Konnerth on LIGHTFAIR and Big Trends

I enjoy receiving Ted Konnerth’s newsletter from Egret Consulting Group. Ted has an excellent big picture view of the lighting industry. Like everybody else, he doesn’t have all the answers about where things are ultimately headed, but he’s asking the right questions. The below article is republished from an issue I received the week after LIGHTFAIR, and contains some interesting observations.

On a final note, I wish you all a safe and fun July 4 weekend.


By Ted Konnerth

15 years ago when Egret was a fledgling company, we regularly told clients that we specialize in the electrical industry; not the electronics industry. So our clients deal in amps, not milliamps. No software required, just real world stuff that requires hand tools and safety gear and steel toe boots. LightFair in those days was a sleepy organization that started regionally and slowly grew to become a national show. My, my… how things have changed.

Last week, LightFair held host to over 600 vendors on two floors of Javits. The attendance was extraordinary and the overall energy was intoxicating. Many of my meetings with senior leaders of the industry remarked that this was the best LFI in their experience. From the chair of a long-tenured lighting guy with over 15 years of leadership assessment; here are my thoughts on the impact of the conference on the general lighting industry:

· Electronics. You couldn’t walk 50 feet without running into a controls booth; incorporated into a traditional lighting booth or a stand-alone controls company. As we’ve reported for several years, LED has enabled the adoption of electronic systems into the traditional electrical industry. We are now entering a world that is markedly different, as evidenced by vendors demonstrating:

o Lighting controls

o Color controls

o Internet of Things interfaces

o Building automation interfaces

o LiFi communication protocols

· LED adoption. It’s been slowly coming, but we’ve arrived at the point where it’s no longer LED Lighting; it’s Lighting; which of course is utilizing LED. While there are a ton of issues surrounding the legacy lamp sources (i.e. will GE and Osram sell off their legacy lamps and ballasts division or simply treat them as a diminishing cash cow?), the bigger issues are innovation around the application of LED.

· Form factors. The designers have returned! Form factors are now moving into the market; from street lighting to ambient, there were a host of novel, creative and effective ways to deliver lumens to a task.

· Optics. The opportunity to grasp light at the photon level and redirect that energy into waves or sheets of light that can be optically controlled to deliver light to the seeing task with little wasted or glare losses is a new world to lighting. Forget fixture efficiencies and light loss factors; let’s talk about planar solutions to lighting the seeing task; with little to no light losses.

· Software. Sadly, grudgingly I admit defeat. We are officially in the electronic and software industry now. The interface to building systems and data analytics is too big of a step forward to overlook. Lighting now sits at the epicenter of Big Data and the IoT as the geographic toll booth to the information highway. I’m going to buy geek glasses and go find my old published Fortran programs to validate my street ‘cred’.

· New players. It is very notable that companies such as Flextronics, ABB, Ideal Industries, Mitsubishi, LG Electronics and Synapse would invest serious dollars in LightFair and announce they’re a player in Lighting? So global electronics, wire nut, IoT and power distribution companies see something in lighting that makes them want to play with the legacy guys who actually understand the maze of buying influences in selling lighting products? We’re Big Boys now.

And then there’s the absorption factor. So many new things with so many different ways to utilize lighting. The explosion of market potential for lighting on a global stage. Egret hosted our second annual Leadership Summit with CEO’s of privately held companies and discussed the impacts on Leadership for the emergence of Lighting into global industries; Energy, Health Care, Agriculture, Construction. How many leaders can claim to have direct experience in managing Lighting as a contributor to Energy, Health Care, Agriculture and Construction; plus communicate across trade influences of HVAC, Security, Data/Com, etc? And don’t forget about the nascent movement to DC power distribution; with integration of solar energy and of course… LED lighting.

The answer is None. So where do we find talent with the intellect and interest in managing complex systems on a global basis; while preserving the legacy channel relationships? It’s a legitimate question with no real answer.

Leadership will be stressed by the confluence of market expansion, technology changes and availability of talent due to the Boomer retirement and the GenX population deficit. We are in a market that has never existed before in the electrical industry. The challenges of multiple trade influences coupled with new and newer technology is daunting alone. But the strategic side of the business; defining which markets to address, the competitive landscape and the IP barriers to entry are largely new to the industry.

On the positive side; there is more opportunity for the lighting industry than at any time since Edison. The creativity of new entrants is amazing; from poultry and plant growth to color-based healing to photometric solutions that amaze… it’s a beautiful new world with plenty of room in that sandbox for a lot of new players.

And it’s even better for people who are in the business of assessing new skills, leadership and strategic thinking for an evolving new industry. And that is a very good thing for the people of Egret.

Jim Brodrick on the 2015 Next Generation Luminaires Design Competition

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

The winners in the Indoor and Outdoor categories of the seventh annual Next Generation Luminaires Design Competition (NGL) were announced today at LIGHTFAIR® International in New York. Sponsored by DOE, the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the International Association of Lighting Designers, NGL promotes excellence in the design of energy-efficient LED luminaires for commercial lighting applications. Twenty-eight winners were announced at LIGHTFAIR — in applications ranging from pendants, to wall washers, to downlights, to troffers, to industrial, to parking lot, to roadway, to pedestrian, to parking garage, to bollards. Photos, descriptions, and details are posted online.

Recognition by NGL means the judges considered the product to be worthy of specification. This year’s competition had 18 judges (10 for indoor, eight for outdoor), drawn from the architectural lighting community, and in order to make it to the judging process, submissions had to include market-ready samples and complete documentation — including luminaire and component specification sheets, LM-79 test reports, lumen maintenance projections, warranty statements, and marketing materials. These documents, most of them submitted through LED Lighting Facts®, help make sure actual performance matches what’s claimed. Entries were scored on color, illuminance, glare control, light distribution, serviceability, value, dimming control, and appearance — with lumen maintenance and luminous efficacy ratings based on LM-79, LM-80, and TM-21 data submitted to LED Lighting Facts by the manufacturers.

The 2015 Indoor NGL focused on controllability and serviceability, and the 2015 Outdoor NGL focused on serviceability and pedestrian scale, with submissions limited to selected product types to permit additional attention to those key attributes. Indoor products were evaluated at the facilities of Intelligent Lighting Creations outside Chicago, IL, and outdoor products were evaluated at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute in Blacksburg, VA.

The 2015 Indoor and Outdoor competitions together recognized a total of 28 luminaires, highlighting 12 as Outstanding in one or more evaluation categories. Unlike past NGL competitions, the judges did not designate any winners Best in Class, instead identifying those luminaires considered outstanding according to one or more key criteria, regardless of the product category. This produced a slightly larger, and perhaps even more useful, group of winners at the highest level.

In the Indoor competition, 20 luminaires were recognized, with nine of these singled out as outstanding. In the outdoor competition, eight luminaires were recognized, with three of these singled out as outstanding.

Reflecting the continuing development of LED lighting technology, the 2015 NGL winners showed marked improvements on multiple fronts. For example, winning products beat NGL’s threshold efficacy by 10%-40% — all the more impressive because those threshold levels are raised each year. Lumen maintenance scores — supported by LM-80 and TM-21 data — indicate that most of the recognized luminaires have moved well beyond the nominal claims of L70 (70% of initial light output) at 50,000 hours — with more than 80% of the indoor winners showing lumen maintenance above L80 at 50,000 hours, and more than half of all outdoor entries showing L95 at 50,000 hours.

Serviceability — for both indoor and outdoor products — showed some improvement over prior years, as there were fewer entries with egregiously poor access and replacement. Simplicity, clarity, plug-together components, and fewer fasteners were the hallmarks of the most successful entries. Labelling for serviceability remains limited, however. Generally speaking, color quality was judged to be “good,” with a few recognized products earning “very good” — although some outdoor luminaires experienced noticeable color separation over the extent of the lighted field. Disappointingly, color quality may have reached a satisfactory — but not impressive — plateau, as NGL has seen relatively little overall improvement in that area over the last few years.

For dimming control, the 2015 NGL entries used one of three digital control approaches (DALI, DMX, and proprietary), from a variety of manufacturers. Among DALI models, the most commonly used brands were eldoLED and Advance, with Lutron the predominant proprietary brand. The digital controls generally performed well according to the specific criteria. Overall, none of the recognized products scored less than “good” on controllability, although half of the non-recognized products scored less than “good” in this area.

Among NGL-recognized products, the various luminaire-driver-control configurations produced quite different results, without a decided advantage to any one arrangement. Dimming curves — both the gradient and range — varied considerably. Some luminaire-driver-control configurations demonstrated the ability to reach low light levels (below 5%) and did so smoothly, while other products showed a very steep drop in the low range. This problem may be resolved by selecting specific driver/control combinations or by specifying or programming the curves. A few luminaires experienced flicker when dimmed, especially at low light levels, but this wasn’t associated with a specific driver so should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Glare remains the lagging quality among LED luminaires in virtually all categories, although NGL-recognized products clearly outperformed unrecognized ones in this regard.

The Next Generation Luminaires competition paves the way for substantial energy savings by increasing market acceptance and awareness of LEDs for general illumination. For more information on NGL or to find out more about this year’s winners, please visit www.ngldc.org.

Lighting Changes in IECC 2015

If you live in Canada, Happy Canada Day!

From my lighting column for the May issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, on the topic of 2015 IECC:

Last year, the International Code Council published the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), a model energy code that states and other jurisdictions can use in whole or part as their energy code. Today, many states base their commercial building energy code on the IECC.

The Department of Energy requires states to adopt a code at least as stringent as ASHRAE/IES 90.1 2013 by September 2016. Since the 2015 IECC would be equivalent, it will likely see significant adoption.

The 2015 IECC follows the 2012 version with more restrictive lighting-power allowances. The Building Area Method lighting-power allowances are roughly in alignment with the ASHRAE/IES 90.1 2013 energy standard. Power allowances were adjusted down from 0.9 watts per square foot (W/sq.ft.) to 0.82W/sq.ft. for offices, 1.4–1.26 for retail, 1.2–0.87 for schools/universities, and 1.0–0.9 for healthcare clinics. Warehouses saw an increase from 0.6–0.66W/sq.ft.

The most extensive changes in the IECC 2015 are in lighting controls. Consult the code and the authority having jurisdiction for specific requirements and interpretation related to your project.

Click here to read more and learn about specific lighting changes in the 2015 IECC.

Linear Fluorescent Lamp Indexes Continue to Decline at Start of 2015

NEMA’s linear fluorescent lamp shipment indexes for 2015Q1 continued the downward trend exhibited during calendar year 2014. As expected, due to energy efficiency regulations the index for T12 lamps declined for the fifth consecutive quarter on a year-over-year (y/y) basis, dropping by 39.5%. T8 shipments also posted a double digit decline, decreasing by 21.7%. Shipments of T5 lamps fell more modestly, registering a year-over-year decrease of 14.8%.

Seasonally adjusted shipments of T5 lamps garnered a modest increase of 0.1 percentage points to reach a share of 11.2%, an all-time high watermark for the series. The market share for T8 lamps posted the largest gain, increasing by 2.4 percentage points to a share of 72.8%. T12 lamps slipped to a share of 15.9% for 2015Q1.


Product Monday: ALLSLOPE LED Downlight by Eaton

Eaton’s Halo ALLSLOPE LED Downlight System features interchangeable beam-forming optics, full range dimming and numerous color temperatures and trim options, and are specifically designed for slope ceiling applications to fulfill residential, hospitality, retail and institutional needs.

The three-piece system consists of a choice of a 6-inch aperture housing, available in 1200 lumens or 1800 lumens; an LED light engine module with three interchangeable optics; and a trim selection from a full line of compatible trims including reflectors, baffles and lens choices.

These LED downlights deliver up to 90 lumens/W and are offered in 2700K, 3000K, 3500K and 4000K CCT with a high color quality 90 CRI. The optics are available in Narrow Flood (25 degrees), Flood (40 degrees) and Wide Flood (55 degrees) options. The aiming mechanism allows 360 rotation and locks the LED light module in place in accordance to the pitch. The product is compatible with slope ceilings with pitch aiming from 2/12 (10 degrees) to 12/12 (45 degrees).

Click here to learn more.


Lighting Controls Association Publishes Whitepaper on Visible Light Communication

vlc-2My contribution to the Lighting Controls Association website in May is an article about visible light communication.

Visible light communication (VLC) is a particularly exciting technology in an industry that is already going through exciting technological change. This technology, popularly used in applications such as fiber-optics, now shows promise for general lighting due to the advent of LED lighting.

The potential is to create spaces that actively communicate with users.

VLC is one of those emerging developments in lighting that makes you think, “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” Fascinating technology with interesting potential.

Click here to learn more.


bdcI was pleased to contribute a special editorial section on LED lighting to the April issue of BUILDING DESIGN + CONSTRUCTION. It includes an article about the state of the art in LED luminaires, new products plus a tour of several design projects exemplifying the effective use of LED lighting.

Click here to check it out.

Architecture Billings Remain Stuck in Winter Slowdown

Riding a stretch of increasing levels of demand for 13 out of the last 15 months, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) dropped in April for the second month this year.

As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate 9- to 12-month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reported the April ABI score was 48.8, down sharply from a mark of 51.7 in March. This score reflects a decrease in design services (any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings). The new projects inquiry index was 60.1, up from a reading of 58.2 the previous month.

“The fundamentals in the design and construction industry remain very healthy,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. “The fact that both inquires for new projects and new design contracts continued to accelerate at a healthy pace in April points to strong underlying demand for design activity. However, April would typically be a month where these projects would be in full swing, but a severe winter in many parts of the Northeast and Midwest has apparently delayed progress on projects.”

Key April ABI highlights:

• Regional averages: South (55.8), West (52.9) Midwest (49.9), Northeast (43.2)
• Sector index breakdown: institutional (51.8), mixed practice (51.8), multi-family residential (49.0), commercial / industrial (48.9)
• Project inquiries index: 60.1
• Design contracts index: 53.1

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


IES Establishes Resilient Lighting Committee, Creates Research Page on Website

The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES) recently announced the establishment a new committee: Resilient Lighting.

The purpose of the Committee is to actively research, develop consensus of best practices, write standards documents and educate the profession on lighting equipment and recommended practices for lighting that must survive and perform during and after adverse events such as storms and earthquakes. The IES is also seeking members for the Committee.

Click here to learn more and, if interested, apply for participation.

In other IES news, IES has created a new page on its website where all IES research activities will be shared with the public.

Click here to visit the page.

Product Monday: Kju by Selux

Selux Corporation’s Kju is a dimmable, efficacious decorative pendant with multiple mounting options and specially designed layer of lenses that promotes uniform distribution across the entire luminaire.

Click here to learn more.