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Archenhold on ARC

Issue 66 Apr / May 2012

Our LED expert Dr Geoff Archenhold found a wide diversity of new LED lighting products exhibited at The ARC Show... despite this being a Light + Building year.

I have to be honest right from the start - I actually didn’t get a chance to see all the new products of every exhibitor at ARC this year because it seemed to be the place where everyone (designers, specifiers and manufacturers) came together for two days and discussed technology, products and new projects. There was a real buzz about The ARC Show and it was nice to see that the exhibitors have built on the success of last year’s event when the show moved back to its spiritual home of the Business Design Centre. The IALD LED panel session posed some challenging questions to the panel, which consisted of representatives from OSRAM, Cree, Forge Europa and Serenity Lighting.

Personally, I prefer more focused shows that don’t sprawl endlessly over large numbers of halls and have stands the size of a large UK town and The ARC Show once again proved a more relaxed and intimate show experience. That said, there was a surprising number of interesting new LED products on show and here are just a small selection that caught visitors’ interest.

Crescent Lighting launched several new products at ARC including a new downlight shown in figure 1 that offer several great features at what seemed to be a very competitive price. Manufactured in the UK this fitting uses the Bridgelux 1203 LED module, which is available in either white 4200K CRI 80 or warm white 3000K CRI 82. Output at 4000K is more than 900lm. The fixture comes with two different reflector options, either a narrow 16 degree or a wide 40 degree beam. The product is adjustable with a maximum 30 degree tilt angle and really looks great.
Cresent Lighting also displayed a smaller 10W downlight version using a pin-bloc heatsink which is made from a cold forged process to offer improved thermal management performance as shown in figure 2.
Farnell, under the element 14 brand, had several products on display including the multi-coloured OLED panels from Verbatim. As a sign of progress with OLEDs the panels are increasing in size and lumen output, however it is still a technology looking for a killer application. Farnell also offered a new MR16 kit as shown in figure 3 allowing would be fixture manufacturers to test the thermal and optical performance of LED fixtures and drivers. The MR16 kit will come with a variety of LED emitter options and drivers enabling a great deal of flexibility for perfecting a high quality MR16 design.

Megaman announced the impending release of TECOH, their first LED module range, creating application-ready solutions that can be easily adapted into existing luminaires. The TECOH range includes TECOH MHx, an LED module that occupies the same space as a G12 ceramic metal halide lamp and has a similar light centre length offering a true alternative to a 35W metal halide lamp as shown in figure 4. Also new is the TECOH CFx range, which provides high performance twist-lock LED modules with integrated drivers for general lighting, replacing conventional light sources such as 50W halogen, 2x13W and 2x18W compact fluorescent lamps as shown in figure 5. The lumen packages on offer include 1100 lumens and 2000 lumens.

The Megaman TECOH CFx modules are based on a multiple-chip white LED array at the bottom of the module and a reflector to direct the light through a slightly opaque cover resulting in a lambertian beam shape. This unique approach results in an appealing product design with good colour characteristics.

Photonstar also demonstrated the CLE (Compact Light Engine) Module and is the first of several products to be launched that features the company’s patented ChromaWhite technology. The winning ChromaWhite Tungsten+ version claims to be the first LED source to match the popular, but soon to be banned, halogen lamp in terms of light colour and quality, and dimming characteristics.

The unique features of ChromaWhite address the common barriers to LED adoption, particularly eliminating concerns over unexpected colour shift over time and the ability to render colours (especially red) true to daylight. In addition, for applications such as hospitality, lighting designers want a light source that has the dimming characteristics of halogen – warming in colour when dimmed. Whilst this has been available in other products, ChromaWhite Tungsten plus is the only light source to provide this feature with the colour quality of light demanded in these applications.

The new CLE module with ChromaWhite Tungsten+ technology also won the title of “Visitors Choice” in the ARC awards so must have been popular with visitors.

Projection Lighting launched the new 2000lm Metropole spotlight, designed for the retail and architectural markets.

This track-mounted fitting, shown in figure 7, features unique, light-weight 2-phase passive cooling, customised by FrigoDynamics.
Metropole has a professional range of accessories and three beam angles, available in a range of colour temperatures (2700k, 3000k, 3500k, 4000k), colour rendition of up to CRI 98 (max 1000lm) and up to 2000lm. Fittings come in white or black.

The eco-friendly, silent, 2-phase heat exchanger made by FrigoDynamics uses only disposable heat to initiate its heat transfer cycle.

Interestingly AlphaLED is the first product range that claims to guarantee products for the quality of light over five years. They promise no noticeable colour shift and only 5 % lumen loss across the installation after five years. This is a massive leap in confidence for LED technology and shows how quickly LEDs are maturing to be not just more efficient but to also offer better quality of light over traditional light sources.

Toshiba presented the new generation E-Core 1600 LED downlight which incorporates Toshiba’s removable LightEngine LED light source.
The LED light source is no longer integrated into the luminaire, which makes the E-Core 2000 future proof and reduces the amount of waste. Furthermore it allows the flexibility to change the colour temperature and beam angle easily to match the needs of the lit space.
The LightEngine delivers highly efficient light with up to 1550 lumens from only 24W giving you an efficacy of 65lm/W which is compliant to Part L and ECA criteria.

With 40,000 hours life (L70), the LightEngine will last four times longer than a typical CFL lamp. The E-Core 1600 also features on board dimming to maximise energy saving potential, a UGR below 19, is available in white or silver finishes and also offers a choice of 45º or 85º beam angles.

The IALD LED lighting panel forum

The IALD hosted the annual ARC LED lighting forum and again the audience heard about the latest LED and OLED technology trends coming through the supply chain.

This year I presented sound technical reasons why the LED lighting industry will become the dominant light source of choice in just a few years’ time for most lighting applications. The main reasons given were the rapid increase in LED efficacy at both the emitter and fixture levels as well as the ferocious drop in LED product prices as volumes take off. Controversially, I stated there would not be another lighting technology after LEDs and OLEDs so those who claim another technology may appear to supplant (O)LEDs were disappointed. Again, I gave scientific and commercial reasoning behind my bold claims, but hopefully I will be still around in 20 years to take the glory or suffer the shame of being proven wrong!

The main questions that were asked of the panel included:

1) LED warranties and fixture lifetime
There was concern amongst many in the audience that some early LED product that have been in installations for a couple of years are starting to fail for one reason or another.

Several in the audience asked how could one easily assess an LED product for lifetime, but in general the panel stated this is very difficult to determine in practice. There isn’t really a fixture life-time test standard and even the lumen maintenance standards are only suited to LED emitters rather than full systems. This means that it is difficult for designers and specifiers to spot good products from badly designed ones.

Again, I stated that relying on a manufacturer’s warranty may not be ideal as the actual cost may be small for a product swap but the reputation of the designer and the replacement in situ costs could be significantly higher and these costs may not be covered by warranties even if they are ten years!

My advice was to review the manufacturer’s warranty terms very closely rather than believing you are covered automatically if they say it’s five or ten years.

2) Colour consistency and lumen output
A major concern raised by the audience was still the colour consistency and lumen output of LED fixtures, which on large white projects can be a concern.

The LED manufacturers on the panel stated this shouldn’t be an issue providing the LEDs are from a reputable manufacturer and that the fixture manufacturer provides the correct binning strategies. Both OSRAM and Cree representatives state that they provide very fine colour binning in production and that this far exceeds what was possible with colour binning of fluorescent tubes and CFL lamp technologies.
One of the issues that became evident is there is a large number of low cost LED fixtures entering the lighting supply chain where LED colour consistency was not the priority for the manufacturer and this could cause issues and catch out the end users if they are unaware of the colour consistence.
The other aspect of lumen output was also discussed and this also seems to be due to differences in lumen binning from manufacturers.

3) Retrofit of LED products that may have failed in 2 years time
Several of the audience expressed concerns regarding how quickly LED technology is progressing and how short the LED fixture manufacturers design cycles seem to be getting. They pointed out that what is deemed a positive for the LED technology is turning rapidly into a negative due to the fact that some LED fixtures launched two years ago may have already been phased out leaving installations with early failures in a difficult position ie; replace with a different type of fixture and make the installation look messy or replace with the same fixture but have different light output and colour from the older generation.
This is a really tough question to answer because even the largest lighting companies cannot hold every light fixture in stock and as the technology improves the colour and lumen output will inherently change. The panel agreed that new luminaires with built-in intelligence should enable both the colour and lumen output of a replacement fixture to be programmed on installation. However it was agreed that this technology is not widely used and increases the cost of current LED based fixtures.

4) How can you determine if an LED fixture is good!
Again this question theme emerged and basically I answered it by saying: ‘With lots of difficulty’. In reality it is difficult to assess an LED fixture without taking it apart, analysing components and testing fixtures but who has the time, resources and know-how these days? The panel stated that one needs to look at the quality of components and should start with a high quality LED from a top ten manufacturer. Following this you need to make sure the thermal management of the system is high quality to enable the LED junction temperature to be as low as possible.

Another way would be to get the products tested by experts, but again this adds cost to a project.

Again, the panel reiterated the need for a Caliper type programme funded by government which would assess market available products and compare their real life performance to that of the manufacturers datasheet. In reality this is probably not going to happen and the UK/EU governments will just let the market make mistakes and learn by their mistakes over the next decade.

The main LED manufacturers also explained from their perspective how difficult it is to validate their own LED products because the design cycle is so short and to get valid performance data it needs months of testing time. Today by the time the LEDs have been tested they are already bringing a new generation of LEDs to market so it can be very difficult to provide long term testing.

There were many more questions asked of the panel but overall I was impressed by the increase in the LED knowledge of the audience which will hopefully translate into a more educated product consumer that is able to see good quality products from those that are not.

It will be interesting to see all the latest products on show at ‘LED + Building’ in Frankfurt next month so hopefully I will see many of you there.

Geoff Archenhold has been seconded twice to the UK Government to support the Lighting, LED and Photonics industry and currently helps LED companies develop business plans to raise investment from the finance community. He is an active investor in LED driver and fixture manufacturers and a lighting energy consultancy. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of Geoff Archenhold and not necessarily those of mondo*arc.


Dr Geoff Archenhold
Related Articles

  • Figure 1: Crescent Lighting’s 20W LED downlight which can be tilted at up to 30 degrees.

  • Figure 2: Crescent Lighting’s 10W downlight using an LED array and special cold forged heatsink.

  • Figure 3: The new MR16 Kit from Farnell element 14.

  • Figure 4: The new Megaman Tecoh MHx LED module to replace 35W metal halide lamps.

  • Figure 5: The new Megaman Tecoh CFx LED module to replace CFLs.

  • Figure 6: Photonstars ChromaWhite Tungsten+ module.

  • Figure 7: The new Metropole from Projection Lighting.

  • Figure 8: Toshiba’s new E-core 1600 downlighter.


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