The last time I shared my views with you on solid-state lighting (SSL), I noted the LED finally appeared ready to step into the ring and do battle with the other general illumination lamp heavyweights. But I was still concerned that without widespread development and adoption of SSL standards, the technology was destined to remain a niche player. I’m happy to report that three years later, key industry players have rallied their troops, doing all they can to throw the LED luminaire into mainstream market sectors. The question now is are designers and installers like you ready to help this technology capture some real market share, or are you still skeptical about the quality of light, performance level, lifespan, and price point of this product line?

Activity on the standards front has been frantic. There are now at least 25 SSL standards offered up by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), International Commission on Illumination (CIE), Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), and Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL), to name a few. Four new standards are also under development by IESNA, covering: thermal, electrical, and photometric measurement; measurement of lumen degradation for light engines and lamps; and lumen depreciation as a measure of expected life — and CIE has one in the works as well.

As of October 1, if manufacturers want their SSL luminaires to qualify for the Energy Star label, then their products must demonstrate a 30% increase in efficiency above the current qualification level. By 2013, this figure increases to 40%. Other performance criteria also come into play, such as start-up time, lamp life, and warranty periods. For more details on the Energy Star Luminaires specification and development trends on the SSL standards front, turn to page 18 and read this month’s cover story by Staff Writer Beck Ireland.

In addition to providing standards development support to a network of organizations, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to push for excellence in the design of energy-efficient LED luminaires for general illumination in commercial lighting applications via its Next Generation Luminaires design competition. Recently, 42 commercial LED lighting products were recognized for excellence in the third annual competition. Winners represented a wide range of manufacturers and applications, such as recessed accent lighting, wall washing, industrial lighting, recessed downlighting, decorative pendant and wall lighting, in-grade lighting, street and area lighting, and general illumination. In an effort to help specifiers and buyers reduce their risk when buying SSL products and understand how to compare products, the DOE has also been purchasing and testing general illumination SSL products since 2006 through its Commercially Available Light-Emitting Diode Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program. Speaking of design competitions, our very own Product of the Year competition has seen a dramatic increase in LED-based submissions over the last few years. In fact, five of the six lighting category winners in this year’s competition are LED-type products.

You might be asking yourself if all of this recent activity has translated into more widespread adoption of SSL products for general illumination. According to market research firm Strategies Unlimited, the lighting market for high brightness (HB) LEDs was worth approximately $890 million in 2010, the largest segments of which included architectural (27%), replacement lamps (23%), commercial/industrial (12%), and outdoor area (7%). Based on the fact that performance levels have improved and costs have dropped dramatically, Strategies Unlimited projects the compound annual growth rate for HB LED components for the lighting category from 2010 to 2014 to be 39%. The more important question I have for you is this: Have the DOE, standards-making groups, testing firms, and manufacturers finally convinced you that SSL luminaires are ready for prime time?