ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR Article Covers Tunable-White Lighting

My contributions to the February issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR included an extended feature on tunable-white LED lighting, covering color basics, product types, color quality, control and applications.

Check it out here.

Jim Brodrick on LED Troffers

Republication of Postings from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solid-State Lighting Program by Jim Brodrick, SSL Program Manager, U.S. Department of Energy

Troffers are a staple of the lighting industry, providing economical ambi¬ent lighting in offices, schools, and commercial spaces. They come in a variety of form factors — typically 2×4, 2×2, and 1×4 — and traditionally have utilized a variety of optical systems, such as lenses and louvers, to meet different needs or simply to provide a different appearance.

In April 2014, DOE’s CALiPER program published a Snapshot Report that included troffers, but a lot has changed since then. That’s why we’ve come out with a new Snapshot Report on LED troffers and troffer retrofit kits, and the findings are instructive.

CALiPER Snapshots are based on DOE’s LED Lighting Facts® database, which includes tens of thousands of current products and now allows users to graph product-category growth and efficacy over time. Because the linear fluorescent lamps with which troffers have traditionally been fitted are relatively efficacious, LED troffer products made a delayed entrance to the LED Lighting Facts database, not comprising a significant portion of it until 2013. Today, almost 20% of the products listed with LED Lighting Facts are troffer luminaires or retrofit kits, both of which tend to be more energy-efficient than their fluorescent counterparts while offering comparable color and power quality.

Whereas the mean efficacy of LED troffer products in early 2014 was 90 lm/W, today it’s 102 lm/W. More than 10% of the troffer products currently listed with LED Lighting Facts have a luminous efficacy greater than 125 lm/W — substantially higher than the efficacy of fluorescent-based troffers, which tops out at under 100 lm/W.

Troffer retrofit kits may or may not reuse the existing luminaire’s optical system (e.g., lenses), which will affect the performance of the complete system. A product using the existing lumi¬naire’s optical system will have a lower efficacy than when it’s tested by itself. This introduces a confounding factor when making comparisons using aggregate data in the LED Lighting Facts database.

While size is reported for most troffers listed by LED Lighting Facts, information on optical systems and distribution of light is more limited. As a result, distribution of light is not discussed in the new Snapshot, although it can be a key factor that influences the final efficacy of products. Luminaires with more-sculpted distribution typically use more-exten¬sive optical systems. This may lower the luminaire efficacy, but in some cases fewer luminaires could light the same space to the same illumi¬nance level, providing greater application efficacy. As always, the best product is the one that’s the right fit for the application.

The light output of listed LED troffer products is more than sufficient to match that of conventional troffers. For some LED products that manufacturers classify as troffers, the output is much higher than the typical range, some¬times exceeding 10,000 lumens. When making a one-for-one exchange, it’s always best to determine the amount of light needed, then find the right product to provide the correct illuminance.

As for color quality and power quality, LED troffers almost all offer the same performance as their fluorescent counterparts. The availability of a range of CCTs is a positive, but the limited variety of CRI values — almost all of which are in the 80s — doesn’t reflect the ability of LEDs to provide higher levels of color-rendering performance when needed.

In terms of the data captured by LED Lighting Facts and reported in the new Snapshot, LED troffers offer a compelling alternative to fluorescent troffers. This applies to both troffer luminaires and troffer retrofit kits, whose performance was nearly indistinguishable. While the new report focuses on basic photometric characteristics, choosing a product for a specific installation requires a more comprehensive analysis.The new LED Lighting Facts Specification Tool can be used by lighting professionals to review and assess products in the database.

For a closer look at the findings, download the full report.

Lighting Facts Offers Specification Tool

The Department of Energy’s new LED Lighting Facts Specification Tool enables specifiers to search and filter products in the Lighting Facts database. Specifiers can set up project folders, conducted filtered searches for products, and tag those products and spec sheets to projects, eventually building a preliminary luminaire schedule. They can then communicate directly with manufacturers about the products.

Click here to learn more.

NALMCO’s CLCP Certification

Below is a short news article I wrote for tED Magazine on the topic of NALMCO’s new controls certification. Reprinted with permission.

The interNational Association of Lighting Management Companies (NALMCO) has launched the Certified Lighting Controls Professional (CLCP) designation. With no prerequisites, the CLCP is open to all professionals in the building, information technology and electrical industries.

LEDs are highly friendly with lighting controls. A majority of LED lighting is equipped with dimmable drivers. As a digital device, the LED source is inherently compatible with digital lighting controls. Advances in wireless communication, simpler and cost-effective products, and new interest among utilities are resulting in growing demand for networked and other lighting controls.

Networked lighting controls have several barriers to adoption such as an array of system approaches, IT involvement and lack of standardization, but one particularly worrying barrier is a potential skills shortage. Advanced lighting control systems may be becoming simpler, but they are still sophisticated, creating a potential education gap among specifiers and installers. This education gap applies to an extent for all controls, not just networked controls.

Of particular interest are skills related to consultation on product selection, protocols and integration; knowledgeable installation; startup/commissioning; and operations and maintenance.

The industry has responded with several initiatives. In California, the California Advanced Lighting Controls Training Program (CALCTP) has trained more than 2,500 electrical workers on lighting controls. The program has expanded to include other states and Canada under a national version of the program (NALCTP). Meanwhile, the DesignLights Consortium is developing a training program to support utilities implementing rebates based on its new Qualified Products List for Networked Lighting Controls. The National Association of Independent Lighting Distributors (NAILD) is developing an online education program. And the Lighting Controls Association provides Education Express, a free 24/7 online education program covering lighting control technology, application, design, energy codes and commissioning. Five courses are prerequisites for CALCTP/NALCTP training. (Full disclosure: This article’s author is the author of the NAILD and most of the Education Express courses.)

NALMCO saw an opportunity to develop a national certification signifying a high degree of generalized knowledge about lighting controls. The CLCP is based on the Lighting Controls Association’s Education Express curriculum. Students demonstrate completion by passing an online test at the end of each required course. The student then takes a separate 100-question online test, which is automatically graded. Passage earns certification for three years. The CLCP recipient must maintain certification by completing eight hours of continuing education each year.

CLCP demonstrates a high degree of generalized knowledge about lighting controls. It is available to any electrical industry professional at NALMCO.org.

Product Monday: High-CRI LED Lamp by Green Creative

Green Creative’s MR16 8.5W HIGH CRI, recently selected as a winner in LEDs Magazine’s annual Sapphire Awards, offers 500 lumens with a center beam candlepower of 2,950 candelas and 92 CRI (R9 of 65 and R13 of 93).

This ENERGY STAR-certified lamp offers an efficient alternative to 75W halogens. Spot, narrow flood and flood beam angles. Three color temperatures. Dimmable.

Click here to learn more.

Mark Lien on the Forces of Change

In a recent column for LD+A, Mark Lien, LC, LEED-AP, Industry Relations Manager, Illuminating Engineering Society, talks about a meeting with several lighting futurists. Together, they evaluated a list of 10 propositions and were asked to agree or disagree with them.

I believe the group was spot on in their agreement regarding one statement, “The lighting industry is threatened by assimilation into the electronics, telecom and Internet companies as it appears to be becoming an integral part of a larger product.”

Lien states:

The outcome will be determined by the value we offer, how easy it is to commoditize it and whether we can convey our value in time. If a pole on a street integrates video surveillance, microphones, sensors for gunshots, pole tilt, asset management, seismic activity, various pollutants, temperature, humidity, radiation, pollen and other allergens, along with GPS, a public-address system, sirens, Wi-Fi, vehicle guidance signals, a drone docking station, etc. and it also has a lighting module built in, is it a luminaire or a digital platform with the LED option? Who owns the design and manufacture of this end product? What if LED modules are produced for various height and spacing criteria and they just need to be inserted into the option plate on a pole?

The answer for preserving and enhancing value in the lighting industry is the same as ever, which is to quantify and communicate the effect of lighting and design options. Not just in terms of energy, but aesthetics, safety/security, health, visual comfort, sales and so on.

Lien goes on:

We have excellent researchers and facilities who, given the funding and time, could excel at their part. New and updated standards would result and drive further growth. Our outreach for marketing and education beyond the insular borders of our industry is often a topic of discussion but rarely realized. There are visionaries who even now are considering how to unify our educational efforts. A unified vision would aid the marketing outreach …

Our lighting community has the resources to shape the future of our industry. We need the shared vision and the will.

LightingEurope and IALD Issue Joint Statement on Humancentric Lighting

LightingEurope and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD) have issued a joint statement on humancentric lighting. The statement seeks to define humancentric lighting and its benefits and elements. Humancentric lighting is viewed within the context of delivering certain benefits of light to specific applications and users.

The elements are broken down into technical and content enablers. Technical enablers include intelligent lighting, tunable-white lighting and personal control. Content enablers include circadian light, light levels and lighting that supports specific activities, and daylight.

The organizations go on to warn against using the term improperly. For example, they say that “pure technological feasibility to tune lighting in color or intensity” does not automatically mean the solution is humancentric lighting:

In order to promote an appropriate use of the term Human Central Lighting, LightingEurope recommends that the promised benefits thereof are backed by scientific user-based evidence relevant for that specific proposition in that specific application which will typically require a dedicated design process.

LightingEurope’s efforts to develop the case for humancentric lighting may lead to humancentric-friendly lighting regulation on that continent.

Click here to read the statement.

Hubbell’s Greg Ortt on Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design

At the 2016 IES Street & Area Lighting Conference, Greg Ortt, southeast sales manager for Hubbell Control Solutions, presented on the topic of the concept of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. This concept crosses disciplines in design, operations and maintenance to minimize elements in an outdoor space’s design that may inherently pose security risks.

Lighting plays an important supporting role by improving visibility, which allows users to detect and respond more quickly to threats.

Click here to check it out.

Cree’s Eric Marsh and Jeff Hungarter on Upgrading Fluorescent Troffers to LED

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Eric Marsh, Product Porfolio Manager, and Jeff Hungarter, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Cree, Inc., for an article developed for tED Magazine. The topic: LED options for upgrading fluorescent troffers. I’m pleased to share the interview with you here.

DiLouie: What basic choices do building owners have to upgrade existing troffer-based fluorescent lighting systems to LED?

Marsh and Hungarter: The good news is that it easier than ever to switch to LED technology with a full range of options that provide cost-saving benefits of the technology, as well as better lighting experiences. At a base level, retrofit kits provide a simple way to retain existing light fixtures while minimizing expenses and providing longer life than traditional lighting. These kits are designed for retrofitting existing light fixtures with energy-saving LED technology. This solution uses the existing fluorescent light housing but replaces the lamp with an LED linear lamp and LED driver. The next option is a full-fixture replacement, in which the fluorescent troffer and pan are changed out altogether for a brand new LED troffer. This often provides the best outcome, with outstanding energy savings and visual comfort with enhanced aesthetics for the space.

DiLouie: How would you categorize LED troffer/panel products aimed at replacing fluorescent troffers?

Marsh and Hungarter: If you look at LED troffers and the technological advances over the past few years, there have been significant improvements in terms of the efficiency of lumens per watt, as well as more freedom in design and advanced controls of the lighting. Troffers can be anywhere from 60-80% of the light fixtures in a space, so they are becoming the leading vehicle that is enabling intelligent lighting.

The LED panels market is very price competitive. There are some companies that are flooding the market with low cost panels that don’t do justice to what LED can do, and then there are companies that are putting more effort into producing fully luminous panels that actually enhance the visual comfort of spaces. For both LED troffer and panel products, if it’s all about the price, some people are willing to sacrifice pixilation in the lens or quality light distribution due to budget constraints. However, it’s important people understand that selecting higher quality options typically provides benefits that pay for themselves, including reduced maintenance, intelligent lighting capabilities and enhanced design aesthetics that provide a more comfortable light experience for users of the space.

DiLouie: What are typical energy savings and other advantages of replacing fluorescent troffers with LED troffers/panels?

Marsh and Hungarter: Replacing fluorescent troffers offers major energy savings with exceptional light quality that improves visual comfort, reduces hot spots and diminishes glare for a more comfortable space. In some instances, up to 80% energy improvement can be generated when replacing traditional light fixtures. A new troffer provides state-of-the-art options for control and diming capabilities that optimize the space and save a tremendous amount of energy.

There are also utility incentives for high performing retrofit kits, which are eligible for premium rebates. If a product meets the Design Lights Consortium Premium requirements, that’s a huge incentive to discuss an upgrade with local utility providers, which will ultimately help with the rapid payback and initial cost.

In addition to energy savings and utility incentives, maintenance savings are a great, and occasionally overlooked, advantage of upgrading to an LED lighting system. Typically, fluorescent troffers will need re-lamping and re-ballasting every 3-4 years. The leading LED troffer replacements offer exceptional longevity, virtually eliminating the amount of time spent on a ladder replacing the lamp and offering10-year bumper-to-bumper warranties. This frees up your maintenance staff to worry less about the lighting and focus their attention elsewhere, increasing productivity.

DiLouie: What are the disadvantages of replacing the troffer with an LED luminaire compared to TLED lamps and retrofit kits?

Marsh and Hungarter: The initial cost is sometimes concerning for consumers because they often don’t look at the full lifecycle cost of product in terms of energy savings and maintenance avoidance over the life of the system. It’s important to understand that making the switch to better LED technology pays for itself.

DiLouie: What are conditions under which replacing the luminaire would be ideal as opposed to replacing the lamps?

Marsh and Hungarter: A full fixture replacement is ideal for projects in which the goal is to transform the space. Replacing the luminaire enhances the look of the ceiling to be modern and up-to-date. Today’s solutions make it easier that every to switch to LED luminaires and enjoy a host of additional benefits, including efficacy performance enhancements, improved dimming and control systems, better light quality and a longer warranty.

DiLouie: How would you categorize TLED lamps and retrofit kits aimed at replacing fluorescent lamps in fluorescent troffers?

Marsh and Hungarter: If you want a new and upgraded aesthetic, an LED retrofit kit is the way to go. A retrofit kit basically looks like an entirely new LED troffer in the ceiling, providing a fresh new look. In addition to upgrading the look of your space, you will get better efficiency, less maintenance and optional for intelligent features that you can’t get with LED lamps. At this point, it’s hard to think of a situation where TLED lamps make much sense.

DiLouie: What are typical energy savings and other advantages of replacing fluorescent lamps with TLED lamps and retrofit kits?

Marsh and Hungarter: One of the biggest advantages of the retrofit kits is that they help address laws such as Title 24 in California. If someone is looking to put in new controls and systems without code triggering, the retrofit kit enables an upgrade that makes the unit look new without having to change anything about the current unit. The performance of these products will allow consumers to achieve the highest level of utility incentives available in the market.

DiLouie: What are the disadvantages of replacing the lamps in a fluorescent troffer with TLED lamps instead of replacing the luminaire?

Marsh and Hungarter: While lamp replacement is a low-cost solution, it is a buyer beware scenario because companies are not consistent in terms of ballast upgrades. There is a risk that the ballast for a florescent lighting system will not be compatible with a TLED lamp and could actually hit the new lamp with a hard and possibly damaging charge.

DiLouie: What are conditions under which replacing the lamps with TLED lamps instead of replacing the luminaire would be ideal?

Marsh and Hungarter: Replacing current lamps with TLED lamps is only ideal for upgrading a lighting system where the luminaire must remain in place. A great example of this is some hospitals or schools with asbestos in the ceiling. There’s a significant cost for dealing with asbestos, but using the existing fluorescent housing leaves the ceiling intact without contaminating rooms. That being said, a retrofit kit would be a better, budget-friendly solution.

DiLouie: What control options exist for TLED lamps and retrofit kits?

Marsh and Hungarter: Retrofit kits offer a wide range of control options, such as daylighting harvesting, motion sensing, color change and general dimming controls. For example, smart lighting can sense if a space is not occupied or if enough natural lighting is coming in from outside and it automatically adjust the lights. LED fixtures can enhance work spaces by creating light uniformity that reduces glare from computers to combat eye fatigue. Education spaces are improved through LED controls when teachers use color tuning to manipulate the lights and help keep the classroom calm. TLED lamps, in general, do not offer these benefits.

DiLouie: If you could tell all electrical distributors just one thing about retrofitting fluorescent troffers to LED, what would it be?

Marsh and Hungarter: There are multiple solutions for retrofitting fluorescent troffers, so it’s important to identify the goals and objectives of the project before selecting the retrofitting method. Is the goal to save money? Are you trying to improve the look and feel of the space? Identifying the desired result and calculating the return on investment with all of the energy, maintenance and utility savings will ultimately lead to a successful, cost-effective project.

DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add about this topic?

Marsh and Hungarter: Choosing the best retrofit or replacement option can be confusing, but it does not have to be. It is important to look for partners who help you collect adequate and accurate information for your specific project, so your switch to LED is as seamless and as simple as it should be!

Product Monday: LiFi-Enabled Lighting by Lucibel

LiFi (Light Fidelity) is a communication technology through modulated LED light that enables data exchange between a specific LED lighting fixture and a computer, making Internet access possible. LiFi can work as a complement to WiFi or as a substitute where WiFi is not available or weakly deployed. Shuji Nakamura, who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the blue LED, sees LiFi as critical to the future of lighting technology as LED becomes commoditized and the industry seeks new value areas. While the basic concept has been recently commercialized for visible light communication enabling indoor positioning and some communications, true LiFi has not commercialized.

That appears to be changing. PureLifi, a company founded by Professor Harald Haas (one of the original developers of the technology), recently demonstrated its new LiFi-enabled luminaire at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. PureLiFi partnered with Lucibel to create a system enabling bidirectional broadband communication between luminaires and computing devices fitted with an appropriate USB key. The new luminaire is being manufactured by Lucibel in France.

Click here to learn more.