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Lightfair International 2012 Field Report

Record number of attendees observe solid-state lighting’s continuing evolution at this year's event

Lightfair International 2012, held at the Las Vegas Convention Center May 9-11, drew more than 24,000 lighting industry professionals from 73 countries (a show record) who were eager to view the newest light sources, fixtures, control systems, and support products that make up this $19 billion industry. Sponsored by Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), this annual gathering also offered more than 100 industry experts who taught 72 breakout sessions on subjects such as lighting controls, plasma lighting technology, daylighting techniques, and electrical specifications of lighting equipment for designers.

Show Highlights

Linear fluorescents account for about 80% of all lamps used in the commercial sector, and the market has shifted to T8 and T5 lamps over the last decade. For that reason, the low-mercury content, extended-life T8 and T5 lamps and their more efficient and controllable electronic ballasts were important products to review at the show. Presently, they offer many of the same features as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) at a greatly reduced cost for new construction and remodeling. The same is true for HID lamps, especially metal-halides in the outdoor-sector base, which increased to 32% in 2010. Nevertheless, an observer at the show could easily have called the event “LEDfair.”

The rapid emergence of LED lighting has brought with it some challenges. Because an LED chip has a more
complex construction than traditional light sources, many factors — such as the type of emitter, the substrate upon which the emitter is mounted, the optical system, and the driver electronics — all contribute to performance gains. One company, Soraa, bet that placing a gallium nitride (GaN) on a GaN substrate would be better than having GaN crystals grown on a dissimilar base — usually sapphire or silicone carbide. This fundamentally different crystal structure of GaN on GaN allows the LED to operate at much higher output levels and generate more light per unit of chip material than other LEDs. The first product is a replacement for a 50W MR16 incandescent lamp, matching the MR16 form factor (the same overall length and weight), while using a single LED chip rather than a chip array. The output has no pronounced blue peak or violet and cyan dips generally found in other LED lamps.

Other companies are developing GaN-based blue LED chips (1.1 mm × 1 mm) fabricated on 8-in.-diameter silicon wafers, which will reduce manufacturing costs due to the larger wafer size. Along with developments in the chip itself, innovations in drivers are also important. Osram Sylvania’s PRO-Flex family of constant current drivers is designed to adapt LED fixtures for use in Emerge-Alliance-compliant low-voltage ceiling grids supplying 24VDC power.
A variety of LED modules, which integrate a driver, LED chips, lens, and thermal management in a compact disk, were also displayed at the show. The Zhaga Consortium, formed in 2010 to create standardized interfaces for LED lighting components, now has more than 150 members. Two standards approved thus far include a socketable light engine with integrated control gear and a 50-mm-diameter spotlight with the control gear in a separate housing. Standards are also underway for an indoor linear fixture and a non-socketed streetlighting engine.

Another challenge is dimmability and interoperability of products. While efforts are underway to address the dimming issue with standards and test procedures, two companies introduced LED lamps capable of incandescent-like dimming. Osram Sylvania showed the Ultra PAR38 lamp with CCT dimming from 3,000K to 2,000K by a combination of blue phosphor-converted LEDs and amber LEDs. Juno Lighting, in its Generation 3 Downlights Series, offers a WarmDim feature that uses a microprocessor-controlled LED light engine to add amber chips, replicating the warm color of incandescent dimming as lumen output decreases.

Make room for OLEDs

Organic LEDs (OLEDs) are also edging toward market readiness. Somewhat similar to the LED, the typical OLED is composed of thin layers of organic materials sandwiched between an anode and cathode. However, OLEDs are extremely flat panels that produce even, glareless, heat-free illumination over the complete surface, rather than creating concentrated beams of light the way LEDs work. With a CRI of 85, output is about 40 lm/W at present, but 100 lm/W is expected in the near future.

Verbatim, a recognized brand in the consumer electronic market, showed a market-ready OLED panel, called Velve, which has the RGB layers arranged in a parallel strip formation. Because each layer operates independently, a range of colors, including white lighting, are achieved. The back of the 146-mm × 133-mm panel has a tonal controller, which provides a wide range of color temperatures from 2,700K to 6,500K, and brightness can be set from 0% to 100%.
Universal Display Corp. is working with Acuity Brands Lighting, which currently offers its Kindred  OLED pendant, to create a phosphorescent OLED luminaire with efficiencies greater than 70 lm/W that is also color tunable between 2,700K and 4,000K.

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Control This
Lighting controls were widely seen on the show floor but, in general, proprietary schemes dominate the field, as users await a viable standard. A growing emphasis on controls exists because, with each subsequent generation of the ASHRAE/IESNA 90.0 standard, the list of mandatory control requirements grows. Thus, the major lighting companies are putting control capabilities (wired and wireless) into their luminaires (especially LED sources), to allow changes in lumen output based on input from occupancy sensors, switches, and dimmers or some other input, such as scheduling software.

The ZigBee wireless technology is taking hold among many manufacturers. The ZigBee Alliance has moved ahead by completing the ZigBee Building Automation standard last year and the more recent LED LightLink standard. Nevertheless, a dedicated ZigBee controller has yet to be mated with an LED luminaire to create a viable system.

Philips introduced its standards-based integrated lighting control system called OccuSwitch Wireless LightManager. In addition to using ZigBee standards-based sensors, wall switches, and area controllers that communicate with each other, this system supports BACnet and TCP/IP protocols. Thus, the control system is easily scalable as facility needs change.

Daintree Networks offers its Wireless Area Controller (WAC), the centerpiece of its ControScope lighting management software platform. The WAC is certified for use in both the ZigBee Building Automation and ZigBee Home Automation systems, so lighting designers can select fixtures, sensors, and controllers from multiple vendors.

Some firms are selecting a building’s existing WiFi system as a corollary communications medium. Acuity Brand’s nLight (digital) control scheme is primarily a wired network using Cat. 5 UTP cabling to create a network integrating daylight, occupancy, and manual dimming control, and it is used in a family of Lithonia indoor ambient recessed troffers. However, the nWiFi wireless solution for the nLight control system integrates directly with a building’s existing WiFi network, eliminating the need for nLight Bridge devices and the longest and most costly runs of Cat. 5 network control cabling.

Osram Sylvania Encellium Energy Management System, a software-based solution for new construction and retrofit projects, has added various features, such as the sensor and luminaire control modules, wall stations, and the updated Polaris 3D software.

Enlarging its portfolio of centralized lighting and energy management systems, Lutron Electronics showed an app for its Quantum Total Light Management System that controls and monitors the lighting and shade systems of a facility (area-by-area) from an iPad. The Quantum system also has packages for BIM and Central Control to handle all energy management needs. A new sensor sends outdoor light levels to the Quantum system, communicating wirelessly via the firm’s proprietary Clear Connect radio frequency technology. Clear Connect, which uses a 400-MHz frequency band, is defined as a fixed network, meaning that a predetermined path through the network is created between any sensor and receiver. Honeywell Lighting Controls also used the Clear Connect RF technology in its systems.
Cree announced an agreement to embed the Lutron EcoSystem technology on a chip in its CR troffers, with other products to follow. This collaborative effort can increase luminaire lifetime 50% and significantly raise lumen maintenance factors.

Leviton continues to expand its communications/controls, energy monitoring, and LED illumination products. Using wireless products from EnOcean, the firm offers a lineup of self-powered occupancy sensors, wall switches, and integrated wireless receivers that automatically turn lights on or off in the space, depending on occupancy, and require no new wiring in a retrofit application.

Lumenpulse has a bidirectional power line communications control system, called Lumentalk, which turns existing electrical wiring into a stable, noise-free, high-speed communications link for data. Each dimmer or control panel uses a device that translates the input signal (0V to 10V, Triac, DALI, or DMX), reshaping it into a digital signal. This technology allows lighting manufacturers to offer integrated functions, such as daylighting harvesting, scheduling, dimming, color control, occupancy sensing, demand response, and remote control functions.

Indoor Fixtures
Increasingly, lighting firms are offering LED luminaires that make use of the source’s unique characteristics, such as GE’s expanded line of flat-panel, edge-lit LED luminaires, available as recessed ceiling troffers, suspended, and wall washer models. The company’s Lumination luminaires distribute light evenly over the flat surface of the panel using True Edge light distribution technology from Rambus. Cooper Lighting also is licensing the Rambus patent with a line of edge-lit fixtures coming out later this year. Global Lighting Technology, the originator of the edge illumination concept, was not defending the patent and thus sold the rights to Rambus. However, the technology is used in their fixtures at the show, such as a 6060HE LED Overhead Light that delivers up to 3,300 lumens in a 2-ft × 2-ft troffers, and a high-bay fixture rated at 300W and 17,000 lm that uses a Loop Heat Pipe thermal management systems.

Cree, Ledalite, Osram, Lithonia, and others have innovative 2×2, 2×4, and pendant commercial office luminaires with optical systems that offer uniformity, visual comfort, and energy savings. Osram Sylvania’s RLC22 LED ambient luminaire delivers 85 lm/W from a round aperture that fits within a 2×2 grid ceiling, offering three color temperatures and 0V to10V dimming down to 10%.

Cooper Lighting’s IRIS P3LED recessed downlight, directional, and lens wall washer products feature a diffused optical system for excellent light control, and the field-replaceable LED array is Zhaga-compliant. The IO LILI 2×2 recessed LED indirect fixture offers three heat sink designs and glare-free illumination.

Creative Systems Lighting showed an expanded line of its LED-based Eco-Downlights. Adding to the 2-in. and 3-in. aperture downlights is the 5-in. aperture model, which consumes 30W while delivering 2,200 lm on the task. The luminaire is available in three color temperatures, featuring 4 Step Binning and optics that provide 12°, 25°, 45°, 65°, and 85° beam spreads. Modular square and round trims mate in the same housing. The firm’s Entity Series uses a concentric cylinder shape with a 16W LED source to create a dimmable fixture that can be flush-mounted or hang as a pendant.

LED Living Technology offers its Claris retrofit kit for replacing T12, T8, and T5 lamps in existing 2×2 direct and indirect troffers as well as 1×4, 2×4, and wrap-around housing with 24-in., 48-in., and U-tube configuration, using narrow strips of densely spaced LED chips.

Outdoor Market

Many manufacturers are adding a communications network to their outdoor lighting, making it easier to monitor, control, and maintain roadway lighting as well as call boxes, dynamic message signs, cameras, inductive loops, etc. Amerlux’s Smartsite-Controls integrates pole-mounted LED lighting with a wireless mesh network control systems that manages the light output, audio messaging, music, video graphics, and energy usage for street lights and other featured outdoor areas. Several of Acuity Brands outdoor luminaire product lines offer adaptable control systems, using the Roam brand for monitoring and controlling the lumen output of individual street lights.

GE Lighting’s redesigned EvolveLED Roadway Scalable Cobrahead street lights, available in numerous chip layouts, can serve the requirements of many outdoor applications, because the optical system offers hundreds of photometric options. The fixtures accept the Monitor Stand-Alone Controller, which turns on at dusk, dims at a predetermined time to a preset amount, returns to full brightness at 5 a.m., and turns off at dawn.
Philips’ RoadView LED luminaire can be specified with 32 LEDs to 160 LEDs. Optional dimming, programmable drivers, and outdoor control systems add to its versatility.

Lighting Science Group introduced its Forefront LED luminaires, available in area, flood, high-bay, pedestrian, and wall-mount versions, which can be controlled by an onboard camera-based occupancy sensor and video processor. Motion detection can be confined to any part of the camera’s field of view for operation,
An outdoor fixture designed around the LED’s specific characteristics is the Beta/Cree Aeroblade street lighting fixture, which has vertically positioned blades that add an aesthetic value and the thermal mass helps dissipate heat.

Hubble Outdoor Lighting expanded its Wall Scone Portfolio with the Trapezoid and Radius Series. The LMC-30 is rated at 23W while providing 1,184 lm with a 5,000K color temperature.       

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