Display lighting is one of the most difficult things to get right. It is a compromise between illumination, cost and conservation.
Light produced from a fluorescent lamp is relatively evenly distributed straight from the lamp. This means that it is very easy to diffuse it to create an even wash of light. Fluorescent tubes can be supplied in a variety of sizes and colour temperatures - from cool white to warm white.
Low voltage halogen
Low voltage lighting systems use incandescent tungsten halogen filament lamps powered through a step-down transformer. They work in a very similar way to a standard domestic lightbulb, but the halogen that surrounds the filament both extends its life and allows it to be driven at a higher temperature - creating very bright white light.
For a long time, fibre optic systems have been the preferred choice for display cases, and with good reason. Fibre optic systems have three main components - a light source, the fibre optic harness (flexible filaments of clear glass, usually known as tails) and the light fittings, which sit at the end of the tails. The light source (a projector containing driver electronics, fan cooling and a single high-output lamp) is sited outside the body of the showcase, meaning that the heat and noise associated with high-output lighting systems do not impact on the display.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are solid-state devices. They have a significantly longer life span than other types of lighting. LED lighting is installed in thermally-efficient light bars or fittings, which can be mounted using traditional methods but with the advantage of having minimal cabling requirements.
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Colour rendering index
The colour rendering index (CRI) is a measure of how well light sources render colours. The test involves lighting eight colour samples with the light source that is being tested, and comparing the appearance of these samples with a reference sample illuminated by calibrated natural light.
The colour temperature scale extends from 0K to infinity, but most common lighting conditions are between 1700K and 9300K. For simplicity we usually say that colour temperatures of 5000K or more are "cool" and colour temperatures of 3000K and below are "warm".
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