As the year 2014 recently ended, I thought now would be a good time to review what the lighting industry has gone through along with what lighting trends we anticipate in the near future. 2014 was an amazing year for LED lighting. Here a few key things that LED lighting experienced in 2014:
- The phase out of 40W through 100W incandescent lamps reached its completion stages in 2014, meaning that these lamps could no longer be imported to or manufactured in the U.S.
- Price wars ignited by large competing companies, coupled with the DOE’s initiative of making LED lighting meet high standards, made LED lighting more accessible to customers.
- In states such as California, LED lamps must exceed a CRI of 90 to receive Energy Star rebates.
- Lighting applications such as downlights, reflector lamps, directional lighting, and street lights showed a surge in LED penetration as the color quality improved and payback years on these form factors decreased.
- Smart lighting started opening up new opportunities that weren’t available in lighting before. People could change their light color settings, adjust their light levels, or have their lights flash when their sports team scored, and all of this was available via their smart phones.
- To reduce time and costs in the assembly of lighting units, we saw that modular solutions such as Modules (LED packages soldered onto PCB, with and without light engines) and COBs (including multi-array packages) gained traction for LED.
- The industry went through drastic consolidation where companies that weren’t on the LED lighting bandwagon were forced to swallow this pill or fear closure; this happened on a regional scale affecting all companies in North America, Western Europe, Japan, and China.
- More respect and emphasis was given to the optics components in LED lighting in order to deal with glare issues and evade previous conceptions of LED lighting as being glare bombs.
- More concern regarding the disruption of the circadian cycle due to LED light exposure was raised.
- Lighting controls gained more visibility as manufacturers tried to deal with possible reductions in shipments of LED lamps and luminaires (since failure rates would now be reduced with LED lighting’s longevity) and as standards such as Title 24 lighting standards came into play.
With so many changes happening within the lighting industry, we feel that we are yet again at another turning point. Going forward, we see companies further exploring the smart lighting sector and trying to reduce current costs of lighting controls while giving the customer more opportunities to interact with their lighting. There are still many controls-related issues that the industry needs to solve before controls can be deployed on a large scale. One of the repeated complaints from customers seems to be the lack of interchangeability opportunities in the lighting industry. If a customer purchases a lighting system from a manufacturer and then decides to install lighting controls, they are limited in their options; either they go back to the same manufacturer to purchase the controls equipment and hope that the manufacturer can work with the client’s needs, or they risk getting the product warranty voided if they install another manufacturer’s controls. Also, LED troffers and other LED general lighting form factors are expected to increase in shipments as payback years are further reduced with technological and product assembly innovations. We also see more compact and modular solutions gaining traction as luminaires with screw-in or plug-in lamps and tubes decline with the evolving market.