Photo: Colourbox

Globalization may pose a threat to Nordic light culture

Friday 04 Nov 16


Carsten Dam-Hansen
Senior Researcher
DTU Fotonik
+45 46 77 45 13

About the conference

The LED conference 2016, Nordic quality lighting—international requirements, is held at DTU Risø Campus on 7 November.

Keynote speakers:

  • Yoshi Ohno, president of the International Commission on Illumination (CIE), who manages the standard development work and conducts research into light quality.
  • Tor Nørretranders, science journalist and author of, among other things, the book Lys!

Learn more about the conference on

Global consensus on minimizing the amount of power consumed by LED lights affects the demand for good lighting in the Nordic countries.

LED lighting is an energy-efficient lighting technology which has gained a stronger market position around the world in recent years. LED lights are mainly developed and produced abroad in countries with different lighting needs than in Scandinavia. This means that the Nordic idea of good lighting risks being overlooked.

This problem will be one of the discussion points at this year’s LED conference Nordic quality lighting – international requirements, which is held on 7 November and is organized by DTU Fotonik.

Nordic countries have special lighting requirements
Industry, authorities, and consumers can all agree that reducing the amount of energy used on lighting is a good idea. But that is how far it goes.

In the Nordic countries, we have three additional lighting requirements:

1. It must be warm white, i.e. light with different shades of red.
2. It must be glare-free.
3. It must have a good colour rendition, i.e. we see the ambient natural colours.

Unfortunately, Scandinavians demands imply increased power consumption, which contradicts with the general development of LED lights:

“The general attitude among producers and authorities in different countries is that the development should make LED lighting as energy-efficient as possible. This means that we risk getting cold white light which creates a glare and offers poor colour rendition. This is not in line with the Nordic light culture,” explains Senior Researcher Carsten Dam-Hansen from DTU Fotonik.

Large power savings can still be achieved
Technologically, nothing stands in the way of producing LED lights that meets the Nordic countries’ ideas of good lighting. Despite it being more power-consuming, we are still not even close to using the same amount of power as we did when our lamps were fitted with incandescent light bulbs, producing both glare-free and warm white light with good colour rendition.

"We risk getting cold white light which creates a glare and offers poor colour rendition. This is not in line with the Nordic light culture."
Senior Researcher Carsten Dam-Hansen, DTU Fotonik

“Currently, the most energy-efficient LED light generates a power saving factor of 10 compared to the incandescent light bulb. This means that an LED light uses only one-tenth of the power used by an incandescent light bulb to produce the same amount of light. When the LED light is adapted to meet Nordic needs, however, we get a power saving factor of 8. Of course, the power savings delivered are not as big, but they’re nevertheless huge compared to incandescent bulbs,” says Carsten Dam-Hansen.

New requirements may pose a threat to Nordic light culture
He is worried that industry and authorities abroad will agree on tightening up the energy-efficiency requirements placed on LED lights, ultimately eliminating Nordic lighting qualities.

“One of the aims of the conference is to underline that Scandinavian people have specific lighting needs, and that there’s a risk that they won’t be met if LED technology is globalized. Or more generally: What does it means on a regional level if the market becomes globalized?”

Who defines ‘good lighting’?
Another topic for discussion at the conference is whether the properties of light can even be measured, such as colour rendition.

“Who decides how we measure colour rendition? Until now, we have used the so-called Ra value, but it’s a remnant from the incandescent light bulb era. We need a new method. The Americans have proposed a new ‘grading system’, but they tend to prefer bright colours—or more specifically lighting with relatively poor colour rendition, where certain colours are highlighted. So that’s the kind of light that will be emphasized. The European demand for a more natural light and the demand in the Nordic countries for warm light stand to be ignored if the countries that are the first ones to define a new measuring method also become the leaders”.

Carsten Dam-Hansen is making efforts to influence the development as a member of the international expert group of the International Energy Agency’s 4E Solid State Lighting Annex. The agency will launch a series of meetings in connection with the conference.