What “Other” LED Application Will Win in the Next 5 Years?
In the LED world, it is common knowledge that display backlighting and mobile are two sectors that have declining markets (due to near 100% penetration, declining prices, and the need for less LEDs per device each year as efficiencies improve). LEDs in general lighting and in automotive are two sectors where manufacturers are seeing the most growth. According to Strategies Unlimited’s new report on the worldwide market for LEDs, general lighting will reach $10.3 billion by 2019 and automotive will reach $3.1 billion with 5 year CAGRs at 14.3% and 11.6%, respectively.
But what about the “others” sector? This is also a sector where we are predicting growth, a 9.6% 5 year CAGR until 2019. Applications that are included in the “others” sector include railway signals, gaming devices, LED projectors, machine vision, LEDs in clothing and furniture, airports and airplanes, train/bus interiors; but the application that has manufacturers talking the most is agriculture/fishing/horticulture.
This has become an area of increased interest as advances in efficiency and light spectra in LEDs can produce better-quality yields. Currently, high-pressure sodium and metal halide HID lights are the most commonly used grow lights due to their efficiency over incandescents, wide light spectra, and high lumen output potential. However, as LEDs continue to improve in lifetime, color quality, and power consumption, they are becoming a more viable option over HIDs. LED Luminaires produce less heat, do not require a ballast, can be more closely color tuned to match the plant requirements for optimum growth/yields/flowering, and can be built into a wider array of form factors, eliminating the hot and cold spots that can occur with HID bulbs.
Of course, there is also talk around the increased market potential with the legalization of marijuana in several US States, and the prospect of several others to follow suit. LEDs are beneficial over HIDs in this application for all the above reasons already listed. However, as with most applications, LED grow lights are more expensive than their alternatives. There are also a lot of cheap and bad quality products that could turn some customers off, as is what happened in the early days of the LED light bulb (and CFL light bulbs). However, as more major LED and lighting manufacturers are developing good quality products and LED prices continue to drop and become more efficient, this market will most certainly… grow.