Here’s an article I wrote about LED replacement lamps for the April issue of The Electrical Distributor (TED) Magazine, which you might find interesting: Demand for LED replacement lamps continues…
Here’s an article I wrote about LED replacement lamps for the April issue of The Electrical Distributor (TED) Magazine, which you might find interesting:
Demand for LED replacement lamps continues to experience rapid growth as performance improves and costs decline. According to Navigant Research, worldwide shipments of LED lamps will grow from 68 million in 2013 to nearly 1.3 billion by 2021, a compound annual growth rate of about 44 percent.
These lamps may be categorized as omnidirectional (e.g., A), directional (e.g., PAR, BR, MR), decorative (e.g., B10, G25) and linear (e.g., T8). This article will focus on omnidirectional A-lamps and directional lamps, which are most popular in terms of demand among LED replacement lamps. The Department of Energy (DOE) estimated that the installed base of LED A-type and directional lamps in the United States increased from less than a million units in 2009 to nearly 20 million and more than 11 million, respectively, in 2012.
“The growth of LED lamps has far surpassed any other technology transformation we have seen in the lighting industry,” says Jeffrey Hungarter, product portfolio manager, lighting for Cree, Inc. “The trend will continue as awareness around inefficient lighting increases, and legislation that phases out inefficient lighting is introduced.”
The Energy Independence and Security Act resulted in the phaseout of 40-100W incandescent general-service screw-in lamps between 2012-2014, with industry offering a choice of energy-saving halogen, compact fluorescent and LED lamps. DOE regulations eliminated a majority of remaining incandescent and halogen and reflector lamps in 2012 (with some notable exceptions), with industry offering a choice of infrared-coated halogen, ceramic metal halide, compact fluorescent and LED lamps.
“The best selling opportunities for LED PAR lamps are in retail and hospitality applications,” says Cheryl Ford, marketing manager for OSRAM SYLVANIA. “The largest installed base for A-lamps is in homes, but hotels would benefit greatly from installing LED lamps in hotel rooms and lobbies for energy and maintenance savings.”
LED lamps provide several significant benefits compared to incandescent and halogen sources, including up to 85 percent energy savings and long rated service life of 25,000 to 50,000 hours. They do not contain mercury. They are resilient against source failure caused by shock and vibration, since they have no filament. And the light emission contains little heat and ultraviolet output. High energy savings, improving performance and greater confidence in the technology has resulted in rapid adoption of LED lamps in utility rebate programs. According to BriteSwitch, LLC, the average rebate for an LED replacement lamp was about $12 at the end of 2013. While overall funding is increasing, the average rebate per product is falling, reflecting falling product costs. LED A-lamps that cost $60 just a few years ago, for example, recently broke the $10 price barrier.
A recent DOE Snapshot Report on A-lamps, based on the Lighting Facts database, found that the mean efficacy of registered lamps now stands at 69 lumens/W (with a wide variation of <60 to nearly 90 lumens/W, so scrutinize products carefully), surpassing the average 60 lumens/W for compact fluorescent lamps. Ninety-five percent of these lamps satisfy current ENERGY STAR efficacy criteria, while nearly 90 percent meet new ENERGY STAR criteria set to take effect in September 2014. Several LED A-lamps are now available offering light output equivalent to 75W and 100W incandescents. Most have a warm color temperature of 2700K or 3000K, similar to incandescent, with a color rendering index (CRI) rating in the 80s. LED technology is also suited to other capabilities related to accompanying advances in digital control technology. For example, the lamp may be programmed to become warmer in color tone as it is dimmed, matching what consumers expect from incandescent lamps. As another example, wireless control built into the lamp enables lamps to be remote controlled from a smart device, including ON/OFF, raise/lower and color tuning. “New LED lamps with ZigBee wireless control incorporated into the lamp design for use with home automation systems eliminates the dimmer incompatibility issues with no limitations on the number of lamps on a circuit,” says Ford. “This wireless technology allows for controlling the lamps wirelessly via a smart device that communicates directly with the home automation hub.” LED lamps continue to pose some performance issues, however. These include issues with dimming compatibility and lower color quality than incandescent. “LED offers vastly better efficiency than halogen or incandescent and much longer life, but has traditionally required a step back in light quality and dimmability, and cannot be used in enclosed fixtures in most cases,” says Susan Larson, vice president of sales-Americas for Soraa. “Most LED lamps offer a CRI similar to compact fluorescent lamps (80) and are friendlier to operate with dimmers, yet their quality is not as good as incandescent or halogen.” She points out that the best products on the market address these issues, while advising distributors to ensure compatibility between a given lamp and enclosed fixtures, dimmers, transformers and controls prior to purchase and installation.
Cheryl Ford adds that when selecting products, distributors should pay attention to R9, which describes how well a lamp renders reds, in addition to CRI and color temperature. She points out that even these metrics do not always best characterize the color quality of a lamp in a given application, and advises installation of samples for a proper evaluation.
“We recommend electrical distributors do their homework,” says Hungarter. “Just because an LED lamp saves energy and promotes long life doesn’t mean it’s the best fit for your application. There are other product features to consider, such as lamp aesthetic, beam power and distribution, LM79 testing, dimming compatibility and ENERGY STAR compliance. It’s only by assessing an LED replacement lamp against each of these characteristics that you can determine which LED lamp works best for your application.”
“While metrics are important, the most important test for a light bulb is how people look in its light,” says Larson. “Most people can immediately see the difference between bad lighting and good lighting without a detailed understanding of the underlying metrics, so qualitative judgments often drive design decisions much more than is generally recognized. Our advice is to just look at your own mirror image under the light or at the appearance of your skin, and you will be able to choose the lamp that is right for you.”
The California Energy Commission (CEC) recently published a voluntary specification for LED replacement lamps that goes beyond ENERGY STAR by being more aggressive in terms of lighting quality. For example, the CEC spec requires the lamp to have a 90+ CRI with an R9>50. All lamps must be capable of continuous dimming to 10 percent of light output without flicker. While the spec is voluntary, CEC required the state’s utilities to recognize only compliant products in their residential rebate programs, which was expected to go into full effect in early 2014. A few products currently comply, such as some SYLVANIA ULTRA PRO LED lamps, Cree’s LED TW Series and Soraa’s Vivid LED MR16.
“A little knowledge goes a long way,” says Hungarter. “If you can speak confidently on choosing a particular LED lamp over incumbent technology, the customer will listen and may make the switch based on your recommendations as an LED adviser.”