LEDs 2008 conference: notes from San Diego

Oct. 3, 2008
Apologies if you were expecting a daily blog from the LEDs 2008 conference last week (Sept 29-Oct 1) in San Diego. We planned to write one, but there wasn’t really much in the way of earth-shattering news. That said, it was a good show with a range of interesting talks, good exhibits (despite the underground venue) and really nice lunches outside in the sunshine. We’ll be writing an extensive report (on the talks and exhibits, not the lunches) in our November/December issue.

We particularly enjoyed the presentations from LED makers (Cree, Lumileds, Nichia, Osram) and the subsequent panel session that also included Toyoda Gosei. Cree, Lumileds and Osram talked about the LED performance improvements they continue to make, particularly in efficiency, and hinted at their strategies for further enhancements. Nichia focused on light quality and high CRI, while Toyoda Gosei’s emphasis was on backlighting, rather than illumination. Shame there wasn’t more time in the Q&A to quiz these manufacturers about how they are addressing cost issues.

The most important event last week was the launch of the DOE’s Energy Star for SSL program – see our news report. The DOE’s Jim Brodrick announced the launch at the LEDs 2008 show, but unfortunately this was not included in the main program, and Brodrick was confined to an annexe of the tradeshow floor.

Alex Baker, responsible for the EPA’s “rival” Energy Star program, spoke in the main conference sessions, and described the reasons that EPA included solid-state light engines in their residential light fixtures qualification program. This was helpful in explaining EPA’s motives, although some questions remain unanswered - not least the one from an audience member, who said he was confused about the competing Energy Star specs. Baker also said that it had, before unveiling its criteria in June, attempted to have discussions with DOE, but DOE had not responded to these requests. This prompted Marc Ledbetter of PNNL (part of the DOE Energy Star team) to accuse Baker of being “disingenuous.”

Beyond Energy Star, there was a great deal of discussion on standards, both in the main conference and in the Test & Measurement conference that took place on Oct 2-3 at the same location. Great progress has been made and more is in the pipeline, which is very encouraging. Again, this is a subject we will cover in depth in our November/December issue.