Some people love them and some hate them, but if you’re designing lighting outside, you always need to consider bollards.
In this review, we’ve concentrated on bollards that look a bit different or have special optical qualities or performance. What you won’t find is a black bollard with concentric louvres on top.
If you’re lighting a path or maybe a small car park, economics dictates that you should space the bollards as far apart as possible. In this type of space, you should choose a bollard where the beam is emitted at quite a high angle, say 70 to 80 degrees. You should always put a bollard where there is a change of direction or difference in level such as stairs or a ramp.
Elsewhere, bollards are often used in environmentally sensitive areas where columns would not be acceptable. This is where lighting design gets interesting because bollards with wide optics are more likely to emit some upward light. There are sound engineering and optical reasons for this. Minimising upward light and still achieving wide spacing means you need properly designed optics.
You also need a certain amount of uniformity. Pools of bright light with dark spaces in between may look attractive in a computer rendering but, in practice, dark shadows can hide obstacles and be confusing for people with poor vision.
Professional guidance on obtrusive light and dark skies limits the amount of upward light that may be emitted by luminaires. If no upward light is allowed then, obviously, a 1m (3ft) high bollard means that people can only be seen from the waist downwards. You could argue that some light is reflected upwards off the path and that people’s faces could be seen but if the path is black asphalt that is an academic rather than practical argument.
My personal view is that the benefit of some upward light and being able to see people clearly generally outweighs the constraint of having absolutely no upward light (zero ULOR).
Another hotly-discussed topic is colour temperature; how warm or cool the light source appears. A few years ago when cool LEDs emitted 25 per cent more light per Watt than warm ones, there was a good energy saving reason to use high colour temperature sources such as 5000K.
Nowadays, there’s little difference in efficacy, lm/W, between warm and cool LED sources. There’s also a lot more evidence showing that cool sources can adversely affect the environment, for all sorts of different reasons.
Moonlight is around 4100K (albeit with a different spectrum from LEDs) so it would be difficult to justify a higher CCT for ‘natural’ reasons. In my experience, most lighting professionals recommend much warmer sources such as 3000K or 2700K. There is also a cultural aspect; people in cold countries generally prefer warm sources at night and the reverse is found for warmer countries.
Finally, you don’t always need to balance maximum optical efficiency at the expense of appearance. Many of these bollards perform excellently and still look good.
We have given an indication of prices where £ is <£100 (€114, US$140), ££ is £100 (€114, US$140) to £400 (€457, US$562); £££ is £400 (€457, US$562) to £550 (€628, US$773); ££££ is >£550 (€628, US$773).
The last time we reviewed the Pharola we gave it four stars and now the company has introduced an improved version. The DS in the title signifies ‘dark skies’ which means the Pharola a zero ULOR, i.e. it doesn’t emit any upward light. It may also be the slimmest bollard on the market, being less than 90mm (3.5”) in diameter.
There are several standard paint finishes but the textured metallic dark grey means it almost disappears at night. It is also very tough and the LEDs are well protected from impact or vandalism. The Pharola DS is also available 2.2m (7’ 3”) high but still only 90mm diameter. This enables you to have very wide spacings and still be dark skies compliant.
- Price £££
The first thing you notice about the Trek is that it is slightly Z-shaped. This means that the light illuminates the front face of the bollard.
Eclatec is a long established manufacturer of quality outdoor lighting. A feature that sets its products apart is the wide range of optical distribution that is available. I counted 12 different beam shapes. This particular sample is fitted with the EAH lens which is designed for people with poor vision.
This lens enables you to have wide spacings and high levels of illumination. For example, with bollard spacings of 14m, you could achieve over 20 lux, with a uniformity of 20 per cent. It is also very low glare and comfortable to look at. The LEDs are behind an IK10, impact resistant, polycarbonate lens.
- Price £££
This bollard is different from all others because the beam is adjustable on site. The Switch name is because you can manually switch the light distribution (in plan view) to 90, 180, 270 and 360 degrees, i.e. one bollard can give you four different beam combinations.
There are also three very small adjusting screws that enable you to rotate the head of the bollard independently from the base. This means you can make fine adjustments, up to 180 degrees, to the direction of the beams. The LEDs are well protected inside the aluminium head and shine downwards giving a soft glow.
It’s available in two heights; 400 mm (16”) and 950 mm (37”) with up to 8m (25ft) spacings. With this amount of optical engineering, I would have thought it ought to be more. Filix will introduce a new model, the Ion Matrix, later this year. This will have IR sensors which make the beam ‘follow’ people as they walk along the path.
- Price £££
This bollard was first developed as a custom product by the architect Renzo Piano. Its main purpose is to illuminate paths. It has very clean lines and a simple 90 degree shape. There are no bumps, joins or ledges.
No upward light emitted but the beam is at a high angle and so you can achieve wide spacings between the bollards, typically five to ten times the height of the bollard. There is also a wall-wash and asymmetric light distribution as an option.
Unusually for a bollard, the Lander has a colour rendering of CRI90. The same body style is also available as a wall mounted unit or even as a ‘pole’ so that the beam can be used to light vertical surfaces such as building facades. Designers like the Lander: it’s been shortlisted for a prestigious Lighting Design Award this year.
- Price £££
This has a definite ‘look’ to it. The three vertical arms give it an open appearance and they are brightly illuminated by the LEDs at the top. The 182 mm (7”) diameter body is available in three heights; 1m (3.3ft), 3m (10ft) and 3.5m (11.5ft).
The disadvantage of this body style is that the arms cause shadows on the ground and any nearby walls. The effect is strong contrast and dramatic compared with the more uniform light distribution from other bollards. It’s purely an issue of what you prefer.
- Price £££
This is a nice little bollard more suited to domestic use or decorative gardens. The upper half of the bollard contains a central, white painted tube. This diffuses and reflects the light in a small area around the bollard, and produces a soft pool of light. The bollard is protected from minor impact by the IK06 polycarbonate cover.
However, it’s not as robust as some of the other bollards in this review and does not have the same optical functionality, i.e. you have to space them closer together to achieve good uniformity. However, it does have one huge advantage over other products in this review and that’s its low cost. You can buy five of these for one of the others.
- Price £
The main reason to buy the Elo is the lit appearance of the reflector system. It’s described as a Tritec Optic which combines a circular ring of prisms above a conical series of small, hexagonal reflecting facets.
This combination gives a sparkling lit appearance with little glare. The peak intensity is emitted at approximately 55 degrees so you would have to space these bollards closer together than some others. About 8 per cent of the light is emitted upwards which means that people’s faces can be seen clearly.
- Price £££
This is a really practical bollard in that it can easily deliver 10 to 15 lux on a footpath with typical spacings of 11 to 14m. This is achieved by having the peak intensity emitted at about 75 degrees and there is almost no upward light. The beam is asymmetric and so the light shines along the path rather than behind the bollard.
The bi-symmetric lenses are hidden from view and they shine the light downwards onto a satin aluminium cone reflector which emits a soft glow. This is protected by a clear, IK06, acrylic lens.
- Price £££
WE-EF has a huge range of bollards and you can have just about any style or light distribution you want. The CFY200 series has a very solid appearance. It’s much larger in diameter (240mm, 9.5”) than the other bollards and sits on the ground almost like part of the landscape. It has a lot of presence.
The beam is emitted at 30 degrees in one or two directions and provides a soft pool of light. There is zero upward light. The LEDs are well protected by an IK10 toughened glass. A variety of wattages is available from 12W to 36W.
- Price ££££
This is an attractive bollard aimed at high-end landscape projects but it has a mid-range price. The 'head' of the bollard can also be used as a wall mounted unit.
The optical system is a micro-faceted reflector that looks just like a scallop sea shell. The light is emitted between 60 – 70 degrees which means you can achieve spacing of at least six times its mounting height which means that the bollards can be as much as 10m (33ft) apart. The LED source is deep inside the head and so there is no upward light emitted.
This is a generally well-constructed IP65 unit and is available in 3,000K and 4,000K with a colour rendering of CRI 70 or 80. The only negative aspect is the cover glass which is only IK08 impact resistant.
- Price ££