Specifier study reveals industry attitudes towards LEDs

Dec. 22, 2004
A study has revealed that architects and lighting designers tend to specify fixtures with LEDs to create entirely new applications, while engineers more often specify traditional fixtures that use LEDs as the primary light source.
This was one of the main findings of the 2004 LED Specifier Study, published by ZING Communications, Inc. The study explores attitudes in the specification sales channel by providing and analyzing survey data from architects, lighting designers and engineers. The 136-page study is based on a survey distributed to 3,225 specifiers with a 7.5 percent response.

The research indicates that the rate of adoption will continue, and accelerate, over the next two years. It also suggests that architects and lighting designers are largely seeking new creative solutions for their clients made possible by LEDs, presumably to broaden their capabilities and add value to their projects and services.

Meanwhile, engineers are largely seeking the perceived benefits of LEDs for traditional fixtures, presumably due to cost sensitivity, interest in working with proven technology, and because their interest with LEDs appears to be more shaped by their experience with LED exit signs.

Barriers and opportunities

The study found that all specifiers consider cost to be a major barrier to specification of illuminator LEDs. Lighting designers and engineers are also consider insufficient light output to be a major barrier. All specifiers consider “bad experience with LED products” to be least significant as a barrier. Specifiers report that there are no major barriers to specification of indicator LEDs. This level of comfort is a very rare occurrence for a developing technology.

Another key finding was that specifiers want manufacturers to focus heavily on two things: a) bringing the cost of LED products down, and b) increasing light output for white LEDs. There also appears to be interest in manufacturers adopting standards and producing information that specifiers can use to accurately assess and compare LED products and thereby specify with greater confidence, broaden application, and favor the highest-quality manufacturers.

“The research suggests that architects, lighting designers and engineers, generally speaking, are comfortable with LED lighting technology and plan to specify it more in the future, although for different reasons,” says Craig DiLouie, principle of ZING Communications.

“To accelerate adoption, manufacturers should help educate owners and the rest of the channel about the operation and benefits of LEDs, reduce cost, increase white LED light output, solve heat dissipation issues that impact light output and service life, and develop standards that will broaden application and enable specifiers to easily compare products and predict their performance.”

Other key findings

Architects, lighting designers and engineers overwhelmingly report that they will specify LED lighting equipment “more often” in the future versus “less often.” Engineers are the most enthusiastic, with nearly all respondents reporting that they will specify LEDs more often. Lighting designers and engineers have specified LED lighting equipment in large numbers over the past two years, while architects have been slower to specify LED equipment.

Architects and lighting designers have specified LEDs more than engineers in decorative, cove, signage, architainment, accent, display, wall washing and landscape/façade applications. Engineers have specified LEDs in exit signs/emergency lighting more than architects and lighting designers, although they have specified a considerable amount of LED decorative lighting and signage.

Energy efficiency, long service life and small size of the light source and fixtures are the most popular attributes of LEDs and LED lighting systems among and architects and lighting designers, while engineers consider just energy efficiency and long service life to be the most influential attributes. Architects also consider ability to change colors and rugged operation to be highly influential.

Architects and lighting designers are more willing than engineers to work with new suppliers versus suppliers they have been working with for years.

Lighting designers and engineers specify LEDs to serve the function of an indicator - that is, a luminous object in a space that occupants are meant to see itself - more often than as an illuminator. Architects more often specify LEDs to function as an illuminator.

Lighting designers and engineers specify colored LEDs more often than white, while architects specify warm white more often. Architects and lighting designers specify LED lighting equipment with a programmable color-changing control system more often than engineers.

For more information, visit LED Specifier Study. The 136-page study is available as a PDF file.