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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Bridgelux’s Cetero spot-light module meets upcoming Zhaga specs

This high-flux spot-light module has been designed for compatibility with an upcoming Zhaga standard, which simplifies luminaire design.
Bridgelux, a manufacturer of LEDs, arrays and light modules based in Livermore, CA, has introduced a high-flux-density light engine based on its ES products, the Cetero Spot Light Module (SLM). The initial product line will feature light outputs of 800, 1100 and 2000 lm with color temperatures of 2700K, 3000K, 3500K and 4000K, a minimum CRI of 80 and 3 SDCM color consistency. The company will demonstrate the module at upcoming Light+Building and Lightfair shows, with commercialization in late 2012.

The module is designed for compatibility with an upcoming specification from Zhaga, the organization that develops standards to ensure interchangeability of light modules from different manufacturers. Among all the Zhaga standards, Jason Posselt, vice president for channel marketing at Bridgelux said, “It’s the one we’ve seen the most customer interest in and also the most companies interested in bringing products to market, partly because of its simplicity.” He added that this particular standard is primarily focused on interface compatibility, and is not as complex of some of the other standards. Zhaga standards specify standard optical, electrical, thermal and mechanical interfaces so that as solid-state lighting technology improves, installed modules can be easily upgraded via a plug-and-play replacement.

The standard for spot-light modules accommodates emitter- or array-based LED designs with external control gear. Module makers such as Bridgelux do not specify specific drivers for use with the product, but because testing has been performed with certain drivers during development, this information is made available to the luminaire manufacturers. “We submitted some testing results with specific drivers to get Zhaga approval, but if a luminaire manufacturer wants to use a different driver, they have that option. We will have multiple eco-partners, just like with our arrays,” said Posselt.

Benefits for luminaire makers
As we have discussed in LEDs Magazine previously, with the modular approach, luminaire manufacturers can potentially speed time-to-market. Module use can also simplify design because a single module form factor can be used across a wide range of fixtures. Therefore, luminaire manufacturers do not need to maintain a large inventory of modules. “Bridgelux remains committed to providing customers with leading-edge LED technology in a package that simplifies their design efforts and reduces product development risks and costs,” said Posselt. “We believe that working with Zhaga to help develop common standards will help pave the way for accelerated adoption of solid-state lighting technology.

However, the modular approach comes at a cost. While Posselt did not disclose pricing for the Cetero modules, he did state that while many customers of existing LEDs and arrays have expressed interest and are likely to switch to the modular approach, he expects other customers to continue to purchase LEDs and arrays. “For instance, the module has wire-cut connectors on it, while arrays require soldering. Some customers do not want to deal with soldering. On the other hand, when cost is the primary driver, a customer may not choose the modular option.”

Module replacement cycles?
Although the industry often speaks in terms of replacing SSL modules when the LEDs reach the L70 lumen maintenance mark, Posselt points out that customers may have other reasons for replacing modules in the field. He stated that as communications, sensing and control options become more advanced, users may determine that module replacement is needed to upgrade to a new functionality, for instance. “You’re going to see a lot more innovation before that 50,000 hour lifetime expires, so it’s possible that light output alone will not determine when modules are replaced.”

Strategies Unlimited projects $3.7 billion LED retrofit lamp market in 2016 (Updated)

The LED replacement lamp market will grow 30% annually, in terms of units sold, between 2012 and 2016 according to new research published by analyst firm Strategies Unlimited.
Strategies Unlimited has published a new report entitled "LED replacement lamp market analysis and forecast" that projects a global LED-retrofit-lamp market that exceeds $3.7 billion by 2016. The growth in solid-state lighting (SSL) products intended for existing sockets is from a $2.2 billion base in 2011, and the firm projects an annual 30% growth in the number of units sold.

According to the report, there were 39.9 million SSL A-lamps (A19 lamps with a legacy Edison base) sold globally in 2011. Strategies Unlimited analyst Katya Evstratyeva said that Japan led the way in consuming LED A-lamps with 24.7 million of the global total. The Japanese Eco-point program was in part responsible for the high market numbers, but Evstratyeva said other factors such as environmental concerns and high prices in compact-fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contributed as well.

Linear lamps
Perhaps surprisingly, the market for LED-based linear fluorescent replacement lamps was strong globally as well. Strategies Unlimited reports 19.3 million units sold with 41% of those sales coming in China, 21% in Japan, and only 18% combined in the US and the European Union.

Evstratyeva noted that an obstacle to more linear lamp sales is the DOE testing that has documented lower light output for LED-based replacements relative to fluorescent lamps. Evstratyeva said, "LED-tube-retrofit projects are taking place only when project owners are willing to forego the light output for the sake of energy savings."

China is a perfect example of a case where energy savings drove sales said Evstratyeva. Rising electricity rates and longer working hours in commercial and industrial applications make energy efficiency a top concern.

We at LEDs Magazine have seen an uptick in use of linear LED lamps of late that indicates newer products are closing the gap in terms of light output. Recent projects at Pasadena City College, a San Diego restaurant called Hodad's, and an Air New Zealand facility all were bullish on the technology.

Price declines
The Strategies Unlimited report does temper the positive across the retrofit lamp market with some concerns. The firm is forecasting a 14% annual decline in the average selling price of LED-based lamps. That price drop can help spur growth but reduces the total sales numbers and in some cases profit margin.

The firm noted that an oversupply of LEDs could continue to benefit lamp manufacturers targeting lower prices. But most of that oversupply is in backlighting LEDs, and those components aren't ideal for general-illumination products, although some manufacturers are using them in low-cost, low-light-output products.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cirrus Logic enters LED driver IC market; Linear Tech and Power Integration announcements

Cirrus Logic announced the CS161X LED driver IC with a claim of near 100% dimmer compatibility while Linear Technology announces a new buck-boost SSL driver IC, and Power Integrations offers a 100W-retrofit, A-lamp reference design.
Cirrus Logic is a newcomer to the LED driver IC market, but the company claims it will make an immediate impact asserting that a tier-1 lighting vendor will shortly ship a high-volume, retrofit-lamp product based on the new CS161X IC. The company says that it has tested the 2-stage CS161X solid-state lighting (SSL) driver IC with more than 200 triac dimmers and that the IC delivers smooth, flicker-free dimming down to below 2% of maximum output current.
Cirrus targets dimmable retrofit lamps with the CS161X

Cirrus has taken a similar path to Marvell and iWatt in recently-launched dimmers – attempting to recognize the characteristics of the connected dimmer and then selecting an optimal operating mode for that dimmer. Cirrus describes its approach to dimming as a digital implementation in a mixed-signal IC, but evidently the IC is not based on a programmable processor core such as Marvell uses.

The company calls the implementation TruDim Technology. The data sheet describes a dimmer switch detection algorithm that can place the IC in leading- or trailing-edge operating modes. Moreover, once the driver IC is in full operation, the IC performs a dimmer validate function that periodically ensures that the mode selection is still accurate.

Efficiency at low levels
In addition to smooth, full-range dimming, Cirrus says that the new design is more efficient than most dimming driver ICs. The datasheet specs efficiency at 85%, but strategic marketing manager Will Draper said that designs have achieved better than 90% electrical efficiency.
The LT3791delivers 2A through a single inductor
In part the efficiency is attributable to a different way of working with triac dimmers. Most dimming-capable SSL drivers maintain a current bleeder circuit that keeps the triac active at all times, but that wastes some amount of power, especially at low dim settings. Draper said "The need for a hold current is conventional wisdom but not necessarily true." According to Draper, the Cirrus design does not transfer power from the triac to the load on every half cycle of the AC line. Draper says that the 2-stage driver design has storage elements that can result in power transfer only on each 9th half cycle.

Still, Cirrus returns to the dimming performance as the key value proposition of the new IC. The company claims to have evaluated the IC in a reference design against several well know retrofit lamps including two from Philips. Presumably the test included operation across the full dimming range and in single-, 5-, and 10-lamp configurations, with the multiple lamps connected in parallel to the dimmer. As you might expect the Cirrus design performed best in class, although the results are pretty meaningless until Cirrus details the exact nature of the tests.

Cirrus has produced a video (see below) that demonstrates the dimming capability. But in all fairness, a number of companies including Texas Instruments, Marvell and iWatt had similarly impressive demos in the Strategies in Light exhibits back in February. The fact is that dimming performance has improved across the board in driver ICs over the past year. 

Linear Tech LT3791
In other recent LED driver IC news, Linear Technology introduced the LT3791 synchronous buck-boost DC/DC driver IC. The design targets industrial, architectural, and automotive lighting applications. The IC operates from a DC input voltage over a range of 4.7V to 60V. When combined with four external MOSFETs, the IC can deliver 5W to 100W of continuous power to a string of LEDs with efficiency as high as 98.5%. A single inductor delivers up to 2A of drive current. The output can implement either PWM or analog dimming.

Power Integrations, meanwhile, has a new reference design based on its LNK460VG driver IC that describes a 100W retrofit A-lamp. The DER-322 reference design describes a circuit that is 93% efficient, and that drives a string of LEDs at 78V with a constant current of 230 MA. The design is primarily targeted at the international market, supporting an input voltage over the range of 195V to 265V. Power Integrations also says that the design can easily be adapted for use in LED-based T8 retrofit tubes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

E.ON demonstrates LED advantage for commercial lighting

E.ON, a UK-based utility, has launched a new consulting service for commercial lighting, and has installed LED luminaires at one of its main offices.
E.ON, a utility that generates electricity and supplies power and gas, has developed a new commercial lighting proposition that offers consultancy and installation work to replace inefficient traditional lighting with innovative LED solutions in offices in the UK.

E.ON is demonstrating the potential energy-cost savings of its commercial lighting offering with a project at one of its main offices. A total of 1692 LED luminaires will replace traditional luminaires at E.ON’s Newstead Court offices. The company expects that the installation will reduce energy consumption by 55%, leading to a saving of GBP40,000 per year. This is based on saving 452,000 kWh per year at GBP0.089 /kWh.
A reduction in maintenance costs of up to GBP16,000 per year is also projected, and the new lighting will significantly reduce carbon consumption by up to 253 tonnes per year.

Clark Morrow, Programme Manager at E.ON, said: “The installation of the LED luminaires has transformed the office space into a bright and comfortable environment to work in. Everyone working in the office has been amazed by the amount of light that each luminaire emits into the room. This project has not only enhanced our working conditions but has enabled us to demonstrate and prove the real benefits of the technology.”

According to E.ON, 80% of the UK’s commercial market has not yet realised the benefits of energy-efficient LED lighting. Moreover, research conducted on behalf of E.ON in September 2011 found that only one in five (21%) of UK small businesses have energy-efficient equipment in the workplace, and almost nine out of 10 (86%) don’t have lighting timers or motion sensors in their workplace.

E.ON has set up its specialist Commercial Lighting team to develop and implement a total lighting solution for commercial customers. The process begins with a thorough feasibility study, assessment of current lighting inventory and a comprehensive review of how the building is used.

Then, the team identifies a suitable replacement solution from a complete portfolio of LED lighting solutions, including lamps, luminaires and controls, and devises a suitable implementation programme bespoke to the business.

Martin Baker, Head of Infrastructure Services and Chief Engineer at E.ON, said: “LED technology has been around for many years, but now significant innovations have made it a more viable and affordable alternative to traditional lighting.”

“The new LED luminaires in Newstead Court, for example, will have an increased lifespan of at least three times that of the old lighting, and will significantly reduce energy consumption and generate real cost savings,” said Baker. “We hope this project will demonstrate to our customers how we can work with them to upgrade their internal lighting and in doing so see similar benefits in their own buildings.”

Saturday, June 9, 2012

IES publishes LM-82 for LED light engines and lamps at temperature

The IESNA has published LM-82-12, the approved method for determining photometric properties as a function of temperature for LED light engines and integral lamps.
The Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) has published LM-82-12, the approved method for “Characterization of LED Light Engines and LED Lamps for Electrical and Photometric Properties as a Function of Temperature.” The new standard is designed to establish consistent methods of testing and data presentation to assist luminaire manufacturers in selecting LED light engines and integrated lamps for their luminaire products.
“The thermal environment near the LED is altered by both the luminaire design and the application environment. By measuring the performance characteristics at various temperatures the luminaire manufacturer can model the expected light output of a given luminaire design, including those for decorative lighting and non-directional applications,” said Rita Harrold, director of technology at the IESNA.

The new standard references LM-79 for all photometric and electrical measurements, but with the measurements performed at elevated temperatures. Therefore, LM-82 can be viewed as essentially the LM-79 standard procedures, but with that characterization extended to include any performance degradation of LED light engines and integral lamps that might occur at elevated temperatures. The LM-82-12 publication is available at the IES website for $25 for non-members and $17.50 for IESNA members.

An LED light engine is defined as “an integrated assembly comprised of LED packages (components) or LED arrays (modules), LED driver, and other optical, thermal, mechanical and electrical components,” according to the ANSI/IES RP-16-2010 standard. The definition continues “The device is intended to connect directly to the branch circuit through a custom connector compatible with the LED luminaire for which it was designed and does not use an ANSI standard base."

The same standard defines an integral LED lamp as "an integrated assembly comprised of LED packages (components) or LED arrays (modules), LED driver, ANSI standard base and other optical, thermal, mechanical and electrical components. The device is intended to connect directly to the branch circuit through a corresponding ANSI standard lamp-holder (socket)."

IES LM-82 outlines the measurement procedures for the luminous flux of LED light engines and integral lamps using AC power sources, unless the device is designed specifically for direct current.

S3J Electronics provides LED lamps for Ford plant

Ford Motor Company has switched from metal-halide to LED lighting at its stamping plant in Woodlawn, NY, reducing plant-wide energy use by 10 percent.
Ford Motor Company and the National Grid have unveiled a $2.7 million energy-efficiency project at Ford's Buffalo Stamping Plant in Woodlawn, NY.
The work involved the replacement of 1740 tandem-style metal-halide fixtures with LED fixtures that are 70 percent more energy efficient and manufactured by S3J Electronics of Lancaster, NY. Ford personnel began installing the LED lamps last October and the project was completed last month. The plant stamps parts for vehicles including the Ford Edge.

The LED lamps were specifically designed for the Ford project, with special consideration taken to the high temperatures under which they have to operate inside the plant. LED lighting also provides a consistent level of high-quality light, creating a potentially safer work environment because workers can view a truer version of color and better distinguish between different colors.
The LED lighting upgrade is expected to provide the stamping plant an annual energy reduction of approximately 10.7 million kWh or the equivalent to the amount of electricity used by 1400 homes in Western New York for a year. Looked at from another perspective, the plant’s total energy use is now 10 percent lower than it was previously. “The plant load is about 10,000 kilo-watts of demand and this project reduces that by about 1000 kilowatts or about 10 percent of our plant demand. So by reducing our cost, our operating cost it makes the plant total cost more viable,” said Jeff White the Energy Efficiency Manager for Ford.

National Grid, an electricity and gas provider to the Northeastern US and the UK, awarded Ford a $1.35 million energy efficiency grant -- the largest the company has ever awarded in Upstate New York since the program was introduced in 2009. Ford paid the remaining $1.35 million for a project, which was completed on schedule and on budget.

“The LED lighting project at the Buffalo Stamping Plant was a great project in which local businesses worked together in an effort to save energy and money through the use of S3J’s high quality, energy efficient LED light fixtures which are locally manufactured,” said Adam Metz, president of S3J Electronics LLC. “This project demonstrates National Grid’s and Ford’s commitment to reduce energy consumption, to invest in the Western New York region, and to use local manufacturers such as S3J Electronics when possible.”

“So National Grid initiates these types of conversations. We come in and see our clients and we try to find out what is driving their energy usage. Then we come back to them on how to minimize that usage and optimize the equipment they have in place. From a National Grid perspective this is a win. We are out there trying to promote energy efficient use of technology,” said Ken Daly the President of National Grid.

Since its inception in 2009, energy-efficiency programs have helped more than 15,000 business customers in Upstate New York save more than 373 million kWh of electricity, which is equivalent to the amount of energy used by 50,000 homes in one year.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Outdoor Lighting: Sunovia and Thomas handle Illinois LED retrofit, Pakistan SSL project

Evolucia fixtures powered by Thomas Research drivers light Palatine, IL parking structure, while cities in the US and abroad pursue SSL retrofits.
Palatine, Illinois replaced 451 metal-halide (MH) luminaires in a parking garage using Evolucia LED-based fixtures from Sunovia Energy Technologies and drivers from Thomas Research Products, cutting the fixture power consumption from 232W to 90W. Apparently Islamabad, Pakistan will proceed with a controversial 6500-fixture solid-state lighting (SSL) retrofit project, while small US municipalities also get in the LED game.

Palatine garage

Palatine garage entrance
Palatine, located just northwest of Chicago, retrofitted its 4-tier Gateway Center Parking Garage hoping to reduce energy and maintenance costs and increase visibility. The city had access to a federal energy grant via the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity Grant program that required light projects to have a payback period of 7 years or less.

Palatine engaged Walker Parking Consultants on the project, and project engineer Brad Walker tested LED luminaires from six manufacturers in the garage over a one-month period. The testing included surveys of citizens parking in the garage that were asked to judge the visibility.

Ultimately Palatine director of public works Matthew Barry specified the Evolucia PS14 parking garage fixtures and drivers from Thomas Research Products based on the evaluation made by Navarro. The retrofit was done on a one-to-one fixture basis. The cost analysis revealed a simple payback of only 1.22 years due to the significant energy savings.

"We didn’t have a preconceived view of what product we wanted, so we brought in an independent third party to help determine how to proceed," said Barry. "And we successfully implemented it. We had no negative comments from users." Indeed Barry said a common theme from citizen comments was, "The lighting goes all the way to the wall and there are no dark spots."

The Evolucia PS14 luminaire is rated for more than 70,000 hours of life and the city expects it to deliver the desired maintenance savings. The 6000K-CCT fixtures use Cree XP-G series LEDs with a 73.4 CRI. The team specified Thomas Research drivers with a universal 100-277V input, greater than 0.95 power factor, and 100,000-hour rated life.

New Thomas driver
In related Thomas Research news, the company recently announced a 480V driver family. While most street and area lighting, and indoor lighting, is powered by voltages below 277V, there are niche applications that use a higher input voltage.

Thomas Research 480V driver
In street-light applications, for instance, some high-voltage installations require an autotransformer in front of the driver to step down the input. The autotransformer reduces the electrical efficiency of the drive circuit.

The Thomas TSC-75W, TSC-150W, and TSV-300W SLL drivers output 75W, 150W, and 300W respectively. The drivers can operate from an input ranging from 277-480V. The TSC models are constant-current drivers with dimming capability, while the TSV model is a constant-voltage driver.

Outdoor SSL installations
In SSL outdoor installations, It appears the Pakistan city of Islamabad will go forward with an LED lighting project. In a recent outdoor lighting story, we reported that authorities were in disagreement over a potential SSL project because of the high upfront cost of the LED lights.

Now the Islamabad Daily Times is reporting that the Capital Development Authority has received approval to undertake a massive street-light retrofit project. The city will replace 65,000 lights reducing energy cost by 50%. The purchase will be handled primarily through debt financing paid over 5-7 years via the money saved in energy costs.

The LED movement continues to pervade communities large to small throughout the US. According to the Avon, Connecticut Avon Patch website, the city will use a US Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECGB) to install LED lighting around the Town Hall. The city projects $1500 per year in energy savings.

In Hatfield, Pennsylvania, township commissioners have voted to commence a second LED lighting project according to The Reporter website. The city had previously used incentives to fund an LED project but will pursue lighting the township administration building parking lot based on a 72% reduction in energy cost and a 10-year payback period.

Philips appoints Eric Rondolat as CEO of Lighting business

Philips has appointed an executive from Schneider Electric to lead its Lighting business.
Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE:PHG, AEX: PHI) has named Eric Rondolat as CEO of Lighting and a member of the company’s Executive Committee, effective April 1, 2012.
Rondolat succeeds Frans van Houten, CEO of Philips, who has led Philips Lighting on an interim basis since the departure of Rudy Provoost in fall 2011.

Rondolat joins Philips from Schneider Electric. “I look forward to working together with the teams to further drive Philips Lighting innovations in this dynamic market,” said Rondolat. “Philips is a company with a rich heritage and is well positioned to grasp further growth opportunities.”
Van Houten said that Rondolat has had “an impressive international career in the technology industry covering both established and fast-growing emerging markets, most recently Asia Pacific based in China.

“He is a real entrepreneur with a clear strategic vision who will be able to lead the industry transformation to energy-efficient LED-based lighting solutions,” continued van Houten. “Eric has a strong track record in delivering results and is a great addition to my team.”

Philips Lighting is the world’s largest lighting company and generated sales of EUR 7.6 billion in 2011. Icn the last quarter of 2011, LED products accounted for 18% of lighting sales at Philips.

Albeo Technologies completes $8 million financing round

Lead by Braemar Energy Ventures, the latest round of financing for Albeo will enable the company to develop more products and deepen its channel presence.
Solid-state lighting manufacturer Albeo Technologies has raised a total of $8 million in Series C equity and debt financing. The equity investment was led by Braemar Energy Ventures, and also included existing investor Green Spark Ventures. Silicon Valley Bank provided a working capital financing line.

Boulder, Colorado-based Albeo manufactures LED lighting products for industrial and commercial buildings, such as cold storage, data centers, schools, and retail and commercial buildings. Products include high-bay and low-bay fixtures, and linear, surface-mount and under-cabinet fixtures. The company says that it has lit over 7 million sq. ft. of space to date.
Albeo says that the funding will allow it to increase both the breadth of its LED lighting portfolio and depth of its channel presence. The new capital will also create a stronger financial base for the company.

“With Braemar’s existing portfolio and network in the LED and lighting sector, their strategic partnership will be invaluable in helping Albeo better support the lighting needs of our customers,” said Jeff Bisberg, CEO of Albeo. “We look forward to continuing our current trajectory of growth and are excited about potential future opportunities.”

Albeo believes that it is meeting the needs of the lighting marketplace by providing customers with LED products that are fully customizable before and after installation, while also reducing energy and maintenance costs.

“We are excited about Albeo’s innovative approach to LED lighting,” said Dennis Costello, managing partner at Braemar Energy Ventures. “Given the projected increase in the pace of change within the lighting market, we see a great opportunity with Albeo as they showcase the expertise and dexterity needed to respond quickly to customer needs, giving them a natural advantage within the industry. We are excited about future opportunities and the expansion of Albeo’s market presence and product offerings.”