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The Future of Lighting: Will LED Take Over?

It is not a surprise that LED lighting is taking over the industry, in domestic, office, and industrial lighting. Formerly confined to digital display on electronics, LEDs are now finding their way into every aspect of our lives, from living room to surgical room.

{complink 4269|Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.} estimates the global lighting market at $75 billion annually, and LED lighting is projected to account for 80 percent of that market by 2020. Advances in LED lighting design have made this possible, while also spelling out the end of the age of the incandescent lamp.

But how soon will LED lighting take over the world lighting stage, or will it? The US legislation to end the production of the 100-watt incandescent bulb by 2012 and the need to conserve energy could well help make this dream a reality sooner than we think. With recent developments, a 15-watt LED could produce as much brightness as a 60-watt incandescent bulb, saving 75 percent of energy on each LED bulb used, with no mercury, and lasting 10 times as long.

{complink 8019|General Electric Co.}’s lighting division is anticipated to generate about 75 percent of its sales from LED within the next decade, and Redwood Systems is strategically placing itself to reap the fruits of the LED revolution, securing a $15 million Series B Funding to boost the development of its network-based lighting power and control system for commercial lighting.

This doesn’t leave out companies like Cree and, especially, Philips, which is rated as the world’s largest lighting maker.

Despite the obvious advantages in environmental friendliness, long life, and energy saving, LED lighting is still having a hard time taking over the lighting market. One of the reasons is the high cost of production, which makes them more expensive than traditional incandescent, although their efficiency makes up for this drawback. It is expected that, as demand increases, the unit cost of LED lighting will decline.

Current dominant applications of LED lighting include street-lighting systems, which are being installed all over the world. They have a great advantage over fluorescent or incandescent street lighting in that they can be focused, thereby reducing the amount of light that is lost to the sky and increasing illumination to the environment.

LED lighting is gradually taking ground, with an increasing number of manufacturers, designers, and researchers in motion. DigiTimes reports that North America now accounts for 40 percent of total LED market share, Europe accounts for 33 percent, and China 21 percent. In Japan, LED lighting accounts for 63 percent of total light bulb sales. Bans on the use and production of incandescent bulbs by 2012 in the US and Europe is bound to raise the figures in the coming years.

No doubt, the future is bright for LED lighting. From the supply chain point of view, what does the future hold?

9 comments on “The Future of Lighting: Will LED Take Over?

  1. bolaji ojo
    October 23, 2010

    James, in 2009 I attended Lightfair, one of the top conferences on the lighting industry in New York and was thrilled at the wide range of companies represented there. Semiconductor manufacturers had booths side by side with tradtional lighting fixture manufacturers and electronic component distributors were there in full force, including representatives from Arrow, Avnet and Future Electronics. Lighting is a major area of sales growth and investment for many companies in the electronics industry and one of the primary drivers for this is LED, which as you noted is growing exponentially. LED won't take over lighting completely but it is already and will continue as a significant part of the market.

  2. Eldredge
    October 23, 2010

    LEDs will provide a welcome alternative to the mercury containing bulbs available today. With that benefit combined with energy efficiency, seems like a winning solution. How does LED lighting quality compare to incandescent?

  3. SP
    October 24, 2010

    Yes definitely the LEDs would take over the future of lighting. On technical side it consumes less power and on cosmetic side they look so beautiful.

  4. Barbara Jorgensen
    October 25, 2010

    One of the opportunities in LED is the cross over between the traditional electrical manufacturers and electronics manufacturers. LED takes electronics know-how to implement most effectively, yet lighting is still considered part of the electrical market. In distribution, both electrical and electronics distributors are sharing information to come up with the best service model. The next question is will there be a merger/acquisition between electronics/electrical manufacturers or distributors?

  5. itguyphil
    October 25, 2010

    To answer your question, I think there will be in one and only one case. Much like all other industries, if consolidation among vendors offers a better opportunity to be competitive, it will happen. In the recessionary times, M&A's have become the way to stay vibrant and relevant.

  6. Tunrayo
    October 26, 2010

    LED lighting will be a big winner in developing countries where there exists acute shortage of power supply. Energy-saving bulbs already sell like wild fire in Nigeria, for instance.

    People find the energy-saving bulbs cheaper to power with generators and DC inverters.

  7. AnalyzeThis
    October 27, 2010

    Despite the obvious advantages in environmental friendliness, long life, and energy saving, LED lighting is still having a hard time taking over the lighting market. One of the reasons is the high cost of production, which makes them more expensive than traditional incandescent, although their efficiency makes up for this drawback. It is expected that, as demand increases, the unit cost of LED lighting will decline.

    Absolutely, and that's why I'm holding off a little bit on any large-scale projects to do any upgrades.

    To answer the question in the title of the article, yes, LED will take over… it's just a matter of “when.” There are so many advantages that I think it's inevitable.

    Now the “when” question is tricky to answer, but if I had to hazard a guess… I'd say that by the end of the decade, LED will clearly be dominant. And really, I will shed no tears for the death of the incadescent bulb.

    LED lighting will be a big winner in developing countries where there exists acute shortage of power supply. Energy-saving bulbs already sell like wild fire in Nigeria, for instance.

    Another good point. And in countries like Brazil, incadescents are already gone.

  8. tioluwa
    November 2, 2010

    Everyone definitely had an interesting view of the issue of LED lighting, and all were complementary.

     

    Eldredge,

    if we are considering LED lighting quality, we will look at the amount of watts per lumen, and in that, LED beats incandescent hands down, as it does in terms of brightness, color (incandescent doesn't give white light, although fluorescent does) and other factors

     

    Barbara,

    You are right that LED lighting takes electronics know-how. As a matter of fact, the complexity of the electronics that control the LED modules is still a major factor keeping the costs a little bit on the high side, but the extensive research being carried out at Philips and Cree is sure to bring a definite breakthrough that should lower the cost of production and control of LED lighting modules for various applications

     

    Tunrayo,

    Yes energy saving bulbs are doing great but most of them are fluorescent based, actual LED bulbs are yet to really take effect, those that i have actually seen in use around me had poor efficiency especially when the power quality in the area is low. all the same LEDs are creeping in, as they are in wide use in street lights already

  9. Hardcore
    November 2, 2010

    Well,

    I suppose if we need to balance it out a bit 😉

     

    From a technical perspective LED lighting is not all it is cracked up to be:

    The LED is actually a thin sliver of silicon wafer called a die which is cut from a  larger wafer  that has been treated with various noxious chemicals.

    This is then mounted on a lead frame, wired to power connections then encapsulated in a resin.

    1. Light output.

    A.Most light output is measured during  'ideal' situations, utilizing ideal conditions with ideal  'selected' die production.

    B.That is to say the 'best'  the wafer has to offer, light output generally declines quite rapidly to during the 'bathtub' model for failures as the product settles in to the working environment.

     

    C.LED's are semiconductor light sources, they produce a tight band of a light/emissions at a given frequency, as a result they do not produce the 'warmth' associated with tungsten lighting which produces a much wider spectrum of light output (all the way from /Blue to Red)

    The LED can ONLY be manufactured to produce light in certain wavelengths, to gain 'colored' light they actually fool the human eye by mixing  distinct R.G.B, which in it's self is difficult as it requires exact matching of three different led chips to ensure the light output remains constant.

    D. LED's 'emit' the light energy from the top of the 'die' they have an 'angle' associated with them, which means the light is more of a cone output, compared to a filament which is 360 degree emissions. This results is less of a 'spread' and a more directional output.

    E. The LED is a discrete die from a wafer, each one is a distant personality with its own range of tolerances, having its own range of cooling and feeding requirements, when they are packaged up into an “LED light” if the power supply is not spot on in its design, reliability/light and power issues quickly surface during use.

     

    2. Environmentally friendly production.

    A. Led's are encapsulated in a Noxious mix of resins that are potentially very bad for the environment (many having been made illegal in parts of China due to the damage done by them during production of LED or other resin based products)

    B. the 'scrap' led is not bio-degradable, nor is the epoxy resin, other than the metal lead frame

    C. Production of the wafers requires noxious chemicals and dope-ants

    D. LED lighting product is 'filthy' production, the led's need to be fixed to a PCB utilizing solders, fluxes and then packaged in plastics.

    A standard light bulb is almost totally 'degradable' (generally via crusing down to various silicon oxides/metals)

     

    3. Safety

    Since the output of LED lighting is of a very narrow range, and more of the power is converted to 'light' energy, there are 'indications' of eye damage resulting from looking directly at LED lighting. Various bodies around the world , including the BSI have drawn up safety requirements that LED emissions need to abide by.

     

    I'm not against LED lighting, but there is a significant amount of  dubious information posted about led lights, certainly related to efficiency,life and light to power ratios.

     

     

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