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Best Practice

Café Retrofit

Retrofit of incandescent ‘squirrel cage’ bulb in cafe in Leeds, United Kingdom

Old filament lamps

The filament ‘squirrel cage’ bulb has been part of a popular trend for a more industrial look over the last few years in many bars, restaurants and coffee shops. These bulbs provide a very warm white light (around 2200K) with a vintage design. Non-domestic lamps labelled as ‘rough service’ or ‘special purpose’ remained on the market for longer than domestic bulbs following the incandescent ban in 2012. Many incandescent squirrel cage bulbs were labelled as such – this initially led to these inefficient models remaining on the market for longer and a reduced drive for development of LED equivalents.

New LED lighting

In 2016, much more efficient LED options were available, providing the same look and feel for a fraction of the energy cost. A retrofit of lighting at the independent coffee house La Bottega Milanese in Leeds showed that a welcoming and stylish ambience can be successfully achieved using LEDs.La Bottega installed 18 Well-Lit T45–Lo LEDs, which uses 4W to produce 200 lumens and is fully dimmable, providing a luminous efficacy of around ten times better than equivalent incandescent lamps and with an excellent colour rendering of Ra 90. The T45-Lo has an estimated lifespan of 15,000 hours and a 3 year warranty is provided.

Energy Savings

With the LED lighting providing the same light at a tenth of the power of equivalent incandescent lamps. The total costs (including bulb replacement and maintenance) are estimated to be reduced by 80% over the lifetime of the LEDs, with a payback period of less than a year.

Lessons learned

Very positive feedback was received on the aesthetics of the new LED lighting from the cafe’s owner, customers, and also on social media. “The new LED bulbs really do the job in creating the atmosphere. And the look we wanted. There’s really no observable difference from the ones we replaced, and the cost savings made this upgrade a no-brainer,” said cafe owner Alex Galantino. As a result of the cost savings and high quality of light produced by the Well-Lit LED bulbs, La Bottega plans further upgrading of the lighting in its other two cafes in Leeds.

Short description of the technical lighting system

  • La Bottega installed 18 Well-Lit T45–Lo LED replacing 40W incandescent equivalents
  • The new lamp uses 4W to produce 200 lumens and is fully dimmable
  • The installed product produces an excellent colour rendering value of Ra 90
  • Luminous efficacy is around 10 times higher than the replaced incandescents
  • The T45-Lo has an estimated lifespan of 15,000 hours