Lighting Applications | Jul 27, 2010

Perpignan Fountain Lighting: A Spectacular Display of Light, Sound and Movement

This summer, the residents and tourists in Perpignan, located in the south of France can enjoy a unique, dramatic fountain that uses computer controlled luminaires with LUXEON LEDs to create a light and water show without compare.

The distinctive design of the fountain, built by Sacopa, occupies a space 30m in diameter in the centre of the city, incorporates 217 separate water jets and 900 centrally-controlled LUXEON LED points of light.       

Perpignan’s fountain is a festival for the eyes conjuring the spirit of ancient fountains that entertained and cooled city dwellers. But behind the mesmerizing visual dance of water and light lie very modern, high technology LUXEON power LEDs whose size and stealth belie their power to manipulate a scene. With 900 separate points of light embedded in individual water jets, controlled centrally to provide routines that coordinate colored light, water and music, the new Perpignan city center fountains are a spectacular illustration of the novel effects made possible with the use of power LEDs.
The designers and engineers at Sacopa understood that the small size and the longevity of LEDs were the only solution that would allow the creation of a vast installation covering a wide floor area with an unusually large number of individual light sources. This would satisfy the requirement for a spectacular and novel effect, since fountain lighting is traditionally designed with small numbers of large spotlights illuminating a few water sources.
Using LEDs permitted Sacopa’s design team to build a huge array of bright light sources — each of the installation’s 217 water jets has a LUXEON K2 LED embedded in it. This effect is not economically viable when using conventional light sources, since the short relamping intervals of these lights would give rise to crippling replacement and maintenance costs. The effect becomes practically impossible if relamping entails draining the fountain. And in keeping with the company’s commitment to preserving water resources—the fountain uses rainwater and all spillover is reused — the use of LUXEON LEDs minimize energy consumption while providing unique lighting possibilities.

Sacopa expects their lighting solutions for the Perpignan fountains to last approximately 27 years assuming five hours of use a day, 365 days a year. This extraordinarily long lifetime is made possible by the robustness of the LUXEON K2 LEDs and the associated components in the fixtures designed by Sacopa.
So, with the fundamental idea in place, Sacopa was able to elaborate the detailed design. The scheme envisaged the detailed illumination under precise control of the hundreds of water jets. Sacopa thus designed a stainless steel fixture made in the shape of a flower, which contains a tri-color LED luminaire and a water jet inside its ‘stem’. While the diffuse beam of light from incandescent sources is hard to focus, the beam from the RGB LEDs is mixed and directed by a lens integrated into the fixture with almost no light loss.
Each of the fixtures, which can produce 16,000,000 colors, is connected to a DMX network controller. LED light sources are more controllable than any other light source and Sacopa’s DMX controller uses the LEDs ability to be blinked, dimmed, fl ashed, and (in tri-color confi gurations) color-changed, to produce routines in which this vast array of water jets leaps and dances in synch to music — with flashes or washes of light turning on and off, fading and changing color in time. The effect of so much coordinated light, motion and sound across such a wide area is mesmerizing.   

Behind the aesthetics of the lighting routines, however, is some very practical engineering. The metal flower housing, together with an aluminium heatsink underneath the LEDs, provide agood thermal conduction path from the LEDs. This is important because controlling the operating heat at the LEDs below a certain threshold helps to maintain a high light output and extend operating lifetime. The LUXEON K2 LEDs in Sacopa’s flowers operate at a typical junction temperature of 80°C (in air) and 70°C (when cooled by water) even though they are driven at a high 700mA in order to produce a strong beam. Since the robust LUXEON K2 LEDs used in the installation have a high temperature tolerance (a maximum rating for junction temperature of 150°C in the case of the red, and 185°C for the green and blue versions), the Sacopa fixtures are comfortably inside Philips Lumileds’ recommended operating conditions. Perpignan, located on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, can enjoy daytime, unshaded temperatures of up to 50°C, but extensive product testing before installation showed that the luminaires’ performance would be unimpaired, even on the hottest nights.
The excellent thermal performance of the fl ower fi xtures and of the LUXEON K2 LEDs also enhances the effi ciency of the lights: at full power, each LED consumes 3W, and each RGB luminaire consumes 11W in total. Thus the complete installation consumes 9,900W (maximum). Sacopa’s calculations show that a halogenpowered equivalent installation, producing the same light intensity, would consume five times as much power.
About Sacopa:
Sacopa, based in Girona, Spain, specialises in the design and manufacture of lights for aquatic applications, such as swimming pools, lakes and fountains. Sacopa markets a range of commercial off-the-shelf lighting fixtures, which are available at
About Philips Lumileds:
Philips Lumileds is the world's leading provider of power LEDs for illumination solutions. The company's leading light output, efficacy and thermal management are direct results of the ongoing commitment to advancing solid-state lighting technology and enabling lighting solutions that are more environmentally friendly, help reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the need for power plant expansion. Philips Lumileds' LUXEON LEDs are enabling new solutions for shop lighting, outdoor lighting, office and school lighting, and home lighting.  More information about the company's LUXEON LED products and solid-state lighting
technologies can be found at
About Royal Philips Electronics:
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) is a diversified Health and Well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through timely innovations. As a world leader in healthcare, lifestyle and lighting, Philips integrates technologies and design into people-centric solutions, based on fundamental customer insights and the brand promise of “sense and simplicity”. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 116,000 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 26 billion in 2008, the company is a market leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as lifestyle products for personal well-being and pleasure with strong leadership positions in flat TV, male shaving and grooming, portable entertainment and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at