Category: Lighting Industry

‘Big Plumbing’ Muscling Into Lighting

For the past two decades, thought leaders in the lighting industry have been publicly lamenting that the lighting industry will be gobbled up by the electronics industry, Silicon Valley tech giants, and the big telecoms. 20 years into the LED era for general lighting, and this still has not come to pass.

For the past two decades, thought leaders in the lighting industry have been publicly lamenting that the lighting industry will be gobbled up by the electronics industry, Silicon Valley tech giants, and the big telecoms. 20 years into the LED era for general lighting, and this still has not come to pass.

However, there is another, less glamorous industry slowly increasing its acquisitions, footprint, and influence in the lighting industry, and it is hardly getting any attention. It’s Big Plumbing. Perhaps the most recent and largest move was Ferguson’s recent acquisition of Minka Group, a major decorative lighting manufacturer for the residential and resimercial markets. Ferguson is the largest wholesale distributor of residential and commercial plumbing supplies and pipe, valves and fittings in the U.S. The company also has 245 Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery locations in the United States that sell lighting and fan products. Ferguson is a $24 billion company that is listed on both the London Stock Exchange (LSE:FERG) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FERG).

The Minka Group acquisition was just the latest move by Ferguson into lighting. Back in January of this year, Ferguson quietly acquired RP Lighting + Fans, another decorative manufacturer of lighting and ceiling fans.

It’s not just Ferguson, either. Kohler Company introduced its Kohler Lighting line in 2020, in order to provide decorative luminaires that pair with its plumbing fixtures. Moen also offers decorative lighting. Keep your eye out for continued moves by Big Plumbing.

 

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Chinese Trade Rebounds In May With Eased COVID Restrictions

China’s trade growth rebounded in May after COVID restrictions that shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers began to ease.

China’s trade growth rebounded in May after COVID restrictions that shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers began to ease. Exports surged 16.9% over a year earlier to $308.3 billion, up from April’s 3.7% growth, a customs agency statement said Thursday. Imports rose gained 4.1% to $229.5 billion, accelerating from the previous month’s 0.7%.

China’s trade has been dampened by weak export demand and curbs imposed to fight COVID outbreaks in Shanghai, site of the world’s busiest port, and other cities. Consumer demand was crushed by rules that confined millions of families to their homes.

Read the full AP story here.

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Lighting Industry Embraces EV Chargers

The lighting industry is embracing EV chargers at a remarkable rate, considering they aren’t a lighting product. We have curated some examples of manufacturers and an e-retailer entering the EV market.

The lighting industry is embracing EV chargers at a remarkable rate, considering they aren’t a lighting product.

Image courtesy of EspenEV.com

In a recent podcast, Electrical Wholesaler shared the following results of a survey of Top 150 electrical distributors and the interest they’re seeing in EV chargers from their electrical contractor customers. Note the gray bars, below, showing the percentage of contractors already installing each type of EV chargers:

 

I’ve collected examples, below, of manufacturers, and a lighting e-commerce leader jumping into the EV charger space:

  • Espen Technology is introducing a new line of EV chargers at LFI, next week. Their EV charger dedicated website is EspenEV.com

 

  • Light Efficient Design has a new line of EV Chargers branded as breezEV. Their dedicated EV charger website is https://breez-ev.com

  • Stresscrete offers a streetlight pole with a built-in EV charger, named VoltLock. More information here.

 

  • The online retailer Bulbs.com began selling EV chargers in May, 2022. More information here

 

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DOE’s New GSL Definition Final Rule Now Regulates Many LED Lamps

While many in the lighting industry are aware that US DOE recently issued a Final Rule for a definition change of general service lamps (GSL) as well as General Service Incandescent Lamps (GSIL), many in the industry don’t realize the impact of this expanded GSL definition on many LED lamps. Most of the public discussion around the new GSL definition focused on the addition of incandescent and halogen specialty lamps to the regulated GSL category. However, the new expanded GSL definition encompasses many LED lamps, in addition to incandescent and halogen.

While many in the lighting industry are aware that US DOE recently issued a Final Rule for a definition change of general service lamps (GSL) as well as General Service Incandescent Lamps (GSIL), many in the industry don’t realize the impact of this expanded GSL definition on many LED lamps. Most of the public discussion around the new GSL definition focused on the addition of incandescent and halogen specialty lamps to the regulated GSL category. However, the new expanded GSL definition encompasses many LED lamps, in addition to incandescent and halogen.

This means that many LED A-lamps, LED specialty lamps, and LED tube lamps will now be regulated by the DOE, in less than two months. For LED lamp manufacturers, this means self-certifying the regulated models onto DOE’s database of regulated products, known as CCMS. This is a great deal of spreadsheet work, and will be most difficult for manufacturers that have no previous experience uploaded spreadsheets to CCMS. Well-placed sources tell me that DOE will take more than two months to create the forms for manufacturers to submit all of the new regulated lamp types, thereby giving manufacturers some much needed additional time for certification compliance. It’s unlikely that the new 45 lpW “backstop” Final Rule will create problems for any LED lamps, as most are significantly above the 45 lpW requirement for GSL.

What follows is the amended GSL definition, from the April, 2022 DOE GSL Final Rule:

“General service lamp means a lamp that has an ANSI base; is able to operate at a voltage of 12 volts or 24 volts, at or between 100 to 130 volts, at or between 220 to 240 volts, or at 277 volts for integrated lamps, or is able to operate at any voltage for non-integrated lamps; has an initial lumen output of greater than or equal to 310 lumens (or 232 lumens for modified spectrum general service incandescent lamps) and less than or equal to 3,300 lumens; is not a light fixture; is not an LED downlight retrofit kit; and is used in general lighting applications. General service lamps do not include:

(1) Appliance lamps;

(2) Black light lamps;

(3) Bug lamps;

(4) Colored lamps;

(5) G shape lamps with a diameter of 5 inches or more as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002;

(6) General service fluorescent lamps;

(7) High intensity discharge lamps;

(8) Infrared lamps;

(9) J, JC, JCD, JCS, JCV, JCX, JD, JS, and JT shape lamps that do not have Edison screw bases;

(10) Lamps that have a wedge base or prefocus base;

(11) Left-hand thread lamps;

(12) Marine lamps;

(13) Marine signal service lamps;

(14) Mine service lamps;

(15) MR shape lamps that have a first number symbol equal to 16 (diameter equal to 2 inches) as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002, operate at 12 volts, and have a lumen output greater than or equal to 800;

(16) Other fluorescent lamps;

(17) Plant light lamps;

(18) R20 short lamps;

(19) Reflector lamps that have a first number symbol less than 16 (diameter less than 2 inches) as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002 and that do not have E26/E24, E26d, E26/50×39, E26/53×39, E29/28, E29/53×39, E39, E39d, EP39, or EX39 bases;

(20) S shape or G shape lamps that have a first number symbol less than or equal to 12.5 (diameter less than or equal to 1.5625 inches) as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002;

(21) Sign service lamps;

(22) Silver bowl lamps;

(23) Showcase lamps;

(24) Specialty MR lamps;

(25) T shape lamps that have a first number symbol less than or equal to 8 (diameter less than or equal to 1 inch) as defined in ANSI C79.1-2002, nominal overall length less than 12 inches, and that are not compact fluorescent lamps;

(26) Traffic signal lamps.”

 

 

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Six Colliding Paradigms Converging on the Built Environment

An interesting article in Realcomm.com argues that there are six large paradigm shifts changing
the built environment. While the article discusses the impacts of each paradigm on commercial buildings (without addressing lighting), it’s interesting to imaging how the same six mega-trends could impact lighting.

An interesting article in Realcomm.com argues that there are six large paradigm shifts changing
the built environment.  The six major drivers of change are:

  1. Technological
  2. Financial
  3. Biological
  4. Climate
  5. Globalization
  6. Demographics

While the article discusses the impacts of each paradigm on commercial buildings (without addressing lighting), it’s interesting to imaging how the same six mega-trends could impact lighting. For example:

  1. Technological – Nanotech coatings to add new features to luminaire housings and light sources, AI in smart lighting, IoT lighting, 3D printed luminaires, display projectors in luminaires, and much more.
  2. Financial – The explosive growth of server farms and the specialized lighting that goes into them.
  3. Biological – The rapid growth in UV disinfection lighting to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Other light & health areas, such as circadian lighting, and future light therapies for depression, migraines, and other common health problems.
  4. Climate – The growth in resilient lighting that can withstand natural & manmade disasters. This includes the recent publication of ANSI/IES LP-13-21 Introduction to Resilient Lighting Systems.
  5. Globalization – Current supply chain disruptions could accelerate re-shoring. The war in Ukraine is impacting the cost of metals and some other commodities. Could worsening relations between the US and China disrupt the lighting industry’s nearly complete reliance on Chinese manufacturing? Trump era tariffs got lighting manufactures looking seriously at Mexico, India, Taiwan, Vietnam, and other alternatives to Chinese sourcing.
  6. Demographics – Lighting for aging populations. Light & health (again). Further growth in the health care industry and all of the varied lighting applications specific to healthcare. Accelerated growth in e-commerce for lighting, to younger generations.

Read the full article here.

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3D Printing Evolves With Many New Technologies

As 3D printing begins to influence the lighting industry (beyond prototyping), a dizzying new array of approaches have been commercialized. A recent article in Laser Focus World lays out the many approaches

As 3D printing begins to influence the lighting industry (beyond prototyping), a dizzying new array of approaches have been commercialized. A recent article in Laser Focus World lays out the many approaches.

Polymers:

  • In the mid-1980’s, the first 3D printers were
  • stereolithography and 3D extruded thermoplastic parts. Stereolithography was based on industrial lasers, as were a variety of later technologies for printing both polymers and metals.
  • Vat photopolymerization (VPP) generally uses an ultraviolet (UV) light source to harden a photopolymer; heat can be used as an energy source as well. The VPP process, also known as stereolithography, uses a laser to cure a liquid resin layer by layer inside a build vat to form the object.
  • Digital light processing (DLP) projector is an alternative light source to cure a photopolymer. These systems replaced laser-based stereolithography for certain applications. With some exceptions, DLP systems are used for building smaller parts than larger frame stereolithography. Small-part VPP is commonly used for a variety of dentistry applications.
  • Powder bed fusion (PBF), or selective laser sintering (SLS) are a technology using laser energy to melt layers of powdered polymer, fusing them together, layer by layer to form parts. The most common material used for SLS is polyamide (PA) 12, also known as nylon.
  • Material extrusion (MEX) and material jetting (MJT) round out the picture of polymer 3D printing. The former, widely referred to as fused deposition modeling (FDM), builds parts by extruding heat-melted thermoplastics through a nozzle. The latter uses industrial inkjet technology to selectively jet photopolymers onto a build plate, cured by exposure to UV light.

Metals and ceramics:

  • The making of functional metal and ceramic parts has developed significantly in recent years, because prices for the underlying technologies have come down. PBF is by far the most common metal additive manufacturing (AM) process. Like its related process for polymers, a laser beam melts the metal powder inside an inert and heated build chamber to form the part.
  • Directed-energy deposition (DED) is a group of processes characterized by melting a metal feedstock into metal parts via a process similar to welding. The feedstock could be provided by a metal wire or metal powder, and the thermal heat source for melting the feedstock can be supplied by a laser or an electron beam.
  • Metal binder jetting offers the promise of lower-cost metal AM. Its growth has so far failed to live up to expectations, despite the entry of a number of new and well-funded companies developing this technology. This could be attributed to process issues related to handling green parts and, more importantly, the difficulty customers have inefficiently sintering the parts.

Read the full article, here.

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Interview: Korrus’s CEO On The Recent Acquisition Of Circadian ZircLight

Korrus is the company that owns Ecosense, Soraa, Scuva, Tempo Industries, and now Circadian ZircLight. They focus on “Human Light Interaction (HLI),” which they define as seeking to understand human interactions with light, and creating technologies that better serve the needs of those humans.

Korrus is the company that owns Ecosense, Soraa, Scuva, Tempo Industries, and now Circadian ZircLight. They focus on “Human Light Interaction (HLI),” which they define as seeking to understand human interactions with light, and creating technologies that better serve the needs of those humans. I interviewed Mark Reynosa, CEO of Korrus, about their recent acquisition of Circadian ZircLight, and where Korrus is going from here.

Shiller: Congratulations, first off, on the acquisition of Circadian ZircLight.

Reynosa: Thank you so much.

Shiller: I was curious whether the acquisition would impact the partnerships that Circadian ZircLight currently has, providing light engines to partners like Acuity, H.E. Williams, and presumably others? Will the OEM engine play still be a focus for Circadian ZircLight?

Reynosa: Yes. We have no intention to interrupt any preexisting agreements and relationships between ZircLight and other participants in the industry. Quite the opposite. The entire thesis around our acquisition has been it supports our mission and the thesis is about enabling and creating greater awareness around solutions that deal with some of the ill effects of artificial light in the world, today.

Shiller: You mentioned the ill effects of artificial light. Most of the circadian lighting manufacturers leading the space have focused on what I consider a high cyan / low cyan, 2-channel approach. That’s been the dominant approach by multiple players. I’m curious if you envision circadian lighting moving beyond this 2-channel approach, to more sophisticated levels of spectral tuning?

Reynosa: We’ve been working really hard for quite a long time to really understand, at the physiological level, what actually works well in terms of understanding spectral energy. The kind of light that naturally occurs from morning till evening, and then asking ourselves, to what degree can we accurately replicate that spectral energy, to effectively entrain one’s circadian system. Through a tremendous amount of work, and years of research, we believe we have a technology platform that actually delivers on that promise. And you’ll begin to see our dynamic offering in that regard, begin to enter the marketplace next year. We believe it is materially differentiated from anything you’ve seen in the world, heretofore.

Shiller: So you’re saying that there are different approaches coming, beyond this 2-channel, high cyan / low cyan approach? Do you agree that something more sophisticated is coming, without asking you to give it away?

Reynosa: Yes. It’s been a very clear focus of ours. All through the organic work that we’ve done, and then through the acquisition of Soraa, and now with ZircLight, we have almost 500 patents in the intersections of humans and light, many of which have to do with one’s physiology, biology, and how it interacts with one’s circadian system and the natural environment. We don’t believe there is anything in the marketplace today that accurately reflects what occurs in nature. We think what we are building towards is quite likely a step function change from what is available today.

Shiller: Sounds exciting. You mentioned the Soraa asset acquisition in 2020. There was also the Lumium acquisition in 2019, the Tempo Industries acquisition earlier this year, and now Circadian ZircLight. Do you foresee Korrus acquisitions continuing at this pace?

Reynosa: We don’t really have a time-based acquisition strategy. Our business model and strategy have been pretty clear for the better part of almost a decade now. Sometimes there are opportunities that allow us to scale our vision more quickly. And in those instances, if we see that opportunity, we will take advantage of that through an acquisition. Otherwise, like Scuva, we’ll just build it internally. In fact, you’ll see an announcement coming shortly from us whereby we are partnering in the marketplace with an entity to help us increase the speed with which certain life-based technologies can be delivered to the marketplace, to increase human health and well-being, literally. You’ll see that announced in a number of days or weeks.

We build it internally, we acquire something externally, or we partner with someone. We’re very agnostic about the pathway through which we execute. The key for us is that we see it as a tremendous opportunity to get critical technology out to hundreds of millions, if not billions of people. We just focus on the ways in which we think we can do that best.

Shiller: The Lumium Lighting brand was turned into a product line under Ecosense, but Soraa and Tempo remained separate brands. Will Circadian ZircLight remain a separate brand or be consolidated like Lumium?

Reynosa: The distinctions between how we operate a particular brand varies depending on where we think the best way to maximize against our vision is. We haven’t completely determined the right way to optimize the ZircLight platform, because it is a just announced acquisition. Part of what we do is go out to the existing marketplace partners and ask them how do they feel we can best support them in their efforts with our technologies and solutions. We take that input into account in how we think about an execution perspective.

Shiller: With this Circadian ZircLight acquisition, Korrus is very well positioned and represented in the circadian and GUV aspects of light & health. I’m curious if you envision Korrus moving into other areas of active research for light & health, such as migraines, depression and other non-circadian light therapies?

Reynosa: Yes, this may be is a good point to clarify the mission that we are on. The way that we describe ourselves is that we’re pioneering a new industry called Human Light Interaction. As the name implies, what we want to understand deeply is all of the ways in which humans and light behave together, and how we might be able to provide or create technologies that enhance those interactions. That could be in the in the realm of diseases and illnesses. It could have to do with antiviral properties and material properties. Germicidal things that have to do with the lived environment and to optimize that from a physiological perspective. So we see our mandate as extremely wide, and we don’t even use the word “lighting” to describe the business. We use the word “light.” If you just pause for a second and just think about that, the distinction is quite different. In fact, we had part of our business development team at Display Week, this week in San Jose, showing our technology and our display applications. So televisions, monitors, smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. When we think about the problems being encountered in modern society and the application layers of modern society, we see our mandate and vision really speaking to that entire opportunity set. The next logical question is that’s a gigantic market and opportunity set. So we try to be very disciplined in the specific areas that we want to target. But in terms of research abilities, we have a deep science and engineering team, exploring a very wide cross-section of modern dynamics and how we might participate in helping better the world through specific applications.

We have a culture of curiosity and exploration. If one of our scientists or engineers come upon something in the literature that they think is interesting, we give them the opportunity to go explore and understand that more deeply. It could be depression, Alzheimer’s, sleep, or performance, like an athlete. It is extremely wide.

Shiller: I personally see those non-circadian light therapies, for things like migraines, depression, etc. as potentially becoming much bigger business than circadian lighting, over the medium term, because it’s so debilitating, and it’s a bigger quality of life issue. Do you see those areas becoming big business or is it just too soon to tell?

Reynosa: Take a step even further out. I think the intersection of digital technologies, health, and wellness, which has even removed the word light, for a second. I think in the next 30 to 50 years, you’re going to see an ocean of new categories, industries, products, applications, and experiences at that intersection. At one level, Korrus is just a small microcosm of a gigantic wave coming from that direction, at that intersection. To your point, it is an overwhelmingly large opportunities, because since the Industrial Revolution, we’ve pretty materially divorced ourselves from the natural environment. Modernity brought in a lot of really wonderful things, but with that we brought on certain drawbacks and certain compromises that we think we can create a better balance with. We see our mission as elevating people’s understanding of their light diet, much in the same way they think about food, air and water. It’s literally that fundamental. And in the last 50 years, you’ve seen real revolutions, frankly, in all three of those,  where we believe light to be extremely misunderstood. And part of that is because 80% of everything that we know about human health and light has only been discovered in the last 20 years. The science is only now catching up with the truth and reality of the situation We’re trying to be at the forefront of that to help bring awareness and evangelize ways in which we can solve some of those modern ill effects, from divorcing ourselves from nature.

Shiller: We have been talking about human light interaction. Do you anticipate Korrus moving beyond human light interaction to other biological lighting, such as horticultural lighting or livestock and poultry lighting, that are non-human, but still biological.

Reynosa That’s a good question. Probably every three to six months, we get an inbound request, whether it’s from somebody in industry or academia, who is interested in exploring some of those intersections with our technology capabilities. After some explorations in that space, we’ve concluded that the intersections of humans and light is already overwhelmingly large. Opening the aperture up even larger, right now, would be a real distraction.

Shiller: Is there anything else that you’d like our reader to know about Korrus?

Reynosa: Thank you for that. I’d encourage people to go to Korrus.com to learn a little bit more about the market and the industry that we’re pioneering. There are a couple of videos. One that discusses human interaction with light and our mission. There’s a second video, under our science page, specifically on the intersection of humans and circadian health and well-being.

Shiller: Thank you for sharing your insights, Mark.

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Lighting Industry Supply Chain Continues to Change

A recent LEDs Magazine article laid out ways that the lighting industry supply chain problems are not only changing constantly, but likely getting worse.

A recent LEDs Magazine article laid out ways that the lighting industry supply chain problems are not only changing constantly, but likely getting worse:

  • Shanghai lockdowns for roughly 6 weeks are significantly impacting both factories and the port there, adding delays. Shanghai is the world’s largest shipping port.
  • The war in Ukraine is impacting steel, aluminum, and some other commodity prices.
  • The microchip shortage continues to impact drivers and smart lighting components.
  • Commodity prices in general continue to rise.
  • Long-term container backlogs at US ports have eased, however, providing one bright spot.

You can read the full story here.

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Five Lighting Designers Discuss The Latest Trends In Lighting Retail Spaces

A recent IES LD+A article interviews five lighting designers about the trends that they see in lighting retail spaces.

A recent IES LD+A article interviews five lighting designers about the trends that they see in lighting retail spaces.

Some trends include:

  • Explosion of e-commerce during the pandemic and the extent to which people will go back to retail.
  • E-commerce went from 5% of retail sales in Q1, 2012 to 16% in Q1, 2020.
  • Retailers who had paused their new prototype strategies in 2020 and 2021 with the unknowns of the pandemic, now in 2022 are dusting off those designs and moving forward.
  • The in-person experience is adapting rapidly to accommodate a wide variety of shopping styles, and the lighting systems must change to create enhanced brand experiences.
  • Retailers are expecting shoppers to return in-store in substantial numbers, especially for non-commodity goods and experiential services, including electric-car companies, jewelers, pet-care companies, salons, grocers, outdoor-gear companies, apparel and footwear.
  • Regional shopping centers adapting toward mixed-use destinations, where people are drawn in by restaurants, fitness centers, theaters, hotels, open-exterior spaces and other amenities intermixed with retail. Lighting becomes integral to creating an atmosphere—drawing visitors in and encouraging them to explore.
  • Stores are catering to “Instagrammable” moments. The architectural design includes areas that look great on camera, so the lighting needs to be soft for camera use, too.

The full article is available here.

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Covid Lockdowns Relaxing In Guangzhou & Shenzhen

Lockdowns in two major Chinese manufacturing cities have begun relaxing, in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, last week.

Lockdowns in two major Chinese manufacturing cities have begun relaxing, in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, last week. Two weeks ago, Guangzhou became the latest major manufacturing city to lock down schools and travel, with fears that the lockdowns could spread to the manufacturing sector. However, last week, case numbers fell for several consecutive days in both Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

New Shenzhen symptomatic cases dropped to zero for some days last week. Shenzhen continues to see a large number of cases imported from Hong Kong, accounting for 19 of the 21. The remaining two imported cases both came from Japan.

In response to the falling number of Guangzhou cases, several previously locked-down areas in Baiyun, Panyu, Yuexiu and Haizhu districts have been lifted.

Many schools in Guangzhou have resumed in-person teaching and Foshan announced that people can now leave the city without needing a negative nucleic acid test issued within 48 hours.

For Shanghai, though, case numbers are dropping slowly, keeping the city in a terrible lockdown for more than a month. Shanghai reported 24,820 cases on April 17th and 17,468 cases on April 22nd. My own friend in Shanghai reports that food shortages are becoming a significant problem for the poor and migrant workers.

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