There's no doubt solid-state lighting (SSL) technology has progressed rapidly in recent years. Most every small research group and high-tech firm focused on the development of this technology has either merged with another group or been acquired by one of the major lighting manufacturers. Many industry players are getting a sense that we've finally reached the tipping point of widespread adoption of this technology due to a convergence of market factors, such as new legislation, research funding levels, and general education. But is this form of lighting really ready to go toe-to-toe with its compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and incandescent challengers? I believe it is, due to a number of factors.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, signed into law in December 2007, specifically addresses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in Subtitle E - Miscellaneous Provisions. The Act establishes “Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prizes” for LED replacement products for 60W incandescent and PAR 38 lamps. These multi-million dollar prizes may also be supported with an agreement by the federal government to purchase the new products for all applicable government facilities. LED manufacturers will be working overtime to try and capture this nice little prize.

In September 2007, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its final Energy Star criteria for SSL luminaires intended for general illumination. The criteria apply to both residential and commercial products. As part of DOE's national strategy to accelerate market introduction of high-efficiency SSL products, the Department is leading Energy Star management, specification development, and partner relations for SSL devices used for general illumination. The effective date for these criteria is September 30 of this year, contingent on related standards and test procedure finalization. However, as promising as these above-mentioned developments are, there are still some key hurdles to overcome if SSL is to move out of its current niche market and carve out a healthy chunk of the general illumination market segment. Much of the work that remains must be done on the standards front.

As noted in this month's cover story, written by Staff Writer Beck Ireland (starting on page 26), “industry groups, standards-setting organizations, and the solid-state lighting division of the DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Building Technologies Program are moving quickly to develop needed standards and test procedures for SSL products.” In addition to the DOE, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) are all currently working on the development of SSL or LED standards. This work is crucial to the success of this product line. Without these important standards, the widespread adoption of SSL technology will be doomed.

An End to the Fun
Well, Maybe Not All the Fun

In our January 2004 issue, my “Industry Viewpoint” carried the title, On the Job and Out to Lunch. In this piece, I shared an embarrassing do-it-yourself story that ended in a partial flood in my home. At the end of my column, I asked readers to send me their most embarrassing on-the-job stories. These stories launched a new inside back cover department known as “Short Circuits.” Hopefully, you've enjoyed reading these job-site goofs (as submitted by your peers) over the past four-plus years as much as I have. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. The submissions well has run dry, forcing us to kill the department.

Because we still feel the last editorial page in the magazine should be reserved for something a little less technical, we've contracted with a puzzle expert to bring you an electrical-themed crossword each and every month. Enjoy!