Search This Blog

Friday, September 13, 2013

SSL Network controls again take spotlight at SALC opening

Speakers in the keynote session focused on the growing requirement for adaptive controls in outdoor LED lighting, and a networked system is widely seen as the technology of choice moving forward.
Edward Smalley, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) 2013 Street and Areal Lighting Conference (SALC) Committee Chair, convened the keynote session of the conference Monday morning and said that with LED-based outdoor lighting you no longer need to compromise in terms of energy efficiency, lifetime, or lighting quality. Indeed, the theme ran through the opening speeches that LEDs offer good efficiency, but that it is networks and controls that can truly allow cities and municipalities to maximize energy and maintenance savings with solid-state lighting (SSL). The messaging followed substantially along the theme of the SALC keynote last year and suggests growing support for a lighting network that acts as a backbone for many services in a municipality.

Mark Lien, director of government and industry relations at Osram Sylvania, addressed a number of issues in his talk but networked lighting was a big part of the talk. Lien listed ten outside industry associations and standards bodies that are exerting force on the SSL industry and noted that five of the ten are focused on interconnect. Examples include the ZigBee Alliance, the TALQ Consortium, and the Connected Lighting Alliance. Lien said, "Interconnectedness is the common thread."

In contrast, only three of the organizations on Lien's list were focused on light-source efficiency. Light quality has also moved beyond source efficiency in importance. Another speaker later on the Monday program concurred. Naomi Miller, lighting designer at the US Department of Energy (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), said that LEDs are sufficiently efficient that we can afford to waste some of that efficiency now to build better, more comfortable lighting products.

Gianni Minetti, president and CEO of Paradox Engineering, followed Lien and Minetti and really amplified the trend first covered by Niels Van Duinen of Philips Lighting last year. Minetti said 1.2 million new people are moving into new cities each week around the globe. Cities must become more efficient to sustain the growth. He said that smart-city technology, including networked intelligent lighting, could improve energy efficiency by 30% in the next 20 years. That improvement comes on top of more efficient light sources.

Because intelligent lighting offers easily identified savings, Minetti sees lighting as the technology to drive the infrastructure. He said a network designed for lighting can ultimately handle traffic services, emergency signaling, and even pollution controls.

Minetti covered three case studies in San Francisco, California; Paris, France; and Chiasso, Switzerland that have installed wireless multi-service networks. In the Switzerland case, for example, the network carries feeds from video-over-IP traffic cameras along with lighting status and control data; and offers public Wi-Fi. We'll offer more details on those case studies in a later feature article.

The question did arise from several in the audiences as to who owns, installs, and manages such a network within a municipality and how you get different departments to work together. Both Lien and Minetti agreed that such obstacles are part of the growing pains. Both also agreed, however, that there are no technical obstacles. Minett said, "The technology is available today."

NiteN startup announces novel approach to LED retrofit lamp

Using a single circuit board to host COB LEDs and the driver electronics, NiteN hopes to significantly lower the cost of SSL lamps, but the startup could be late to the party.
NiteN has announced an LED retrofit lamp called the 2D-Lite LED Disk that the company says can hit the $10 price point for consumers in 2014 for an 800-lm, 60W-equivalent lamp. The unique design may not resonate immediately as a lightbulb replacement, but it appears as if it should produce uniform omnidirectional light and can be manufactured at low cost. That said, NiteN is a socially-funded startup that may or may not have the backing to launch the product and the socket-saturation clock is ticking on any new manufacturer trying to enter the retrofit lamp space.

We've refrained from covering socially-funded startups for the most part because frankly few have succeeded in the business-to-business technology space and there have been dozens targeting SSL — none of which have found success to date. The unique design of the NiteN product, however, makes it worthy of discussion.

A-lamp footprint
At first glance it looks little like a lightbulb, but the footprint is the same as the vertical centerline cross-section of a traditional incandescent lamp. The single printed-circuit board (PCB) that hosts the LEDs and driver electronics is shaped in that form. The design eliminates interconnects between the LEDs and driver electronics, and the metal-plated PCB acts as both a heat sink and reflector.

The design uses two chip-on-board (COB) LEDs that are mounted back to back on either side of the PCB. A COB LED alone wouldn't provide an omnidirectional beam pattern. NiteN founder Andy Turudic said, "A redistribution lens provides sweet hemispherical perfection from the LED lambertian pattern." Most often you see a collimating total internal reflection(TIR) lens used with smaller LEDs, but that is to narrow the beam pattern and wouldn't work with a larger COB. But in this case the dispersion lens is used to broaden the pattern and the reflective surface of the PCB adds to the beam spread.

The low-cost manufacturing angle is important. The 2D-Lite design would be assembled automatically on a surface-mount line. There are no wires requiring connections or hand soldering/assembly. Even the screw base of the lamp is implemented in part within the confines of the PCB. The plastic portion of the base that is evident in nearby photos does not have the Edison socket threads and is smooth. But look at the edges and you will see the Edison threads on each side of the PCB (the green vertical equator along the base). Moreover, the electrical connections between the PCB to the threads and to the contacts in the base of the socket are accomplished by contacts embedded on the PCB.

Timing and funding challenges
Despite the positives, NiteN faces an uphill challenge to bring the 2D-Lite design to market. The company needs funding to begin volume manufacturing including the expensive mold for the injection-molding required to build the plastic base. The company is trying to raise money on the Indiegogo social-funding site, and is part of the Philips Innovation Fellows program on that site.

The other challenges include the nontraditional look of the lamp and the relatively short time left for companies to capitalize in the retrofit lamps space. Founder Turudic said low cost will trump unconventional looks and that the design should hit the $6 price point in 2015 and drop to $3 in 2017. But even Philips Lighting seems to have learned that consumers want traditional-looking lamps. Of course, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to put a globe on the NiteN design, although that would impact the cost and possibly the thermal design.

The bigger question is probably the clock. Without question NiteN has misjudged how quickly the retrofit lamp space is moving. Even if things go perfectly for the startup, Cree, Philips, and probably others will beat them to market with $10 60W-equivalent lamps. The important factor is that the large companies have volume production and distribution arrangements in place to move hundreds of thousands of units instantly. And by the time 2017 rolls around, the market for retrofit lamps will be severely diminished as consumers will have installed many long-life lamps already.

The NiteN intellection property (IP), however, could be applied to luminaires as well. Turudic pointed out that the 2D-Lite LED Disk could serve perfectly in the typical surface-mount ceiling fixture that uses two incandescent lamps or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in which half of the light is radiated upward and essentially wasted. NiteN could just power one side of its disk and halve power consumption to double efficacy in such a case.

The most likely path to success for the company, however, is probably sale or license of the IP to companies working on integral luminaires, or even a move into the luminaire space if the startup can find funding. The concepts are impressive, but we've seen many impressive concepts in the SSL space that were far better funded and yet have staggered to exit the startup phase.

Outdoor lighting: GE Lighting supplies LEDs to Baguio City; Global SSL projects

GE Lighting has supplied the tourist destination of Baguio City in the Philippines with new LED streetlights, while Bath, UK; Sydney, Australia; and Horsham, Pennsylvania launch SSL roadway projects.
GE Lighting has supplied LED streetlights for a major roadway lighting project in Baguio City, the Philippines, both slashing energy and maintenance costs and improving the lighting. Bath, England is installing solid-state lighting (SSL) along the A4 roadway. The Ausgrid utility in Australia is undertaking LED projects across 41 town councils. And Horsham, Pennsylvania is replacing obsolete streetlights with LED-based fixtures.

Baguio City streets
Baguio City is both a major summer tourist destination and a center of educational institutions in the Philippines, and city officials are revitalizing the city through a formalized Clean & Green Environment program. As part of that initiative, the city previously installed LED lighting in Burnham Park and Chinese Garden, and now has moved to retrofit roadway lighting along a 3-km section of Kennon Road, which links Baguio City to the lowland town of Rosario.

GE recommended the 157W LED R150 Pro fixture for the roadway project. The SSL fixtures use 37% less energy than HID alternatives that deliver equivalent light. Baguio City projects that it will save $212,400 each year in energy and maintenance, and also said that the energy reduction was equivalent to elimination of 398,000 kg of carbon emissions each year.

Still, city officials would not have made the transition to LED sources without an upgrade in lighting quality. The city said that the new fixtures produce no uplight. Moreover, the lighting is largely glare free given the combination of reflector optics and LED placement in the fixtures. The city said the lighting offers a more vibrant and modern look and is therefore a good investment in terms of maximizing visitor experiences in the city.

"GE recognizes the importance of a sound and thriving environment as a major element in promoting tourism," said Vince Adorable, GE Lighting country manager for the Philippines. "This initiative with the local government of Baguio is one of the many lighting projects in the country that GE participates in. It is geared towards creating better, safer, and cleaner communities through products that are ecologically sensitive and at the same time, cost-effective."

Bath, England streetlights
In the UK, meanwhile, the town of Bath is installing LED lighting along portions of the A4 roadway than runs between London and Avonmouth, according to the Now Bath website. The town is replacing lights that are nearing the end of their service life.

The project involves 4,000 fixtures. The Bath & North East Somerset Council is projecting annual savings of GBP 200,000 per year initially and an additional GBP 50,000 per year in the future due to lower maintenance costs. The project is also taking advantage of adaptive-control technology to lower light levels and enhance efficiency when little traffic is on the road late at night.

Ausgrid LED project
Moving down under, the Ausgrid utility in Australia, which owns 250,000 streetlights and maintains that inventory for 41 town councils, is beginning a major LED retrofit after testing the technology for a year and a half. According to the website, councils across Sydney, the Central Coast, and Hunter will get SSL.

The lengthy test period was intended to ensure that the LED lights could withstand harsh Australian conditions. Eight locations totaling 62 lights proved out the technology and energy savings totaled a 70% reduction during the trial.

Horsham township
Of course, smaller projects are popping up everywhere these days, and Horsham Township, Pennsylvania is one of the latest such projects. The Hatboro-Horsham Patch reported that 64 lights will be converted to LEDs this year. That relatively small project is projected to save $2,200 annually.

The town was forced to contemplate a streetlight project because many of the existing lights were obsolete. But the town council considered other energy-efficient technologies such as induction before settling on LED lights.

Osram says OLEDs will find use in production autos by 2016

Surface-emitting OLED light source will prove an ideal match for tail and brake lights, according to Osram, with production obstacles largely overcome.
With the Frankfurt International Motor Show on tap beginning September 12 in Frankfurt, Germany, Osram is planning to highlight the OLED technology that it has been pursuing specifically for automotive applications. The company now believes that OLEDs will be used in production vehicles by 2016 in rear-facing applications such as brake and tail lighting.

Osram publicly demonstrated the automotive OLED technology in the fall of 2012 at the Electronica trade event. Clearly the company has progressed with the technology significantly in the last ten months. For a 2016 vehicle to use the technology, the light source must essentially be ready now given the long design cycles of the auto industry.

"We have essentially achieved road suitability for our OLEDs this year and will be offering initial special equipment based on OLEDs next year," said Ulrich Eisele, who is responsible for the OLED sector at Osram. "In 2016 at the latest, we expect to see OLEDs used in series production of new vehicles."

Osram believes that the inherently-diffuse, surface-emission characteristics of OLEDs make the technology especially suitable for the rear-facing lights. A main obstacle to such usage has been temperature stability of the light source — especially at extreme temperatures. But Osram said it has now achieved stability at 85°C over several hundred hours of operation.

Eisele added, "After a further year of research, the remaining obstacles regarding serial production are small." The company will also demonstrate the technology at the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting that will be held September 23–25, 2013 in Darmstadt, Germany.

Osram has not discussed the other roadblock to OLED usage — namely costs. Even LED lighting has been relegated mainly to premium auto models and LED technology is more mature and less costly than OLED technology. As the LED technology goes more mainstream in autos, OLEDs will likely be limited to the elite models initially.

Our September issue includes a feature article on LED usage in autos and does mention OLED usage as well. The OLED technology is already being used inside the cabin in some high-end autos for displays.

While primary advantages of LEDs in cars have been a controllable beam, lower energy usage, and lighter weight, OLEDs could bring other advantages. For example, Osram says that transparent OLEDs will offer new design concepts in automotive lighting.