Halogen Lamps: Still the Standard to Beat

Below is an article I wrote for TED Magazine, which was published in its September 2014 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Although LED directional lamps are steadily improving, halogen reflector lamps remain most popular for directional lighting applications and the gold standard to beat in terms of overall performance.

Available in a wide range of configurations, halogen offers a number of advantages. Besides a low initial cost, the lamp starts instantly, provides excellent beam control and is easily dimmable across the full range of output. Lumen maintenance ranges from 88 to 92 percent. A strong advantage is color, as the lamp emits light across the full color spectrum, with a high CRI of 100, high R9 value of 100 (resulting in excellent rendering of saturated reds), and warm-white color appearance. Frequent switching does not affect life. The lamp can be used outdoors, is resistant to thermal shock, and can operate in areas with high humidity. There are no disposal issues related to mercury and lead, no RF emissions, and no power factor issues.

However, halogen lamps are vulnerable to competition by upstart LED based on three relative disadvantages. First is relatively low efficacy, as halogen lamps operate at 18-24 lumens/W. In contrast, good LED lamps are available that operate for up to 85 percent less energy. Next is relatively short service life. Finally, halogen lamps emit more heat into the environment, which can be particularly disadvantageous in art and museum applications.

“Current and future prospects for halogen reflectors remain strong,” says Shilpi Biswas, Global Product Manager – Lamp Products for GE Lighting. “Halogen remains an initial acquisition cost advantage over current LED. Light quality is preferred over LED and CFL alternatives, especially with a CRI of 100. Currently, no LED challenges halogen on this. As acquisition costs of LED continue to fall, however, this will put pressure on halogen reflectors.”

Although upstart LED is mounting a strong challenge to halogen lighting on the basis of energy savings and long life, halogen is still the gold standard for directional lighting applications. Image courtesy of Philips Lighting.

Although upstart LED is mounting a strong challenge to halogen lighting on the basis of energy savings and long life, halogen is still the gold standard for directional lighting applications. Image courtesy of Philips Lighting.

Today’s offering of halogen reflector lamps is more efficient due to multiple rounds of energy efficiency standards implemented since 1992, with the most recent regulations effective in July 2012. The most-efficient lamps utilize an infrared-reflecting (IR) coating on the inside of the halogen capsule, which reflects waste heat back into the filament. This can be leveraged to increase efficiency, service life or both. The most-efficient halogen IR lamps are 30 percent more efficient than standard halogen lamps, while the longest-life lamps are rated up to 4,500 hours. The result is several tiers of lamps available from manufacturers, from basic to premium lines, that meet various end-user needs.

“If a lamp was on the market prior to the big regulation changes in July 2012, there is currently a replacement available today,” says Soares. “Contractors and end-users can still use halogen reflectors to refill sockets, as all of the phased-out versions have good replacements to choose from. Both PARs (PAR20/30/38) and soft-glass reflectors (R20/30/40) offer the same or nearly identical performance in life and lumens as their predecessors, but are made at a reduced wattage, typically 20-30 percent less than their predecessors.”

Currently, regulatory exemptions for <50W ER30/ER40, BR30/BR40; 65W BR30 and BR40/ER40; and <45W R20 lamps are expected to continue until at least December 31, 2014. DOE is currently reviewing new energy standards for halogen lamps and will be reviewing whether to continue these exemptions, some of which are popularly used in the residential market.

“The rulemaking was announced in the second half of 2011, and the DOE’s intent is to complete it by the end of 2014, although dates can be slip backward,” says Biswas. “Rules are typically effective three years after being finalized, which means the next round of regulations affecting halogen PAR lamps will most likely occur at the end of 2017 or 2018.”

In directional lighting, halogen remains the most popular light source, though LED is on the rise. In May 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that of the 248 million lamps installed in this market, 59 percent were halogen, primarily PAR and MR16 with some R and BR lamps, while 25 percent were incandescent (R/BR), 11 percent were compact fluorescent (R/BR) and 4.6 percent were LED. (Ceramic metal halide was not included.) About 80 percent of reflector lamps are used in residential applications.

“Halogen still has a strong customer base and will be viable for several years, until the price/benefit relationship for LEDs eventually exceeds halogen,” says Peter Soares, director of product marketing for Philips Lighting. “We’ve seen many end-users in the retail and hospitality applications switch to LED. However, many in those same applications continue to use halogen because they prefer the color or beam intensity of halogen, or because the cost/investment to switch is still prohibitive in their situation.”

Available in a wide range of configurations, halogen offers a number of advantages such as low initial cost, instant starting and excellent beam control, dimming and color quality. Image courtesy of Philips Lighting.

Available in a wide range of configurations, halogen offers a number of advantages such as low initial cost, instant starting and excellent beam control, dimming and color quality. Image courtesy of Philips Lighting.

Cheryl Ford, marketing manager for OSRAM SYLVANIA, says there are now very good LED lamps with a CRI rating higher than 90 that closely match the color quality of halogen lamps, though they’re a little less efficient than 80+ CRI LED lamps. “For color-critical applications like high-end retail and museum lighting, 90+ CRI LED lamps should be specified to not only get the color quality desired but maximize on energy and maintenance savings over halogen options,” she says. “For conference rooms, corridors and general lighting with downlights, LED PAR lamps should be acceptable.”

Ford adds that another factor is dimming. Dimmability of LED lamps is improving, but none provide dimming to 0 percent like halogen. “Most LED lamps will drop out at 10 percent of power,” she explains. “One hundred to 5 percent dimming is probably the best out there at this time. End-users also need to make sure they check dimming compatibility lists that can be found on most manufacturers’ websites. For hospitality and theater lighting, dimming to at least 1 percent of power is typically desired, so halogen would be the best choice. By using halogen lamps, color and brightness will be more consistent lamp to lamp at low dimming levels and as lights are being brought up.”

Soares adds: “There is a combination of elements to consider, including the application, the fixture, how people use the space, economics, etc. If the end-user can see a reasonable return on investment, then switching to LED today makes sense. However, if a renovation is planned two years from now, they might consider sticking with the current technology for another one to three relamping cycles.”

State of LED Outdoor Lighting Rebates

Briteswitch recently sent me this nifty graphic outlining the current status of LED outdoor lighting rebate programs:


Forecasted Energy Savings from LED Lighting

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

Among solid-state lighting’s many potential advantages, energy efficiency is the one that’s best-known, and it’s the driving reason behind DOE’s multipronged effort to accelerate the technology’s development and market introduction. That’s why DOE has supported studies forecasting the market penetration of LED lighting. These periodic forecasts — the latest entitled Energy Savings Forecast of Solid-State Lighting in General Illumination Applications — provide a comprehensive overview of the expected path of LED lighting adoption within the U.S. and estimate the resulting energy savings out to year 2030, and have been widely used by industry and government, both here and abroad. The latest forecast — the sixth iteration since 2002 — has just been released.

The additional historical data we’ve obtained since the last such report have helped us sharpen our pencils considerably. Leveraging updated data sources and providing a more detailed breakdown of general lighting applications than presented in past forecasts, the new report estimates the expected future adoption of LEDs based on the current trajectory for the technology, which doesn’t necessarily represent its maximum potential in terms of market penetration and energy savings. The analysis compares the annual lighting energy consumption in the U.S. with and without the further market penetration of LED lighting, with the forecasted energy savings represented by the difference in energy consumption between the two scenarios.

LED lighting sales (based on lumen-hours) are anticipated to increase from approximately 3% in 2013 to about 48% in 2020. By 2030, LEDs are projected to dominate lighting sales in each of the submarkets examined, comprising 84% of all sales, which will have a huge impact on energy consumption. DOE estimates that in 2013, lighting was responsible for 17% of the country’s total electricity consumption, using about 6.9 quads (609 TWh) of source energy — roughly equivalent to the total energy consumed by 50 million U.S. homes. LEDs are projected to reduce total US lighting energy consumption by 15% in 2020 and by 40% in 2030, saving 3.0 quads (261 TWhs) in 2030 alone — worth about $26 billion at today’s electricity prices, and nearly equivalent to the total energy consumed by 24 million U.S. homes today. But remember: those projections are based on the current trajectory and could end up being even higher.

Of the eight lighting submarkets examined, LEDs are anticipated to grow most rapidly in street and roadway and general service lighting, in terms of the percentage of total sales. In the street and roadway submarket, which is already a popular area for LED upgrades, LEDs are predicted to reach 83% market share of sales by 2020 and nearly 100% by 2030. The general service submarket will shift to LEDs a bit more slowly, with a projected 55% market share of sales in 2020, but will also consist nearly entirely of LEDs by 2030.

Many projections were used as inputs in the lighting-market model underlying the analysis. While the best available resources were used to come up with each of these projections, there are always elements of uncertainty. An online interactive model that accompanies the report allows users to adjust four key input variables — LED price decline, LED efficacy improvement, increased use of automated controls enabled by LEDs, and renovation rate — to better understand how changes in these variables affect the forecasted LED penetration and energy savings. These four inputs were found to have the most influence on results. Many other inputs with inherent uncertainties, such as the projected price of electricity, were used in the lighting market model, but varying them within a reasonable range doesn’t significantly affect the results.


One scenario that’s highlighted in the report’s Sensitivity Analysis section examines the impact on energy savings if DOE’s ambitious goals for LED price and efficacy, as set forth in our 2014 SSL R&D Multi-Year Program Plan, are realized by all LED lighting products. If those goals are reached, LED lighting is projected to achieve a market share of 68% of lumen-hour sales in 2020, and over 90% in 2030. This would result in an additional energy savings of 20% in 2030 (compared to the 40% savings predicted by the conservative reference scenario for that year), making for a 60% decrease (130 TWh) in total lighting energy consumption compared to a scenario in which there is no further market penetration of LEDs beyond current levels — while the cumulative energy savings over the no-LED scenario during the analysis period (2013 to 2030) would increase to nearly 44 quads (3900 TWh), equal to over $380 billion in avoided electricity costs. This shows the significant increase in energy savings that could be captured through increased investment in improving SSL technology.

The report shows LED lighting to be one of the country’s best technology options to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint. And it also shows that there’s still quite a bit of headroom for additional energy savings, so it’s far from “game over” yet. The report is available online at http://energy.gov/eere/ssl/led-lighting-forecast.

The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

An article recently published in the IEEE Spectrum alleges that a cartel of lighting manufacturers engineered shorter life into their lamps to ensure a higher volume of ongoing sales.

Read it here.

Special thanks to Howard Wolfman for sending this my way.

Product Monday: Color Select by USAI Lighting

USAI Lighting’s proprietary Color Select technology enables an architectural LED downlight offering independent control of both intensity and color temperature. Users can tune white light from candle-like 2200K up to a very cool daylight-like 6000K, and intensity from 100% to 0.1%, using local dimmers or programmable control systems.

Click here to learn more. This great web page provides a visual presentation of capabilities and how these capabilities can satisfy various lighting applications.


Architecture Billings Index Shows Continuing Strength in August

On the heels of recording its strongest pace of growth since 2007, there continues to be an increasing level of demand for design services signaled in the latest Architecture Billings Index (ABI). As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the August ABI score was 53.0, down from a mark of 55.8 in July. This score reflects an increase in design activity (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 62.6, following a very strong mark of 66.0 the previous month.

The AIA has added a new indicator measuring the trends in new design contracts at architecture firms that can provide a strong signal of the direction of future architecture billings. The score for design contracts in August was 56.9.

“One of the key triggers for accelerating growth at architecture firms is that long-stalled construction projects are starting to come back to life in many areas across the country,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “Long awaited access to credit from lending institutions and an increasing comfort level in the overall economy has helped revitalize the commercial real estate sector in recent months. Additionally, though, a crucial component to a broader industry-wide recovery is the emerging demand for new projects such as education facilities, government buildings and, in some cases, hospitals.”

Key August ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: Northeast (58.1) , South (55.1), West (52.5), Midwest (51.0)
• Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (58.1), mixed practice (57.1), institutional (54.0), commercial / industrial (50.4)
• Project inquiries index: 62.6
• Design contracts index: 56.9

The regional and sector categories are calculated as a 3-month moving average, whereas the national index, design contracts and inquiries are monthly numbers.


Nuckolls Fund Awarded $30,000 in 2014

The Nuckolls Fund for Lighting Education presented a total of $30,000 for lighting education grants and awards in 2014. Founded in 1989 in honor of the late lighting designer and educator, James L. Nuckolls, The Nuckolls Fund has given a total of $875,000 for the advancement of lighting education in North America.

Proposals are solicited annually by the Nuckolls Fund for innovative educational ideas that will advance the understanding of light in architecture. This year, Jeffrey A. Milham, president of The Nuckolls Fund, presented a $20,000 Nuckolls Fund grant and two $5,000 student awards.

$20,000 Nuckolls Fund Grant:

Carnegie Mellon University will continue the presentation of an Architectural Lighting Design Workshop series for schools of architecture to encourage the initiation of new courses or expansion of existing programs in lighting design. Serving as principal workshop leader is Cindy Limauro, Professor of Lighting Design, School of Drama and Architecture, Carnegie Mellon University. Four acclaimed workshops were given in 2013-2014 at Northeastern University, California Polytechnic University, University of Texas-Austin, and the University of California-Berkeley. The workshops are open to students and faculty. Workshops for 2014-2015 will be held at schools to be determined by Professor Limauro.

$5,000 Nuckolls Fund Awards:

The Jonas Bellovin Scholar Achievement Award was given to Yulia Tyukhova, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Currently in her second year of a PhD program in Architectural Engineering, she earned a second M.A. in architectural engineering at UNL as a Fulbright Scholar. Her field of research has been High Dynamic Range Imaging for Luminance Measurements. She presented a paper on the topic at the 2012 IES Annual conference, which has been published in the journal, Leukos.

The Jules Horton International Student Achievement Award was given to Ukwatte L. Indika U. Perera, a graduate student from Sri Lanka studying at the Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y. After having received his master’s degree in lighting at RPI, Perera is a doctoral candidate in Architectural Sciences with a concentration in lighting, specializing in improving the performance of white LED systems for illumination applications.

On The Nuckolls Fund’s newly redesigned website are seven independent teaching modules within “Lighting Across the Design Curriculum.” Funded by a $50,000 Nuckolls Fund Twentieth Anniversary Grant awarded in 2010, the teaching modules are available at no charge in the site’s Educational Resources section. The Principal Investigator was Professor Katherine S. Ankerson of Kansas State University, leading a team of lighting educators. Another teaching module, “Lighting Controls—Tools for Teaching,” is also posted on the Nuckolls Fund website. It was developed by Erin Speck at George Washington University from her Nuckolls Fund 2012 Edison Price Fellowship Grant.

Click here to learn more about the Nuckolls Fund.

New York Festival of Light Coming November 6-8, 2014

Nyfestival of light

The New York Festival of Light (NYFOL) announces New York City’s first annual New York Festival of Light, a three-night event – Thursday through Saturday, November 6 -8, 2014 – that celebrates light, in all of its extraordinary incarnations. New York now joins the ranks of major cities such as Berlin, London, Lyon, Montreal and Sydney that have festivals of light. The festival is free and open to the public.

The festival, which is held in partnership with the DUMBO Improvement District, features a curated collection of lighting installations created by local and internationally renowned lighting designers, visual and performing artists, and technologists who work within the medium of light. The spectacle takes place in the Archway under the Manhattan Bridge and in the surrounding plaza space.

Approximately ten interactive, projection, and static lighting installations, will take part in NYFOL 2014.

Highlights include:

Sounds of Nature – Tupac Martir, visual artist and production designer, and lighting director for Elton John, Beyoncé, Sting, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, to name a few, has created an installation for the plaza that is composed of umbrellas that and LEDs that are triggered by sensors sensitive to the weather, and the movement of the people to create different patterns of sound and light.

Laser Light Show – Howard Ungerleider, whose amazing architectural lighting, stage lighting, and set design presents a high-powered laser light show, complete with smoke, in the Archway.

Initiations - 3_Search, a creative collective, is curating a projection mapped video series that explores the transitory place where endings and beginnings overlap in perpetual evolution, and incorporates works by international projections mappers including from Glowing Bulbs, Integrated Visions, dandelion & burdock and others on the facade of the Manhattan Bridge Anchorage.

In addition NYFOL 2014 will feature illuminated ice sculptures, performances by iLuminate, a DJ, food trucks, and hundreds of visitors. Hours are 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Thursday and 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM on Friday and Saturday.

NYFOL is the brainchild of Liam O’Braion, a producer of large-scale entertainment events and Ira Levy, an award-winning New York City-based lighting designers.

Click here to learn more.

Lighting Systems Index Flat During Second Quarter on Mixed Component Results

Demand for lighting equipment, as measured by NEMA’s Lighting Systems Shipments Index, was essentially flat during the second quarter, increasing 0.1% over 2014Q1. In contrast, year-over-year performance for the topline index showed a decrease of 1.4%. Emergency lighting and fixtures were the only index components to show an improvement in sales with ballasts, large- and miniature-lamps in negative territory during the quarter.


Product Monday: Alba by Stack

The next generation of light bulbs features embedded intelligence, with many new products becoming available, as the editor of LEDs Magazine recently pointed out.

An interesting new product that’s been getting a ton of praise in the press is Alba by Stack, which features intelligence and onboard sensors to offer a load of features and resulting responsiveness. Dimming, light sensing, color tuning, auto shutoff with motion sensing, and more.

Learn more here.