Earth Day 2014 – Companies Get Greener

Walmart goes for LEDs

Walmart goes for LEDs

In honor of Earth Day 2014, we’ll take a look at how some companies are leveraging LEDs to save energy, bring new aesthetics to their businesses and even save that other valuable resource, money.

Starbucks is committed to using LED lighting in their coffee houses globally. By 2010, Starbucks was able to complete installation in more than 7,000 company-owned stores in the United States, Canada, the UK, China and Singapore. According to Starbucks, This effort has helped reduce the company’s electricity consumption by 3.3 percent since 2008 along with other measures. In FY2011, the company said that electricity use had decreased by more than 7.5 percent since 2008 with a goal of 25 percent by 2015.

Most recently worldwide discount chain Walmart, along with their lighting vendor GE, announced that Walmart will convert to energy-efficient LED ceiling lighting fixtures for new supercenters in the United States, stores in Asia and Latin America, and Asda locations in the United Kingdom. The new fixtures will use 40 percent less energy than lighting sources historically used in stores, and will help the retailer achieve a 20 percent reduction in the kilowatt hour (kWh) per square foot of energy required to power Walmart’s buildings globally by 2020.

Philips worked with Harrods to convert their Wedgewood display to LED lighting in their famous department store in Knightsbridge, London. LEDs replaced halogen lamps in the chandeliers bringing the sparkle back to the Wedgwood area. The LED lighting provides a 74% reduction in installed electrical load, considerably lower heat gains and reduced maintenance requirements. “The chandeliers now look brilliant and the floor staff is very happy with the new candle lamps. We will be specifying them for all of the chandeliers throughout the store in the future,” said Mark Fleming, Harrods Engineering Technical Manager, in a Philips case study about the project.

The New England Aquarium (NEAQ) in Boston recently installed over 160 LED fixtures from Lumenpulse, a leading manufacturer of high-performance, architectural LED lighting solutions.  The project, by Lighting design firm Available Light, enhanced the overall visitor experience, improved animal care with a more naturalistic lighting approach, and even helped biologists curb the growth of algae in the NEAQ’s Giant Ocean Tank (GOT) through LED lighting.

Part of a six-year renovation of the NEAQ, the goal of the lighting project was to bring a sense of theatricality to the aquarium, highlighting the animals and coral reef with new dynamic lighting based on a unique WGB color mixing system that uses white, blue and green LEDs to show off the water while inhibiting algae growth.

“We learned that higher color temperatures are less conducive to algae growth,” said Matt Zelkowitz, Assoc. IALD, LC Principal at Available Light, in a press release. “Red light did not really penetrate or affect the water, while blue and green were magical in manipulating tonality.”

For Further Reading

LEDs Magazine, Starbucks converts US stores to LED lighting, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2009/11/starbucks-converts-us-stores-to-led-lighting.html

Walmart, Walmart and GE Transforming Retail Lighting with Energy-Efficient LEDs Globally, http://news.walmart.com/news-archive/2014/04/09/walmart-and-ge-transforming-retail-lighting-with-energy-efficient-leds-globally

Philips, Harrods, UK, http://www.lighting.philips.com/main/projects/harrods.wpd

LEDs Magazine, New England Aquarium recaptures spotlight with Lumenpulse LED lighting fixtures, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/content/leds/en/ugc/2013/10/new-england-aquarium-recaptures-spotlight-with-lumenpulse-led-lighting-fixtures.html

Decorating for the holidays – LED vs. Incandescent

The Griswold House from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

The Griswold House from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

It’s that time again and Christmas displays are popping up in and on homes all around the world.  As we watch retailers like Home Depot and Walmart reduce prices on LED light bulbs, the same is happening with LED Christmas lights.  So, is it time to make the switch?

Depending on your tastes, LED lighting for Christmas holiday decorating can be a quick affair with a few strings of lights on your Christmas tree or can be a large artistic expression in light on your home like you’re Clark Griswold of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation movie.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

LED lighting for the holidays is safer – they’re not hot to the touch, so they won’t start a fire, especially if lit for a long period of time. They’re sturdier and made of epoxy lenses rather than plastic or glass like traditional incandescents.  They’re longer-lasting and could be in use 20 or even 40 years from now.  And they use less energy (about 80 percent) so that you can connect more strings together in series without blowing a fuse (your’s and the lights).

You might remember the moment in Christmas Vacation when Clark Griswold turned on the Christmas lights on his home (decorated with 25,000 incandescent imported Italian twinkle lights) and caused a major power outage in the city of Chicago.  While you might not take out your local power grid, you might be concerned with your electric bill if you tend to decorate like a Griswold.  You may want to consider some information that the US Department of Energy put together information about energy requirements of Christmas lighting.

According to the DOE, it can cost up to $10 to light a six-foot tree, 12 hours a day for 40 days using large C-9 incandescent lights while incandescent mini-lights would cost about $2.72.  LEDs on the other hand would cost 27 cents or 82 cents respectively to light that same tree for the same period of time.  Over a decade, it could be quite costly to stick with incandescents.  The DOE table is below.

Retailers are bringing more LED Christmas lights to consumers.  According to a recent article in the Kansas City Star newspaper, Walmart dedicated half of its shelf space to LEDs. Costs are coming down from $5 for a string of 50 mini LED lights, down from $6.30 last year.  In fact, Costco won’t sell incandescent Christmas lights in 2013.  General Electric, selling holiday lights since 1903, anticipates that two out of every five strings of lights sold this year will be LEDs.

So, it may be time to ditch the old fashioned Christmas lights for some new LEDs.  And for a laugh and some holiday cheer, watch Christmas Vacation or this clip from the movie where the Griswold’s incandescent Christmas lights take down the Chicago power grid.

US DOE Christmas Light Info

Estimated cost of electricity to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days

Incandescent C-9 lights $10.00
LED C-9 lights $0.27
Incandescent Mini-lights $2.74
LED Mini-lights $0.82

 

Estimated cost* of buying and operating lights for 10 holiday seasons

Incandescent C-9 lights $122.19
LED C-9 lights $17.99
Incandescent Mini-lights $55.62
LED Mini-lights $33.29

*Assumes 50 C-9 bulbs and 200 mini-lights per tree, with electricity at $0.119 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) (AEO 2012 Residential Average). Prices of lights based on quoted prices for low volume purchases from major home improvement retailers. All costs have been discounted at an annual rate of 5.6%. Life span assumed to be three seasons (1,500 hours) for non-LED lights.

For Further Reading & Viewing

Kansas City Star, Christmas lights are going green, http://www.kansascity.com/2013/11/10/4612642/christmas-lights-are-going-green.html

Energy Manager Today, LEDs Lead the Way for Holiday Lights

http://www.energymanagertoday.com/leds-lead-the-way-for-holiday-lights-096959/

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Griswold Home Power Outage Clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inWKw8nqQlI

US DOE Info:  http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/led-lighting

Food for Thought – Increasing Food Production with LED Lighting

Cary Mitchell, from left, and Celina Gomez harvest tomatoes grown around red and blue LED lights, which use far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps in greenhouses. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

Cary Mitchell, from left, and Celina Gomez harvest tomatoes grown around red and blue LED lights, which use far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps in greenhouses. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Tom Campbell)

We’ve touched upon innovative uses of LEDs and research into the benefits of LEDs with cows and bees, but there’s news that LED lighting can cost effectively improve the growth of greenhouse tomatoes and a start-up is working on affordable LED lighting to help small farms increase egg production in chickens.

According to the USDA, the U.S. is one of the world’s leading producers of tomatoes, second only to China. Fresh and processed tomatoes account for more than $2 billion annually.  Fresh-market tomatoes (not the ones that are processed) are produced in every state, with commercial-scale production in about 20 States led by California, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. The supply is seasonal depending on the weather.

Many producers grow tomatoes in greenhouses off-season, traditionally lit by very warm high-pressure sodium lamps. Researchers at Purdue University are looking into whether growing tomatoes under LED lights in the winter can significantly reduce greenhouse energy costs without sacrificing yield.

Perdue horticulture professor Cary Mitchell, interviewed in a Purdue newspaper, said the average tomato is shipped about 1,500 miles from warmer climates where they’re grown to cooler climates that cannot produce the fruit cost-effectively in the winter.  According to Mitchell, the journey is costly because tomatoes are picked green and ripen during shipping, decreasing quality and flavor. In addition, the shipping distance adds cost and adds to the industry’s carbon footprint.

Mitchell and doctoral student Celina Gómez experimented with light-emitting diodes, which are cooler and require far less energy than traditional high-pressure sodium lamps used in greenhouses. According to the article, the researchers received the same yield – size and number of fruit – with high-pressure sodium lamps and LED towers, but the LEDs used about 25 percent of the energy of traditional lamps.

The goal of the research is to reduce costs to the point where local growers could compete with the tomatoes that are shipped from far-away places. Local tomatoes could be harvested vine ripe, would taste better and would boost local economies.

“The United States still imports one-third of its tomatoes from Mexico and Canada, as well as other countries,” Mitchell said in an interview with Purdue Agriculture News. “This technology could allow U.S. growers to create local jobs that shrink carbon footprints and produce better-tasting tomatoes.”

Finally, a small group of recent grads from of the University of California, Davis, formed start-up Henlight to develop a solar powered LED light for small scale egg farmers to light chicken enclosures.  Scientific evidence shows that the amount of eggs a chicken will lay is strongly correlated to the amount of sunlight received per day.

Large-scale egg producers already use light to artificially boost egg production.  For example, the spring and summer typically provides between 12-16 hours of sunlight per day giving poultry the necessary amount of light to reproduce (produce eggs).  In the fall, the amount of daylight decreases along with egg production.  This reduces a farmer’s income and access to nutrition from eggs.   Henlight could bring this capability at low cost to small farms around the world .  Henlight’s founders received a $10,000 prize as start-up investment to launch the product.

For Further Reading

Clearlysapphire.com, Benefits of LED Lighting for Cows and Bees, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=472

NPR Berlin, Increasing Egg Production On Small Farms: A Solution To The International Food Crisis?, http://nprberlin.de/post/increasing-egg-production-small-farms-solution-international-food-crisis

Purdue University, Agriculture News, LEDs reduce costs for greenhouse tomato growers, study shows, http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q2/leds-reduce-costs-for-greenhouse-tomato-growers,-study-shows.html

Do You LED? – NECA, IBEW and DOE Education Efforts on LED Lighting

Electrical contractors are often on the front lines in helping their customers select electrical fixtures for their homes and businesses.  Their customers look to them for advice and experience when making important decisions about the lighting fixtures from lighting aesthetics and placement to maintenance and energy costs over the fixture’s lifetime.

The National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have a new series of videos on their ElectricTV.net web site specifically developed to help electrical contractors get ready for the opportunities and challenges of LED lighting. The first video is a great introduction to LED technology and its benefits.  The US Department of Energy is using the video series to help explain LED lighting to consumers on their website too.

Part 1 of the three part series introduces LEDs and their potential benefits. The segment features an interview with DOE Lighting Program Manager, Dr. James Brodrick that explains some of the advantages of LED lighting and where to look for information that can help you learn more.

According to Brodrick, by 2030, LED products will reduce lighting consumption by 46%. That means a savings of $30 billion in savings that would go back to the consumer and business.  LED products bring efficiency, durability, directional light and dimming capabilities.  He does claim that CFLs won’t go away.  According to Brodrick, they’re not quite as efficient as LEDs, but LEDs will become more efficient than CFLs could ever be. Brodrick also points out that we’ve never completely displaced a light source given that candles still have a place.

“At this point in time education is really important,” says Brodrick in the video.  “There are lots of new concepts and the lighting operates differently.  You need to get a hold of information.” He admits that there are some good products and some not so good ones.  The DOE has put together some programs to help contractors and consumers make sense of LED lighting.

The CALiPer program (DOE’s Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program) is like the department’s Good Housekeeping seal. The program supports testing of a wide array of SSL products available for general illumination. DOE allows its test results to be distributed in the public interest for non-commercial, educational purposes only.

The video also references the GATEWAY program.  DOE GATEWAY demonstrations showcase high-performance LED products for general illumination in a variety of commercial and residential applications.  Demonstration results provide real-world experience and data on state-of-the-art solid-state lighting (SSL) product performance and cost effectiveness.

For Additional Reading

DOE, Solid State Lighting: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/SSL/

The CALiPER program:  DOE Commercially Available LED Product Evaluation and Reporting (CALiPER) program)

GATEWAY Demonstrations: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/ssl/gatewaydemos.html

Automotive Industry Fully Embraces LEDs

Audi with LED headlights

The automotive industry has embraced LED lighting.  LED headlights caused a sensation when Audi put full LED headlights in the A8 in 2008.  Since then, the automotive market has been drawn to LEDs for not only forward exterior illumination, but also brake lights and interior lighting including dashboard illumination, instrument clusters, and entertainment system controls.

LEDs have become part of the color scheme of the car interior and a significant part of how each manufacturer brands its cars.  LED-based lighting is in many 2012 cars such as BMWs, Infinities, Lexus, Toyotas, Fords, Chevys and even the Rolls Royce.  Audi even featured LED headlights in their 2012 Super Bowl commercial about vampires (they died as the headlights caught them around a campfire).

The main drivers for auto manufacturers are power efficiency and the way that LEDs work with a car’s electrical system that helps save fuel. For example, LED headlights are four times as efficient as halogen lamps and require the vehicle’s alternator to replenish less energy, saving fuel.  These benefits are good for the environment.  According to Audi, cars equipped with LED headlights accounted for a reduction of 25,000 tons of CO2 emissions in the first year of sales.

For Additional Reading:

LEDs Magazine, Audi’s LED headlights are key feature in Super Bowl ad, http://ledsmagazine.com/news/9/2/4

LEDs Magazine, Automotive industry embraces LED use for forward lighting, http://ledsmagazine.com/features/2/7/10

 

Tipping Point: Earth Day, 100W Light Bulb Reprieve and Alexander Hamilton

Last weekend, the world marked the 42nd anniversary of Earth Day and the world continues to look for ways to save energy and live a little bit greener every day.  LED lighting has been capturing a lot of mindshare as the next best energy-saving light source on the horizon since mercury-containing CFLs have lost favor. While the LED lighting market continues to build slowly, industry observers are keeping a keen eye on when it will explode.  Alexander Hamilton may have the answer.

In 2007, US legislators imposed strict energy efficient guidelines impacting 100W incandescent light bulbs.  The first set of regulations were set to hit in 2012, in effect banning traditional 100W light bulbs.  The “ban” was thought to help the LED lighting industry.  But, the 100W light bulb got a reprieve in December 2011 from Congress. In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, there was a little agreement inside of the massive 1,200-page spending package that took the teeth out of enforcing the incandescent light bulb ban. Incandescent bulbs were off the hook, temporarily.

Without the US government regulations spurring LED lighting adoption, it is anyone’s guess as to when consumer LED lighting will take off.   IMS analyst Jamie Fox recently wrote a post about LED lighting and the tipping point for consumer LED lighting adoption.  According to Fox, the residential market LED lighting is not quite ready to explode in 2012, but it is starting to get tantalizingly close.  Fox noted that residential LED lighting is the “holy grail” for LED manufacturers “who once saw it merely as a speck on the far horizon, but now can finally enjoy it coming squarely into view. If this market starts to suddenly move, then the whole market for LED general lighting, indeed the whole LED market, will really start to see growth rates increase, even surge.”

Fox and his associates at IMS calculate that LED light bulb prices need to fall to single digits before the market explodes.  Fox explained in his blog post, “It’s not just the psychological impact (i.e. $9.99 vs. $10.00); it also just happens that this is around the point where the payback arguments make sense. Factoring in energy costs, a $25 LED pays for itself relative to a $0.55 60W incandescent lamp in approximately 34 months assuming 4 hours of use per day and energy costs of $0.11 kWh.”  He continued that at $10 (Alexander Hamilton is on the $10 bill) or less, the payback period shrinks to a single year.

When this will happen is anyone’s guess, but Fox insists that the $10 mark will be good news for LED manufacturers.  He continued, “this translates into double digit growth for their whole LED business in 2013 and 2014.”

There is progress on pricing declines.  Market researchers at LEDinside indicate that they are seeing price drops in the vicinity of the $10 mark in South Korea, UK, Japan and United States due to competition and improvements in technology.  According to LEDinside, the 40W equivalent LED bulb’s prices in North America and the UK have been sliding toward US$10. The lowest prices in most areas are expected to fall below US$10 in 2H12.

Facts & Figures:

According to the US Department of Energy, artificial lighting consumes about 10% of a household’s electricity use.  The DOE says use of new lighting technologies can reduce lighting energy use in homes by 50%–75%. Upgrading 15 of the inefficient incandescent light bulbs in your home could save you about $50 per year. This could add up because the DoE says there is more lighting than ever in the US. The DoE attributes the vast majority of the growth to the residential sector, primarily due to the increase in number of households and the rise in the number of sockets per household, from 43 in 2001 to 51 in 2010.

For Further Reading …

IMS LED Blog, Doe LED Lighting Have a Tipping Point?, http://www.ledmarketresearch.com/blog/Does_LED_Lighting_Have_A_Tipping_Point_270

LEDinside.com, LED Bulb Price Dipped Sharply in 12’Jan, 40W Equivalent LED Bulb Price Dropped below US$10, http://www.ledinside.com/price_bulb_201201

USA Today, Congress’ bill may slow switch to efficient light bulbs, http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/lighting_daylighting/index.cfm/mytopic=11985

LEDs Magazine, US Congress is poised to weaken light-bulb efficiency legislation, http://www.ledsmagazine.com/news/8/12/18

The Washington Times, Congress overturns incandescent light bulb ban, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/dec/16/congress-overturns-incandescent-light-bulb-ban/