Recently, we had the DOE R&D conference in San Francisco. As always, it was a great event as the key industry players and decision makers came under one roof. I wanted to share some of my highlights and experiences from the event. Before that, one of the treats for me was looking at the new Bay Bridge from the shores of Treasure Island. Though I am a Bay Area resident, I regret that I hadn’t done this before—I usually just drive through it. The Bay Bridge looked magnificent, as it wore jewels of LED lights. The directionality of the lights was brilliant and it limited light spillage into the bay. So thank you, DOE, for allowing me this experience.
The conference overall was very insightful. Below are few of the highlights for me from the DOE R&D conference:
- Cree bulbs are now available at a retail price of $7.97
- For large commercial retrofit profit projects, replacement of the entire fixture with new LED fixture and ballast is gaining more traction than replacement of just the fluorescent tubes with LED tubes
- The industry is working on the droop phenomenon for mid power and high power LEDs to improve efficacy of the LED chip
- LED technology is penetrating into specialized applications, such as:
- Off-grid lighting to give light to underdeveloped areas
- Horticulture lighting for indoor vegetation harvesting
- Responsive lighting to monitor and adjust to comfort levels of occupants; such as recognizing specific occupants and adjusting the room setting to their preferred level of light, noise, humidity, etc.
- Integrating area lights with movie or theater systems to optimize viewer’s experience
- Specialized task lighting using LED lights to optimize lighting needed by the occupant without wasting light where not needed
- Some areas of research and development that the industry is focusing on:
- Developing algorithms to assess color shift of packages over time
- Dealing with lumen depreciation of luminaires due to dirt accumulation on the luminaire
- Narrowing the color band width of red LEDs so that light is not emitted in the infrared spectrum; this in turn would increase efficacy of the package
- Decreasing failure of solder joints (in LED packages) in high temperature operations
- Assessing plastic versus glass for optics materials
Compared to last year, a lot of issues discussed in this year’s R&D conference were similar in scope. Last year and this year, the industry focused and seems to be focusing, respectively, on further increasing efficacy of LEDs. Some might say that these are marginal efforts since realized improvements might be inconsequential to the overall system efficacy; however, these sentiments are met by arguments stating that such efforts could increase adoption if light quality is improved. Also, such efforts do help further inch the price decline of LED lighting.