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Lighting: Primed for Transition

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.

17 comments on “Lighting: Primed for Transition

  1. SunitaT
    February 22, 2011

    Definitely SSL is exciting technology whose potentials are yet to be exploited.

    “Think of a world where you’ll eventually never have to change a light bulb in your lifetime”– But if i am a SSL manufacturer and read the above lines I will think twice before setting up the manufacturing unit , because I dont want to manufacture something whose sales will saturate with passing time.

  2. Barbara Jorgensen
    February 22, 2011

    Hi Gary–how well do you think LED is doing in transitioning into the consumer arena? Would you expect to see industrial distributors involved at some level in the retail world if LED continues to grow? 

  3. Parser
    February 22, 2011

    LED lamps are better than fluorescent ones. They pollute less however they will cost more. Additional benefit of using them is that the start time is instantaneous. But we don’t have to worry about the change to either fluorescent or LED bulbs. The law is being revoke and US will be the only one producing incandescent light bulbs in the next decade supplying outlawed markets in Australia, Europe and Asia. Also this will slow down the advancement in US producers because they will not have to spend any money on advancement. 

  4. SP
    February 22, 2011

    Nowadays everyone who is concernend with saving power and look more classy wants to go with LED. I wont be surprised in coming years LED will completely take over.

  5. jbond
    February 22, 2011

    LED lighting is much better than incandescent. However, it is much more expensive. They look better, they produce more light using less energy and they don't contain harmful elements. Though like anything else out there, manufacturers will still have an overseas market which will slow down growth and development. Once the cost is reduced, more U.S. households will embrace these bulbs. As far as manufacturers are concerned, where is the cutoff point? If you make something that lasts for decades, where is your sales and growth going to end up when nobody needs to purchase these items anymore?

  6. Adeniji Kayode
    February 23, 2011

    you are right,LED will soon become more popular because as much as countries are willing to gererate more power for consumption, the circle is not complete without also saving power comsumption along side with it.


  7. Adeniji Kayode
    February 23, 2011

    In which way or form do maufacturers of LED plan to make profit if their product could last a life time?

  8. Adeniji Kayode
    February 23, 2011

    In which way or form do maufacturers of LED plan to make profit if their product could last a life time?

  9. stochastic excursion
    February 23, 2011

    As lighting technology advances from setting things on fire to incandescent bulbs and potentially to LED's, it's inevitable that the market for lighting will be less and less active–mature, you might say.  Holding this as a barrier to the technology doesn't make sense in the long run when you consider the benefits to be reaped.  SSL fixtures would be like housing materials, a piece of sheetrock that has the added features of illumination.  Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but sheetrock is a result of innovation and some R&D–it's more than just gypsum and water I believe, yet you don't replace it every six months and people do make their livelihood making and selling it.

  10. prabhakar_deosthali
    February 24, 2011

    In todays world of everchanging technology , the word life-time does not make much sense. In the last two decades there have been many products which would have lasted our life-time but still we threw them in the junk yards just because something totally new just replaced them. My Kodak film camera worked for me for 20 years and was still in a very good working condition and would have lasted my life time but I put it into my junk box because the totally new digital version is much better. Same thing must have happened to those rugged Nokia mobile handsets owned by many. Same thing will happen to the SSL. There will be new versions , new materials, new form factors and the consumers will be forced to throw the old things to keep up with times. And the promise of 50000 hours of life will never be tested in practice.

  11. hwong
    February 25, 2011

    Life time is just a selling theme. In reality, it is not good to buy something and not having to replace ever. If everyone doesn't buy new things, then the business will not thrive and money will not be made.

    But LEDs are great. Saves energy and good for environment and pretty neat looking too.

  12. Himanshugupta
    February 25, 2011

    jbond, although you have an excellent point that manufacturers will not like if a single light runs for years. But lifetime has never been a problem to growth. As the LED will consume less energy and can open up other possibilities of usage, i am sure that growth will be sustained. For example, a pair of jeans lasts for years but we still have more than one pair and we throw them away even if they are not torn apart. We go for new, fancy ones. Another example are mobile phones, TVs and other electronics. We replace them much before their breaking point.

  13. Himanshugupta
    February 25, 2011

    Prabhakar, i agree with your opinions. Lifetime is not an issue as long as we can afford the new. The classic examples are in the electronics industry itself and you mentioned some of them.

  14. prabhakar_deosthali
    February 28, 2011

    The point I wanted  to make here is that the product designers should not now concentrate on increasing the life time of the product beyound a certain limit. This will greatly reduce the cost of the endurance testing, the cost of the material used and the time to market a product.  When Chinese or Japanese or koreans bring new products into the market at much cheaper cost they provide products with limited life time and in this everchanging world nobody wants to keep a product for life time even if is still good. Americans and Europians have a lesson or two learn from here.

  15. Backorder
    February 28, 2011

    Some of the comments point out that the lifetime is not really a USP of LED, I would disagree. While, It might not be that great a value proposition for a lay consumer, we need to understand that the growth that any such industry targets is not through replacements but through more applications. Industrial applications, street lighting, bay lighting, decorative lighting, Transport system, Hotel Industry all of them see a great value in lights that wont fail! Changing a couple of bulbs in our home might not be a big deal, but for large scale applications it could be a nuisance. Hence, a long lifetime for LEDs as well as the electronics is essential if it has to be successful in all the new application areas.

  16. zullo@arrow
    March 1, 2011

    Barbara,

    While LED based consumer products have been on the shelves of big box retailers for some time, it has been hard for the average consumer to understand what is a quality product and how it compares against traditional light sources.  That said, the technology, performance, pricing and even product labeling is enabling better quality products to make their way to store shelves and accelerating adoption.

  17. zullo@arrow
    March 1, 2011

    Adeniji,

    With SSL currently representing a small percentage (approximately 5% according to industry sources) of the overall general lighting market, there is still tremendous growth upside for SSL to penetrate existing lighting applications.  In addition, continued advancements in LED technology will continue to open new applications that may not be on the radar screen today.

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