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Sustainability and standards guarantee SSL’s success

issue 41 Feb / Mar 2008

It is inevitable that people resist change no matter what the circumstance or indeed the long term consequence. However, when it refers to the ongoing saga of LEDs and Solid-State Lighting verses conventional lamp technologies, we should accept the advice provided by the Borg in Star Trek who state “resistance is futile”. Dr Geoff Archenhold explains all...

Over the past five years, rather predictably, the conventional and somewhat conservative traditional lighting industry has resisted the attractiveness of new technologies such as LEDs to the point that their very existence could have been in danger if they did not start to understand, believe and have confidence in this new technology. Thankfully, in the last two years the LED industry has started to mature and has begun to listen and learn from their customer’s fears and scepticism of their new technology and focused on what the customer actually required. This maturity has led to a profound change in the lighting industry and today one can walk around any global lighting show and see a majority of the lighting companies exhibiting LED-based lighting products proving that everyone should always listen to their customer’s objections and needs.
In turn, the traditional lighting industry should start to listen to their customers’ concerns, objections and needs rather than supplying them with the same old solutions. It is now clear that consumers, business and Government want sustainable and functional lighting and currently the lighting industry (both conventional and SSL) is only at the starting line of what will become a very lucrative race.
This month’s article will briefly touch upon the sustainability factors driving the LED and SSL market and how a raft of new LED standards are being put in place to accelerate the LED penetration within the general lighting market.

Sustainability and Government Legislation

In the middle of January 2008, the European Commissions President, Jose Manuel Barroso, outlined a raft of targets to be met by all EU member states in order to combat the real threat of man-made climate change over the next twelve years. As the evidence becomes conclusive and the impact of climate change on business and commerce begin to be felt (The UK has over £200 billion of assets in flood and coastal erosion regions and the cost of flooding in 2007 was close to £1.5 billion to business) these targets will drive government legislation and consumer sentiment to reviewing sustainability in all sectors and especially lighting. The EU targets indicate the UK is supposed to achieve climate change targets of:

  • a 20% jump in energy efficiency
  • 10% of vehicle traffic powered by biofuels
  • 15% of energy derived from renewable sources.

The UK already has a raft of policies in place to stimulate the growth of renewable energy, but may have to draw up new ones if and when the commission’s proposals are endorsed by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers however the target of energy efficiency will be much more challenging. The UK’s commitment to energy efficiency is going to be a key driver of the LED and consequently the Lighting industry over the next decade. However today there are little measures in place to demonstrate the UK Government’s commitment to supporting sustainable and healthy lighting in the marketplace. The majority of the current lighting support mechanism provided by the Carbon Trust is rapidly becoming outdated and is still supporting environmentally “risky” technologies such as Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). The main issue is these Government funded organisations appear to engage effectively with the traditional lighting industry but are completely disengaged with the LED lighting community thus rendering themselves in a dangerous position of listening to a one-sided story.
As a consequence, the year started off poorly for the traditional lighting industry and indirectly the Government with a raft of issues damaging consumer confidence in CFLs with health warnings provided by the Environmental Agency about procedures to be followed when a CFL is accidentally broken (due to ~5mg of mercury in each CFL see ) through to health warnings that commercial CFL’s can cause migraines (see and are leaking dangerous levels of Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation that could cause skin rashes and irritations


Avid readers will know my passion and veracious dislike of CFL technology and have always claimed that LED technology is a more sustainable form of lighting technology. However these health warnings are not good for the lighting industry as a whole. The UK Government, through bodies such as the Carbon Trust, must shoulder much of the blame due to a deep lack of understanding of lighting technologies and their trends combined with an abyss of foresight has meant that CFL’s have been subsidised and supported just on energy efficiency (or lumens per watt figures) criteria alone irrespective of the health, carbon footprint and recycling issues. The simple solution would be for the lighting industry to propose to the UK Government it creates a lighting industry forum to assist in a sustainable lighting policy that takes into account the rapid development of new lighting technologies, the commercial barriers such technologies face and to support the UK lighting industry make the transformation to LED technology.

Banning the incandescent bulb – out of the frying pan and into the fire?
Due to the high energy usage of incandescent light bulbs by comparison to more energy efficient alternatives, several governments have recently passed laws and regulations starting to phase out their usage including:

USA: The federal Clean Energy Act of 2007 was passed on December 19, 2007. This legislation effectively banned (by January 2014) incandescent bulbs that produce between 310 - 2600 lumens of light. Bulbs outside this range (roughly, light bulbs currently less than 40 watts or more than 150 watts) are exempt from the ban. Also exempt are several classes of specialty lights, including appliance lamps, “rough service” bulbs, 3-way, coloured lamps, and plant lights.
European Union: The EU has proposed a ban on incandescent light bulbs, planned to come into effect in the near future, but this will not affect existing incandescent bulbs, only the production of new bulbs. The proposal has yet to be approved by all member states or the European Parliament and may take some time to effect.
Australia: On February 20, 2007, the Federal Government announced that by 2010, incandescent light bulbs would be banned in Australia. It is estimated greenhouse gas emissions will be cut by 800,000 tonnes.
Ireland: In December 2007, Ireland was the first country to take specific steps towards implementing a European Union pledge to switch to energy-efficient lighting by the end of the decade and will ban incandescent light bulbs in favour of energy-saving alternatives from 2009. The move would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 700,000 tonnes a year and shave $269.3 million a year off householders’ electricity bills.
Italy: On 10 December 2007 the Budget Committee of the Chamber of Deputies has voted in favour to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs as of 2010.
UK: On the 27 September 2007, the government in the United Kingdom announced plans to phase out the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2011.
Brazil and Venezuela: were the first countries to attempt to phase out the use of incandescent light bulbs, in 2005.
Canada: In April 2007, Canada stated they will ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs by 2012 as part of a plan to cut down on emissions of greenhouse gases. The ban will not apply to uses where incandescent bulbs are still the only practical alternative.

Despite several governments’ legislative stance, the traditional lighting companies are still fighting to keep incandescent lamps within the marketplace until 2019. The European Lamp Companies Federation ( recommends four phases to the banning of incandescent lights starting with highest wattage lamps and gradually covering lower wattages.
The UK position for banning incandescent light bulbs should (if organisations keep to voluntary timescales) see the following transitions:

2008: Retailers cease replacing stocks of ordinary (GLS) A-shaped incandescent lamps of efficacy lower than 30 lumens/W and of energy rating higher than 100W
2009: Retailers cease selling GLS A-shaped incandescent lamps of efficacy lower than 30 lumens/W and of energy rating higher than 60W
2010: Retailers and distributors cease selling GLS A-shaped incandescent lamps of efficacy lower than 30 lumens/W and of energy rating higher than 40W
2011: Retailers cease selling GLS A-shaped incandescent lamps and 60W ‘candle’ and ‘golfball’ lamps of efficacy lower than 30 lumens/W

The ban of inefficient light bulbs (incandescent or otherwise) is very welcome. However a suitable replacement technology that is less environmentally pollutant is required otherwise the legislators may find that they are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Proposals to ban incandescent lamps have met with criticism due to several shortcomings of CFLs including:

  • Environmental issues: CFLs contain small amounts of the toxic element mercury (~4-5mg). If a bulb is broken, it releases mercury vapour. The United States and UK Environmental/ Health Protection Agencies have released documents on cleaning up broken CFLs, instructing people not to vacuum, to open windows and leave the room for 15 minutes, clean up the pieces while wearing gloves, use duct tape to pick up small pieces, and double-bag in plastic all broken pieces, in order to avoid mercury poisoning.
  • The poor emission spectrum of fluorescent lamps
  • Slow starting of some types (particularly in cold-weather)
  • The higher cost of dimmable fluorescent lamps
  • Poor availability of large Wattages (above 18 Watts) and bulbs of small physical size (e.g. candle bulbs)
  • Poor suitability for some applications (e.g. refrigerators, chandeliers)
  • Epileptics and migraine sufferers may have adverse reactions to fluorescent lighting
  • Poor quality manufacturing yielding high doses of UV radiation

The website identifies how many CFL’s have been sold in the US since 1 Jan 2007 which was approximately 139, 353, 368 lamps when writing this article. If one assumes an average of 4mg per CFL it would mean there is now 557 Kg of mercury spread across US homes and businesses which will need to be disposed of in a sustainable way. Today, in the UK there are estimated to be 600 million lamps in service (which is expected to increase to 750 million by 2020) of which 20% are considered to be CFL based. Therefore, the UK already has more than 100 million CFL’s in service representing more than 400kg of mercury which needs to be disposed of. In the UK, the recommended drinking water quality guideline states that there should be less than 1 μg of mercury per litre which indicates that 1 CFL containing 4mg would contaminate more than 4000 litres of water if disposed of incorrectly, or staggeringly more than 400,000,000,000 litres of water for the current UK CFL stock in service!
The UK’s Energy Efficiency Commitment (EEC) scheme puts an obligation on energy suppliers to meet a target for improvement in energy efficiency among household customers. Between 2002 – 2005 more than 40 million CFLs were distributed as part of the EEC activity and more than 43 million CFLs will be distributed as part of the next phase of the scheme between 2005-2008. The third phase of the Household Energy Supplier Obligation between 2008 and 2011 will be called the Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT) and could supply yet another 55 million CFLs through direct sales and retailers making the toxicity, health and recycling issues paramount.
In stark contrast to the CFL picture, LEDs contain the potential to protect the environment through various inherent characteristics including:

  • The reduction in carbon dioxide emissions through improved energy efficiency
  • They contain no mercury or lead
  • The majority of LEDs for lighting do not emit UV radiation so no health issues
  • They are switched at very high frequencies and so minimise flicker
  • Lower consumed wattage (high lm/W and power factor correction)
  • Reduction of light pollution and wasted light
  • Ability to control power to optimise efficiency
  • Intelligent systems that switch lighting off or automatically dim when not needed
  • Elimination of hazardous environmental wastes (RoHS & WEEE compliant)
  • Increased product lifetimes reducing recycling and land fill needs.
  • Smaller light source so contains less embedded carbon
  • A high choice of lamp formats in both size and wattage

UK Building Regulations drive lighting efficacy
The revision of building regulations Part L2 in 2002 recommended a minimum efficacy for general lighting in office, industrial and storage areas (not including display lighting) of 40 luminaire-lumens per circuit watt. This figure would correspond to a lamp efficacy figure of about 53 lumens per watt for a lamp in a luminaire of light output ratio (LOR) 0.75. The 2006 revision Part L2A, while setting no recommended minimum efficacy for new buildings, suggests an increased level of 45 luminaire-lumens per circuit watt (~60 lamp-lumens per watt) as averaged over the whole area of these types of existing building refurbishments. The minimum efficacy for display lighting is only 15 lamp-lumens per Watt at present which can now be addressed by LED technology.
The revision of building regulations Part L1A in April 2006 for conservation of fuel and power in new dwellings states that a way of showing compliance would be to provide light fittings (including lamp, control gear and an appropriate housing, reflector, shade or diffuser or other device for controlling light output) that only take lamps having a luminous efficacy of 40 lumens per circuit-watt. Where circuit-watt means the power consumed in lighting circuits by lamps and their associated control gear and power factor correction equipment.
Reasonable provision would be to provide fixed interior energy efficient light fittings that number not less than the greater of:

  • One per 25 Sqm of dwelling floor area (excluding garages) or part thereof; or
  • One per four fixed lighting fittings

The building regulations will be reviewed in 2010 and by this time it is predicted that LED fixtures will be able to provide enough evidence to help legislators increase the luminaire-lumens per circuit Watt bar further and perhaps even exclude the use of CFL’s from 2012 in all new or refurbished buildings.

LED versus CFL
Sceptics from the conventional lighting industry state that LEDs cannot compete with fluorescent technology. However this is incorrect and today it is possible to create CFL beating systems based on the latest white LED emitters. It isn’t just the efficacy of the LED emitter that matters in Solid-State Lighting but the efficacy of the total lighting fixture including the electronic driver or control ballast.
An often overlooked aspect of luminous efficacy is the issue of light sources and useful or useable light. A light source may deliver many lumens per watt, but that source needs to be housed, connected and usually shaded in some way to prevent glare. Glare, an undesirable side effect of lighting, often results from direct viewing of a light source. A light source might generate many lumens and be too bright which can cause eye fatigue and so the use of a light shade or other mechanism to direct or shield the light source is often employed. LEDs offer designers a bright light source and may not require the additional infrastructure of a shade and thus the LED fixture, in some cases, can provide more useful lumens than traditional lamp sources.
Figure 1 identifies a typical interior functional down light application commonly found in hotels, office corridors and a variety of office spaces. As the compact fluorescent light source is inherently omni-directional it requires a reflector system to create a light distribution suitable for the application which introduces a high loss in total system efficiency. As LEDs provide directional beam outputs the total optical efficiency of the LED system is much greater and results in significantly higher total overall fixture efficiency (or Light Output Ratio) despite having identical lamp source efficacy.
Figure 2 demonstrates how the White LED efficacy roadmaps from the major LED manufacturers will enable White LEDs to displace CFLs by 2012 even if the costs of the LEDs remain significantly more expensive. A typical 13W CFL generates approximately 800 lumens, the equivalent of a 60W incandescent bulb. However, by 2009 a white LED will have an efficacy of 135 lumens per Watt and require only 5.9W of electrical energy to generate the 800 lumens which is twice as efficient as a CFL lamp used in a typical down lighting fixture!
Indeed, the predicted curves based on industry trends and standard fixture designs shown in Figure 2, have already been improved upon in terms of both lumens per watt and power consumed during 2007. LED Lighting Fixtures Inc of the USA created a PAR 38 LED lamp which delivered 659 lumens at a CCT of 2750K with 91.2 CRI using only 5.8W of electrical power. What makes this achievement even more impressive is the lumens per watt value quoted represents the total systems efficacy of the fixture and not just the LED efficacy.
Therefore, governments and their closest advisors should take note that LED technology is ready for deployment today and legislation should be created to support high quality LED lamps alongside that of CFL technology. The key to increased support and recognition will be the development of new standards for LEDs during 2008.

Solid-State Lighting Standards
A lack of standards in any field or industry can slow adoption, growth and innovation and in a fast growing industry such as LED illumination it has already resulted in confusion, a degree of hype and frustration from customers.
Like traditional lighting products, LED-based luminaires are subject to industry standards governing safety and performance. To accommodate LEDs, some existing standards and test procedures are being modified, while in other cases, new standards are under development.
While lighting, as a whole, already has many standards for mechanical forms, electrical connections and measurement, LED lighting has many different characteristics from conventional lighting predecessors, making it different and thus requiring a raft of new standards development.
A significant drawback to LED adoption, causing confusion to customers and manufacturers alike, relates to the specifications of LEDs, LED sub-assemblies and LED lighting systems. In many cases, these specifications are misleading. This section lists the key performance and safety standards applicable to LED-based lighting products.
It is predicted that a number of new standards relating to LED lighting will be developed and published during 2008 including:

ANSI C78.377A: Specifications for the Chromaticity of Solid State Lighting Products
This standard will specify the recommended chromaticity (colour) ranges for white light LEDs with various correlated colour temperatures (CCTs) and ensure communication of chromaticities to consumers.

ANSI C78.378: Standard to Characterize LED Light Sources for Safety

ANSI C78.379: Standard for Binning

ANSI C82.SSL1: Power Supply (Current draft out for comment)
This standard will specify operational characteristics and electrical safety of SSL power supplies and drivers.

ANSI C82.77-2002: Harmonic Emission Limits – Related Power Quality Requirements for Lighting
This standard specifies the maximum allowable harmonic emission of SSL power supplies and is focused on drivers and electrical safety issues regarding LEDs.

IESNA TM-16-05: IESNA Technical Memorandum on Light Emitting Diode (LED) Sources and Systems
This technical memorandum provides a general description of LED devices and systems, and answers common questions about the use of LEDs.

IESNA LM-79: IESNA Approved Method for the Electrical and Photometric Measurements of Solid-State Lighting Products
This will specify procedures for measuring total luminous flux, electrical power, luminous efficacy, and chromaticity of SSL luminaires and replacement lamp products. This standard is in process and under committee review at this time.

IESNA LM-80: IESNA Approved Method for Measuring Lumen Depreciation of LED Light Sources
This standard will specify procedures for determining lumen depreciation of LEDs and LED modules (but not luminaires) related to effective useful life of the product. Today two numbers are used in this upcoming standard, L70 or 70% of initial light output and L50 or 50% of initial light output. Selection of L50 or L70 depends on the application. Methods of modelling and providing early measurements in the range of several thousand hours are required to determine lumen depreciation to L70 or L50 levels. IESNA LM-80 is under process and in committee review at this time.

: Nomenclature and Definitions for Illuminating Engineering Addendum
This document provides industry standard definitions of lighting terms, including all lighting technologies. The document is currently being updated to include definitions of solid state lighting terms. This standards activity may appear to be the simplest to put in place but this topic has resulted in many long discussions. This activity has focused on about two dozen definitions of terms related to solid-state lighting and LEDs. It includes such terms as module, assembly and so forth. This document has been developed in cooperation with the IEC, the IES, ANSI and NEMA.

CIE S009 /E:2002
: Photobiological Safety of Lamps and Lamp Systems
Specifies measurement techniques to evaluate optical radiation hazards and eye safety risks of LEDs and LED clusters. Until recently LEDs were treated similarly to lasers in IEC 60825 but this standard now refers to CIE S009, now under development to address the general issues of eye safety and LEDs. ANSI/IESNA RP 27.1-3 will be referenced; this addresses many of these issues as well.

CIE 127:2007: Measurements of LEDs
The only document to date addressing LED luminous intensity measurement; applies only to individual LEDs, not to arrays or luminaires.

CIE 15:2004: Colourimetry, Third Edition
The official document defining various CIE chromaticity and CCT metrics. Will be referenced by ANSI C78.377.

CIE 127:2007: Measurements of LEDs
The only document to date addressing LED luminous intensity measurement; applies only to individual LEDs, not to arrays or luminaries.

IEC 62471: Photobiological Safety of Lamps and Lamp Systems IEC 60825.15 Guide is in Working Draft Stage.

UL Standards
UL is currently developing a safety standard for “Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Light Sources for use in Lighting Products,” which will be designated UL standard 8750. Currently, UL has in place an “Outline of Investigation” (also numbered 8750) that references all existing UL standards applicable to LED lighting products. The purpose of the outline is to provide a comprehensive approach and listing of applicable standards for UL treatment of lighting products based on LEDs. The Outline will be used until the full LED specific document is completed.
The key UL standards are referenced in the Outline (in box, right).
Such standards will help accelerate the adoption of LED lighting into the general lighting market and provide a useful benchmark which governments will be able to use to support LED based, high efficiency lighting.

The immense pressure on governments around the world to step up efforts of reducing carbon emissions is a key driver for environmentally friendly technologies which is an excellent opportunity for organisations operating within the LED and Solid-State Lighting sector. As LEDs become ever more efficient and their low embedded carbon attributes outweigh less acceptable lighting technology solutions such as CFL, governments will start to provide support mechanisms to encourage rapid adoption.
It has already been proved that LED technology is ready with high CRI, high efficacy LED based systems available in the marketplace today at reasonable costs and therefore it will be only two to three years before the industry needs to ensure that CFL’s are recycled correctly in order to mitigate any blame that the lighting industry created an environmental disaster.
The UK Government and associated organisations such as the Energy Savings Trust and the Carbon Trust must act responsibly and quickly to understand LED technology and more importantly engage with this new industry sector otherwise they could find themselves being led out of the frying pan and into the fire.
One way to support the emerging LED industry sector would be to use the Carbon Emission Reduction Target (CERT) for energy companies to support the adoption of LED lamps both in residential and commercial applications. Another way would be to support LED products under the Enhanced Capital Allowance scheme whereby 100% of the capital cost of an LED product could be reclaimed by any company that installs them.
Whatever support mechanism is used, the UK Government should act now to encourage sustainable lighting that does not harm our environment before it is too late.


Table 1: The ELCF proposals for banning various incandescent lamps will take till 2019!

  • Figure 1: How LEDs produce improved system efficiency verses CFLs (Source: Cree Inc)

  • Figure 2: The predicted lumen efficacy of a white LED and the power consumed to generate 800 lumens of white light (a 13-15W CFL equivalent).

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