What to look for when buying Lights
One of the most important parts of any medical centre is the lighting, whether this is exam lighting, minor surgical lighting or surgical lighting. Today there is an absolute abundance of lighting options for doctors. It is important that you ask the right questions to ensure you get the right light for your needs and your patient’s needs. To start, we will cover two categories of lights, examination lights and minor surgical/procedure lights. If you wish to know more about major surgical/theatre lighting, please call our customer service on 1300 22 44 50 to discuss further.
Features and Specifications
Lights today have many features and specifications, some of which matter more than others. Below is a list of the most common specifications you will find regarding lights.
- Light Type: LED or Halogen
- LUX: Light intensity at a certain distance.
- Colour Temperature: Warm or Cool colours.
- Mount: Mobile, Wall, Ceiling, Desk Clamp.
- Warranty: Limited (what parts of the light are covered under warranty) or Full.
- Other considerations can be magnifying lights, Colour Rendering Index (CRI), International Protection (IP) Rating (protection from water and solids), and accessories available.
LED or Halogen
Halogen lighting was once the goto in medical lights. Now days though, LED lighting, due to technological advances has become the goto for medical centres. LED benefits include longer lasting bulbs (often over 30,000 hours), very low running costs (can be <15w) and they generate very little heat. Upfront costs of LED lights are typically more expensive than halogen; however, over the life of the light, an LED light can be less due to the longevity of the LED bulb which can be more than 20x longer than that of a halogen bulb.
LUX – Light Intensity
LUX is described as the light intensity of the light at a certain distance. It is an important specification as it is often relevant to how much light you require at a certain working distance. Exam lights will have lower lux ratings than minor surgical lights. Often you will see lights advertised with 20,000 lux at 30cm or 60,000 lux at 60cm. It is important to know that as the distance gets smaller or larger, the lux rating will considerably change. As an example, if the distance doubles, e.g. 30cm to 60cm, the lux will be ¼, e.g. 60,000 to 15,000. It means it is very important to compare the same working distance. An example of this is Light A says 20,000 lux at a 40cm distant. Light B says 60,000 lux at a 20cm distance. Light B appears to be brighter; however, if you took light A to a working distance of 20cm (the same as Light B), the Lux would quadruple and would now be 80,000 lux at 20cm and therefore has higher light intensity. It is important to make sure you are always comparing the same working distance.
Colour Temperatures refers to the colour of the light from the light source. These can include descriptions such as Warm, Cool, Daylight or Natural. It is measured in Kelvins and is advertised as a number between 2000K and 7000k. Halogen lights typically have “Warmer” temperatures or <3000K, whereas LED will be typically higher, >3500. The higher the temperature the “whiter” the light. As a guide, sunlight is best mimicked with a temperature of 4000K. The colour temperature best suited for your medical practice will depend on the types of examinations and procedures you do, as changes in colour temperature can change how certain colours are perceived.
It is important to know that as the distance gets smaller or larger, the lux rating will considerably change.
One very important consideration is how you will have your light mounted. Exam lights mostly vary between mobile and wall mounted while minor procedure lights are mostly wall or ceiling mounted. Consider where the patient’s bed is in the room and if the patient is laying down, can the light reach all parts of the patient? One consideration that can be overlooked is that of gynaecology examinations and the need to have a flexible light for this. With mobile bases, be sure to ask about the weight of the base as a heavier base will better prevent the light form “tipping” over. Ceiling mounts vary between supplier and often you are required to have this installed by an electrician or builder; however, they will not take up space as they are above the patient’s bed and out of the way. Ceiling mounted lights also offer 360 degrees coverage from their centre point making them attractive for treatment rooms. There are also desk clamps for smaller lights, but medical centres are moving towards wall mounted lights instead.
Consider where the patient’s bed is in the room and if the patient is laying down, can the light reach all parts of the patient.
With a few moving parts and the possibility for wear and tear, what parts of your light are covered by warranty, and for how long? This is why it is best to check this with any light you consider buying. Certain lights have limited warranties which may cover the bulb and electrics but not the neck/arm of the light due to its continual use. Others will provide full warranty where the entire light including bulb and neck/arm have the same warranty. As with any range of products, certain brands will provide longer warranties than others. With lights, this can vary from one year through to 15 years. We recommend considering the latter or at least longer than one year for peace of mind and quality. This normally represents a superior product. Also, consider how often you are required to use the light and how a superior light can improve your day to day workings.
The list can go on and on, but a few final questions around lights should include any magnifying options available. Another specification is the colour rendering index which measures the ability of the light to display colour as naturally close to that of natural sunlight. The light’s protection from solids and water is also important and is measured by the Internation Protection (IP) rating. As an example, a light could have an IP Rating of IP64. The higher the numbers, the better. Lastly, any additional features or accessories can be considered such as some lights can dim the light, have a sensor for on and off buttons and some can alter the colour temperature; however, some of those last features can be more of a novelty than being beneficial.
It is best to discuss the many features and specifications of lights that suit your requirements and also fit within your budget.
Firstly it is best to decide on whether you need an exam light or minor procedure light. This is dependent on what procedures you are doing with your patients. As a guide, most treatment rooms will contain minor surgical lights compared to exam lights within consulting rooms. From here it is best to discuss the many features and specifications of lights that suit your requirements and also fit within your budget. It is important to know that long term, lights with longer warranties and improved specifications will be cheaper to run as they will require little if no maintenance and do not require replacement for many years. As always, we recommend talking further with a sales representative or talking to our trained customer service on 1300 22 44 50 for more information.