LED Options Continue To Grow

Jan. 25, 2012
Department of Energy specifications encourage the adoption of commercial and outdoor LED lighting, touting energy-efficiency gains and maintenance savings.

LEDs are proving to be a solid investment area for manufacturers and distributors as government efforts to promote the changeover to more energy-efficient lighting solutions gain steam.

New outdoor lighting specifications put forth by the Department of Energy (DOE) and its Commercial Building Energy Alliances (CBEA) will take effect on February 15, helping large businesses across the country identify and specify the best LED lighting solutions for their parking lots and structures.

The specifications follow last year’s release of the DOE’s LED Roadway Lighting Model specification, aimed at helping cities and towns across the country identify and develop bids for the best LED roadway lighting solutions.

The DOE/CBEA specifications develop and promote industry performance, reliability, and surge immunity standards for LED lighting technology and aim to speed the adoption of LED lighting nationwide, according to Usha Patel, who manages the global LED lighting initiative for circuit protection component manufacturer Littlefuse. She also is a member of the DOE’s Municipal Street Lighting Consortium task force, which works to develop guidelines for the specifications.

Patel says she expects the adoption rate for commercial and outdoor LED lighting to grow considerably over the next several years, pointing to China, Japan, Taiwan, Korea, and the United States as strong growth markets for outdoor lighting in particular. A study last year by Marketresearch.com pegged overall global LED growth at 7.7% between 2010 and 2014.

Further research by industry analyst firm IHS iSuppli in mid-2011 noted the market potential in China, where LED adoption is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 18% between 2011 and 2015. IHS projected street lighting to be the largest segment, reaching $1.8 billion this year.

Patel echoes the comments of other industry experts when she points to energy savings as a key factor in LED adoption, but she notes its maintenance-labor cost savings as well. She says a typical outdoor LED lighting fixture should last up to 100,000 hours compared to 25,000 hours for a typical high-pressure sodium lamp.

Although the LED fixtures can cost more than twice as much as a traditional solution, Patel also says decreasing LED costs combined with the potential labor savings are making LED solutions more attractive options to businesses and municipalities.

“The LEDs are in there at least four times longer, so it makes sense for cities, especially, to implement these solutions because they have less labor out there changing the light bulbs in the street,” Patel explains.

“The largest increase over the next few years will be in outdoor lighting, and most of those are going to be the replacement of the high-pressure sodium luminaires,” she continues. “[After that] commercial building LED lighting will become popular—recessed and under-cabinet lighting for cubicles [and so forth].”

The specifications that go into effect next month are titled CBEA Site (Parking Lot) Lighting Specification and CBEA High-Efficiency Parking Structure Lighting Specification. For more information, go to www.eere.energy.gov/.

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About the Author

Victoria Fraza Kickham | Distribution Editor

Victoria Kickham is the distribution editor for Electronic Design magazine, SourceESB and GlobalPurchasing.com, where she covers issues related to the electronics supply chain. Victoria started out as a general assignment reporter for several Boston-area newspapers before joining Industrial Distribution magazine, where she spent 14 years covering industrial markets. She served as ID’s managing editor from 2000 to 2010. Victoria has a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of New Hampshire and a master’s degree in English from Northeastern University.