It is hard to imagine that a technology that has successfully existed for 130 years would be the catalyst for arguably the most en vogue market opportunity in our industry today: solid-state lighting (SSL).
While SSL currently represents approximately 5 percent of the overall general lighting market, its market penetration is predicted to accelerate to 50 percent in the next five years. While there are many drivers behind this significant market opportunity, I’d like to highlight three that I believe are creating a perfect storm for an industry in transition.
The technology has surpassed traditional light sources
Technological advances in SSL now offer significant benefits over traditional light sources in terms of both lumens-per-watt performance as well as lifetime. When designed properly, an SSL application can last in the 50,000-hour range. Think of a world where you’ll eventually never have to change a light bulb in your lifetime. In addition, the breadth of new products being developed is helping to solve specific lighting challenges, further accelerating the transition. Customers today have multiple entry points, based on their needs, from discrete custom designs, arrays, and complete module solutions.
The green effect
The benefits of SSL versus many traditional light sources are well documented on this front. Traditional light sources contain mercury and lead, creating significant disposal and landfill issues -- challenges that don’t exist with SSL. Given these dynamics, we continue to see an increasing level of regulatory activity (California Title 24, EU and US incandescent bulb bans, Energy Star, etc.) in support of SSL.
Economics for change
For many, this is a classic cost-of-ownership analysis. Does the combination of energy savings and reduced maintenance costs deliver an acceptable pay-back period for transition? While we’ve yet to hit the tipping point for all applications, we’re certainly seeing an increasing number of fixture manufacturers answer “yes” to this all-important question.
It seems to me that this is one of those “whole being greater than the sum of its parts” situations. While each of these trends is compelling in itself, when combined they deliver a more powerful value proposition and business case for change.