When a new line of high-fashion cooker hoods goes on sale this month from Italy's Faber Spa, one thing you won’t see are the ubiquitous halogen bulbs that have traditionally been used in kitchen appliances.
Faber, which has manufactured high-end residential range hoods for more than 50 years, knows a thing or two about culinary design. For its newest generation of cooker hoods, the company devised an ultra-sleek, minimalist motif for today’s modern home chefs. There was just one problem: the oh-so-fashionable design called for luminaries no larger than 20mm in height.
This compounded the already complex challenge of illuminating kitchen appliances. Cooker hoods are exposed to extreme heat and humidity, so lamps must be hardy enough to withstand the stresses of food preparation. Typically, halogen bulbs provide the best solution -- but Faber's exacting design specifications left no room for the large bulbs. In addition, their relatively short operating lifetime (as few as 1,000 hours in some cases) made them incompatible with the manufacturer's low-maintenance concept.
Hikari of Italy, Faber’s lighting supplier, turned to LED lighting to solve the problem of the low-profile luminaries. The size requirement proved troublesome, but eventually the search led the Hikari to Future Lighting Solutions, which serves as the exclusive distributor for LUXEON Rebel LEDs, manufactured by Philips Lumileds.
"The primary driver for this project was design,” says Jay Shuler, Philips Lumileds' Regional Marketing Manager for the Americas. “It was for a slimmer, sleeker design than had been done before. That restricted the number of things that could be used."
Traditional LED engines tend to be square and blocky, but the LUXEON Rebel offered comparable light output in a dramatically smaller package.
"In the marketplace, there's really one dominant form factor for LEDs, and it's what you might call 'chunky,'" says Shuler. "The LUXEON Rebel is quite a step forward from that. It looks like someone cut about 3mm off the end of a traditional matchstick, with a little bulb on the end. You could probably put four of them on your little fingernail."
The Philips product also fit Faber's distinct color requirements. As part of its position at the forefront of next-generation appliance design, Faber determined that the kitchens of the future would likely flaunt their high-tech appeal. Consequently, the company sought a unique white light bulb to better suit this design evolution.
"Faber was moving away from the warm white light that is traditionally preferred in a kitchen or home environment," says Shuler. "They perceived that, particularly in higher-end kitchens, that the move is toward a more high-tech look. They were really looking for something that was neutral, rather than warm-white."
For their use in the overhead cookers, the LUXEON Rebel LEDs consumed just 3W of power per luminaire. But perhaps the most dramatic improvement came in terms of the lamp's useful lifespan. The LEDs are expected to operate for 30,000 hours, but they don't just burn out after that. Rather, the luminaire will dim below a certain threshold, making on-the-spot failures uncommon.