The third annual LEDucation Conference, held March 11 in New York and presented by The Designers Lighting Forum of New York (DLFNY) with the support of the New York Section of the Illuminating Engineering Society (IESNA), offered buyers of light-emitting diode (LED) products valuable news about the Next Generation Luminaire (NGL) design competition.

Sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), and the IESNA, the NGL competition provides a rigorous evaluation of LED commercial lighting products so that specifiers can have a level of assurance when selecting new LED products. The winners of the competition were initially announced in February 2009, at the Strategies in Light Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., which promotes solid-state lighting. click here.

The DOE administers federal investment in solid-state lighting research and development of commercial products for general illumination, one of which is the support of design competitions. Thus, in mid 2008, a steering committee, composed of people from the three organizations mentioned above, worked out the competition requirements for evaluating LED commercial lighting luminaires. Then, a panel of 14 lighting professionals, including 10 lighting designers, was selected to serve as judges.

The judging of 68 separate products submitted by 29 manufacturers took place at the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, where personnel from Underwriters Laboratory installed the equipment in appropriate settings. Over the course of two days, the judges reviewed submitted reference material, including photometric data sheets that use the IES-79 method (this standard, passed in 2008, is called: “Approved Method for the Electrical and Photometric Testing of Solid-State Lighting Devices”), data sheets, driver specifications, and other material. If photometric data were lacking, products were sent to independent testing laboratories through DOE’s CALiPER testing program. These products were then re-evaluated by the judges, using the data provided.

Products were also judged on the following criteria: color appearance, color rendering, appropriate illuminance and luminance, application efficacy, aesthetic appeal and style, and serviceability (ease of replacement). Thus, the judges were concerned with questions such as: How many drivers are needed to serve the LEDs? Where would they be mounted? How easy is it to change the LED array?

A second area for judging was the awarding of “bonus points” for excellence in five areas, including: innovation, no off-state power use, adjustability/flexibility, an integrated system, and Dark-Sky friendly (for outdoor applications).

At the end of the review, 22 products were selected as “market-ready,” including linear fixtures (cove undercabinet, display) downlights, and accent lights. The judges then selected three “best-in-class” winners from this product group. Additionally, five products were picked for recognition in the “emerging” category, meaning that they were almost ready for market. For a comprehensive review of all of the 2008 winners,

If the first year’s results are any indication, the competition will continue to assist designers in evaluating both indoor and outdoor LED products for specification. The 2009 NGL competition will be announced in May. For additional information, visit the competition’s Web site.