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Paul James on Lightfair 2010

Issue 56 Aug / Sep 2010

The 2010 Lightfair International (LFI), which took place in Las Vegas, ended with a record-breaking number of 22,000 registered attendees - increasing attendance by 10% from LFI 2008 in Las Vegas and making it the largest in LFI’s West Coast history.

This followed the largest ever attendance at last year’s show in New York City (23,000) so the market is obviously very healthy in the States. Or at least exhibitions continue to be a successful stage for companies to announce their latest products.

Boasting an exhibit hall of 160,000 square feet and nearly 1,600 booths, the 2010 trade show floor featured 498 manufacturers - 94 of which represented countries outside of the United States. Attendees from 71 countries and every U.S. state made to trip to see the latest technological advances and lighting solutions. LFI 2010 also welcomed 72 first-time exhibiting companies, adding more dynamic product to the show.

It is always interesting to see the difference in attendee profiles from coast to coast. While New York attracts more lighting designers and architects due to its geographical position (and the fact that they’re a classy bunch!), the Vegas show is always more populated by distributors and reps. Perhaps this would explain, partially, Kevin Theobald’s observation that this Lightfair had more of a components feel to it rather than luminaires.

This was the 21st year of Lightfair, of which I have attended around the last ten, and each year the show gets bigger with seemingly new records being broken on every occasion. World recession or not, the show keeps on showing. It has definitely been noticeable that, in that time, the number of U.S. exhibitors that export to the international market has grown. However, many companies’ definition of ‘international’ means Canada and Central America with the occasional sojourn into the Middle East (and who can blame them? The Americas is a big market.)

In simplistic terms, the growth of the last few years can be directly attributed to the surge of LEDs (what else?). And whilst there was a smattering of other technologies on show (though not nearly as much as Light+Building), the clamber of companies eager to show their latest LED offerings was very evident.

On saying that, this year’s LFI debuted a new pavilion on the trade show floor, the Building Integration Pavilion, aligning it with the three established product-specific Pavilions - the Daylighting Pavilion, the Design Pavilion and the Global Light + Design Pavilion. The Building Integration Pavilion featured companies with enterprise system technologies used to maximise and create energy efficient buildings and showcased many of these successful projects.

There were a number of LED firsts at the show - all with international implications. I know that the future of lighting really is in LED fixtures but the reality is that there are a lot of sockets out there that need a viable A-lamp style bulb, and that’s certainly what consumers seem to be looking for.

Philips officially unveiled its 12 watt EnduraLED light bulb (after an informal preview at Light+Building), an LED replacement for a 60 watt incandescent light bulb. It marks an important breakthrough in the use of LED lighting technology in everyday applications.

The significance of developing an LED equivalent to the 60 watt has been recognised by many international organisations, including the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), who created the L-prize competition to spur development of this highly sought after innovation. Philips’ entry was the first, and to date remains the only submission for the L-prize, which was used as the basis for the 12 watt EnduraLED. Exceeding the Energy Star specifications for a 60 watt bulb, the EnduraLED delivers an industry benchmark of 806 lumens.

Lighting Science Group also showed their 60 watt incandescent replacement, the Definity LED A19 bulb (unveiled by Joe Montana, football legend and Lighting Science Group Board Director) which will retail at just over $30 and has already been validated by Home Depot, the largest home retailer in the U.S..

Every year more than 425 million 60 watt incandescent light bulbs are sold in the United States, representing approximately 50% of the domestic incandescent light bulb market. According to calculations by Philips, this LED replacement has the potential to save 32.6 terawatt-hours of electricity in one year, enough to power the lights of 16.7 million U.S. households or 14.4% of the total number of households in the entire U.S. It would also eliminate the generation of 5.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions annually.

Sharp and Toshiba, two of the largest Asian electronics giants to target the LED lighting market, both used this Lightfair to announce their entry into the U.S. arena. With initial promotions in France, Germany and the UK, the North American market is an obvious glittering prize for Toshiba and its E-Core LED product line, consisting of lamps and a high-efficiency LED downlight, is sure to turn heads. Toshiba’s recent announcement of the relighting of the Louvre in Paris with LEDs can only help their progress.

As a market leader of LED lighting in Japan, Sharp’s experience and technology prowess position the company for a strong U.S. entry. Sharp’s initial U.S. launch at LFI concentrated on commercial/industrial PAR38 lamps available in both warm white and cool white, each with two brightness levels.

US company Cree used LFI to announce the general availability of its new 6-inch LED downlight specifically designed for residential and light commercial use. Designed for both new construction and retrofits, the CR6 is expected to retail for under $60.

GE Lighting’s new LED bulb, using the Cree XPG emitter, consumes just 9 watts and provides a 77 percent energy saving and produces nearly the same light output as a 40 watt incandescent bulb, while lasting more than 25 times as long.

Renaissance Lighting announced that it has partnered with Arkansas-based NNCrystal US Corporation, a producer of high-quality nanocrystal-based products (see David Morgan’s product review in this issue), in the development of its newest technological approach to high-efficacy LED lighting. These phosphors will be used commercially when Renaissance Lighting’s next generation of luminaires is formally introduced later this year.

Innovations were not just restricted to LEDs however. The Innovations Awards (overleaf) uncovered some clever lighting solutions including an ingenious way to transform outdated recessed lights into decorative surface luminaires in just minutes. Recesso Lighting’s locking ring solution certainly created a lot of interest at the show and is something than can be universally adopted. Maybe the designs of the decorative glass or resin covers could be modernised a little for the European market but it’s a great idea that could catch on.

But it was an LED module by Bridgelux / Molex that won the Most Innovative Product of the Year. The Helieon is a flexible, upgradable and replaceable LED module offering 500-1500 lumens in 24°, 32° and 50° beam angles. Designed for high light output applications such as retail, street and commercial lighting, the Helieon is the first plug-and-play, sustainable module to integrate high-efficiency precision lighting with an easy-to-use socketed solution to accelerate innovation and enable the mass adoption of LED lighting.

So LEDs did dominate the show floor and the number of companies looking at international markets is increasing. Whilst Lightfair does not have the flair of Light+Building it still serves as an important resource for the latest technologies in the American market.


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