When it comes to effective lighting, few things are more important than maintaining your equipment. You need to understand what’s happening if there are issues with your lighting system, which means performing the specified maintenance procedures religiously.
It’s also about making sure you test and calibrate your equipment to meet the appropriate standards, and to do this, you need the proper testing equipment. What follows is a rundown of some of the different types of light testing equipment, what each does, and why it’s essential.
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There are many standard tests to measure basic voltage in a lighting system, but at the more advanced level, you need a goniophotometer. These devices measure light sources from different angles, both in terms of their actual output and their perceived power. They’re used primarily for lights coming from a direct source, the most significant example being the headlights on cars or LEDs used in any number of applications.
Goniophotometers work using the same principles as any other photometer. They have a revolving arm that incorporates a circular mirror, and light continually bounces off the mirror as the arm rotates. This provides basic information about the light source, including its efficiency, the intensity of the light across the measured spectrum, and another pivotal measurement called luminous flux.
The other primary type of equipment used to test lighting systems is the integrating sphere. To some extent, its name describes it as it is a circular object that works by using a fundamental principle called diffusion. Light enters the sphere through a series of tiny holes, then reflects off the sphere’s inner coating, which distributes the light evenly within the sphere.
This, in turn, allows a series of precision measurements, the most important being flux. And because these measurements must be exact to yield the best results, testers must continually maintain and calibrate their equipment.
Measurements and Differences
In any case, both goniophotometers and integrating spheres provide a series of sophisticated measurements; there are differences in what they measure and the accuracy of those measurements. Integrating spheres, for instance, can calculate the total power of a light source in a single measurement, while goniophotometers require a sequence of iterations to do this.
There are cost differences as well. Both pieces of equipment are expensive, but the spatial mirrors used in goniophotometers make them more costly than integrating spheres. Regardless of the cost, the more significant factor in this kind of testing is matching up the equipment used with the application.
This quick guide to the different types of light testing equipment has helped you learn the role each plays in helping us measure and understand light in a more precise way.