Selected content from the November 2011 issue of Residential Lighting magazine

Selected content from the November 2011 issue of Residential Lighting magazine
(if you're going to reply to this post, don't be a bone-head full-quoter. Trim any quoted material appropriately)
====================================== With solid-state lighting developments advancing at the speed of light, experts talk about what’s next for the technology, addressing everything from price and compatibility to new testing and regulations.
Experts anticipate the price of LEDs will come down in the near future, thanks to better technology and increased competition, which they hope will pave the way for more widespread consumer adoption. Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering and Technology for the American Lighting Assn. (ALA), says the competition for these products is substantial.
“Traditional light bulbs have had only four or five global manufacturers, but for LEDs, that number is in the dozens,” McGowan says. “Competition is fierce with everyone vying for market share and that has a tendency to cut prices.”
Julian Carey, Director of Marketing at Intematix, an LED component supplier, agrees that competition is a major factor, even beyond lighting. “There’s so much more competition with how much equipment and facilities are being built, particularly in South Korea and China, and it’s being driven by the display industry and flat panel TVs,” Carey says. “That’s driven a lot of capacity that’s now influencing lighting, and in as soon as two years, we should have pretty compelling value propositions for consumers on LED products.”
All of this focus on LEDs has also led to some major improvements in LED technology, which has also affected cost. “The trends in cost-per-lumen direction are extremely favorable for consumers, because there are a couple major things going on,” Carey says. “We have an incredible technology road map that keeps advancing ... and with improved efficiency, you’re automatically reducing cost per lumen.” All in all, cost is still an issue at the moment, but the future looks promising.
“Prices are on trend to go down as the market builds,” McGowan says. “I don’t see cost as a long-term barrier for LEDs, but it is always on the table. Right now, the consumer is saying it’s too expensive, and I do think we’ll face that for several years to come.”
----------- Lighting Science Group recently announced it has partnered with India’s Dixon Technologies to offer a 60W equivalent A19 LED bulb for under $15. The bulb will be released in India by the end of the year, and will be available worldwide in early 2012. -----------
A new technology called remote phosphor promises to improve the light quality and distribution of LEDs, as well as allow for easier design customization. Just as the name implies, remote phosphor means the phosphors used to create white light are not directly on the chip, as in most LEDs. Instead, the phosphor is layered onto a substrate separate from the LED chip.
“When you have an LED chip, you get a lot of loss when it reacts with the phosphor right on the chip because you have re-emission in all directions, with 50 percent of your light going backwards into the chip,” says Julian Carey, Director of Marketing at Intematix, which carries a line of remote phosphor components called ChromaLit. “With remote phosphors, you have the chip by itself, so now you have more control over the optical control area. Most use a mixing chamber to direct all the light back out of the fixture.”
Aside from higher light output, remote phosphors are also more customizable, with the ability to create uniform, curvilinear and three-dimensional lighting designs. “It’s like the fluorescent you’ve always wanted, with more design freedom and flexibility as well as higher quality of light,” Carey says.
Remote phosphors also have improved efficacy over other LED systems, thanks to their lower operating temperatures, as well as better light distribution. “You can create whatever intensity pattern you want,” Carey says. “You don’t have to have lumpy distribution patterns or glare spots or anything like that.”
Remote phosphors also work with other solid-state lighting technologies, including organic LEDs (OLEDs). Intematix released its ChromaLit line in January, and several manufacturers are currently incorporating them into lighting fixtures set to debut in 2012. Intematix also introduced a line of ChromaLit components that enable 3-D shapes at this year’s Lightfair Intl., which companies can use to make light bulbs.
------------------------ BEYOND LED: WHAT IS ESL?
Electron Stimulated Luminescence (ESL) is a new energy efficient lighting technology that uses accelerated electrons to stimulate a phosphor to create light, which illuminates the surface of the bulb.
“ESL still uses phosphors, like LEDs, but instead of shining light onto a phosphor, we shine electrons onto the phosphor in order to produce light,” says Dr. Scott Blackstone, CEO of Vu1 Corp., which has a number of patents on ESL technology.
The benefit of this technique, Blackstone says, is a broader spectrum of color and better light distribution. “The surface of the bulb is coated with the phosphor, so the entire surface radiates light,” Blackstone says. “This causes the light to be very broad and diffused, not focused like with an LED, so it’s great for lighting a room.” ChromaLit Candle, a remote phosphor component from Intematix.
Performance of ESL bulbs is comparable to that of CFLs. They are up to 70 percent more efficient than incandescent and last up to five times longer. However, they also address common CFL shortcomings by turning on instantly at full brightness, dimming with ordinary Triac-based dimmers and having a shape similar to that of the traditional incandescent. They also have a 3000K color temperature with a CRI in the high 80s.
“We’re hoping to attract the usual crowd of early adopters and people interested in new technology,” Blackstone says. “We truly believe we can replace CFLs because we offer similar performance and price with no mercury and better light quality.” Currently, Vu1 has an R30 bulb coming out at the end of the year, and an A bulb coming out in the first half of 2012. The company is also working on getting UL approval for R20, R40 and PAR bulbs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working on new Energy Star® product specifications for lamps and luminaires. The new luminaires specification will take effect in early 2012, while the lamps specification, which is still under development, will take effect later next year.
Alex Baker, EPA’s Lighting Program Manager for Energy Star, says the new specifications will replace existing requirements in those categories. “We’ve currently got four specifications that are being whittled down to two,” Baker says. “Instead of our Solid State Lighting Luminaires and Residential Light Fixtures specifications, we’ll now have just one technology-neutral specification called Energy Star Luminaires. And the same thing is happening on the lamp side — we currently have a CFL specification and an Integral LED specification, but we’re working on combining them into a technology-neutral Energy Star Lamps specification.”
Drafts of the new luminaire specification were released in May and October of last year. Version 1.0 of the Energy Star Luminaires specification was finalized in February, but was subsequently revised to Version 1.1 in July to reflect a few minor changes. The new specification was originally scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2011, but was pushed back to April 1, 2012, after the American Lighting Assn. (ALA) voiced its concerns that manufacturers wouldn’t have enough time to get products tested for recertification.
EPA-recognized testing facilities were asked to stop certifying new products under the old luminaire specifications (Residential Light Fixtures V4.2 and Solid State Lighting Luminaires V1.3) on Sept. 15. All products manufactured on or after April 1, 2012, must be certified under the new Luminaires V1.1 specification in order to use the Energy Star label.
Some have also expressed concerns that the testing process for getting products re-certified may be cost-prohibitive for manufacturers, but Baker says, in the end, it all comes down to the consumer’s experience. “The EPA is certainly sensitive to the cost of Energy Star testing, but the agency is also concerned that when consumers buy an Energy Star product, they get an energy-efficient product without compromise,” Baker says. “Lighting is an area where it’s relatively easy to make anenergy-efficient product, but it can be hard to do it in a way that satisfies consumer needs. If it flickers or makes noise or the color is bad or it loses light output quickly, these are things that would cause consumers to reject the product.”
On the lamp side, the first draft of the new lamp specification was released on Oct. 21, with comments due by Dec. 9. After that, a second draft incorporating changes from those comments will be released, followed by another comment period. If no further changes are needed, a final draft will be released, and after a final comment period, the specification will be finalized. Baker says he expects the specification to be finalized in early 2012. Once the new lamp specification is released, it will replace existing specifications for Compact Fluorescent Lamps V4.2 and Integral LED Lamps V1.4.
More information on the new Energy Star Luminaires specification is available at and more information on the new Energy Star Lamps specification is available at
Despite improved efficiency and life, LEDs have often encountered complaints about their inability to “play nice” with traditional lighting controls. However, control manufacturers are working to remedy these issues.
The major area of complaint is typically that LEDs don’t work with traditional dimmers. Since having to use different kinds of dimmers for different kinds of technology can be confusing for consumers, manufacturers are trying to simplify this.
“Some manufacturers have come up with changes to their controls, like smart controls that can sense the light source or mix of sources on the circuit, so their goal is clearly to make this an automatic thing for the consumers,” says Terry McGowan, Director of Engineering and Technology for the American Lighting Assn. (ALA).
In addition to not working with traditional dimmers, LEDs also don’t dim the same way traditional incandescents do. “One thing the tungsten bulb has been quite good at is having a very smooth dimming curve,” says Julian Carey, Director of Marketing at Intematix. “You just turn down the voltage and there you go. Plus, as it dims, it turns a reddish color. A lot of advances have been made in electronic controls in order to simulate some of those shifts with a smooth dimming curve.”
McGowan agrees that it is possible to imitate incandescent dimming, but says it’s not cheap. “What the manufacturers are doing now is seeing if this is something consumers want enough to pay for,” he says. “There are some test products out there, so the issue now is how much extra consumers want to pay for that capability.”
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