Archive for the ‘General Commentary’ Category

June and July are not only the first nice days of the year, they mark several milestones for me. First, its’ the 10th year of Lumenique LLC being focused exclusively on solid-state lighting – marking the point at which I left my last position as VP of Marketing and Design at Visa Lighting in 2006 to focus on all things solid-state as a solo act. Prior to that, Lumenique has been many things, from hobby presence and sculpture studio, to lighting consulting side business. This last decade is its first as a focused entity and source of real income. 6 years ago, I launched a task lighting product line, under the name Tasca. I am a serious task light advocate, and build Tasca products for the tougher applications, like shop machines and Navy ship bridge and map tasks. Most of the products we make at Tasca are custom to a specific requirement, either mounting or light characteristics. This will be a greater focus in coming years, as there are many opportunities in task and work lighting I’ve found interesting.

It’s hard to believe that its been 6 years since the 52 in 52 project. I don’t post here as frequently as I did back then, not from a lack of interest – I just get wrapped up in what we’re doing day by day and find that times slips past.

Lumenique continues to focus on providing specialty product design and development, prototyping, and experimental approaches. Over the years we’ve moved toward making more things over selling time, but still have several consulting customers at any given moment. It’s a diverse business that has only become more diverse over the years, which makes life most interesting. Angie joined the fray three years ago, and is growing her capabilities in product making, research, and general backup. The company is our focus now, and we enjoy working on it together.

This also marks the 10th year of Architectural SSL magazine, a publication from Construction Business Media, who also publishes Architectural products and now NZB magazines. I am honored to be counted as one of the team, they are a great group of people that produce the highest quality publications in lighting and building markets. We were the first publication to focus on architectural solid-state lighting, and I believe remain a unique voice in the market, while providing exposure of the expanding array of products coming to this market.

2016 also marks the opening of our new facility, where we have room to work and expand our capacity to serve customers of products and services alike. In just six months, we’ve already been hired for contract production and assembly, and are on the verge of introducing a couple of specialty solid-state products for uses outside lighting itself. Business is good, but as anyone who owns their own gig will tell you, it can always be better. We’re constantly exploring new ideas.

So, in the last 10 years, there have been many players in this business come and go. We’ve seen the solid-state market grow from silly low-performing, over-promised toys to the robust performance products of today. It’s an exciting industry, with much more coming!

Thanks to everyone who’ve sent us anniversary congratulation notes.


I propose that all pursuits of a color quality metric represented in any form of numeric value based on averages of performance over any number of color samples is wholy inadequate and a wast of time. We have been using such a system for far too long, with too many questions and related surrounding quality issues unanswered to continue with such a weak approach. I suggest that we pursue a Lighting Qualities Classification system that encompass eight (8) core variables that are critical to identification and selection of lighting products. This would be represented in a similar fashion as the successful Ingress Protection (IP) rating system already in use.

My concept is that there are three core categories of concern that lighting customers and specifiers want answers to in an easy to use and apply form. These are Uniformity, Color Quality, and for some, Human Factors. A color quality standard, as we already know, is meaningless if uniformity is not known. The current and all proposed metrics for lighting quality also fail to deliver any insight into color tonal shifts caused by Duv, and do not indicate or suggest that all sources of identical result are going to be uniform in appearance. This proposed LQC classification system addresses these issues, representing lighting product performance using data already available from current test results, in a manner that can be applied to select appropriate products for application.

Here is my first raft concept of the LQC classification in a table format, similar to that used to define the IP rating system:

LQC Rating System Table

LQC Rating System Table – Proposed Draft

In this classification system one can expect:

Uniformity Performance – Products from a range of manufacturers, or individual products from any one manufacturer, with a classification of 5 will deliver uniform appearance, while the greatest variations will occur in products with a classification of 1.

Quality Performance – Products from a range of manufacturers, or individual products from any one manufacturer, with a classification of 5 will deliver uniformly high color fidelity, minimal saturation effects, and strong color rendering over the complete spectral range, while the greatest variations and lowest color rendering results will occur in products with a classification of 1.

Human Factors Performance –  Products with a classification of 5 will deliver optimal human visual performance, while those with a classification of 1 will deliver less than optimum performance. This is an optional classification (like the thrd value in the IP rating for impact protection) recognizing that in some applications, human visual performance, either for acuity or to optimize energy use, is not a priority – such as high end hospitality where warm sources and mood/appearance are the primary drivers.

Based on this, decision makers can pre-qualify products based on application needs and requirements. Just as an IP67 rating is unnecessary for 100% of applications, an LQC555 product is not a universal requirement. Here are some examples of application of this LQC classification system:

Parking Garage Lighting – LQC124 will produce a product with minimal attention to uniformity, a good color rendering quality (for identification of color), and a high human factors performance level to optimize energy use and visibility.

Classroom – LQC445 will produce good uniformity, high color rendering performance, and strong human visual system support for learning environments at a reasonable economic level.

High End Retail or Museum – LQC55, or LQC553 will produce maximum uniformity, maximum color performance, and acceptable human factors for the application using warm color sources (optional classification).

Residential – LQC442 will produce a product that suits the majority of fussy homeowners and represents the human factors likely to be available when using warm color light sources

Critical Task and Inspection Lighting – LQC555 will produce maximum performance in uniformity, color and visual performance.

Low Activity Storage (low color demand) – LQC11, or LQC111 will support the most economical light sources and indicates a minimal need for quality over cost.

High Speed, Low Color Demand Task Application on a Budget – LQC115 might be applied,  utilizing TM-24 methods to reduce energy consumption through application of enhanced visual performance, with lowest cost products as a priority

I recognize that a classification system of this type requires more refinement. However, I suggest that this is a robust approach that with minimal understanding, manufacturers can apply this to market products toward specific intended application, while decision makers and designers can select and communicate their requirements through specification of a desired or necessary classification for the intended application.

The application of this type of multiple factors classification system encompasses the core concerns of decision makers,  answers questions not now being delivered, removes the need for decision makers to attempt to hack together evaluations based on data that is not always readily available, and builds a foundation to build products and identify latent demands that are now concealed by the virtual lack of actionable metrics for us all to work from.

Specifications could also be written around identification of a range of acceptable product classes within the three categories. For example, one might  need uniformity to remain very tight, where a specification of anb absolute “5” classification is set. However, that same specification may not require perfect quality performance beyond that, so a quality value might be represented as >2, or indicated as  range of 2-5. Meanwhile that same specification may consider energy efficiency as an important requirement, demanding a Human Factors classification of >4 or a range of 4-5 as acceptable. This opens the door to a wider range of products, from LQC524 up through LQC555 to be applied and offered by manufacturers.

Manufacturers can use this classification system to expose and promote their products performance and its comparison to competition. For example, a manufacturer that is committed to the highest uniformity in their product offerings, at the most popular quality levels, can state that all of their products deliver an LQC of 53 or better, while specific offerings targeting the human factors market space can be promoted as delivering an LQC of 534 or greater, indicating the only area of variability and performance selection is choosing a color metric that fits the application.

Just as the IP rating system is more descriptive than the UL Wet and Damp labeling standards, the LQC classification reaches beyond simplistic single aspect lighting qualities of CRIe or TM30,  that are now creating more questions than answers.


IALD Departure

Posted: December 28, 2015 in General Commentary
Tags: , ,

The following is not directly related to the work of solid-state lighting, but does reflect a situation that others have found themselves in related to organizations and the industry that solid-state lighting exists within. I offer it as a personal insight and experience with one of lighting’s major organizations –  perhaps offering comfort to others in similar situations.

1985 – Proud Associate Member and Optomistic Young Professional

In 1985, after working as a lighting designer and electrical systems designer for 4 years, completing numerous lighting educational courses independently, through GE and Sylvania, and the IES, I felt it appropriate, and timely to join what I believed was the ultimate brotherhood of lighting designers. I carefully completed the application with proper supporting documentation for that time, and was accepted as an Associate member of the IALD in June, 1985. My goal was to continue to advance my skills and capabilities and do what I could for the lighting industry, as well as my lighting customers. When I achieved 10 years experience, I planned to submit application for full membership. Lighting was my job full-time at this point, and I was an enthusiastic young professional looking forward to making it a long and rewarding career in what I found an exciting and inspiring industry.

My first IALD certificate. For me a symbol of belonging to something larger than my individual efforts.

My first IALD certificate. For me a symbol of belonging to something larger than my individual efforts.

In the intervening 9 years from 1985-1994, I was active as a lighting designer, but also began working with manufacturers to produce products the market needed. This included consulting design work for Marco, Capri, Winona Lighting, and several others, designing products for customer specific projects, as well as general designs targeted at retail application. Finding it continually frustrating to find products with the qualities I needed to complete lighting projects, I was drawn into more and more product design work. I was in good company, as this was the time when folks like Bill Lam, Silvan Shemitz, and numerous others had moved into product development to build better solutions to lighting design problems. This path was the path of the great Thomas Edison, who acted as product and application design entrepreneur in an effort to not only promote product deployment, but improve lighting as a whole. I saw no conflict in the pursuit of both lighting application design and product design and development simultaneously. I made every effort to insure that when any potential conflict of interest arose, I informed the customer, and either withdrew my participation, or excluded any manufacturer  I was working with at the time from consideration – which was a little paradoxical at times, since the products being developed were specifically targeted at application customer needs.. But, I accepted this. As a career, in this same time period, I was torn between consulting work and working as an in-house designer for manufacturers. I decided to try the more direct relationship with Winona Lighting, in 1989, as Director of Design. I continued to provide a limited amount of Lighting Design consulting work, after assisting a friend take over my major customers still active as a lighting consultant. This was a particularly difficult choice to make, as  I was President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the IES at the time. I was compelled to make the move based on the exciting potential of bringing products to market that met the needs I found unmet as a designer, while still actively engaging with application customers independent of Winona, and through Winona’s interaction with some of the most well-recognized lighting consultants in the USA. This led to my moving on to Visa lighting with a similar position, but larger organization, increasing the potential for offering greater reach of viable product solutions.

1994- Discharged as an associate member of the IALD.

The letter below arrived shortly after I moved to Milwaukee, WI to work with Visa Lighting:

For a young professional, letters like this, without any review or communication prior, are taken personally and with gravity.

For a young professional, letters like this, without any review or communication prior, are taken personally and with gravity. This letter came with no warning or other communication to verify the eligibility conflict or learn of my position. 

My Response

I was stuck pretty hard by his. Especially as it came from the blue. I was not contacted by anyone as to the truth of what was “brought to (their) attention”, nor was I given an opportunity to defend my activities, or efforts, on both the product side as well as the application design side. This also came as a blow in that I had been assuming that with 10 years experience, I would be qualified to apply for full professional membership, where perhaps I might become more involved in bringing what I was learning and doing to bear in an organization I felt represented my real core interests as a lighting designer. My response below reflected both my thoughts and feelings at that moment:

This was my response to the letter from the IALD, reflecting my feelings and position at the time.

This was my response to the letter from the IALD, reflecting my feelings and position at the time. There was no response to this letter of any kind, nor had anyone in the IALD contacted me, then or since.

1994 thru 2015

For several years, stung by what felt like a rejection of my contributions by an organization I held in high regard, I abstained from pursuing the IALD, stopped promoting the organization. At some point, the creation of affiliate status allowed me to reconnect. I was asked by several of my technical customers at the time whether this was a way for them to contribute, and in review, and with no other alternative, I re-applied for affiliate status, very reluctantly, as it did not represent my activities as a design entity that delivers both product and application project work with equal vigor and interest in connecting end use need with products to fill those needs. I was also drawn to membership in the LIRC, but found myself feeling useless as a very small voice in a sea of corporate marketers, so resigned from that activity soon after. In 2006, I moved from employment with luminaire manufactures and rebuilt my firm Lumenique as my home for all activity, which includes the mix of application design, product design, consulting to end-user owners, and manufacturers. I also make a line of my own task lighting product. I never bothered to redress member positioning, as I am still a bit put off by the way I was tossed to the curb so many years ago. The luster of the organization has been tarnished for me personally, so I have remained a an affiliate, paying the dues, but not actually actively promoting or maintained any real involvement with it.

2016, a New Year

My dues payment comes at the end of each year, which is now. In review of my feelings about the organization, the position it has boxed me into (without a single conversation with me personally), and any benefit I see in remaining in this state of limbo of sorts, I have decided to pass, and allow the affiliate status lapse. Over the years I have witnessed the organization back the NCQLP LC program that awards LC status to sales representatives, manufacturer regional managers working for manufacturers who have never designed a single project, and numerous others who have never headed a design project, or ever worked directly for an end use customer, architect, interior designer, or design build contractor, beyond a sales role. I have seen the LC tag on letterhead and signatures of individuals I know for a fact have not a single clue what is involved in lighting design. How can this be the case, when being associated with a manufacturer (including sales channel members) results in a persona non-grata status as a member of the IALD itself? I have also seen the organization give the cold shoulder to some truly stellar potential members who once saw it as a pathway to deliver new value to the community, and show open hostility to the growth of emerging new technologies.  I accept that the IES has filled its ranks with sales, manufacturing, marketing, distribution and contracting members – overwhelming the ranks of actual “illuminating Engineering” professionals, this has been its makeup from its inception. Conversely, the IALD has been playing the part of exclusionary organization, while offering credibility to those who cannot qualify as Associate or Professional Membership in the organization itself – by its own hallowed by-laws. These, and other odd experiences over the years (won’t bore anyone with the details here) has left me feeling it is time to change.

Time to Call it

This all said, and still with some reluctance, I have decided to move on from direct support of the IALD as an organization. I remain a full supporter of the Lighting Profession, and all those who are engaged in the work of building a better industry as a whole. I remain committed to providing editorial content that inspires fresh thinking and insight, to delivering assistance to manufacturers interested in creating valuable products to lighting customers, to lighting customers seeking excellence in lighting performance, and advancing the knowledge of new entries into the market in both application and product levels. I remain committed to the lighting industry as my home, as I am uniquely connected to it in so many ways.   I do not need the IALD to do any of these things, and the IALD has shown it does not desire me as a participant in what it does in its own efforts in these directions. Thus, it appears there is a very real “disconnect of interests”.

I am a bit saddened that I was never able to have any impact or contribute to the IALD in a meaningful way beyond paying annual dues. While I accept that some of this is my own fault for not making a more direct plea or effort to change any of this,  it is very difficult to get past feeling the fight taken out so early in my three and a half decade long career in light – combined with being reasonably busy doing what I do – taking priority of time and energies directed elsewhere. I am sure both the IALD and I will do just fine pursuing our own destinies, individually and separately, while traveling the same paths into lighting’s future.

So, in the words of Douglas Adams, I say (to the IALD) “So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

The recent press release announcing Philips, Cisco, et al,  joint venturing to deploy and build Power over Ethernet (PoE) networks in lighting is going to fuel this discussion and create a stir, without a doubt. In the press release, all the current hot buttons were pressed with vigor, from App controlled lighting using smart phones to ties to the Internet of Things (IoT). The picture painted by this release, presentations on this topic, and other articles floating about, indicate a future where lighting breaks its bonds of wiring to be free to serve us all in magical, never before realized new ways, using less energy through magic DC power, finally severing us from the drag of AC power. It’s certainly got folks talking.

At the recent LED Specifier Summit in Chicago, I was asked by no less than 8 people what I thought about PoE, and whether it was going to be the next big disruptive innovation to strike lighting. Concurrent to this were phone discussions with technology providers and fixture manufacturers, asking similar questions. It was hard not to think that something was going on, as everyone seems to be all quivery about it. The problem is… I am not so sure what all the fuss is about, and whether anyone is really thinking this through. I like the concept of a distributed network style, low voltage DC lighting infrastructure. It solves fixture design issue, and presents intriguing possibilities for integrating controls, lighting and the IT universes together in ways our current system of isolation-in-high-voltage simply cannot easily address.

Advantages Impossible to Ignore

As we move into more electronics integration into lighting, it is hard not to look at the IT universe, and its capacity to deliver data in both wired and wireless networks reliably and effectively throughout large areas. It would be phenomenal to have that same level of inter-connectivity between controls and controlled lighting, with each fixture set up with its own address, and simple software interfaces to allow any fixture to be controlled by any control or population of controls, in addition to responding to global data, like time of day, light conditions, even weather conditions. No more stupid controls circuits where lighting I don’t want on is left on, because its hard wired to another I need to remain lighted. The concepts of Human Centric Lighting, and even those of the far-reaching Semantic Light concept cannot be obtained without a layer of control sophistication the existing lighting market struggles to deliver. HA! I just injected two more hot-button topics the press release had not even mentioned….

The inter-connectivity of a lighting infrastructure that has close ties to the IT universe, Bluetooth utility, wireless network visibility and access also solves issues of controlling portable lighting, specifically at the task level, that are normally plug connected with no wired control connection. To be able to address these products as components of a larger lighting package and system would bring them finally into the picture as more than accessory add-ins. In this, energy code compliance could integrate all forms of light, from portable to daylight harvesting, into one unified total system, monitored, commissioned and controllable using a single controls layer.

While there is movement toward higher and higher voltages in LED packages, the fact remains, LEDs themselves are low voltage devices. Distribution of remotely controlled, current limited 24VDC, or even 48VDC makes more sense with LEDs than any other source, and resolves a great deal of the issues of packaging driver, power conversion and light source into luminaires. Portable, surface wall and ceiling mounted products could become much cleaner and slimmer, freed of housing chunks of non-luminous hardware. Dimming control within this proposed data biased infrastructure would be far more consistent, and tunable to match human visual response, with far fewer compromises to electronic interaction and proprietary hardware interference.

Further, the idea of the IoT is pretty fantastic as a concept. Having lights not only controlled locally, but to external data sources has some interesting implications. From daylight following to being able to send someone a message that includes a “lighting” message is intriguing. To have a web site not only present a video on-screen, but control the room lights in response to the presentation at various points has real potential for video conferencing, especially when tied to white light tuning – HA, HA! I just added yet another hot button topic to this discussion.

I’ll dump a couple more hot topics into this. The discussion of AC driven LEDs and the entire flicker issue (hot topic alert), is essentially eliminated with a DC infrastructure. The issue of lumen depreciated luminaire life ratings ends, as we could adopt one of my favorite concepts – Lumen Priority, where luminaires deliver steady state illuminance over their lifetime, with reactive control to modulate current to overcome lumen depreciation of sources and dirt accumulation. The IoT would create an opportunity for this type of control to be globally monitored, allowing real-time collection of light loss data for all to utilize in future product development.

Of all the advantages of a PoE foundation to lighting that intrigues and interests me most, is that it could finally end the mish-mash of proprietary controls, generic controls, 0-10V, Ecosystem, DALI, DMX, Zigbee, Enocean, Triac, MOSFET, leading edge, trailing edge, 1%, 10%, 20%, etc… etc… that makes creation of product and lighting system functionality a nightmare. One infrastructure, one controls foundation, all products connected to remote current control power, portable and building mounted, landscape to roadway…. end of story. I am IN!

Problems that Can’t be Ignored

First and foremost, distribution of low voltage power to lighting products is a bad idea. Edison lost the DC battle, because DC stinks in distributed power systems. Tesla and the AC power grid is efficient and can support long distribution distances with minimal losses. Anyone who believes any different needs to revisit the library on this topic. Voltage drop cannot be ignored, as it is a power robbing parasite. For example, a 24W luminaire connected @120VAC, 75 feet from its power source over #12 AWG wire, experiences only .09V drop (.07%), adding up to .02W load, or .08% power loss. Even if the driver losses 5%, the total is just 5.08% total per luminaire. That same 24W luminaire tied to a DC power supply, 75 Feet from its power source, over #18AWG wire, experiences 1.53V drop, (6.83%), adding up to 1.53W load, or 6.38% power loss. If the driver at the head end of that circuit is 98% efficient, the total loss to feed that luminaire is up to 8.38%… not exactly a loss anyone is going to embrace. To eliminate the cable loss, to get it back to the 120VAC level, would mean running #6AWG to that DC fixture… not exactly a savings in distributed power hardware, nor practical in any sense of the word. Oh yes, lets not forget that the existing infrastructure of commercial lighting is not 120VAC, it is 277VAC, where the voltage drop, number if circuits involved, etc… are less than half what most of the marketing materials for PoE show as examples and cost analysis. Marketers doing what marketers do I guess.

So, really, the idea of true DC is really dead before it is even born. However, all is not lost. DC LEDs are not actually DC, are they? DC power is usually attained using switching power supplies which can deliver AC at a frequency of >20KHz. Now, the issue of DC (which is not DC at all) simply evaporates. In the aforementioned 24W luminaire, at 24VDC, over 18AWG wire, operating at 20KHz, voltage drop is now only .31 (1.29%), adding up to just .06W, or 1.2% loss. That’s not hard to absorb in the grand scheme of things, so let’s just say forget the DC thing, and look to high frequency AC circuits, since LEDs really run just fine in this type of system – perhaps better that straight DC in many cases (another topic). This is also perfectly compatible with any Ethernet system concept, since the design of that entire infrastructure is around digital data frequencies at higher speeds than that. It also makes use of PWM or PAM control of current delivered to the luminaire simpler still.

Next, let’s talk hard wiring. If anyone believes that the ideal solution to wiring lighting is to had it over to the IT, low voltage cable tossers, they need to get on their coveralls and pop a few ceiling tiles. I have had many experiences with the absolute  mess these folks think is acceptable cabling practice. Look at the spider web of cables, unsupported, running this way and that over ceiling tiles and through walls. It is a disaster now. In fact, it is so bad, that when a computer drop, phone cable, or camera line fails, they just abandon it in place, throw another cable through the plenum and down the wall, and call it a day. Now, add a run for every 24W of connected lighting load, router boxes and hubs tossed around among for good measure, redundant cabling to cover failures and miss-wiring… it is going to be an absolute, without a doubt nightmare. This is also not going to be simply accepted by code authorities. About the time the PoE revolution is beginning to heat up, there are going to be meetings and codes re-written to resolve the emerging and expanding mess of unprotected, un-supported, and disorganized wires running this way and that. There are cities everywhere that demand low voltage cables be run in pipe, for a reason. This will apply to lighting run on PoE networks as much as it does fire alarms, clocks, camera, and data today, so claims that this is not an issue, are simply incorrect. The savings of running wire in pipe for a low voltage system over line voltage are only in the cost of the wire, and perhaps the pipe size – the labor and hardware remain the same.

About installer expertise. In virtually every instance I have been party to related to LED product failures in the field, it has come down to installer errors more than any other cause. Everything from wiring line to low voltage connections, cutting off connectors and miss-wiring controls (power to 0-10V control input), arcing from live wire connection, etc… While PoE appears to resolve some of these, as the connectors preclude anyone goofing up the circuits, the fact remains, almost all of the cabling that will be run will be made from raw cable, with terminations made in the field. Than means there are more than ample opportunities for bad cable connections, broken wires, broken connectors, cut cables, etc… The idea that the IT players already experienced in this type of connection will take over from union labor paid electricians is, well absurd. Take it from someone who has had more than a few run ins with the brothers, they are not going to just let go of the work and accept this new development without being heard. How they will be heard is through the local inspectors, who will be encouraged to make code adjustments to keep the peace. It has happened before… look at the example of how EMT pipe came to being, to take the pipe work away from the plumbers unions. While I am sure there are pundits who will insist that those days are over, that the contractors have less power now then they did back “in those days”, I suggest they revisit the transformation of the market from  design/contract to design build, to see that contractors have more power today than ever to influence what is and what is not acceptable in their universe.

More on the installer base. Forgetting issues of control, the real issue of moving toward PoE will come down to installers qualified to install these new systems. There is a lot of training to be done, information to be distributed, and buy-ins to be obtained between now and full implementation. I am seeing classes, certifications, and other programs to deploy this in a way we can all depend on. None of this is even on the agenda from what I am seeing, but the concept is also far from settled and in full swing… so we’ll see.

The issue of disruption and the perceived need for it

Do business owners perceive of a need to see a massive disruption to the way lighting is connected and distributed today? No they don’t. You can show them all the wonderful presentations about energy saved (most don’t care a great deal), you can espouse the wonders of flexibility (they don’t actually understand how things work now, so this has not point of reference to work from), and you can attempt to excite them with promises of great new capabilities (they are not demanding)… and the end result will be no change at all.

There will be a few example case studies of large profile projects displayed, usually enjoying their slice of the new frontier at deeply discounted prices just be used as window dressing. That is not a revolution. The revolution comes when the customer is demanding and absorbing the new thing at a rate greater than those producing it can keep up with. That requires widespread active interest, which is founded on a general consensus of perceived need. In a market that just barely accepts that there is a need (mostly to comply with the law) to change from T12 lamps to higher efficiency bulbs, who see LEDs only in the vein of Edison socket replacement lamps, who are not absorbing other much simpler, easy to apply controls products today… it is hard to believe there is any ground swell of unsatisfied demand pointing customers to the doors of those offering PoE as the next big thing in light.

For new construction, on projects that involve Net Zero (another hot button!) concepts, or LEED, or publicity related something or another, there will be opportunities for PoE to show its stuff and demonstrate its coolness. How much this inspires the rest of the market to get in line, vs. eliciting a blank stare and a yawn, will have to be seen. I can see it going either way. I personally like the concept from a design vantage point, but am skeptical it will ever really catch fire and make a big difference overall. In the end, I am afraid it will just become one more controls system in an overly messy, over-populated universe of controls approaches. Soon enough, there will be another hot button concept proposed to get excited about, putting us all further and further away from the solutions we really need… and the cycle will start once again.

I truly hope I am wrong.


The Lumenique main web site has been completely refreshed and revised to create a cleaner appearance that is easy to walk through. The original site was created (read evolved) over a period of 20 years, from its first appearance in 1995. The content was built up over that time to include a wide range of topics, from lighting and art, to BMW tuning mods and go-karts and our SCCA racing endeavors. That was before the days of blogs taking over that sort of activity. The new site is more focused and directed at our core business interests and competencies – and no longer requires a gamer’s commitment to navigating twists and turns to get an idea of who and what we are. The Lumenique Product Center has also been freshened up to match the new graphic design.

New Site


My first LED fixture - 2004-2006

My first LED fixture – 2004-2006

This is my last bit of housecleaning from blogs being shut down, for the archives. KLW

This fixture is my very first LED light. It started life to be a halogen fixture in 2004, that sat on a workbench waiting completion. The first head got so hot from the 50W 12V light source, it was dangerous, so it sat as I decided what to do with it.

In 2005, as LEDs became viable for lighting, I pondered using them to replace the halogen source, but they delivered so little light, the end product was useless as a desk lamp, so it sat some more. One idea was to insert a Lamina BL3000 LED into the head, but the driver was huge, the light output too little, and the heat still an issue.

Then, in early 2006, while at Visa Lighting, Don Brandt (an engineer working with me at Visa, formerly from Emteq, now working at Cree I believe) were talking through ways of applying the latest mid-power LEDs using a simple PCB. We decided to give it a shot and built a board populated by a vendor with 8 Nichia LEDs. The inspiration struck to power these LEDs with two Xitanium drivers, which at the time were un-potted prototypes, so cutting them out of their housing to be installed in clear tubes to show their interiors off was easy enough. Two push-button switches activated the drivers for a high-low effect, and a heat sink was made up of a machined aluminum block installed in the head where the original halogen lamp and reflector once lived. More details and images of this can be found on the Lumenique archives for the Ratchet fixture.

The fixture itself is made of welded steel structure with a brass head and fiberglass tension springs. The head can be raised an lowered with a ratcheting action, staying level at any height. In the end, I left this fixture with the owner of the Oldenburg Group (owner of Visa Lighting) as a parting gift as I moved on to focus on Lumenique and SSL exclusively.

nikola_tesla[1]A bit of housecleaning from another blog site I am shutting down. Thought it worth keeping alive and the man in our thoughts, from 2008. KLW

If you are a fan and gear-head for volts and lighting, you have to be familiar with the guy that had a huge  influence on our modern environment. This is Nikola Tesla, an immigrant from Croatia that thought beyond direct current from batteries and heated filament electric lamps. He once worked for Edison, but found him dull and uninspired. The two inventors had dramatically different styles. Edison was the plodding experimenter, who made his discoveries through a physically iterative process in physical bench tests. Tesla was the ultimate theorist, with a capacity to thing through concepts fully, before placing pen to paper, or committing to experimentation. He constructed demonstration of light, electricity, and magnetics only after being sure in his own mind of the outcome.

Tesla brought the distribution of Alternating Current power to the world, and revolutionized industry and life as we know it today. He also brought advancement to lighting in the form of advancing fluorescent and metal gas discharge sources, at very near the same time that filament heating using direct current sources were being developed.

Unfortunately, while Tesla was a showman (he put on some amazing demos of light and electricity) he was not the publicity hound or marketer that other inventors of the era were. This set him up to be exploited by the likes of George Westinghouse, who essentially pushed Tesla aside to commercialize the AC inventions, without paying Tesla what was owed – which would have made Tesla the richest man in the world. Like the common crediting of the electric lamp to Edison,  Marconi is widely claimed to be the inventor of the radio and radio transmission. In fact, Tesla’s patent for radio transmission, awarded in 1897, predates Marconi’s improvement patents of 1903. However, using family connections and a flair for commercialization, Marconi prevailed in recognition, while Tesla remained in the background.

For anyone who interested in the fascinating period from 1800 to 1908, where the modern world was birthed on the inventors who turned us away from fire light and animal exploitation to the electric and machine age of industrialization, Nikola Tesla is someone worth investigating in detail. You will be surprised and amazed by his work, and his reclusive personality!

These links are to biographical information and additional reading and books on Telsa:

From Lucid Cafe
Drop Bears
Science World
Wiki Books
Tesla Society