Bridgelux Kills their BXRA3 ES and RS Platform

Posted: April 6, 2016 in General SSL Commentary

Bridgelux has announced the End of Life for the BXRA product. This is the product that put this company on the map, and has been very popular. The company is now hawking its me-too product platforms, along with its proprietary Vero product. I for one will never again consider a proprietary platform from Bridgelux. I am also sure they will experience a significant number of defections as customers find their way resolving the disruption the end of the BXRA platform will cause. I know this, as I intend to help every customer of mine, and anyone else interested, to find a path to other provider products.

When Bridgelux came onto the market, it professed to know the architectural lighting market, making bold statements about how it would support its customers with consistent products with little or no platform obsolescence. O bought it. Cree has done this, so it was no stretch to believe Bridgelux could make good. They were also touting themselves as a U.S. company, invested in the U.S.A. Yet, over the last several years, they have proven that all that blather was just marketing farf. They’ve made regular product changes that have demanded redressing driver selections, not to mention changes in fV and max current limits that have fouled up UL listings. They have walked out of the U.S. market as a manufacturer. Now they are owned by the Chinese CEC company, and have completely turned their back on past promises to serve their customers with the product stability. I have promoted this company to customers, and use it in my own Tasca products. That ends with the demise of the BXRA3.

At the core of this seemingly small issue of planned obsolescence, is the impact these changes will have on hundreds of customers, effecting thousands of end products, including UL and photometric test implications that will result in a lot of cash being spent in response to this discontinuance. The underlying issue is that BXRA ES and RS arrays once presented a unique combination of voltage and current that created unique driver configurations different from their competition. For most, changing to any other COB will require redressing driver selection, which will demand UL changes. For some, the implications are going to be significant. For example, in some products I am directly involved with, the power supply is 24VDC, with buck CC drivers connected to the LED. That is no longer possible using any of the new COBs from Bridgelux. Cree, thankfully, has a few options that will limit the damage to some degree. For others, the open circuit voltage of higher fV drivers will create a mess with LED holders that have exposed metal contacts that UL will insist be covered, demanding changes that will likely lead to re-testing. And, for many, the impact on optics is going to be a long and hard road to travel. Changing the array to a new platform will require new optics be sourced, and since these are not exactly the same as the outgoing combination, new LM-79 testing will need to be done. This is all going to have to happen NOW, as the announced EOL is immediate, with the last products available for order in mid June.

The saving grace in all of this is that the replacements Bridgelux offers are not significantly unique in voltage, current limits, lumen output, color, or general size/configuration from what is available from many others today. That means that when customers are faced with the disruption of re-configuring their products to the higher fV/lower current requirements,  and new optics, they can consider pretty much all competitive products to protect themselves from any future recurrence of changes in any one proprietary configuration the end of the BXRA platform presents. Since the new configurations will require updates, if not completely new UL testing, and likely new photometric testing, I strongly recommend that every Bridgelux BXRA customer cross their requirements over to at least three providers. Cree, Samsung, Citizen, and Luxeon now all make very strong performing products that can stand up against anything Bridgelux offers – with the same core fV and current combinations  to attain equitable output. This, combined with the range of Zahga compliant LED holders and associated optic accessories, pretty much means the proprietary Vero series is a non-starter – except for those that are Zahga compliant.

I personally will not update with Bridgelux new products. For my own products, we are black-listing Bridgelux for its inconsistency between what it says it is doing and going to do, and what it actually does – often with very short notice given. My continued strong support for the company ends with the BXRA platform EOL. It is the perfect opportunity to break away from them and move forward with new providers, and I intend to take full advantage of that. This saddens me in some way, as I have had so much fun and enjoyed building products around the BXRA. This is the end of a very short lived era for me.  When Lumileds ended the K2, the backlash was severe. I expect that Bridgelux is going to experience much the same with the ending of its BXRA ES and RS arrays. I’d wish them luck, but can’t find it in me to be that polite. This situation stinks, on so many levels that its hard to be calm about it. At a time many are finding their feet after being pounded by the cost of SSL development and a soft economy, to now face redressing products already in demand and on sale, caused by manufacturer planned obsolescence – means nothing of value is gained, and a lot of unnecessary cost will be incurred.

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