LED Lighting Makes It Easy To Conform To The Building Code

October 27, 2014

Did you know that the Australian building industry now has fairly strict requirements when it comes to lighting in residential and commercial premises? This provides yet another reason why LED lighting is a great solution.

In May 2011, the Building Code of Australia (BCA) drastically increased the restrictions on the amount of lighting you are permitted in a new building, especially as regards energy consumption. This was part of a broader push to drastically improve the energy efficiency of all new Australian premises (including six star energy efficiency ratings for residential premises).

Whereas buildings were previously allowed 25W of lighting per square metre, this was reduced to just 5W per square metre indoors. This falls to 4W per square metre on verandas and 3W in garages.

It begs the question of how all those premises running energy-guzzling tungsten filament Edison globes manage to conform to the regulations. The answer is that many probably don’t. However, it should also be stressed that the regulations take into account the total output for the building - you can in theory run a searchlight in your loungeroom if the rest of the house is dark. It also helps if the searchlight is dimmable.

There are some exceptions and workarounds. The restrictions are relaxed if you use dimmers or motion detectors. Furthermore, the regulations do not factor in non-permanent light fittings such as lamps, so long as they aren’t directly wired. Further details can be found in the Australian Building Code Board’s Lighting Calculator.

Initial fears that these new rules would reduce society to twilit gloom proved unfounded. Interiors today are just as bright after sundown as they’ve ever been. In fact, they have to be. This is because whilst the BCA severely limited the wattage per square metre allowance, no change was made to the Australian Standards Lux Levels.

Lux (or illuminance) basically equates to light intensity on a given surface, and its requirements vary depending on context. For example a ground floor corridor has a much lower Lux requirement than, say, a food preparation area, let alone a cricket field. A rough guide to the Australian Standard Lux Levels can be found here.

By leaving these Lux requirements in place, whilst reducing the permitted wattage per square metre, the ABCB forced builders and owners to be far more efficient in the choice of lighting solutions.

LED bulbs, such as those sold by Vintage LED, produce more than ample light whilst only drawing a fraction of the power of your traditional incandescents.

To pick an example, Vintage LED's G125 SpaceLED draws only 3W yet pumps out 450lm, which is more than a 40W incandescent bulb, or a 10W compact fluorescent. It also looks a lot better, produces a lovely warm white light, and lasts for years. String a few of these up and you’ll enjoy ample lighting and never come close to hitting the BCA’s lighting restrictions.

For those keen to conform to the letter of the code, and perhaps more importantly to honour the spirit of it – i.e. reducing energy usage – LED globes are the ideal way to go. With LED Edison globes you’ll achieve fantastic lighting, save money, and save energy, too.