumination, you may well be able to achieve it without increasing your energy consumption.

Even with something as simple as a batten, it is worth considering the light distribution. Light isn’t only required on the worktop or desk. Typically, an LED batten emits light over 120 degrees downwards whereas a bare fluorescent lamp would be more like 240 degrees.  or maybe 180 with a diffuser. A wide-angle beam gives you better illumination on people’s faces, shelving and noticeboards - and also more reflections in computer screens!

Some upward light can be desirable to lighten the ceiling and “lift” the appearance of the space. A bare fluorescent lamp gave you all this by default (at the expense of a reduction in horizontal illuminance) but some LED luminaires can have a quite narrow downward distribution which leads to dark walls. 
For this reason, literature which tells you the horizontal illuminance compared with a fluorescent batten is of no value unless the beam angle of the LED luminaires is also given.

Finally, check whether you will want to dim the luminaires. Most of the ones reviewed here could not be dimmed, as standard.

 

Ansell Topline 6 IP20

This comes in a range of sizes and wattages and we looked at the biggest which is a nominal 6ft long. It is rated at 83W and emits over 9000 lumens; more than equivalent to a twin 1.8m fluorescent.

It has a standard white steel spine and an opal cover over the LEDs.

The whole fitting projects down from the ceiling less than many battens. Coupled with the curved, polycarbonate end-caps, it looks sleeker and neater than some others.

 

Crompton Photius IP42

This is a compact 40W, 1.2m unit measuring 80 mm wide and projecting just 35 mm from the ceiling. The shallow depth means it is completely unobtrusive in an office or commercial setting. It looks good.
A really useful feature is that it has a hidden switch so you can choose to have a 3000K, 4000K or 6000K output. It is equally at home in a kitchen, office, factory or garage.

The body is made of anodised aluminium and it has an opal, reeded, polycarbonate diffuser. This means it is comfortable to look at from all directions. There is also the option of a microwave movement sensor or with a 3-hour emergency pack.

 

 

Enlite BatPac Pro IP20

This is similar in size and shape to a fluorescent batten with a smooth opal diffuser, a white painted steel spine and the same BESA fixings on the back. Its impact resistance is IK08 which is more than many similar battens.

The light output is 4,000 lumens and this compares to a fluorescent lamp of equivalent length, 5ft. However, the BatPac Pro does have a considerably lower energy consumption – 33W compared with 58W for the fluorescent.

There is also a 63W version which emits 7,500 lumens, making it similar to a twin 5ft.

 

 

Fitzgerald LED Lightpack IP20

Fitzgerald Lighting has been making battens for over 40 years. The Lightpack has the steel spine, pmma diffuser and plastic end caps of a fluorescent unit but the lamp has been replaced by a row of closely spaced LEDs. The smooth opal diffuser works well and can easily be removed by tilting the spring-loaded end caps.

Like some other suppliers, there is a range of options such as occupancy and daylight sensors, dimming protocols etc. Unusually, one of the standard options is a black painted body.

 

 

 

Gamma Illumination ABI IP65

The ABI is an IP65 anti-corrosive fitting with IK10 impact resistance. The body is injection moulded, grey polycarbonate and it has a clear diffuser.

You can use this just about anywhere you need a budget price corrosion and damp resistant fitting. However, despite its impact resistance, it does feel less rigid than some other IP rated luminaires.

There is a range of control options such as SwitchDIM, DALI or DSI plus motion and daylight sensors. Unusually, there is a 3000K version as standard.

 

 

NVC Phoenix IP20

This 30W, 1.2m luminaire has been designed to look like a fluorescent. The LEDs are behind an opal, ribbed diffuser.

What makes the Phoenix different is that is comes with a range of optional accessories such as an opal polycarbonate diffuser, a white steel reflector (symmetric and asymmetric) and a wire guard. There is also a polished (specular) reflector for warehouse applications where you want maximum efficiency.

It is available in standard, 30W, and high output 55W versions, both 4000k and 5000K. 1.5m and 1.8m versions are also similarly available in standard and high output versions.

 

 

Philips CoreLine Waterproof IP65

You can be sure of what you are getting with the CoreLine – there is more technical information on the outside of the box than some suppliers give in their datasheets. Both the body and the diffuser are made of polycarbonate and it is clearly a more robust unit than many luminaires on the market. It’s as rigid as a rock. Stainless steel fixing clips are standard.

There is sufficient photometric data in the product sheet to enable you to calculate the number of luminaires required in a space. The datasheet also includes UGR values and a luminance table.

The CoreLine is also available as an Interact Ready wireless version so it can easily form part of a fully connected lighting system.

 

 

Sill Lighting Sammode Scorel IP68

Sammode call the Scorel an architectural batten luminaire although I would call it a chic industrial luminaire. Either way, it does not look anything like a conventional fluorescent batten; it’s better.

What sets it apart from other battens is that it is tubular in section with circular, satin finish, stainless-steel endcaps.  The overall polycarbonate enclosure is smooth and totally clear, so you can see all the components and wiring inside. Optical control comes from a specular aluminium reflector with a satin opal diffuser. This gives an almost 180 degree distribution.

But don’t be misled by the striking appearance; this is a serious luminaire. It is IP68 down to 4m under water and impact resistant to IK10. As well as 4000K, it is also available in 2700K and 3000K.

 

 

Tamlite TBX IP20

This is the brand new TBX launched in May. It has a white steel body and an opal, reeded, polycarbonate diffuser which gives it a wide light distribution which is comfortable and easy to look at. It looks just like a fluorescent batten except that it lasts three times as long (a claimed 50,000 hour life L70/B50). The 1.2m version can be 16W/2,500 lumens or 31W/4,500 lumens.

It is nicely put together with fine joins between the various components. A nice touch is that the paint on the metal and plastic parts match – many budget luminaires have end caps that aren’t the same shade of white as the body.

There is a range of PIR, DALI and emergency versions.

 

 

Thorn PopPack LED IP20

Thorn invented the PopPack way back in 1954 and the textured opal acrylic diffuser on this latest LED version means it looks almost identical. Obviously, it is a lot more efficient, and in terms of lumens emitted by the luminaire it is one of the most efficient (lm/W) on the market. If you want a lot of light, there is a 1.8m version which emits a whopping 11,000 lumens. At the other end of the range is a 3,000 lumen version.

One of the selling points of the original PopPack was easy installation. This continues the tradition by having identical fixing and connection points so it can easily be retrofitted as surface mount or on a BESA box. There is a range of PIR, DALI and emergency versions and both 3000K and 4000K are offered as standard.

 

 

 

 

  • See the latest LED Battens  at the LuxLive 2019 exhibition. The show takes place at ExCeL London on Wednesday 13 November and Thursday 14 November 2019. Entry is free if you pre-register. For more info, click HERE