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LED dominance at Lightfair

Issue 49 Jun / Jul 2009

Geoff Archenhold walks the aisles at Lightfair and discovers a proliferation of LED technology that has driven the industry forward in the United States.

Lightfair in New York has always been an exciting event but 2009 marked a significant turning point in the show’s history – that of LED domination.

Despite the real possibility of the World Health Organisation declaring a Level 6 Flu pandemic it didn’t seem to deter the lighting community who turned out to create a record-breaking number of attendees at the event – some 23,000 in all to see the dominance of Solid-State Lighting products.

In some respects I felt a deep mourning for the technologies of yesteryear such as CFL and Halogens as their fate was always going to be similar to that of the dinosaurs just after the Cretaceous – Tertiary period – ie, extinction.

Despite a very busy three days, there were many impressive LED product launches from LED manufacturers right through to exciting LED-based incandescent bulb replacements that deliver real like-for-like performance at a fraction of the energy consumption. All of these new innovations lead to what can only be the mass adoption of LED lighting technology during 2010.

The key question now is how does the end-user determine the good products from the bad products as they all look the same! I recommend you read the last article where I suggest you ask five simple questions and if you get decent answers then you are half way to buying a good LED product.

LED Emitters – innovation keeps improvements on track

The number of new LED emitter product launches at Lightfair was impressive both in terms of the new levels of efficacy as well as the number of new LED varieties. For example, Citizen, Bridgelux, Cree, Seoul Semiconductor, Philips Lumileds, Nichia and Luminous Devices all demonstrated new high power and high efficiency LEDs.

The original high brightness LED manufacturer, Nichia, had an impressive line-up of LED emitters covering small current, high efficiency emitters right up to a 4W high lumen package as shown in figure1. Due to what seems to be only described as a reclusive engagement strategy in Europe, Nichia is not one of the most highly visible LED brands used. However, they have a very impressive portfolio of LED emitters including the new HELIOS 9, a 3.5W LED emitter delivering 350 lumens at 5000K using a small package only 4mm x 4mm x 0.85mm high that contains 9 LED die to provide over 95 lumen per watt efficiency at 350mA. The Helios 9 will also be available at 3500K with a CRI of 85 and delivering 250 lumens with an efficiency of 68 lm/w. Engineering samples are available now and mass production is from the summer.

Nichia have always been at the forefront of LED development and is the number one LED manufacturer in the world but their research has always managed to provide a good compass for where LED technology will be within 2-3 years. Figure 2 demonstrates how quickly Nichia can take research innovation and develop it into mass produced LEDs and with an LED in research that has delivered more than 249 lumens per watt it is sure that LED will become the dominant light source for the next 100 years. Currently, Nichia can supply a production LED with an efficacy of 150 lm/W with a forward current of just 20mA. However it is capable of delivering more than 20 lumens using just 50mA.

Interestingly, Nichia, a key player in phosphor manufacture for LED lighting has developed a range of new high CRI phosphors that enable them to produce white LEDs with a CRI of 85 and as high as 92. Figure 3 shows how their high CRI (H1) and moderate CRI (H3) phosphors compared to traditional phosphors with changes in colour temperature. Unfortunately, there is a trade-off for improved CRI in terms of relative luminous intensity with the high CRI phosphor being approximately 25% less than a standard CRI phosphor. However the moderate CRI only exhibits a 10% reducing which is much more impressive considering that for most applications a CRI of 85+ is sufficient.Finally, after speaking to the Nichia team I suddenly appreciated the quality of the LED emitters as a representative explained that most of the Nichia lumen maintenance and lifetime data was taken at a junction temperature of 150°C which is exceptional as most manufacturers will state this at much lower junction temperatures.

Citizen Electronics, another LED manufacturer from Japan, presented their new CL-L233 range of high efficient, high lumen LED emitters. The CL-L233 LED arrays come in two colour temperature options, 3000K and 5000K, with the 3000K product exhibiting a typical luminous flux of 900 lumens and a typical CRI of 85 whilst the 5000K LED provides a large 1355 lumens with a typical CRI of 65. The Citizen LEDs utilise a large number of very small LED dies within a compact 23mm by 17.5mm to deliver an impressive 100 lumens per watt efficacy from a 13W array.

Seoul Semiconductor also displayed a new high efficiency White LED emitter during Lightfair, this time with an efficacy of 120 lumens per Watt. The new LCW100Z1 product (shown in figure 4) comes in three ranges of correlated colour temperatures (CCT); including pure white, warm white and natural white with dimensions of only 3.5mm x 2.8mm x 1.6mm. The LED uses a new metal substrate so that luminous efficiency is improved substantially compared to the typical Top View LED and delivers up to 7.8lm (@0.06W) at the low current of 20mA, or 14.3lm at 40mA with a viewing angle of 120 degrees.It is anticipated that this class of ultra efficient LEDs will be used in general lighting applications such as tube-type fluorescent lamps and surface light source lamps.

Philips Lumileds of course also exhibited their new high efficiency LEDs – the Rebel-ES (seen in Figure 5) and a high lumen warm white LED destined to be launched later this year. The Rebel-ES has recently been announced and was recognised with a technical innovation award at Lightfair as the first product that is specified to deliver a minimum of 100 lumens per watt. The ability to specify using 100lm/W LEDs enables the creation of energy efficient SSL products easier because flux binning and forward voltage (Vf) binning selections are pre-determined and so with just one simple selection, colour (CCT), lighting engineers can begin to reduce the energy required without having to look at multi-variant binning strategies.The warm white Rebel products is also a significant leap forward for Philips Lumileds who have not had a significant warm white LED to rival Nichia or Cree for several years. Using a new phosphor and continuous improvements in their flip chip technology and epitaxial processes they will be delivering between 80 and 90 lumens with a CRI of 85 from a 1W package by the end of 2009 which is a significant leap in warm-white LED performance for Philips.

Bridgelux exhibited their LED Array product family designed specifically to enable high performance, compact and cost effective lighting solutions. Their stand demonstrated how the flexibility of their arrays (up to 2000 lumens from a single array) could be put to good use including several examples of LED lighting fixtures such as high brightness track lighting and LED downlights as shown in Figure 6.The Bridgelux arrays offer improved price performance metrics through:

  • Delivering the light required for general lighting applications:• Performance designed to displace high lumen conventional light sources; •Hot lumens delivered under application conditions.
  • Providing illumination-grade high-quality white light: • Consistent white beam pattern without variation; •White point variation among luminaires largely eliminated.
  • Enabling effective thermal management with Metal Bond Technology: •Minimised thermal resistance by design, 30- 50% lower than comparable solid state solutions; • Increased usable light under application conditions.
  • Reducing system cost and enabling simplified luminaire designs: • Integrated LED assembly reduces design integration challenges; • Non-value add content in the lighting system is eliminated.


As with all LED manufacturers Bridgelux have stated they will continuously improve the efficacy of all their new arrays. However as they have already reached the typical total lumens required for most lighting applications they will focus on providing the best quality and competitive pricing rather than simply increasing the total lumens emitted from their arrays.

Cree also demonstrated their latest LED emitter addition, the XLamp XP-G LED, which offers 139 lumens from a single LED die and an impressive 132 lumens per watt at just 350mA. Driven at 1A, the XP-G produces 345 lumens and has the highest lumen density of any available lighting-class LED, and it is based on the XLamp XP family package. The XP-G shown in figure 7 is able to offer such excellent performance as it uses a larger die (approx. 1.4mm x 1.44mm) than found in more typical LEDs (approx.1mm x 1mm) enabling the current density and thermal heat to be spread across a slightly larger area. The reason why the majority of LED manufacturers prefer using smaller LED die sizes is that it is far more difficult to keep manufacturing yields for high quality LED dies as the die size increases. The larger the die the more probability that a defect may occur in the material and the more material used the higher the die will cost. Despite such issues it is clear that Cree possess the production skills necessary to make such an excellent product and the XP-G shows the way in terms of delivering lighting class LED technology in a single die with high lumens output and high efficacy across a wide current range of 350mA to 1A.I am sure it will not be long before there is a single LED die that provides up to 600 lumens in a cost effective package that will help replace the incandescent bulb based on this type of technology.Speaking to the team at Cree they have an aggressive roadmap for increasing the LED efficacy of their XP-E Cool White LEDs as shown in Figure 8. Cree have also announced the high performance XP-E colour LEDs provide up to 22 percent more flux than the existing XLamp XR colour portfolio, with an 80 percent smaller footprint. The XP colour portfolio is available in flux bins, at 350mA, up to:

• Royal Blue: 500 mW

• Blue: 39.8 lumens

• Green: 107 lumens

• Amber: 56.8 lumens

• Red: 56.8 lumens


Cree is sampling the XP-E colour LEDs, with production quantities targeted for Q3 in 2009.Finally, Cree also announced a new CCT binning strategy that goes beyond the new ANSI standard and allows fixture companies to have fine control over CCT variations thus eliminating significant colour variations across LED production batches. Colour variation across the LED manufacturing process has long been an issue for lighting designers and specifiers. However all of the major LED manufacturers seem to have made significant leaps in performance so that tolerances are as good as many conventional light sources.The final LED emitter innovation displayed at Lightfair was the PhlatLight® SST-90 White LED series from Luminus Devices, Inc which also won a technical innovations award. The SST-90 shown in figure 9 follows a trend to use a larger die to deliver incredible lighting performance. The SST-90 uses a 9mm2 LED die to deliver:

  • Extremely high optical output: Over 2,250 lumens from a single chip (white);
  • Extremely high efficiency: Over 100 lumens per watt at 350 mA/mm2;
  • High thermal conductivity package - junction to case thermal resistance of only 0.64 °C/W;
  • Large, monolithic chip with uniform emitting area of 9mm2;
  • Lumen maintenance of greater than 70% after 60,000 hours;
  • Variable drive currents: less than 1 A through 9 A to full reliability specifications.


The scalability of a large die is demonstrated with typically 1000 lumens being delivered at 3.2A and more than 2250 lumens at 9A for the 6000K option. The SST-90 is available in 6500K (CRI=70), 4000K (CRI=70) and 3000K (CRI=83) CCT options and can be driven up to approximately 33W. There is no firm pricing as yet for the SST-90 but expect them to be comparable to an array of standard LEDs emitting a similar amount of lumens.It is clear that the configuration, type and diversity of LEDs coming onto the market enables the LED fixture manufacture many options. However, with so many options it becomes more complex to determine which path is the best one to choose when designing a new LED-based fixture. The key is to choose the LED source with the best price performance ratio for the intended application, although this may be more difficult to do in practice.

LED Lighting Fixtures – quality shines through

As one delegate proclaimed to me, “they should change the name of the event to LEDfair as everyone seems to have an LED fixture on their stand”, and they were not that far wrong! There were several notable LED fixtures that stood out from various manufacturers yet it was the diversity of applications which used LEDs that really shone through – from street lighting to high quality incandescent and fluorescent tube replacements. For example, GE, the household name and one of the largest LED fixture manufacturers has recently exploded onto the scene with a host of new products covering wide area car park lighting, 7W and 10W energy saving bulbs and impressive display case lighting. You know that LED lighting is becoming mainstream when large corporates such as GE are investing heavily in the technology.One of the best demonstrations of LED technology I have seen to date was on the GE stand where they compared the energy-efficient Immersion® LED Display Case Lighting product (as seen in figure 10) against a standard fluorescent tube equivalent. It was possible to demonstrate immediately the difference between the LED and fluorescent tube lighting systems by simply switching between the two and the effect of using LEDs was as clear as the diamond jewellery on show.The immersion system uses multiple point sources of light to increase reflectivity and sparkle while reducing operating costs. Its reflector design focuses peak light to the centre of the case and radiates light out across the case to create a brighter, more uniform look throughout.By comparison, a standard fluorescent lighting system floods a display case with broad, diffuse light, and tends to direct light to the front of the case, which can create shadows, light spillage and glare. Halogen systems can create lighting hot spots, uneven illumination across the case and unwanted heat. The Immersion consumes as little as 8.1 watts per foot and produces higher lux levels per watt of energy used when compared with fluorescent and offers over 80% more efficiency compared to halogen equivalents. Another impressive product in GE’s portfolio was the new area light, the Evolve as shown in figure 11, which combines the latest in LED system electronics, thermal management, mechanical and optical design to make the advantages of LED lighting a practical reality in parking lots and general lighting applications. It delivers 30 percent energy savings compared with traditional metal halide lighting while providing an estimated 10-year service life (50,000-hour rated life) that is four times the recommended service interval of a standard HID system. Additionally, it significantly improves light-level uniformity with the LEDs more effectively throwing light where it is intended, reducing hot spots and dark spots. The result is less reflected light and improved utilisation for a positive impact on property appearance, security and pedestrian visibility. It also offers significantly reduced glare at all viewing angles compared with HID lamps.Consuming from 97 to 214 watts (depending on the lighting distribution pattern), the GE Evolve LED Area Light replaces traditional 400-watt HID systems that can spill and waste light. It also improves visibility and quality of light with a comparatively higher colour temperature (5700K) versus standard HID and a 70-plus CRI. The Evolve uses advanced optical design to leverage the LED characteristics to precisely deliver light where it is needed and departs for most other area lighting fixtures that follow the same old trend of placing up to 100 LEDs and secondary optics in an array that usually incurs in significant glare.

One of the key highlights at the show was the launch of a high quality LED-based incandescent bulb replacement by Lighting Science Group. The new light-emitting diode (LED) lamp is designed to replace the standard incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in homes and commercial environments. Engineered to optimise light output, colour, quality, life and overall performance, the LED replacement lamp is available in the most popular standard incandescent lamp or bulb shape - A19.Using only 7.5 watts, the new LED replacement lamp provides exceptionally warm, white light (~2700K) and drastically reduces energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 84 percent of that of a standard incandescent lamp. The A19 lamp shown in figure 12 is even more impressive when you find out that the total system efficiency is approximately 67 lm/W and delivers over 500 lumens in a single package along with the ability to operate with standard mains dimmer switches. The LED light bulb will be available in Q3 of this year and is expected to retail at between £15 and £20 which is a significant breakthrough in both price and performance. At this price it will not be long before we start to see high quality LED light bulb replacements in the supermarkets especially as I can remember some 15-18 years ago this was the price when CFL bulbs first came to the mass market.

Following in a similar vein, Philips Lighting announced their LED incandescent bulb replacement prototype at Lightfair which was capable of delivering 600 lumens output. Powered by high-performing LUXEON Rebel LEDs from Philips Lumileds, the 8 Watt 120V bulb delivers 75 lumens per watt, which is five times the efficacy of an equivalent incandescent bulb. The bulb is fully dimmable down to 10% and is ideal for use in table lamps, overhead fixtures, and other indoor general lighting applications.Philips’ prototype is scheduled to be commercially available by late 2010 and will be part of the company’s emerging new “EnduraLED” family of SSL retrofit solutions in North America (presented under the “MasterLED” family name in other parts of the world).After the acquisition spree of the last few years it was inevitable that Philips would have a significant stand to house all of its lighting brands. However, with the acquisition of Genlyte last year the stand was impressive. Another significant announcement made by Philips at Lightfair was the comprehensive, worldwide, cross licensing agreement for current and future patent rights in the fields of lighting electronics and solid state lighting with the Zumtobel Group. The agreement mainly covers driver and control technologies for changing intensity and colour of conventional and solid state lighting systems. A mutual compensation scheme reflects the technology strengths of both parties in the lighting market. A core component of the agreement is the Philips LED-based luminaires licensing program introduced in 2008.As a result of this agreement the Zumtobel Group, with all its brands, becomes a qualified supplier under the Philips LED-based luminaires licensing program. TridonicAtco and Ledon, the Zumtobel Group’s OEM brands, can now offer its customers the advantage of being exempted from paying royalties to Philips under the terms of its LED-based luminaires licensing program.The Calculite LED downlight by Philips Lightolier (figure 13) was named ‘Most Innovative Product of the Year’ during the show. Designed as a complete system with precise attention to both performance and aesthetics, Calculite offers economic payback in as little as three years - while at the same time delivering the high quality of light that’s often touted but underachieved by many LED-based luminaires.The Calculite LED system is highly efficient; generating 50 lumens of light per watt of energy consumed using a remote mounted phosphor allowing the back-reflected light that is normally lost to be redirected out of the luminaire through a highly-reflective mixing chamber. This increases overall system efficiency by 20%, while also ensuring consistency of colour quality from one luminaire to the next.Other key features of the Calculite include:

  • A proprietary power management system that allows direct use of line voltage for ease of installation;
  • Compatibility with standard electronic low-voltage dimmers;
  • Choice of “warm” or “cool” white light to suit various interior environments (3000 and 4000 Kelvin respectively);
  • 1000 lumens of light output;
  • High-quality light with a colour rendering index (CRI) value of 80;
  • A projected lifetime of 50,000 hours at 70% lumen maintenance, backed by an industry-best five-year warranty;
  • Choice of 4” aperture round and square models that integrate seamlessly with the existing Calculite product line.


Cree also announced a raft of new LED lighting fixtures following the full integration of the LLF team and again the performance of their systems was impressive. For example, Cree demonstrated an LR6 recessed downlight prototype that consumes just 6.5W of electricity, resulting in 665 lumens with an efficacy of 102 lumens per watt and a power factor greater than 0.9.The high-efficiency LR6 prototype (shown in figure 14) features TrueWhite technology, resulting in a 92 colour rendering index and a 3500 K colour temperature and utilises the new XP-G LED emitters.The Cree LRP-38 uses Cree TrueWhiteTM technology to generate a CRI of 92 at a colour temperature of 2700K. The tightly-focused beam delivers a centre beam candlepower of 4000 with a beam angle of 20 degrees. The UK wasn’t left out from the Lightfair awards and ACDC Lighting won one of the awards for best stand (figure 15). This is an achievement for the team from the North West of England as this was their first time at Lightfair.

Other interesting products included the 26mm ultra-compact 10W recessed downlight from Ledion shown in Figure 16. Awarded in 2008 Next Generation Luminaires design competitions, TD26 was selected as ‘Noteworthy’ with its low-profile LED recessed downlight. Utilising six high-power LEDs, the TD26 integrates all electrical and optical aspects of LEDs, while at the same time achieves compact design of thermal management. TD26 is built specifically to model under restricted spaces where traditional housing is too tall to fit in.With highly efficient optical lens, TD26 features four choices of beam angles including 25°, 40°, 60°, and 140° satisfying various applications from spot lighting to ambient lighting. The choice of correlated colour temperature includes cool-white(6000K), neutral-white(4000K) and warm-white(3000K) for various commercial and residential applications.

OSRAM Sylvania also launched a range of LED-based downlights with the introduction of the Directional Lighting Module (DLM) product line.

• The DLM700 Directional Lighting Module - Intended for use in residential recessed down lighting, track lighting or wall washing
applications, is a fully integrated unit that can be incorporated in both five inch and six inch aperture fixtures. The DLM700 features 700 lumen output to provide a warm, comforting 3500K or 2700K colour temperature at 80+ CRI and is intended for lighting small and medium sized living spaces. In addition, the module has a spread beam angle of 65°, which diffuses the light for better general illumination purposes. Consuming only 16 watts, the module is far more energy-efficient than traditional incandescent and halogen technologies.

• The DLM1100 Directional Lighting Module – Developed for more commercial applications, and provides 1100 lumens. The module also creates a warm light with a 3500K and 2700K colour temperature with 80+ CRI and a more focused beam angle of 35 degrees. The DLM1100 performs best in six inch aperture fixtures. With its energy saving lumen package, the 25W DLM1100 is suitable for commercial lighting applications.

Both modules have an innovative optical design that provides the more aesthetically pleasing direct view look of a traditional lamp and not the “multi-point” look of other LED module solutions. Because the DLM modules are LED-based light sources, they offer the benefits of long life, with an average rated service life of up to 50,000 hours. Other key characteristics for both modules are dimming capabilities, three year warranty coverage and inclusion of a dedicated power supply.

Carmanah Technologies introduced its next generation of solar-powered LED lights during Lightfair. As part of a new “General Illumination” (GI) product line, the company demonstrated a range of solar-powered lights for street and parking lot applications, including the powerful new EverGEN 1500, along with a preview of the company’s sleek new EverGEN 1700-series design. As a stand-alone alternative to traditional hard-wired streetlights, Carmanah solar-powered lights are designed to offer convenience without compromise. Durable, reliable and cost-effective, Carmanah lights deliver bright, uniform illumination wherever it’s needed — without trenching, cabling or grid access. Carmanah solar–powered lights offer superior output and performance in accordance with IESNA (Illuminating Engineering Society of North America) guidelines. A full-cutoff “Dark Sky”-friendly design directs light only where needed (preventing glare or spillover of light onto neighboring properties or into the night sky), while integrated energy management and motion-sensing capabilities ensure optimal lighting performance year round.

LEDEngin known for producing high power LED emitters has moved further into the value chain by producing an MR16 replacement lamp which equates to a 35W Halogen equivalent called the LuxDot, shown in Figure 17. Its optical design enables LuxDot to provide a bright, uniform light distribution that eliminates hot spots and dark rings. LuxDot is the second in a family of innovative, high brightness LED lighting modules manufactured by LedEngin with the emphasis on maximizing “Lux on Target” for accent and spot lighting applications.

Lightfair Roundup

Lightfair proved to be an excellent show where the majority of traditional lighting companies exhibited and demonstrated mainly LED lighting fixtures for all types of applications from display cases through to streetlighting.The pace of LED innovation was yet again astounding with energy efficient LEDs breaking the 120 lumens per watt in production and over 130 lumens per watt in pre-production.

High brightness LED arrays utilising both small and power LEDs also became viable for Solid-State Lighting light sources for high power high lumen lighting applications whilst a new class of large area LED die started to offer a new alternative to current LED emitters.Key achievements by Philips Lumileds to virtually eliminate binning issues and to enable the specification of high efficiency LEDs by just Colour Temperature and minimum efficiency is a real step forward for the industry. It has been at least 4 years since binning of white LEDs has been an issue for the lighting community at large and this step will enable the LED industry to meet the mass market requirements.

Significant non-lighting companies such as Sharp and Toshiba from Japan are also entering the global lighting industry due to the disruptive LED technology which will definitely lead to more competition and improved products. These players will use their electronics and global manufacturing background to make big inroads to traditional lighting companies in the future.The number of highly efficienct LED bulbs and fixtures increased significantly and high quality LEDs made LED fixtures usable in most applications.

It is clear from the recent Lightfair experience, LEDs are not only a viable alternative to traditional light sources but will lead rapidly to their phasing out as LED costs reduce and quality increases.A great show and I cannot help but think of what LED wonders we’ll see in Las Vegas next year!

If you have any questions or comments that you would like answering then do not hesitate to contact the editor or myself.


Figure 1: Nichia’s impressive line-up for 2009

  • Figure 2: Nichia shows how quickly white LEDs have become ultra efficient

  • Figure 3: The CRI of Nichia White LED phosphors against CCT

  • Figure 4: The new Seoul Semiconductor 120 lumens per Watt White LED

  • Figure 5: The Rebel-ES delivering a minimum efficacy of 100 lumens per Watt

  • Figure 6: The Bridgelux stand at Lightfair with LED track lighting and downlights

  • Figure 7: The new high brightness XLamp XP-G white LED from Cree

  • Figure 8: The efficacy roadmap for the CREE XP-E white LEDs

  • Figure 9: The new SST-90 high brightness LED from Luminus Devices Inc.

  • Figure 10: The Immersion LED Display Case Lighting from GE

  • Figure 11: The Evolve car park light from GE and seen in action

  • Figure 12: The highly efficient, low price LED replacement from Lighting Science Group

  • Figure 13: The Philips Lightolier Calculite

  • Figure 14: A cross section of Cree’s LR6 102 lumen per watt recessed downlight

  • Figure 15: ACDC won an award for being one of the best lighting stands at Lightfair

  • Figure 16: The 10W compact downlight from Ledion

  • Figure 17: The LuxDot from LEDEngin

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