The Replacement Dichotomies
Side One: It is acceptable, if not desirable, for LED luminaires to be replaced at the end of their service life. This is a common position among a wide range of LED product manufacturers. They make the case that extracting performance and costs from LED products requires a level of integration that cannot be accomplished using modules. This further forwards to concept that modules restrict design freedom, that integrated products are free to create light source forms to suit the intended end-product design, without restriction of standardized sockets or modules. Therefore, it is proposed, that the highest performing SSL products will be integrated units, replaced at the end of their life with the next generation of even higher performing product. The model often used to illustrate this approach is that of televisions, where the entire units are replaced, rather than serviced, with newer generation products.
Side Two: The single most active market in solid state deployment is that of the direct lamp and fixture replacement space. This includes screw based lamps made to imitate the light output and distribution of obsolete technologies, and extends now to bi-pin linear forms to replace fluorescent sources. Oddly enough, the one lamp form that is not addressed, is the one most universally despised in commercial and residential markets alike – the plug-in CFL lamp – but let us not be distracted by this obvious and blatant oversight. This replacement lamp direction appears to make the statement that the existing infrastructure of sockets is not replaceable, that demanding building owners and end use customers to replace existing fixtures is a burden beyond acceptable limits. This also forwards the concept that the existing socket forms within compromised products, is acceptable, regardless of its severe negative impact on SSL product performance, design freedom and appearance.
See the dichotomies? What is being proposed is that it is unacceptable to consider that all existing infrastructure of obsolete lighting product be replaced with new technology – while simultaneously proposing that at the end of an SSL products service life, it is acceptable to expect the same customers replace entire fixtures to restore lighting and update to the latest iteration of technology. This same dichotomy also states that the use of modules is an unacceptable restriction on design freedom, while simultaneously stating that retrofitting LED sources into compromised form factors and sockets designed for obsolete technologies is a valid and desirable market approach. Further hidden inside of these issues is the dichotomy of costs. It appears that the pursuit of the replacement lamp paradigm is hobbled by customers who refuse to accept the concept of an $8 lamp to replace a $1 lamp, while the replacement luminaire model appears to indicate that customers of the future will find it acceptable to bear the cost of labor and materials to replace entire luminaire inventories, over simply replacing a low cost module or insert. Complicating this dichotomy is the idea that in the future, the same cost reduction strategies used to make affordable whole-fixture replacements seemingly acceptable, could not be applied equally, if not more effectively, in reducing the cost of replacement modules, making the concept of whole fixture replacement less attractive.
Paradoxes Show Failures in Logic
Lighting customers today are little changed from lighting customers 100 years ago. The goal of the vast majority is to realize acceptable lighting performance at the lowest possible initial and long term cost. Even though there are those who wish to see a future of lighting where decision making is made on objective basis, comparing operating expenses to initial costs, and basing decisions on rational, rock solid logic, this has never been the case in any market, least of which the lighting market. Lighting may be the myopic pursuit of a few, who see it as the center of the known universe, to the rest it is but one of thousands of other considerations of building ownership and maintenance. Further, solid-state lighting is not the only technology grabbing headlines today. For homeowners, within the blend of games, smart phones, entertainment displays, new cars, toys, and other distractions, lighting is not even an afterthought. For businesses, the blend of skepticism born from decades of marketing hype, blend with distrust for federal intrusion, local regulation, and soft economic conditions means that talk of lighting energy costs too often fall low on the list of immediate need, to those with ears ringing from past promises un-kept.
The reason we have the dichotomies described here is that their are too few involved in the direction of SSL deployment who are actually experienced and sensitive to the actual lighting customer base. Committees populated by manufacturers, congressional lobbyists acting on behalf of corporate marketers, federal, local and state agencies and utilities creating policies to capture federal funds – all comprise a fools foundation, where idealistic and monetary goals are pursued with little real recognition of the underlying realities that shape the market. Governments and corporations are more alike than either wish to admit. They are both so blinded by their own myopic agendas, they frequently fail to see their way to an achievable solution. Most become so introverted, they form the opinion that the reason their approaches meet objections from those they impact, is that the ignorant masses are simply unable to grasp their brilliance. The greater the objection, the more brilliant they believe themselves to be.
For those who believe whole fixture replacement at end of service life is acceptable – I propose that what will actually happen is that lighting levels in affected spaces will decline steadily well below acceptable levels, demanding new legislation be put in place to enforce minimum light levels in all spaces in an effort to require reluctant customers to replace every fixture they own on a regular basis. With the cost of labor significantly more than the cost of the replacement product, rationalizing whole fixture replacement costs becomes less and less logical as the cost of luminaires drop. When the skill level is changed from simple re-lamp/re-module to whole fixture tear out and replacement, the cost of labor and time invested increases exponentially, resulting in a harder and harder case against replacement. The end result will be declining lighting qualities over time, as replacement is put off year after year, including the period when individual fixtures begin to fail from driver/power supply loss. One has only to visit any large scale commercial or public structure to see the level of tolerance to failed individual luminaires. Couple this with declining lumen output, and one can see where this is going. This has all the earmarks of repeating the mess Mercury vapor products caused, where dimly lighted fixtures remained in service, long after the light levels had dropped below acceptable levels. While the TV model is compelling, one is likley to buy only one TV as a replacement, costing a few hundred dollars every few years. When the cost of replacement is several thousands of dollars in that same period, the resistance to this model will increase exponentially. This will be particularly true of large commercial facilities, where the cost of labor and disruption to operations is compounded.
For the believers in Edison sockets and bi-pin linear retrofits, I suggest that this is handing manufacturers of conventional luminaires a free pass on technology. They can continue to make obsolete product as long as there are retrofit lamps to fill the gap. Rather than being these entities into the new technology, having them invest and participate in the deployment of SSL as a whole, they can avoid change and stay on the sidelines for as long as the retrofit lamp is available. Here is another nugget of thought. As retrofit lamp costs drop, there will be (already are) manufacturers who drop pursuing SSL integrated products, pass on considering any LED modules in development, to return to installing Edison sockets and fluorescent tombstones in products as a cheaper and less costly path. Further, since UL listing of incandescent products is significantly faster, less painful and less costly, dumping LED in favor of producing Edison socket product is a rational approach – allowing their customers to continue to make the same choices in light sources they do now.
Dichotomies and paradoxes exist at times when many parties are pursuing their own myopic paths with the same conviction as those in direct opposition. This is further enabled when those affected are not directly and fully considered or engaged, and further fueled when those affected are not valued at all. Regardless of the fallacies of marketers throughout SSL, who dream the dream of the day when trillions of light fixtures are treated like the latest release of the iPhone, this is a very unlikely and undesirable model for building lighting systems. As we integrate controls and automation into this scene, the issues become more complex and difficult.
The first real solution is to stop the further introduction, production, and distribution of lamp sockets designed for obsolete sources. The Edison socket cannot pass current UL standards of safety, so can easily be targeted for elimination. If not by outright ban, then by requiring each socket be fitted with an appropriate disconnect devise that cuts power any time the lamp is unscrewed. Add to this the requirement that the socket be made of thermally conductive material, in order to facilitate their use as a platform for SSL sources, while maintaining proper wire temperatures. These two requirements will simultaneously increase the pain of continued Edison socket use, while making those that do remain safe and usable as the SSL platform they are becoming. Additionally, create a new tombstone style socket specific to LED retrofit lamp use, with appropriate listing and mechanical/electrical safety to reflect their actual use as retrofits into existing sheet metal fluorescent housings. Add the requirement that these sockets must be used in conjunction with the replacement of the ballast and lamp in order to avoid the entire luminaire be re-listed under UL standards.
The second real solution is to escalate the effort to create socket-able modules for SSL luminaires. While there are certainly limitations to this approach and impacts on lighting fixture design freedom, it is inescapable that under the current state of “design freedom” the vast majority of end products now are nothing more than re-hash of existing fluorescent and incandescent product. Apparently, design freedom does not correlate with exercising it, so there is no case to be made to avoid use of replaceable LED/SSL source modules in downlights, troffers, linear strips, industrial high bays, task lighting, accent lights, and other forms where existing products based on replacing luminaires now using light bulb technology. For those products where this is impractical, such as thin line linear, and architectural feature lighting, standards for wire connectors should be developed to differentiate and facilitate replacement of these products without needing complete tear-out retrofitting. This will simplify the application of SSL for a larger population of luminaire manufacturer, while eliminating the need for whole fixture replacements in the future, for those who find this an unacceptable concept.
Further, until standards for LED package voltage and current are established and adhered to, driver manufacturers will be unable to resolve the diversity they face from the infinite array of products they attempt to support. It is time to set aside the pursuit of market differentiation to create proprietary strangle holds on customers, in favor of at least a starting foundation of shared specification products that module, luminaire, and driver manufacturers can apply in economic and uniform fashion.
Revolutions are great things. However, as the founders of the US discovered, and many countries are now realizing, when revolutions take the form of a free-for all anarchy, there is no productive end. In the US, founders pulled the country together using various tactics that, individually, were ideologically compromised, but binding of the largest number of contributors. The SSL revolution within lighting will require a similar approach. And just as any revolution requires the power of guns and money, if the end result is not better for the people being fought for, it will never succeed. Finding a path that does not make brash, unrealistic assumptions about what customers will and will not do in the future, and understanding what place lighting plays in the lives of those paying the bills, is a great first and necessary step.
It appears there is some confusion over what I do for customers, and who I compete with. While I’ve not helped anything by announcing that we make products now under the Tasca name, I’ve recieved some odd feedback that indicates that there are suppliers out there who think I am competing with my own customers – which is patently false. So, to set things straight, her’s what’s going on:
1.) Lumenique is first and foremost a design resource to lighting and electronics product producers. We now provide design, prototyping, preliminary testing, market and product research, and application evaluations. With the addition of Angie, who focuses on research, data acquisition and evaluation, as well as all around coordination with customer activities, we have a greater capacity to provide the up-front research and development work than ever. The underlying goal for Lumenique is to act as an auxiliary team resource to fill gaps in our customer’s own capacities, as they grow and evolve into offering their own solid-state lighting product range. As our customers grow their own capacity, we evolve into a support role, and eventually advisory role. Frequently we continue in new product development capacities, providing working samples, concept proofing, or simple preliminary mock-up testing. We also provide very limited lighting design services, mainly focused on the blending of attaining high degrees of energy efficiency in high quality lighting application. We no longer provide general lighting design consulting services to the market at large.
2.) As a writer, I provide editorial content to trade publications, as well as present on the topic of SSL. I also provide lighting educational briefs for newcomers to the lighting market, as well as production of white paper studies on various lighting and non-lighting topics.
3.) Tasca is a very small, specifically focused task light product manufacturer. It produces a limited production, made to order, solid-state work environment task light. This company does not compete with any of our customers, by its very design and market focus. We do not make or intend to make architectural lighting products, or products sold as general lighting into the commercial or residential markets. We avoid all conflicts of interest by simply steering our own desire to produce products into the work light space, where we can satisfy our interest in delivering high performance task lighting – a pursuit I have had interest in long before LEDs were even used for white light.
4.) As a sculptor and artist, I also produce one-off portable lighting sculptures. Many of these were seen in the 52 in 52 works of 2010. This is an interest of mine that utilizes the facilities accumulated to serve Lumenique customers in ways that are not competitive. These products are marketed independently of Lumenique for the most part, and are often nothing more than works in process until I feel they are ready to be moved to a new home, or just put them into service here at home.
I find it necessary to provide this clarification for those whom we work with in serving our primary customers. When we find a vendor reluctant to share information or pricing with us because of a false impression that we are somehow acting in a dishonorable manner by gathering information about our own customers, I am not only offended, but hindered from providing the services I am commissioned to provide in a timely manner. Further, as a result of this interaction (or lack of) I place those vendors on our own no-call list for future work with other customers, and for any future consideration in custom or Tasca project work. This industry is encumbered enough by slow sales response, poor communications, and odd unverified assumptions, we have to work around and avoid any of these in order to deliver what our customers expect in a timely manner.
I admit that we have cast a wide net by pursuing many channels in which to participate. But, as we focus mainly on small and entry level entities as our main customers, we rarely realize large volumes of business from any single customer. This demands we serve a wider customer base. Further, as I am in business to enjoy myself by delivering a unique value, I also seek opportunities in a diverse arena of opportunities. This keeps business and creative processes fresh and feeds new experiences into the process that would not be realized by a more restrained approach. I believe this is good for both my customers and me as a design professional.
That all said, if anyone ever has a question regarding what we do, who we are competing with, or concerns over any perceived conflicts of interest, just drop us a line or call. We’re more than willing and completely open about our operations, and will do everything practical to resolve issues that might arise. So, rather than assuming, get hold of us and let us see if we can clear any reservations up before opportunities are lost necessarily.
The coming of spring demands a great deal of concentration when you live in an area that is frozen half the year. For April and May this has meant new projects progressing, outside interests fighting for attention, and the progression of older projects resulting in resolution of old issues. Unfortunately, due to the fact that there are those who feel it is their right to knock off ideas they find from others without attribution or recognition, I am struggling with how to proceed with this effort going forward. I enjoy exploring new ideas and sharing discoveries. I despise finding the results integrated into others offerings without so much as a nod to its source.
That said, for this installment of the 12 in 12 project, I focused on making progress in development of portable light originally introduced in the 52 in 52 project in 2010, and a spring project that is personal and fun.
The Battery Project
In week 4 of the 52 in 52 project, I presented this combination table torch/flashlight. At the time, I relied on lead acid emergency light batteries in an effort to create a reliable light for emergency use, using readily available components. Unfortunately, since then, I have found the approach flawed. The batteries were not reliable when connected in series to generate 12VDC, the charging components were not able to keep the batteries conditioned, and the discharge characteristic of the batteries produced an unacceptably short on-time when removed from the stand. Further, the batteries were far too heavy to be practical, and were expensive. (more…)
In the process of building Tasca, there has been numerous iterations, prototypes in metal and plastic, tests to failure, drop and impact tests, electrical and electronic tests, and lighting application tests. As we found what worked, and what didn’t, and collected tooling for components, like the heat sink, I build the first functional products, using production level components. The first one made was what we affectionately call the Mule. It has been lighted 24/7 for one year as of the end of March, or a total of 8,841 logged hours to date. In that time it has been tested under operating conditions, attached to the side of a milling machine head, sprayed with lubricating and cleaning fluids, dropped, dunked, draped with rags under high ambient conditions, and frozen. As shown in the images here, this head has had a few hoods and shields attached to test effectiveness, and the mounting adapter has been changed a couple of times as I’ve experimented with the machined attachment hardware. This head has a thermocouple lead installed, so at any time I can plug it in to see what the temperature of the LED is, while there has been numerous output tests to check lumen depreciation, which has been less than 1% to date, right on track with the LM80 data for the LED (Bridgelux ES array).
This fixture has also been used as a baseline for testing the finished product as it has evolved. For example, we found that black anodizing og the heat sink lowered the LED temperature under identical operating conditions by as much as 10°C. We have also evolved the use of spring washers in the hinge, made small adjustments in the use of fasteners, and added the disconnect power connection to replace the Heyco cord entry – all found from actively working with the product and improving every detail. (more…)
What you see here is an invention of my own creation designed to provide the operator an idea of whether the lighting system he/she is operating under is producing flicker within the perception of the human visual system. While there is always the wagging finger test, this does not fully expose the subtleties of flicker from room lighting. Here’s how it works:
No Flicker Condition: When you spin the wheel under daylight or a non-flickering lighting system or source, the Red-Green-Blue bars will blend together to create a dull grey appearance to the spinning wheel. As the wheel is spun faster, this will become smoother, with no color apparent at all. If you see any color at all, you are experiencing flicker of some level. Only with a total lack of flicker will the wheel appear to be uniformly gray in color. The best place to see this is under direct sunlight, as this will present no flicker at all.
Noticeable Flicker: When you spin the wheel under a flickering light source, there is a whole kaleidoscopic of effects that appear. The most notable is the appearance of a rainbow color wheel effect, as the R-G-B regions are blended in strobe effect, that will be very wide at high speed (including the appearance of secondary colors Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan that are not on the wheel at all), to very narrow at low speeds. You will also notice that the radial patterns change in direction from clockwise to counter clockwise as the wheel speed changes. Further, at intermittent speeds, the color regions will turn gray with black wagon spokes, then change back to color at higher. In other words, you will be exploring the world of flicker effects in strobing both light and color, as the wheel is changes in speed. This effect will change both with time and wheel speed. At low frequencies (60Hz for example), the color bars will be very wide, as will the wagon spokes. As the frequency goes up, the width of the bars will be narrower for the same wheel speed.
Intermediate Phases: Sources with very deep modulation depth (on-off contrast) create the greatest strobe effect, and will generate the strongest color bands and effects. Some will produce vibrant changes that move around and shift in color dramatically, creating intense rainbows. However, even if a source does flicker, the difference between its highs and lows may not be as pronounced, or the frequency of the flicker may be higher. This reduced modulation depth or increased frequency will create more subtle color effects, narrower bands, and blurrier wagon wheel movements from the dark bands. This can range from very subtle, to more intense. Some will generate a gray tone similar to a non-flickering source, but with a very very subtle rainbow effect just visible in the pattern area, to very slim edges visible at the margins of the dark wagon spokes. In other words, the less distinct the patterns are, and the less intense the colors are, the lower the visible flicker is. This is often the case in spaces with mixed sources, like daylight and flickering fluorescent sources. If you detect this, you can walk around the space and test individual sources until you find the one producing the flicker, and those that are not contributing. (more…)
When LEDs first emerged, I was one of the many who expressed the opinion that a lighting system that could dim to a warmer CCT, imitating incandescent lamps, would be desirable. I want to take this opportunity to retract that original opinion and thought. I’ve played with it, seen the products available that do it, and have experimented with the approach… and can say unequivocally that I really don’t like it at all.
One of the problems with incandescent dimming has always been the patchwork of CCTs one gets through a space from different dimmer settings for the various products in a room. This has never been a good thing. Further, the change in CCT of an old school incandescent lamp is significantly different than halogen lamps, as it the character of the color. I for one have fallen out of love with the old incandescent lamp long ago. Over the last 20 some-odd years, I have come to use halogen sources over all incandescent forms, preferring the cleaner white color over that yellowy dinginess of the incandescent lamp. Incandescent lamps (non-halogen) produce a decidedly ugly color that I personally feel is misrepresented by their high CRI rating. The fact that the CRI formula will show a dimmed incandescent lamp with the same high CRI number, even when it very noticeably distorts color in a space, is a condemnation of our poor color performance metrics, not an indication of this lamps superior color performance. (more…)
I thought a lot about what to focus on in 2012 for this series, and decided that I had plenty to share from regular activities of Lumenique, LLC and Tasca. So, the plan is to select something completed in each of the 12 months of 2012 and feature them here. This will generally be products or projects completed for customers, but may also include a report on research work in process, when it adds value.
This is a refitting of a Dazor table lamp, applying the TASCA lighting head, and adding an extension stand to convert a desk lamp to a floor lamp. The product was commissioned by a customer who provided the table lamp, purchased used. From the GSA and other government markings present on the original, it was obviously from a government facility. The table lamp made by Dazor has been around since the late 1930′s, where the fluorescent lamp version graced the GE display at the Worlds Fair.
For more details on this project, check out the summary and full technical specs at Lumenique 12 in 12 for 2012 – January.
For additional details on how you might procure a similar product from one of your own favorites, visit TASCA.
Also, as an update, the Lumenique Product Center now accepts all major credit cards, making your purchase experience easy and secure.
Stay tuned for additional news and updates on the 12 n 12 for 2012 review, and other interesting SSL information.
In an effort to create the highest possible performance in a portable lighting product, assembling the right combination of components is essential. Obviously the process begins with an efficient LED suited to the lighting effect desired. The LED must then be matched with an efficient driver. Finally, the driver must be fed power from an efficient power supply that converts incoming AC line voltage to clean DC power. Efficiency is generally found in matching the load of the LED to a driver designed for that load with no necessary over-capacity. Then, mating the driver to an efficient power supply matched in size to the driver’s operating load is necessary to produce the highest combined efficiency. (more…)
So, you have this great new LED, generated a wonderful 130 lumens per watt. Life is good. Is this representative of real energy savings? What about Power Factor and its impact on the demand it places on the energy grid? What’s up with THD and what does it mean? Do either of these detract from the energy savings of new technologies using electronic power supplies? (more…)
ArchLED’11 will be marked as the official coming out for Tasca, my work lighting product offering. We presented examples of the base Uno line, as well as several Renovar and one Accent light. If you are wondering what these are, and are curious to learn more, you can visit the Tasca web site now. The sitre is fully populated with pictures and a specification download at:
We have also put several products up on the Lumenique Product Center for direct purcahse. These are semi-pre-configured products with popular options. You can choose one or dozens, we don’t mind.
While I do not intend to make this blog a commercial site promoting products and pitching our offerings, I do need to make a living, so there will be occasional updates to share where we are and what we are doing in this regard. This is how we pay for the fun side of being in the business, and afford the time to invest and share with others information on solid-state lighting.
A Little More on Tasca
Tasca is primarily focused on the work environment. Whether this is a machine operation, an assembly work station, an inspection station, or administration workplace, my intent is to offer the most effective light for enhancing visual performance with a durable product. I’ve invested decades experimenting with task lighting. My personal approach has been to lower ambient surrounding light levels to the minimum required to support the low acuity activities in the space, supplemented by localized task lighting to enhance visual performance in critical work areas. I have applied this in lighting designs over the last 30 years to reduce energy consumption, and live under it on a daily basis. In other words, I am passionate about this approach and believe it is a superior approach to achieve high visual performance. I strongly believe we are over-lighting our work spaces to some compromised light level, which is too high for ambient requirements and too low for effective task performance.
Over the last few years, the idea of creating a work light for hard service environments, bringing the advantages of SSL technology to work spaces that require high visual performance to support safe, accurate, and efficient work tasks. For over a year now I have been investing considerable time building a product I feel satisfies the demands of work environments, with an efficient product that will survive harsh environments. Tasca is the product of this effort, and just the beginning of a larger effort to produce desirable performance SSL lighting products for niche work space demands. We’ve already provided customized versions of Tasca for UV curing applications, and will be releasing specialty products, such as a 98CRI sourced heads for color critical inspection (like printing presses, millwork, textile and paint inspection), as well as a unique welding light that will bring welders vision of their welding field that has never been possible before.
Tasca is also founded on the concept of sustainability from durable products that are recycled either by dismantling, rebuilding, or re-purposing at the end of service life, not just thrown away. Unlike products that are filled with potting materials and irreversible assembly techniques that make recycling too expensive to be practical, Tasca fixtures are heavy duty assemblies designed to be reworked, rebuilt, or dismantled easily for recycling of materials content, separate of the electronics components that must go through a separate recycling channel. This includes the use of glass for the lens cover, which can survive decades of use, or be recycled easily through existing waste management channels economically. The Renovar and Accent line take all of this one step further by harvesting old task lights for their arms, refinishing the devices, recycling the old lighting heads, and converting them to Tasca lights by adapting our lighting heads, before a complete refinish and refurbishing.We will also refit your existing task lights, bringing old favorites back to life by bringing them up to date, or through Accent, create a custom design to suit your specific taste.
This is just the start of a great deal more to come. Sort of pulling the plug out of a dyke and letting things flow. This is an exciting niche opportunity for me, where I can add value through design integration assistance, and provide customization to suit unique customer needs. Unlike imports which must be marketed in large batches of off-shelf products to move production inventories – Tasca is made here in the USA, to order, to meet individual customer needs – even if that means building something completely new and unique that has a total customer market of one.