With the dramatic increase of LED manufacturers emerging into the marketplace today, many LED lighting enthusiasts look forward in an effort to understand what the future of LED lighting may bring. For many large commercial businesses in cities like New York, advanced lighting controls and dimming systems are a important factor in achieving optimal efficiency for their properties.
As the marketplace has become saturated with innovate new LED lighting products it has become increasingly important to evaluate the future of LED light bulbs and lamps being produced today. Although, on average the cost has come done significantly and the light quality has dramatically improved, many lighting professionals and property owners have to wonder what is expected for the future of LED lighting products.
After speaking to a number of LED lighting manufactures it is clear that many of them are focusing attention on the need to improve lighting controls and dimming capabilities. For larger commercial businesses in cities such as New York, improved control of their lighting systems is a valuable opportunity to further savings and better control the lighting within their infrastructure on a multitude of levels.
The dimming of LED lights continues to be a complex issue for some LED applications for a variety of reasons including:
- Reduced dimming range: Incandescent/halogen bulbs will typically dim lower than LED bulbs. Most dimmable CFLs will dim down to 10% to 30% measured light output. Early versions of dimmable LEDs on the market have the ability to dim lower than CFLs and can reach levels as low as 5% to 15% measured light. The actual dimming range is dictated by the bulb’s circuitry.
- Lights dropping out: As LED bulbs are dimmed, they will sometimes turn off before the slider reaches the bottom. Referred to as “drop out,” this makes it extremely difficult to set the dimmer at the right level without bulbs turning off.
- Lights not turning on: After being dimmed to a low light level and switched off, sometimes LED bulbs will not turn on until the dimmer’s slider is moved up. This is referred to as “pop-on,” which is especially challenging in 3-way situations where lights can be turned on/off from different locations, not just using the dimmer.
- Lights turning off unexpectedly: Dimmable LED bulbs can be influenced by line voltage fluctuations. As your incandescent bulbs will sometimes dim or flicker when a device such as air-conditioning or a hair dryer is used, a dimmed LED can actually turn off or flicker excessively in those situations.
The future of Lighting Control Systems is looking brighter:
- Lighting controls offer significant potential for reducing that energy use, and new technologies that have emerged in recent years have enabled a wide range of innovative strategies, from room-level awareness of occupancy and daylight sensing to building-wide coordination of a fully networked system. According to a new report from Pike Research, the global market for intelligent lighting controls will enjoy steady and robust growth over the rest of this decade, rising from $1.5 billion in 2012 to more than $4.3 billion in 2020.
- New strategies for intelligent lighting control are beginning to gain broad acceptance by building owners and managers at the same time that building codes and regulations are increasingly mandating greater efficiency in buildings. This confluence of events creates a strong growth environment for companies in the space, particularly those that provide lighting control in the context of broader building energy management solutions.
- In particular, new wireless technologies, along with reductions in prices for LED lights, have made retrofit projects considerably more attractive. As LEDs become more mainstream, lighting controls–in the form of standalone devices or systems integrated into light fixtures–will help maximize their benefits.
In conclusion, after to speaking to a number of control system manufacturers it is clear to me that most, if not all them, are dedicating a significant amount of research and development towards improving their existing controls and creating new systems specifically designed to work with the new LED lighting products. The challenge for all of them is keeping up with the rapidly changing LED product line being developed everyday. I am confident the new systems that are on the horizon will significantly improve the overall efficiency of LED lighting as well as create greater control and ease of operation.