OLED Update

My contribution to the May issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR provides an update on the development of OLED technology, highlighting two Department of Energy (DOE) reports.

Check it out here.

Product Monday: LF Wall Light by FX Luminaire

FX Luminaire’s LF wall light now features ZDC Technology, enabling the luminaire to produce up to 30,000 colors along with dimming and zoning.

The low profile, soft color, and muted tone of the LF allow it to accent hardscapes without drawing attention to the luminaire. Moreover, the proximity of the luminaire to the hardscape allows the light to softly graze the area, highlighting texture and illuminating the local path for safety.

Click here to learn more.

DLC Releases Technical Requirements V4.2

The DesignLights Consortium (DLC) recently announced the release of Technical Requirements V4.2 for solid-state lighting products, affecting qualification for listing in the Qualified Products List. From the DLC website:

New Testing and Reporting Requirements for Hazardous Location Lighting

Under the V4.2 requirements, products applying to a Specialty Use designation with a Hazardous descriptor must undergo testing and certification to UL 844 by a relevant safety organization.

Linear Replacement Lamps

Under the V4.2 requirements, Four-foot Linear Replacement Lamps are broken into three General Application designations, with distinct eligibility, testing, and performance requirements.

* T8 Replacement Lamps: LED lamps that are 48 inches long and employ a G13 base
* T5 Replacement Lamps: LED lamps that are 46 inches long, employ a G5 base, and are intended to replace T5 fluorescent lamps. Fixture level tests
* T5HO Replacement lamps: LED lamps that are 46 inches long, employ a G5 base, and are intended to replace T5HO lamps


The concept of Allowances was first introduced with the release of Technical Requirements V4.0. Following review and deliberation of submissions received from manufacturers in response to a request for proposals on Allowances needs, the DLC is pleased to launch the Allowances program with allowances of up to 5% to the efficacy requirement for products that have low CCT or high CRI. Please note: V4.2 Allowances for CCT and CRI will be retroactively applied to all products on the QPL prior to 4/1/2017 (that is prior to the V4.0 de-listing).

Correction to Multiple LED Policy

Technical Requirements V4.2 includes a correction the Multiple LED policy, which previously was restricted to products employing multiple white-light LEDs only. This restriction is now removed.

Click here to learn more.

BriteSwitch recently published an article about how DLC V4 is affecting rebates. Click here to read it.

Acuity’s Dan Ryan on Bundling in Lighting Industry

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Ryan, VP Product, IoT Solutions, Acuity Brands Lighting. The topic: disruption in lighting, notably the current trend of “bundling,” which was the subject of his presentation I caught at Strategies in Light. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. The interview informed an article I wrote for the July 2017 issue of tED.

DiLouie: What would you say is the thesis of your 2017 Strategies in Light talk?

Ryan: A great place to think through what will happen next in our industry is to map out how concepts from computing will transfer over to lighting and building automation. The intersection between the two is a great area to spot opportunities.

One famous pattern in the history of computing is best captured in a well-known quote that I really love, attributed to Jim Barksdale: “There are two ways to make money in business: You can unbundle, or you can bundle.”

Almost every major technological wave in computing included either a bundle or unbundle event. Microsoft dominated the pre-Internet computing era by bundling all of your applications onto Windows, and made a fortune. The internet came along and unbundled everything into a sort of chaos, until Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple and others emerged to re-bundle everything again. More recently, we’re seeing bits & pieces of these devices and services being siphoned off into discrete items – with products like Amazon’s Echo, Apple’s Earpods (unbundling audio), and Snapchat Spectacles. And there’s currently a sense that another huge unbundling event is about to happen with blockchains and cryptocurrencies.

My talk at SiL was looking at the bundling phenomenon and seeing whether it is a good framework for understanding what’s happening in lighting right now.

DiLouie: In your talk, you brought up the concept of bundling. What is bundling, and how did it play out in the example of smart phones?

Ryan: Bundling is exactly what you’d think – the tendency for products to be sold together in a package, vs sold discretely. 15 years ago, it would take an entire closet full of devices (video recorder, telephone, CD player, TV, laptop) to fulfill the functions that an iPhone can deliver today.

The economics behind bundling is a pretty complex topic, and the definitive piece on this was put together by Chris Dixon.

But the basic aspect is that there are powerful economic forces in play that benefit both buyers and sellers. Buyers get access to more services for a lower cost than they would if they purchased independently, and sellers gain more profits by selling to a larger customer base.

DiLouie: You said you see lighting as the new iPhone. How is bundling applying to the lighting industry right now?

Ryan: The world is starting to recognize that lighting is uniquely positioned to be an aggregation point for the delivery of IoT services – due to its ubiquity in the as-built environment, and the proliferation of networked lighting control systems. So you’re starting to see lighting companies bundle new digital services with lighting, with offers like indoor-positioning, asset-tracking, and occupancy analytics. And much like that closet full of consumer electronics that’s now bundled into an iPhone, you’re seeing a bunch of systems that used to be sold, installed, and maintained independently start to consolidate a single platform – smart lighting.

DiLouie: Lighting is moving beyond its core benefits to potentially offer an array of services. What are these potential services, and what services are being offered now?

Ryan: Indoor positioning has emerged as the early-leader, with significant deployments underway by the major players. Acuity has been a leader in this space, with over 50M sqft of indoor-positioning infrastructure already deployed. For customers switching over to LED, particularly in segments like retail stores, LED lighting simply offers the most cost effective and highest performance platform for providing location services. End-users are leveraging indoor-positioning to deliver a variety of value-added services, with things like shopper indoor-wayfinding, mobile-marketing, and location analytics.

More recently, both startups and established players are starting to explore how lights can act as sensors for other things. Examples of this range from asset-tracking solutions (for tracking the location of critical assets like patient-beds/wheelchairs in hospitals), and space utilization solutions that tap into existing lighting-control occupancy sensors.

The common pattern between all of these solutions is leveraging the lighting network to collect data about the environment, and then using that data to improve a business-process.

DiLouie: You brought up that consumer electronics is undergoing unbundling. How does this concept work, and how do you see it potentially applying to lighting in the future?

Ryan: You’re seeing a physical manifestation of unbundling happening right now. All the major tech companies are offering voice-assistant products, including Amazon Echo, Google Home, and whatever Apple is about to launch. This is taking a service that used to be bundled with your smartphone – a voice based assistant – and unbundling it into a single, discrete device. Amazon even took this a step further with the recent Echo Show product – which contains an app for making phone calls!

Right now, the lighting industry is going through a “bundling” phase, where IoT services as well as BMS are bundling with lighting projects, which is a trend that will continue for the foreseeable future. What I think will eventually change this is the desire for compatibility between different systems. Compatibility drives standardization, which drives competitive dynamics and opens up the opportunity for a new services layer. An independent services layer would allow individuals pieces to pull pulled off – and unbundle yet again!

But that’s still a few years out at least – although you are starting to see some initial momentum around industry standards for networking lighting systems, building automation, and sensor interfaces.

DiLouie: You stated that the impact on distribution matters more than product. What examples can you provide from the consumer electronics industry?

Ryan: My point here was that when people look at these big, disruptive technology shifts, most of the analysis is very product-centric. People very naturally focus on the things they see – Netflix, the Apple Watch, Snapchat Spectacles, Spotify, etc. But the real story is underneath in distribution – technological shifts that impact distribution are the real drivers. “Disruptive” products are merely symptoms of an underlying disruption in distribution.

Probably the example that hits closest to home is what’s currently happening to the cable TV industry. Before streaming-video over the Internet, it was basically impossible to get access to content outside of the cable bundle. Whoever had the local monopoly on the data-pipe to your home became the sole provider of content, so everyone got used to paying for 1000 different cable channels that they never watched.

Once it became feasible to stream video over the Internet, you saw the rise of all the standalone subscription services for video content, like Netflix, HBO GO, and Hulu. So by changing the distribution model for content from cable to the Internet, an unbundling event happened.

DiLouie: What impact do you see lighting technology bundling (and unbundling) having on traditional electrical distributors?

Ryan: The powerful economic principle behind bundling is that both buyers and sellers benefit. So in that sense, when you apply this to the lighting channel, electrical distributors will benefit. The sale of higher-end systems will lead to larger project sizes, and help fight the commoditization and price erosion that we’re currently seeing in the traditional lighting market.

DiLouie: What impact do you see lighting technology bundling (and unbundling) having on electrical contractors?

Ryan: One of the major product challenges with deploying bundled IoT services is making them simple to install and maintain. Complicated systems lead to longer time spent on the job site, frustration, and lost profits. Companies need to keep their products simple so that IoT doesn’t get in the way of traditional jobs. Technology should make the lives of contractors and installers easier.

DiLouie: The smart/IoT-enabled lighting bundle may serve two markets—core benefits serving traditional buyers and value-added services serving new buyers. Will electrical distributors be able to serve both of these markets?

Ryan: I think the real question for distribution is where the intersection is between IoT service sales and the tradition lighting sale. At one level, distribution will sell higher-end systems, and will see benefits there. There are also some lighting-channel specific IoT services – things like preventative maintenance, and lighting-asset management, that will unlock new opportunities for selling to the traditional buyer. But I think it’s still very much an open question of how value-added IoT services will actually be sold, and what role the traditional channel will play there. The majority of the new services being developed are really orthogonal to what distributors do today. Regardless of how it all plays out, I expect traditional distribution to play a huge role.

DiLouie: You stated that the buyer of lighting is not the user of the bundle’s value-added services, which is a key difference with consumer electronics. What does this mean? How does it affect the lighting market?

Ryan: The reason bundle economics are so powerful is that it reduces the price of obtaining a suite of products for the end-user. Instead of buying a music player, a telephone, a calculator, and a mobile TV separately, I can just buy an iPhone. That model works because the person making the purchasing decision (me) is also benefiting from all of the services. And since the utility of the bundled product is so high, the seller of the product (Apple) gets to serve a much larger market.

Lighting is different in that the buyer of lighting – typically someone in facilities – is not the user of, and does not benefit from, IoT services. If a facilities manager invests in deploying IoT technology from their own budget, another department will get the benefits. This would be like someone like myself spending $900 on an iPhone and only using it to do phone calls, but then handing the rest of the phone over to my cousin to watch YouTube videos, surf the web, and post on Facebook.

DiLouie: What potential roles will electrical contractors serve in the future lighting market? What are potential scenarios where contractors are winners or losers? How can they position themselves best to survive, and thrive, during disruption and bundling in lighting?

Ryan: I don’t think contractors need to – nor should we expect them to – become experts in IoT services to still play the important role they play in the channel today. Intelligent lighting systems need to be simple to install, commission ,and maintain. If deploying a lighting-based IoT network becomes as costly as maintaining an independent network, then why bundle at all?

The one wild-card in the market is low-voltage DC lighting controls solutions like PoE, which is gaining momentum in the new-construction segment and allow contactors to tap into a different pool of labor for executing projects.

DiLouie: What potential roles will electrical distributors serve in the future lighting market? What are potential scenarios where distributors are winners or losers? How can they position themselves best to survive, and thrive, during disruption and bundling in lighting?

Ryan: As anyone who’s ever looked at the value-chain for lighting & constructions projects will tell you – it’s a complicated channel. And most of the “disruptive” products that people talk about aren’t going to change the buying process for your typical project. So I think that for the foreseeable future, distribution’s role will remain largely the same. There will be more opportunities to sell higher-value products, and for those distributors who strive to move up the value-chain, opportunities to develop deeper end-user relationships. I think the broader point here is that by moving into an entry-point for IoT, the total available market opportunity for the entire industry is going to increase – which will benefit multiple players in the channel.

DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about disruption posed by LED/IoT, what would it be?

Ryan: Channel & access to market – not technology – continue to remain the most important drivers of activity in the lighting space. I don’t think we’ll see true “disruption” – in the classic sense of the word – until we see changes in how lighting projects are specified & sold. That is certainly going to evolve as IoT capability starts to make its way into more project specifications, but I tend to think the disruption story gets a little overhyped.

Jim Brodrick on LIGHTFAIR 2017

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 DOE SSL team was out in full force at LIGHTFAIR, where we offered a wide range of educational sessions in our booth, which was jam-packed with people seeking more information about what’s going on at DOE’s connected lighting test bed (CLTB), how to apply TM-30, how to interpret news stories about LED street lighting’s effects on sky glow and health, what we’ve learned from studies of tunable lighting, and other hot topics. But when we weren’t busy educating there in Philly, we took the opportunity to walk the show floor, and I thought I’d share some observations with you.

One clear trend at this year’s LIGHTFAIR was connectivity, which seemed to be everywhere you looked, with the major manufacturers continuing to round out their connected-lighting portfolios. More of these manufacturers are offering cloud or enterprise-level energy-management platforms and software, although some are still at local-network level. But almost without exception, the connected lighting products we saw in Philly are using proprietary communication protocols, and are not making serious commitments to interoperability.

Similarly, it seemed that nearly every manufacturer was offering some kind of white-tunable lighting, and claims of circadian benefits were flying every which way — although, unfortunately, the claims didn’t always reflect a solid understanding of how to achieve those benefits. Still, it’s clear that LEDs can now be engineered to emit pretty much any spectrum desired, and to work with any control technology, even though the application understanding for this functionality hasn’t fully materialized just yet.

It was evident that horticultural lighting is on the increase. It’s clearly a new revenue-growth stream for package manufacturers, who are increasing their portfolios around it accordingly. It will be fun to watch how horticultural products evolve to reflect ongoing research in terms of what lighting suits them best for productivity and quality.

Another thing that caught our eye at this year’s LIGHTFAIR was a trend toward curved luminaires — including rings, ovals, complex non-orthogonal links of rings, and curved recessed luminaires — that take advantage of the flexible LED form factor. And more companies were showing recessed downlights with LED modules that need no housing “can” above the ceiling to meet UL requirements. These products have aluminum heat sinks exposed to the plenum, anodized in nifty colors to help improve the heat dissipation.

There was a noticeable emphasis on building integration. Chip-scale packages were still heavily advertised, but the growth in their use remains slow. We saw sensors of all kinds — including CO2 and cameras — being promoted, and those sensors seem to be getting markedly smaller. There were more power over Ethernet-ready fixtures compared to last year, and many outdoor lighting products had 3000K options. However, TM-30 metrics were infrequent on the show floor; almost everyone is still using CRI.

Compared to what we’ve seen in previous years, flicker was much reduced, with far fewer products exhibiting any flicker — especially in the ubiquitous vintage LED “filament” lamps, but also in decorative fixtures. However, some decorative residential products we saw did flicker to some extent. Glare control, too, seems to be on the rise, with more manufacturers touting low-glare luminaires that utilized a range of different techniques, such as diffusers and better shielding from direct view.

It seems as if SSL has entered a “digestion” period, in which multiple advancements in the technology and in manufacturing are showing up in a wide variety of products. Overall, the products we saw at LIGHTFAIR displayed improved efficacy, color, and connectivity, and touched on exciting new “human-factor” value propositions.

But it’s also clear that, even with all of this progress, we’ve barely scratched the surface. SSL’s potential — not only to save energy, but to transform what lighting can be and do — is enormous, and there’s a long way to go, and much to be accomplished, before it’s fulfilled.

AIA Takes Aim at Major Shortcomings in Federal FY18 Budget Plans

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) issued the following statement after the Administration submitted to Congress its final Fiscal Year 2018 federal budget on May 23.

AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA, said:

“Unfortunately, this budget includes many of the same cuts we criticized in the March draft of the Administration’s budget — in fact, it makes further cuts to programs that are most valuable to architects and their clients.

“It’s difficult to see how a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget strengthens that agency’s mission to protect the environment. The proposed cuts eliminate successful and innovative programs, including Energy Star, which help to promote energy efficient buildings and cities.

“The proposed cuts at the Department of Energy (DOE) will set back the progress we’ve made in designing more efficient buildings and communities. The Administration is proposing an 18 percent cut in DOE’s non-nuclear weapons programs, including a 33 percent cut to the Building Technologies Office.

“Today, 654 architecture firms signed a letter coordinated by the AIA, to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, identifying the programs we know are crucial to preserving America’s leadership in energy efficient design and construction.”

AIA Opposes U.S. Withdrawal from Climate Treaty

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) reaffirmed its commitment to climate change mitigation and announced it was opposing the administration’s decision to withdraw the United States as a signatory to the Paris Agreement. That accord, signed in late 2015 within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), commits the international community to fighting harmful greenhouse gas emissions.

AIA President Thomas Vonier, FAIA, said:

“The United States must remain a leader in the battle to cease harmful and needless practices that damage the planet and its climate, acting out of both environmental concerns and national economic interests. Instead of helping our economy, as the Administration contends, withdrawing from the Paris Agreement will put us behind our major global competitors.”

“The AIA will not retreat from its long-established efforts to conserve energy and to deploy renewable resources in buildings. We will continue to lead in efforts to curb the use of fuels and technologies that needlessly pollute our atmosphere and harm our environment. This makes good sense economically, and it is in the best interests of those we serve: our clients and the public.

“We will also urge our members throughout the United States and the world to assist cities, states, organizations and citizen groups in meeting the aims of the climate accord.

“By adhering to our values as a profession that is concerned with human habitat and the health of our environment, we will help to mitigate the harm this decision will do to our economy and to America’s stature across the globe.”

CLTC Publishes Nonresidential Lighting and Electrical Power Distribution Guide for 2016 Title 24

The California Lighting Technology Center’s Nonresidential Lighting and Electrical Power Distribution Guide for the 2016 Building Energy Efficiency Standards is now available.

The guide was written to help builders and lighting industry professionals navigate the nonresidential lighting and electrical power distribution portions of California’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6). The updated Energy Standards took effect on January 1, 2017. The guide is sponsored by Energy Code Ace and developed in collaboration with the California Energy Commission.

Get it here.

Product Monday: High Bay Wiring System by ACS/Uni-Fab

ACS/Uni-Fab’s (Atkore International) Flex3 modular lighting system requires only three basic components to supply power to luminaires in both high- and low-bay lighting locations. These components can easily be installed or relocated by simply unplugging and plugging in connections.

Flex3+ modular wiring for high-bay lighting systems allows users to disconnect and remove luminaires without interrupting the power supply down the line. This three-component system plugs together quickly and easily, supplying power to luminaires installed in both high- and low-bay applications.

Working from electrical engineered system drawings, ACS/Uni-Fab provides installation drawings for the open bay solution, which can reduce the installed time and project costs.

Click here to learn more.

NEMA Publishes Standard on Test Methods for Temporal Light Artifacts

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) recently published NEMA 77-2017 Temporal Light Artifacts: Test Methods and Guidance for Acceptance Criteria.

Temporal Light Artifacts (TLA) are undesired changes in visual perception induced by a light stimulus whose luminance or spectral distribution fluctuates with time, such as flicker and stroboscopic effect. This new lighting standard makes recommendations on methods of quantifying the visibility of TLA, and initial, broad application-dependent limits on TLA.

“Besides adjusting visible light output, many dimmer designs can react with LED light engines to produce additional light modulation in the form of TLA,” said Jim Gaines, PhD, of Philips Lighting and chair of the NEMA 77 working group. “NEMA 77 provides a method to quantify the likelihood that a given light modulation might produce observable TLA, and employs a measurement framework that allows for further refinement to develop application-specific guidelines.”

Click here to learn more.