Hello Everybody-

The 2016 winners of the Product Innovation Awards have been released.  I’m pleased to have done the judging for the competition for the 6th or 7th year now.  Its nice to have served in this capacity and on the IES Testing and Procedures Committee for SSL for long enough now, that I’m recognized as having knowledge on the topic.  I do love LED, OLED, etc… the various forms that comprise the world of SSL.

You can see LED overtaking legacy technology.  There’s virtually no application area or form factor its unable to address.  The lamp lives are cresting over 100,000 hours with efficacy (efficiency defined as lumens per watt – LPW) at over 100 as well.  LEDs!  They get a score of 100!

As a Judge for the magazine, I see the best of what the manufacturers have to offer usually.  But in the real work of lighting specifications, the form factors most requiring improvement are:  ubiquitous commercial types – such as troffer retrofits and strips, and decorative.  I’m still seeing far too many 50,000hour ratings with only 80+CRI on the commercial side, and on the decorative side – far too many screw base sockets.  The commercial side has long been the bastion of those with no design expertise, and the decorative side the purview of architects and interior designers who care only for the look of the fixture and not its performance.  A big piece of my business is still fixing this work that nobody bothered to calc, but it sure does look pretty – if only I could see it.  This really holds the industry down, because this is what the consumer is shown as good and ethical lighting design.

Let’s talk about efficacy, or efficiency as the lay person will call it.  Lumens per watt is only part of the story in several ways.  The lumen is unit of measurement which tells you how much total is coming from a light source, but it doesn’t tell you how exactly.  And the finer points of that is where quality happens – its everything really.  This is where optics get into the equation, the difference between a diffuse source or a point source, beam spreads, candela aka center beam candle power, luminance vs. illuminance, etc…  And then there’s the metric – lumens per watt as a way to measure efficiency.  I’ve built my reputation in the design world on broadening the metric for efficiency as it pertains to human energy.  For instance, if the light makes you sick/confused/or plain unable to see and you hurt yourself – and therefore we have to build more hospitals which run 24/7/365 drawing energy, drive up insurance rates, drain more sick pay, and increase medical costs, this is bad efficiency – it doesn’t matter that a light may use fewer watts.  Its more of a cradle to cradle ethic for lighting design.  Because light is more than electro hunk o junk – it is also a natural phenomenon, its role in the biology of living things must come first.  So, lumens per watt with a caveat.

I’d love to see the natural high efficiency of LED’s blue rich properties combined with the form factors employed for daytime use.  You’d spoil me with sky shift, however its really needed when the 9-5 workforce gets off, shops, works out, etc…  We can step away from the straight retrofit, but use the same opening (T Bar Grid), or even find new ways to put light into the world.  To work with this efficiency during peak demand times, is such a winning combination.  It will reduce greenhouse gases/toxic emissions, save the strain on the grid, and save clients money while bolstering health.  Who knew, the LB from Lithonia might actually have life after being done to death!  I see this like my Fiat, so high in mpg, that the savings in gas makes the car payment.  Its not as though the idea is new (its a story as old as time literally – the pattern of light and darkness), its just who can do it best?

At the end of the judging for this year, I was happy to see tiny aperture (opening) 1″ downlights with excellent color quality for a low cost.  Color quality was a main theme – track that really delivers on flexibility.  The manufacturer’s impressed me with their ideas on modularity, and I even saw some nice decorative.  To the untrained eye, it will likely never know the difference, they might feel it, but the difference in sales and experience as a result of higher quality is taking the flexibility of SSL to a new dimension.

Love it!