Light-emitting diode tube lights, or TLEDs, are gaining recognition of their own in residential and commercial buildings.


According to a recent industry report, “LED Tube Light Market—Industry Trends, Manufacturing Process, Plant Setup, Machinery, Raw Materials, Cost and Revenue,” published by IMARC, “LED tube lights currently represent the most energy- efficient means of linear tube lighting. Due to their high energy efficiency and longer life, these lights are rapidly replacing fluorescent tube lights that are often used in commercial and residential buildings.”


Unlike fluorescent tubes, which tend to burn out faster when integrated with occupancy sensors and other controls, LED tube lights work perfectly with control systems, since their life is not affected by turning them on and off. According to the report, these lights have a life span of 50,000–100,000 hours, which is 55–75 times longer than their fluorescent counterparts.


With such benefits in mind, the NoMa Parks Foundation, Washington, D.C., made the decision to install LED tube lights in the multiuse M Street underpass, which runs under a railroad.


The project is called “Rain,” because of the visual effect that the tubes will have once they are lit up. The polycarbonate tubes will respond to movement in the underpass, creating the illusion of a rainstorm.


The architects for the project, Dutch firm NIO and Rhode Island-based Thurlow Small Architecture, are creating several different patterns for the light. During the day, the lights will operate at 50 percent power. When there is movement in the underpass, the lights will temporarily increase to 100 percent. At night, when there is little or no movement, the lights will operate with a slow pulse—a linear wave that will roll from the middle of the tunnel toward both ends every 20 seconds.


During the daytime, that movement will increase to every 10 seconds. Any time there is multiple movement in the underpass (two or more people walking, bicycling or driving through from different directions, for example), the lights will create a twinkling effect.


“This is the first of four exciting transformations planned for NoMa’s underpasses,” said Charles Wilkes, chairman of the NoMa Parks Foundation. “The goal is to turn what is now dark and somewhat foreboding into beautiful and inviting spaces.”


For more on TLEDs, see “The New Player,” in the December 2016 issue of Electrical Contractor.