The National Association of Innovative Lighting Distributors (NAILD) and its sustainable lighting committee recently published an open letter, detailing a list of concerns with integrated LED luminaires and a set of recommendations for the industry. NAILD is a trade association for the lighting distributor channel. The letter explains the negative life cycle/waste consequences of integrated LED luminaires, and proposes 5 changes that the industry should adopt:

  1. Re-commitment to legacy form factors, lamp shades, and sockets
  2. Standardize new components before they go to market
  3. Commit to more sustainable materials
  4. Long-term product support
  5. Useful, transparent labeling

While NAILD operates primarily in the commercial lighting market, it is interesting to note that the American Lighting Association (ALA – operates in the residential & resimercial markets) published a white paper, last year, detailing the design trade-offs of integrated LED versus socketed luminaires. That white paper also addressed sustainability trade-offs.

A significant difference between the ALA white paper and this NAILD open letter is that NAILD is advocating a complete return to lamped luminaires or fully standardized replaceable light engines, and complete elimination of integrated luminaires with unreplaceable engines. This is a rather extreme position that was never the stance of the ALA Engineering Committee team that wrote the white paper.

As one example, the ALA white paper notes the improved thermal management capabilities of integrated LED luminaires that can lead to significantly longer LED engine lifetimes than comparable lamps typically achieve. This then becomes a trade-off of increased light source waste versus increased luminaire waste. Not as black & white an issue as NAILD portrays it. Additionally, luminaires with minimal housings and easy replacement might be fine to replace every 5-10 years, such as flushmount LED downlights. Eliminating all integrated LED luminaires without easily changeable engines would also create a major obstacle to innovation.

It will be interesting to see if and how the industry responds to this open letter from NAILD. To its credit, NAILD is raising some real problems with some integrated LED luminaires. The full NAILD open letter can be found here. The ALA white paper on integrated LED versus socketed luminaires is available here.