David Morgan Review: SGM i-1

21st August 2023

The latest product in the SGM range is the i-1 Linear architectural lighting system, designed for use on a wide range of façade applications. Here, David Morgan takes a closer look.

It is unusual for a company founded in Italy producing products for the disco market to end up, as a Danish high end technical lighting company.

Yet this is the route that SGM has travelled. Originally founded in Pesaro, Italy in 1975, it is now based in Aarhus, Denmark, after being restructured in 2015 and relaunched under a slightly different name.

The SGM product range includes advanced products for entertainment and architectural lighting applications with a particular expertise in moving head luminaires. The company was the first to develop an IP rated exterior moving head luminaire, which was introduced in 2013. Notable UK projects include lighting the chimneys of Battersea Power Station using the i·2 RGBW POI wash light.

SGM designs, develops, tests and assembles all products in house with an emphasis on high performance, repairability, and durability. The latest product development in the SGM range is the i-1 linear architectural lighting system.

This range is designed for wide range of façade linear lighting applications and incorporates some innovative and patented features to ensure a long working life and high performance.

The i-1 range is based around an attractively styled and solid looking ribbed body extrusion, which gives the range a strong visual identity while also acting as a passive heat sink. Both ends of the body extrusion are machined to produce a distinctive curved profile.

SGM puts considerable emphasis on the quality of its optics and the efficiency of its luminaires. I was rather surprised to see that individual lenses for each LED were used in the RGBW samples that I was given to review. This approach means that the various colours do not blend together to create a fully homogenous output for some distance from the luminaire, which causes issues for surface grazing. However, it turns out that SGM has launched the highest efficiency versions first and that i-1 luminaires with colour mixing optics will be available in the future. The lumen output was high and colour blending was very good on the sample when the beam was projected over a distance of three-metres or more and so for many applications it should work well.

Six distributions are currently available. These range from 8.5º narrow up to a 60º wide option; an elliptical 12 x 39º version; and an asymmetric elliptical 13 x 38º option.

The i-1 system is available in three lengths with two power options: standard and X for the high-power type. The lengths are based on a 1ft module. The longest size is 1,220mm (4ft) with a maximum power of 115 W, 610 mm (2ft) with a maximum power of 60W and 305mm (1ft) with a maximum power of 35W. The RGBW version has been launched first with a tuneable white type to follow.

Lumen output for the high output version is over 1,500lm/ft, with all LEDs on full power, giving an efficiency of around 60lm/W, which is high for an RGBW luminaire.

The integral DMX RDM line voltage drivers work with a universal voltage range from115V to 277V 50 or 60Hz so can be used in any country. The drivers are designed in-house and incorporate a variety of custom features The first of these features, which SGM has branded DynaMix, maximises the lumen output for RGBW and tuneable white light engines. DynaMix is a SGM point of difference, which boosts lumen output where the power of each colour channel is scaled in a ratio to the maximum luminaire power. For example, if only the blue LEDs are lit, then in theory these can be run at the maximum luminaire power.  As other colours are added to the mix then the blue power will be reduced so that the combined power equals the maximum for the luminaire. Eldoled drivers offer a similar control feature but only a few other luminaire manufacturers seem to have adopted this idea so far.

The i-1 luminaires are designed to operate in a wide thermal range from – 40°C up to 50°C, and incorporates a proprietary branded thermal control system ThermalDrive that ensures that even in very high ambient conditions the LEDs operate at a safe working temperature. With an IK rating of 09 and corrosion rating of C5, SGM luminaires are designed for a long working life even when exposed to harsh conditions.

The range also incorporates a patented dehumidification system that I have not previously seen on other products. Branded DryTech, this system of inbuilt dehumidifiers constantly removes trapped hydrogen from the luminaire using a solid-state electrolytic process, with no moving parts, which reduces the risk of corrosion. An IP rated pressure equalisation vent is also incorporated to minimising negative pressure when the luminaires are turned off pulling moisture in the LED area or driver electronics.

The i-1 system has been thoughtfully designed throughout, including the mounting brackets, which come in three types. The mounting for brackets can be located at any point along the body extrusion and the spacing from the mounting surface is adjustable and lockable. The luminaires can be angled in the vertical plane and can also be mounted at an angle to the wall surface in the horizontal plane.

Glare control accessories include a linear shield that incorporates an adjustable louvre for fine control of the cut-off.  An anti-glare cover is also available in modular lengths and this clips on to the luminaires without tools.

Each luminaire comes fitted with a flexible link cable and IP rated multi way connectors with mating sockets for ease of connection on site. The connector fits into an open area at the back of each luminaire allowing the luminaires to be joined together with a minimum gap between them. A flexible cable extension is available that allows the luminaires to be spaced more widely.

SGM has also developed its own colour light engine software branded as TruColor+, which enables advanced control of the colour output. Each luminaire is calibrated at the end of the assembly process and the data stored on board.  This data can be used to programme a replacement luminaire on a project to match the original colour profile and to allow for the lumen depreciation that will have occurred. The i-1 system incorporates 3, 4, 6, 8 or 10 DMX control channel options to enable the luminaires to be operated in many different colour control modes. TruColor allows all SGM luminaires to be matched for colour consistency across the SGM Colour Pallet and to produce high CRI (90+) white light output from 2,000K up to 10,000K.

Another branded software control option, VersaPath, enables colour filter emulation to react to colour temperature adjustments, similar to the effect of using a tungsten/discharge or xenon light source.

The SGM i 1 range is impressive in terms of its features, performance and overall construction. In a crowded market for linear façade lighting products, this range does stand out with its numerous distinctive design and performance features. I look forward to seeing the lit effects when used on projects in the future.