Text: David Müller, Joachim Ritter

16. Jun 2009

The incandescent lamp ban, energy-saving lamps, LEDs – and the fairy tales, trials and tribulations that currently hold sway over the market

Is the incandescent lamp going to disappear or not? Do we still need the compact fluorescent lamp or can we resort to LEDs straight away? Confusion spreads. Would-be experts and other non-lighting designers are finding it hard to cope with the current situation and information available. But are luminaire manufacturers prepared for the post-September 2009 era? Here is our attempt at a review of the situation…

LEDs would appear to have more critics than advocates. Poor colour rendering, high costs for their manufacture, and thermal management are the main points of contention. But we may have advanced further in the pursuit of solutions for all these issues than originally presumed. According to semi-conductor manufacturers Sharp, the true breakthrough of the white LED was in the year 2000. Back then nobody could judge how fast solid state lighting technology would develop. In 2003, the best LEDs were putting out just 20-25 lm/W. Philips/Lumileds can now produce LEDs that provide more than 100 lm/W. The Japanese manufacturer Nichia are quoting up to 150 lm/W at 15,000 operating hours (50 mAmper) and 40,000 operating hours (20 mAmper). Just two years ago experts were suggesting that the limit to their development, which was quoted at 165 lm/W, would not be attained until 2025. Lamp life is always a key issue. Manufacturers such as GE and Philips guarantee up to 50,000 operating hours, but in their press releases Catellani & Smith maintain that the LEDs they use in their products will perform for 70,000 hours. Are they lone experts? Or just gullible designers! LEDs are generally recognised as being an energy-saving light source. Public clients are forever embarking on test installations to see if and how they work. Street luminaires using LED technology are making their way onto the market, but the first examples show that energy savings of up to 80 per cent can be achieved without opting immediately for LEDs but by using modern versions of conventional light sources linked with daylight control. […]

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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 66

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