Cove lighting used to be a row of LEDs behind a wooden pelmet or plasterboard moulding. But time moves on. A popular feature is the dropped ceiling or raft. Less common in the UK, but frequently seen elsewhere, is the architectural slot. In effect, a slot is a dropped ceiling which reaches to within a few centimetres of the wall.
Once you start looking for cove lighting, you will find that there are scores of aluminium extrusions of different shapes and dimensions to suit just about any shape of ceiling/wall and room configuration you can think of. I reckon you could easily find over a 100.
Some cove systems are plastered in and require skilled trades people whilst other systems are simply fixed to the surface of the walls or ceiling.
This review includes a lot of different types and style of luminaire which can illuminate a cove. Some luminaire types will be more suited to your particular needs than others.
Many flexible cove lighting systems will only bend in one plane – imagine the way you can bend a thin steel band or strip. Other systems can bend in two planes.
When deciding which system to choose, one of the first things to consider is whether you want to produce a simple glowing line of light or whether you want sufficient light output to give a useful level of illumination in the space. It is worth remembering that T5 fluorescent lamps emitted well over 2,000lm/m and so they could produce plenty of indirect illumination. Obviously, fluorescent lamps could only be used in straight lines and were limited to fixed lengths.
Achieving uniform lines of light and a smooth gradation of brightness, is also important. You need to avoid “hot spots” although this can sometimes be overcome by locating the LEDs quite some distance from the illuminated surfaces. Matt, as opposed to glossy, surfaces help minimise any “spotting”.
Lastly, consider whether you need accurate colour rendering. For most applications, a CRI of 80 is sufficient, but some of the cove lighting systems we saw offer a CRI 90 or even higher. These are especially useful for retail applications.
Cove lighting can make an important difference (good or bad) to the appearance of a space so I would always recommend a trial or mock-up before ordering.
This system is ideal if your existing space does not already have a cove built in. The system comprises of a wide range of straight and bendable galvanised steel profiles in various dimensions. The profiles are then fixed to the structure of the building and plastered over. One of the most popular is the SNL range.
A flexible LED strip suited to that particular profile can then be quickly fitted in position. The LEDs are offered in a range of different sizes and outputs.
Intra-Lighting Edge 12
This is a slim, recessed and trim-less aluminium profile with an integral strip of LEDs. The Edge 12 only projects 12.5 mm from the wall so it is almost invisible when switched off. When illuminated, all you see is a fine line of continuous, uniform light from the opal polycarbonate diffuser.
Apart from architectural features, the compact dimensions means that the Edge can also be used around the perimeter of mirrors and sign boards.
The luminaire, itself, typically emits 700 lm/m and runs at 10W. It is available in 2700, 3000 and 4000K with a colour rendering CRI >80.
KKDC MiMi Glow
Not all coves are in the warm and dry. There is a large market for swimming pools, wet rooms and luxury spas where the atmosphere is very damp and sometimes dripping with water. These places are sometimes cleaned using hoses and these are perfect areas for the IP67 MiMi Glow 008.
There are two other features that set the MiMi apart. The first is that it is very compact and only measures 13 mm x 15 mm so you can fit it just about anywhere.
The other feature is that the light output is totally homogenous – you get a totally uniform line of light even on shiny surfaces like polished marble.
The colour rendering CRI is >90 and it is available in nine colour temperatures from 1900K to 5000K.
Led Flex Lumen Line
One of the big advantages of the Lumen Line, from the Flex range, is the high lumen output coupled with excellent colour rendering. We looked at the 2700K version which emits over 2,700 lumens/m at 35W and has a colour rendering of CRI 95.
This type of performance makes it ideal for retail and hospitality applications.
The tape has two runs of LEDs, side by side, with a total width of 18 mm. Like most flexible LED tape, it comes supplied with adhesive backing tape.
We should point out that LED Flex has a huge range of flexible tape available and we chose this simply as an example of high output combined with excellent colour rendering.
The Xoo Cove has several unusual features. The main benefit is the ease of installation. The luminaire, itself, is circular but instead of the usual fixing clips it rests on grippy silicone pads. These pads are about 50 mm square and 25 mm high and can be placed anywhere in the cove. The pads have a semi-circular channel in them which holds the Xoo at any rotational angle you wish.
The other main feature is the wiring system which doesn’t require the use of tools to connect the luminaires to the 24V supply cable. The electrical connection is made by little clamps which pierce the luminaire and supply cable insulation.
The light output of the Xoo is higher than most systems at around 3,250 lm/m.
Linealight has a huge range of extrusions for producing both direct and indirect light all under the family name of Fylo. Some of the extrusions are straight and others are curved. There are surface mount, recessed and plaster-in versions available. Some are wafer thin slots and others are fairly wide.
The sample we saw was the Recessed 4 and this is almost semi-circular in shape with the LED strip mounted low down on one side. The effect is that of a continuous mini “barrel vault”. The LEDs cannot be seen and the matt finish reflecting surface gives a smooth glow to the extrusion.
Generally, the LEDs are available in 2700 – 4000K but an interesting variation is tunable white which ranges from 1800 – 3000K.
Mike Stoane Billet
The main characteristic of this system is that the individual 52mm x 12 mm LED modules are magnetic. You could spiral them around a steel tube or duct. Coving and plaster profiles often have a galvanised steel support or/ backing and so the Billet can simply be laid in place and adjusted precisely. Adhesive mounting pads are an option.
There are 17 modules per metre length and the standard output version emits 640 lm/m and 7W. There is a high output version at 1150 lm/m and 13W.
As you would expect from a Mike Stoane product, it is beautifully designed and precision manufactured. It is flexible whilst being solidly constructed and made with fine tolerances. If you want an “industrial” look to your architecture. In some ways, it would be a pity to conceal it behind a cove.
Osram Wide Profile
Osram offers two systems. One is rigid and the other is flexible. We looked at the rigid version which comprises a simple aluminium channel 26 mm wide and 8 mm. To this is attached an opal diffuser which makes the total height approximately 20 mm high.
A big advantage of this system is that the LEDs inside the extrusion are available from 2000 – 6500K, most of which have the option of CRI 90. The LEDs are also offered in an IP67 version. The Wide profile is also available in lengths up to 3m.
Traxon Cove Light AC HO RGBW
This is physically larger than the other products in the review but it is a full colour, 4-channel (RGBW), high output unit controllable with DMX512.
It is available in three lengths approximately 300, 600 and 900 mm. This longest one emits approximately 980 lm of white light and consumes 33W. The base is fixed to the mounting surface and the main body containing the LEDs can be rotated plus/minus 90 degrees
Of course, the big advantage is the colour changing and the Cove Light is configured for daisy chaining to form long runs. You can have up to 10 of the 900 mm lengths on one chain.
- See the latest cove lights 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