Lightfair 2013 – Observations about LEDs from Philadelphia

The LFI Innovation Award went to Philips BoldPlay  for Most Innovative Product of the Year

The Lightfair International trade show and conference was recently held in Philadelphia.  According to the organizers, LIGHTFAIR International (LFI) is the world’s largest annual commercial and architectural lighting trade show and conference.  Sponsored by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) and the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), the 2012 show had more than 24,000 registered attendees from 73 countries. It is clearly a big deal in the lighting industry.

Here’s a round-up of some analysis of LEDs at the show and a quick look at industry awards from LFI.

The engineers from Groom Energy made their annual trek to Lightfair and included an analysis of their trek in their blog.  This year, they noticed a difference in the quality of light from LEDs on display.  The light the LEDs on display put off was the more familiar, warmer light similar to the light put out by an incandescent. LEDs also got smarter with lighting controls evolved from being add-ons to being embedded. Jon Guerster, the author of the blog, speculates that California’s Title 24 that requires lighting controls may be a driver for all of the new smart lighting controls.  Finally, the Groom Energy team found that LED fixtures no longer looked distinct like LED fixtures, but sported the familiar look of incandescent, HID and fluorescent fixtures from the past. Now, you can’t tell that there are LEDs inside.

The LED analyst team from IMS Research traveled from London to Philadelphia and posted an analysis about the show on their LED blog.  IMS Analyst Jamie Fox noted that the show no longer featured that “Wow” moment.  He said this is due to the relative maturity of LED lighting.  The maturity and evolution of the LED market also led to two key observations from IMS.

According to Fox, there’s no clear winning sector in the American LEDs general lighting market.  Fox and his colleagues were told by LED manufacturers that residential, retail, outdoor, hospitality and others all have a “significant” part of the pie but none of them dominates. This was supported by IMS observations of the product mix on the show floor.  As for LED manufacturers, Fox noted that the “big three” — Nichia, Cree and Lumileds — are leaders in the American LED market and while global LED players like Samsung, Seoul Semiconductor, Osram and others play a role in the US, the “big three” are consistently mentioned as clear leaders in the market.

Finally, Fox noted that industry price decreases versus quality was an issue for many at the show.  According to Fox, “there is a significant worry though, both from my own observations of product, and from show floor conversations, that it is becoming too much of a lowest price fight at the moment, and not enough advancement on quality.”  Fox says low price may not ensure that a customer will be happy with the light quality from an LED bulb that doesn’t compare well to an incandescent bulb.

The LFI Innovation Awards program honored lighting vendors for innovation and design. Here are a few of the top winners:

  • PHILIPS (BoldPlay): Most Innovative Product of the Year—the program’s highest award, recognizing the most innovative new product
  • COOLEDGE LIGHTING (Light Sheet): Design Excellence Award—recognizing outstanding achievement in design
  • DOW CORNING CORPORATION (Dow Corning® Brand Moldable Silicones): Technical Innovation Award—recognizing the most forward-thinking advancement in lighting technology
  • PHILIPS (hue personal wireless lighting): Judges’ Citation Award—special recognition of an innovative product at the judges’ discretion

For Further Reading

Groom Energy, LightFair 2013: LED Lighting Is Warm, Smart and Looks Like What You Know,

IMS RESEARCH, LED Blog, LEDs Continue to Evolve At LIGHTFAIR,

Tipping Point 2: Finally, A Sub $10 LED Light Bulb

Cree’s new sub-$10, 40-watt equivalent LED light bulb

This past week, Cree introduced a brand new 40W LED light bulb that will be available at Home Depot for less than $10. The $10 mark is very important.  As we mentioned in the blog before, the $10 mark is the tipping point where many analysts and vendors believe mass adoption will occur.  According to analysts at IMS, “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.”

Cree agrees. “The Cree LED light bulb was designed to offer consumers a no-compromise lighting experience at a compelling price,” said Chuck Swoboda, Cree chairman and CEO.  “Over the last couple of years we recognized that the consumer is instrumental in the adoption of LED lighting, but we needed to give them a reason to switch. We believe this breakthrough LED bulb will, for the first time, give consumers a reason to upgrade the billions of energy-wasting light bulbs.”

According to Cree, Cree LED bulbs save 84 percent of energy compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs.  They have calculated that consumers can save $61 per year on electric bills by replacing incandescent bulbs with Cree LED bulbs in a home’s five most frequently used light fixtures. Their calculations are based on Cree LED bulb 60W replacements at 9.5 watt, $0.11 per kilowatt-hour, 25,000 hour lifetime and average usage of 6 hours per day.

In addition to the new $10 LED light bulb, Cree will have two other light bulbs available exclusively at The Home Depot. Here are details about all three:

  • $9.97, a “warm white” 40-watt equivalent, with 450 lumens of light for 6W of electricity
  • $12.97, a “warm white” 60-watt equivalent, providing 800 lumens of light for 9.5W of electricity
  • $13.97, a “day light” 60-watt equivalent, with 800 lumens of light at a cost of 9W of electricity

Consumer Reports announced that they’ll be putting Cree’s LED light bulbs through the test. We’ll keep you posted on their testing in

Further Reading

Cree, Cree Introduces The Biggest Thing Since the Light Bulb™,

Consumer Reports, LED prices drop as competition heats up,

MIT Technology Review, Once-Pricey LED Bulbs to Dip Under $10,

The Verge, Cree’s $13 LED light bulb is the best yet, looks and feels incandescent (hands-on),, Tipping Point: Earth Day, 100W Light Bulb Reprieve and Alexander Hamilton,


LED-Related Companies Show Well in Deloitte Tech Fast 500

This November, Deloitte released their latest The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 list for technology companies based in the US and Canada.  For the 18th year, Deloitte ranked the 500 fastest growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology companies in North America.   LED sector companies including those specializing in sapphire did well.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 500 is awarded to companies that demonstrate technological innovation, entrepreneurship and rapid growth.  Fast 500 companies can be any size – large, small, public, and private – and span a variety of industry sectors including clean technology.   The clean technology sector made up 7 percent of the companies on the list.

Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) clinched the overall top spot with fiscal year 2011 revenue of $204.24 million and a growth rate of 279,684 percent from 2007 to 2011.  Tesla also topped the clean tech category, but there was another big trend inside the clean tech category itself.  LED-related companies showed strength on the list including Rubicon Technology, Lighting Science Group Corporation, GT Advanced Technology, Cree, and Bridgelux.

Deloitte Technology Fast 500 award winners for 2012 were determined based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2007 to 2011.  In order to be eligible for Technology Fast 500™ recognition, companies must own proprietary intellectual property or technology that is sold to customers in products that contribute to a majority of the company’s operating revenues.


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, Schools offered funds to replace fluorescents,, Everett elementary school leads LED revolution (video),

Cree, Cree Lights Remodeled Everett, Wash. Public School,

LEDs Magazine, Virginia Beach school system finds LED lighting pays for itself…and more,

EC&M, LED Lighting to Save Dallas County Schools Big Bucks,

School Planning & Management, K-12 Energy-Lite Lighting,, Deep Dive: LED Tubes Gain Traction,