LED Lighting Goes Back-to-School

A student at James Monroe Elementary school in Everett, Washington under new LED lights

Fall means that it is time to go back to school, but with fewer resources due to the down economy school districts are looking for ways to save money – including the switch to LEDs.  With fluorescent fixtures popular in K-12 schools, fluorescent retrofits can help the schools save money.  With the recent DoE “ban” on T-12 fluorescent bulbs, many schools will need to look to alternatives as the supply of fluorescent tubes dwindles. In fact, New Jersey is offering $6 million in incentives to K-12 schools to replace inefficient T-12 fluorescent fixtures.

Monroe Elementary School in Everett, Washington, made the complete change to LED lighting for nearly every lighting application in January 2012.  After successfully trying out LED lighting in one of their middle schools, the staff recently installed nearly 450 LED fixtures by Cree, Inc. (Nasdaq: CREE), making it the first predominately LED-lit school in the Everett Public Schools district.

In addition to saving money on energy and maintenance costs, LED lighting reduces student disruptions from replacement and maintenance as well as improving lighting quality at Monroe Elementary School.  Local TV news station King5 shows off the improvements at the school in this report.

“Proper illumination is essential for academic settings,” said Al Safarikas, marketing director, Cree lighting in a news release. “Using Cree’s LED lighting solutions is a win-win for educational institutions. Not only do the students get to work under much higher quality light than the previous fluorescent fixtures, but schools can also save significantly on maintenance and energy costs, allowing administrators to invest in other academic priorities.”

In 2010, the Springfield City School District in Springfield, Ohio, retrofitted their lighting to reduce lighting costs without compromising quality. The district spent $332,400 on retrofit lighting fixtures and labor and expects to save $104,240 per year in electricity costs, recouping the cost of the upgrade in a little more than three years.

There are cost savings to be had beyond replacing the typical fluorescent bulb.  LED-based exit signs can save a lot of money over traditional incandescent exit signs.  According to Michael Fickes in School Planning & Management, a school district with 1,000 exit signs in more than 60 school buildings and administrative offices and maintenance facilities can switch incandescent exit signs for LED exit signs and reduce electricity costs from $535,200 to $76,500 over 10 years and from $53,520 to $7,650 per year.

Finally, LED lighting is more flexible and brings advantages for multi-use rooms. For example, the lighting in an elementary school cafeteria can have multiple settings that make it suitable for use as an auditorium with dimming, multiple colors and spotlight features.

For Further Reading

NJ.com, Schools offered funds to replace fluorescents, http://www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/2012/07/schools_offered_funds_to_repla.html

King5.com, Everett elementary school leads LED revolution (video), http://www.king5.com/news/environment/Everett-school-is-nations-LED-leader-136771243.html#

Cree, Cree Lights Remodeled Everett, Wash. Public School, http://www.cree.com/news-and-events/cree-news/press-releases/2012/february/120229-everett-school

LEDs Magazine, Virginia Beach school system finds LED lighting pays for itself…and more, http://ledsmagazine.com/casestudies/18378

EC&M, LED Lighting to Save Dallas County Schools Big Bucks, http://ecmweb.com/content/led-lighting-save-dallas-county-schools-big-bucks

School Planning & Management, K-12 Energy-Lite Lighting, http://www.peterli.com/spm/resources/articles/archive.php?article_id=2788

Clearlysapphire.com, Deep Dive: LED Tubes Gain Traction, http://blog.clearlysapphire.com/?p=247


LED Wall Paper for Your Inner Geek

Lighting designer Ingo Maurer and his latest invention, LED wall paper

World renowned lighting designer Ingo Maurer has been working with LEDs since the late 1990s.  He recently partnered with high-end wallpaper manufacturer Architect Papers to create LED wall paper. The wall paper comes in large 126 x 23.5 inch sheets that hold printed circuit boards containing 840 integrated LEDs.

The wall paper can be switched on or off to create a combination of colors and patterns and can be dimmed to create a more subtle effect.  The wall paper fashions a fairly rudimentary 3-D box pattern similar the 3-D boxes found in an early video game, Qbert, but spread out throughout the sheet of wall paper. Before you get excited, it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to put it in the game room yet. The wall paper is available in five patterns and costs $3000 per sheet, according to Metropolis magazine.

In an interview with Metropolis magazine, Maurer said that feels LEDs are best suited for small, hidden light sources, technical applications, and, surprisingly, wallpaper.  After putting wall paper idea on the back burner for more than a decade, his Munich studio has been working on wall paper actively for about five years.  Maurer thinks that he came up with the solution for mass production in collaboration with the German company Architects Paper.

Maurer told Metropolis that he couldn’t be happier with the look and feel of the wall paper filling a room with thousands of the tiny red, blue, and white lights placed along the lines of an enormous, flexible circuit board printed onto the paper. “For many years, I’ve been a big fan of the aesthetic of circuit boards,” he told Metropolis. “And on the wallpaper, I used that aesthetic. First of all, because we needed it. And second of all, because it looks magnificent. It really looks magnificent.”

Further Reading:

Metropolis, Patterns of Light: Five years in the making, Ingo Maurer’s wallpaper is a surprising application of LED technology, http://www.metropolismag.com/story/20120720/patterns-of-light

Mashable, LED Wallpaper Is a Nerd’s Ultimate Nightlight, http://mashable.com/2012/08/06/led-wallpaper/

SmartPlanet.com, LED wallpaper illuminates the technology’s role in design, http://www.smartplanet.com/blog/design-architecture/led-wallpaper-illuminates-the-technologys-role-in-design/8555?tag=main

1980s Video Game QBert

Deep Dive: LED Tubes Gain Traction

The EAGLE LED TUBE Series is the cornerstone of the INDEPENDENCE LED Product offerings http://independenceled.com/led_tube_product

While the world waits for the LED lighting market to take off, one sector of the market is quietly gaining traction.  Increasingly, property owners are turning to LED tubes for lighting where they once used fluorescent tubes.  An LED tube can typically reduce the electricity by 50% or more over an incumbent T12 or T8 fluorescent tube.  In fact, the US Department of Energy recently reported that “most commercially-available T12 lamps are too inefficient to meet the amended standards and can no longer be manufactured for distribution in commerce after July 14, 2012.”

This new T12 fluorescent tube ban sets up a very robust market for LED-based tubes in office parks, retail and industrial environments as well as new construction.  According to the U.S. Department of Energy there are more than 2.3 billion fluorescent tubes in America and approximately 600 million fluorescent tubes burn out each year in America leading to maintenance and replacement costs.  The fluorescent tubes, like CFLs, also contain highly toxic mercury making bulb disposal and accidental breakage a potentially costly problem.

According to consultancy ElectroniCast, the LED tube subset of the overall LED market is forecast to increase at an annual growth rate of 22% from 2011 to 2016 before increasing the pace until 2021.  Further, ElectroniCast forecast that the global consumption of LED linear tube lamps, used in new construction, retrofitting and replacement applications for fluorescent linear tube lamps, will reach $2.89 billion in 2021.

One of the beneficiaries of the trend is Pennsylvania-based Independence LED Lighting, LLC.  The company recently announced that its 2011 LED Tube sales grew nearly 300% from 2010.  The increase was highlighted by a large order by national auto service chain in Q4 2011. Independence LED delivered LED tubes to retrofit the first 50 of more than 800 locations in the chain, and the project may stand as the largest retrofit to date with “US Made LED Tubes in American History.”

According to a press release about the above average industry increase in LED tube sales, Charlie Szoradi, Chairman and CEO of Independence LED Lighting said, “We knew that we were doing well, but we were surprised we were growing so much faster than the industry. We credit our growth and leadership position to five key factors: Our Shift in Manufacturing from China to America, Thermal Management, UL Classification, Reseller Support, and the overall Recession that has forced Owners and Managers to look harder at their operating costs.”

San Francisco-based NEXT Lighting took a different approach with their retrofit LED lighting.  According to a company news release, the NEXTLamp 4-foot replacement lamp is a mercury-free lighting solution that is dimmable, quiet, and flicker-free, delivering an overall more pleasing lighting experience.  LEDs Magazine recently featured the new lamps.  Unlike other replacement lamps according to LEDs Magazine, the design uses thermoplastics to injection mold the linear structure for the lamp leading to more efficient heat dissipation and a longer life (50,000 hours).  The LEDs mount along both sides of the centerline of the structure to reflect more efficiently.  The replacement lamps are due out in Q3 2012.

For Further Reading:

Impact of Amended Energy Conservation Standards on General Service Fluorescent Lamps: FACT SHEET, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/pdfs/general_service_fluorescent_factsheet.pdf

LEDs Magazine, Linear SSL, http://www.nextlighting.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/120950-1160e-LEDs.pdf

LEDinside.com, American Independence LED Benefits from LED Tubes Market Share over Chinese Imports http://www.ledinside.com/news/2012/3/american_independence_led_tubes_market_20120328

GreenandSave.com News, LED Tube Light Trend Report: The High Performance LED Tube, http://www.greenandsave.com/green_news/green-science-technology/led-tube-light-trend-report-high-performance-led-tube-10077