Some people in the lighting industry are still thinking that LED lighting is not yet ready. Well, for those of you who attended the 2012 edition of LIGHTFAIR in May, the world’s largest annual architectural and commercial lighting trade show and conference, you most probably think otherwise. In fact, you will probably agree with me that LED lights could be seen in almost every booth during the show.
During this year’s LIGHTFAIR, I was also happy to notice many manufacturers displaying very attractive LED luminaires. In previous years, we only had a few well-integrated lighting technology that did also pay special attention to the design in itself.
Another thing worth mentioning at this year’s show is that I did see a few outdoor lighting manufacturers trying to promote induction lighting, most probably because LED lights still represent a challenge for them on a technical level. Mastering electronic challenges can be very easy for a board assembling facility; but for a lighting company that is not specialized in electronics, it can certainly represent a major challenge.
Apart from the technical and electrical challenge in itself, you also need to consider the challenge of optics, another important aspect that is necessary to master on a smaller precision level. Optimizing optics in microns is a different type of challenge that some companies just will not be able to master that easily.
Induction source for outdoor lighting can be considered an obsolete technology nowadays. Personally, I never endorsed induction lighting, mostly because of performance reason. When it came to problematic access maintenance reason, yes, induction was a good choice; but now that we have LED lights, induction is understandably put aside. But why? Let’s look at the main reasons.
First reason: the efficiency of the lamp is very low. Let us specify here that when you put this huge lamp in regular size optics, the lamp then becomes an obstruction that reduces the efficiency of the luminaire. The end result: the luminaire will finally end up with a low performing system that provides low target lumen on the street. Here is an example to help you understand what it is all about: the cobra head we introduced with induction in brackets ( ) had a target efficacy of 40 % compared to 75 % with our latest version of the LED cobra head.
A second reason worth mentioning concerns the end of life. You should know that the end of life of an induction lamp is averaging 40 % at 100 000 hours compared to 70 % of initial lumen when the LED technology is used.
So if you are looking for the most efficient system that will guarantee a reduction of wattage consumption, LED luminaires are definitely the technology that you need to go for. With LED luminaires, you will maximize lumen usage on the target zone, hence the lumens cover the area they are supposed to. And a good lumen depreciation curve will ensure minimum light level at the end of life.
Style wise, remember that a beautiful luminaire design with LED technology does not necessarily mean that you will get good performance or an interesting life span. I strongly recommend that you consider getting a specification that takes care of all the different important criteria when choosing a LED luminaire. Always keep in mind that the beauty and style of the luminaire you choose has to last as long as the lifespan of the LEDs.
Nowadays, I definitely feel that the market believes in LED lighting and is ready to redefine performance, maintenance visits, light control, impact on the usage of natural resources, and also reduction on pollution.
LED luminaire = 100,000 hours or 22 years.
Sodium lamp luminaire = 24,000 hours or 5 years
The environmental footprint of the LED luminaire vs the sodium lamp luminaire
An LED luminaire will last up to 22 years.
But during that same 22 year period with a sodium lamp you will need to change the lamp 4-5 times and the ballast 1 to 3 times. To produce 5 lamps and 3 ballasts, you will need to extract raw material, fabricate the replacement product, deliver it to an electrical distributor for stroking, and after that you will need to send it to the electrical contractor. The electrician will then have to drive to the site to change either the lamp or the ballast. During that replacement procedure, the contractor’s truck will run all day and will pollute the environment. He will do so between 5 and 8 times per luminaire in order for the sodium lamp luminaire to last as long as the 22 year lifespan of the LED luminaire. To that you can add the pollution of the fuel used by the different vehicles needed during that process of delivery and installation. The footprint of a sodium lamp is huge compared to an LED luminaire.
For municipalities or landscape architects who want to reduce the environmental footprint of their projects, LED luminaires are absolutely the way to go.