I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kraig Kasler, Vice President and General Manager, Indoor, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting business, for an article I’m writing for TED Magazine about how solid-state…
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kraig Kasler, Vice President and General Manager, Indoor, Eaton’s Cooper Lighting business, for an article I’m writing for TED Magazine about how solid-state lighting is impacting luminaire design. I’m happy to share his responses with you here. He offers excellent insight from the top level of management inside one of the industry’s leading manufacturers.
DiLouie: How would you characterize demand for LED luminaires in indoor commercial building applications in the new construction market? What is current market share in the new commercial building construction market for indoor LED luminaires?
Kasler: The demand for indoor LED luminaires for commercial applications has rapidly accelerated throughout the year in part due to regulatory, legislative and end user satisfaction. In general energy efficient and low maintenance lighting is the preferred lighting of choice. At this point, virtually every project now quotes an LED option, especially for environments where dimming is required and LED solutions are approaching cost parity with traditional sources.
DiLouie: What are the most popular applications for LED luminaires in indoor applications?
Kasler: In the commercial space we are seeing a lot of customers purchase LED troffers, strips and downlights. In the industrial space, given the maintenance advantages, we are seeing a significant transition towards LED high-bays.
Now that LED fixtures have been developed that cover the basics of good lighting design -— general, task, accent and wallwashing — most indoor applications are covered.
DiLouie: What are the top trends in indoor LED luminaire design today?
Kasler: Top trends include designs that move the luminaire beyond the form factors used for traditional light sources such as edge lighting and integrating more controls functionality including occupancy sensing and daylight harvesting directly into the fixture to increase energy efficiency and reduce commissioning costs. Additionally, diving towards lower costs so that the initial purchase price for LED luminaires closes the gap on traditional solutions, as well as luminaires that can be placed in higher ambient temperature environments.
Specifically, top trends for recessed downlighting include smaller aperture size, deeper light source regression, higher lumens and as an integrated controls company we are embedding control features directly into our fixtures taking cost and complexity out of the equation.
DiLouie: What impact are these trends having on the market in terms of moving the ball forward, satisfying users, and exceeding current conventional lighting offerings?
Kasler: LED is already better compared to traditional solutions in terms of total cost of ownership, product lifetime, Color Rendering Index (as compared to fluorescent), efficacy and controllability. As these trends become more and more prevalent, it only serves to accelerate the transition away from traditional light sources and towards LED, which is hugely beneficial for customers in terms of delivering energy efficiency and a better overall quality of ambiance and controllability.
[For recessed lighting] These trends allow the lighting to be less intrusive on the architectural space and easier to use giving the specifier more freedom in providing light where needed.
DiLouie: Where do you see these trends going in terms of future direction?
Kasler: Simply, continued acceleration driven by increased energy efficiency and controls functionality is where we see this technology going.
[For recessed lighting] Lower wattage will lead to less mass of the fixtures, which will continue to allow for smaller apertures with higher lumen potential. Also, controls integration will allow for more personal user experience.
DiLouie: What do you see as future trends in indoor LED luminaire design that will become possible as the technology continues to develop?
Kasler: Improving efficiency and thermal performance will continue to reduce the LED count necessary to meet required light levels and optical distributions. This equates to smaller fixtures, greater energy and cost savings, and more flexibility in optical and mechanical designs. Additionally, purpose built LED luminaires will provide new form factor possibilities previously not possible with lamp technology.
DiLouie: Please comment on the evolution of optics for indoor LED luminaires, giving particular focus on how optics have changed to accommodate the LED light source?
Kasler: Historically, reflector-based optical designs have primarily been utilized, tailored to the traditional “extended” light sources (incandescent, halogen, etc.). However, due to the “pin-point” nature of an LED source, and as integrated LED arrays continue to increase in light density, more options are available. Refractor optics potentially offer the ability to improve optical efficiencies substantially, while touching more of the light, which further translates to getting more of the photons to where they need to be in the application (i.e. usable lumens).
DiLouie: What are your thoughts on the evolution of integration of lighting controls within indoor LED luminaires?
Kasler: Due the convergence of electronics to the luminaire, indoor LED fixtures will serve as the centerpiece of the lighting control system unlike panel or module based systems of the past. Indoor luminaires will contain bi-directional communication, and potentially sensing technology forming a network of smart fixtures without the need for a central controller.
DiLouie: What is your perspective on the evolution and viability of white light color tuning capabilities with indoor LED luminaires?
Kasler: The technology exists today to drive viability of white light color tuning solutions. Therefore, the question is not so much the viability as it is the cost-performance trade-offs and the visual implementation of the product. There is a growing body of knowledge within the lighting industry related to visual acuity and response associated with white light “color content”, which is challenging our preconceived notions of “What is white?” As such, there is a fair amount of variance in the color tuned products on the market today which will be ultimately be addressed by customer feedback/acceptance and lighting standards efforts.
DiLouie: What are your thoughts on the evolution and viability of indoor LED luminaires with mechanisms that indicate end of life or otherwise maintain a constant light output over life?
Kasler: As the lumen maintenance (L70 value) and reliability of LED products continue to increase, the impact of light output over time becomes less significant. Having said that, the technology already exists to provide both end of life indication and maintained light output … albeit at a product cost penalty. One of the primary challenges related to end of life solutions is to ensure that full benefit is derived from the product lifecycle, as premature failure based on faulty light level detection can cut short the customer return on investment.
DiLouie: Please comment on the evolution and demand for indoor LED luminaires that feature serviceable components such as light engines, drivers, heat sinks and optics?
Kasler: The requirement and demand for serviceable components is directly correlated to the overall cost of the LED luminaire. Of course, as the reliability of both the LED devices and LED drivers continue to improve, the need to service the LED-based products is diminished as well. A related aspect to the design of LED luminaires is the opportunity to “swap out” components in order to meet specific customer needs (i.e. color temperature, optical distributions, aesthetics, etc.). This approach is being addressed by industry groups like Zhaga, based on global, consensus standards efforts.
DiLouie: How are form factors for indoor LED luminaires evolving, and what is the viability of new form factors?
Kasler: This has been one of the truly exciting aspects of the transition to LED in that with the new light source, we have been able to design new form factors – smaller, lighter, thinner, edge-lighting – and this trend will only increase, especially as thermals becomes less and less of an issue over time.
LED’s are giving us new freedom of design. Our new Wavestream™ surface mount products are great examples. The new Surface LED Downlight from Halo mounts directly to a junction box, extends less than 1 inch from the ceiling plane, yet provides light output similar to a traditional recessed downlight.
DiLouie: What is your perspective on the evolution and viability of indoor LED luminaires with specifiable, factory-customized light output and wattage to satisfy precise application needs?
Kasler: The lighting industry is essentially digitizing and LED luminaires with increasingly smart drivers are now more flexible in terms of how much controls you can embed into them which does several things – first, it allows you to deliver more energy savings features integrated into the fixture and it also allows the production of them to be more flexible with late-stage identification of exact lumen value or wattages to satisfy customer applications.
For several years to meet stringent energy requirements, such as T24 or ASHRE 90.1, we have been providing de-rated fixtures for traditional light sources, fixtures that specify a limited wattage on the product. As with any customized solution costs tend to be higher to produce those types of products. LED systems that allow for programing to dial in varying wattage, current or CCT can be a natural evolution that may grow over time.
DiLouie: If you could tell the entire electrical industry just one thing about trends in indoor LED luminaire design for commercial building applications, what would it be?
Kasler: The time is now for intelligently controlled LED lighting. Customers can enjoy a lower total cost of ownership, improved aesthetics and light quality, drastically reduced energy costs and controls functionality they simply could not achieve with traditional light.
DiLouie: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kasler: In our research, customers told us about their innovation concerns and needs. Due to the rapidly changing technology, they indicated it has become a real challenge to confidently select lighting and control solutions. Many manufacturers and suppliers in the market have often been unable to produce commercially acceptable products that perform as advertised. The result has been a great deal of market concern about the reliability of new technologies. Lighting professionals also told us that innovation alone just isn’t enough. They want product and service innovations from a company they can trust – to deliver the best quality; to stand behind their products and their promises; to have a history and a future. We believe innovation coupled with reliability is the key to driving even faster levels of market adoption and customer benefits.