Tech Lighting will unveil the Unilume LED Undercabinet Lighting System at the Dallas International Lighting Market in showroom #4705-TM, demonstrating the products January 19-23, 2012. The product family includes 13- and 19-inch linear solid-state lighting (SSL) fixtures that combine blue LEDs and an Intematix Chromalit remote-phosphor optic to generate uniform light.
Tech Lighting said that LEDs have been widely used in under-cabinet applications, but generally with discrete LED point sources that appear as dots on reflective surfaces such as countertops. The company says that the Unilume products deliver "an even, glare-free wash of light" along the entire length of the fixture.
"Unilume has several other benefits over traditional LED under-cabinet solutions," said Tech Lighting general manager Josh Weiss. "Because it eliminates the need for a diffusing lens, it’s extremely energy efficient, and we’re able to achieve 50-to-60 lm/watt depending on the length. Further, the entire lens is illuminated and sits at the surface of the housing creating a much wider beam distribution. This makes it possible to use fewer under-cabinet units spread at greater distances. Finally, because the phosphor sits away from the LED, it remains cooler, which ensures greater color consistency over time."
"Tech Lighting sought a way to employ LED technology in under-cabinet lighting while improving uniformity," said Julian Carey, senior director of marketing at Intematix. "We are pleased that Chromalit helped enable their striking design with both efficacy and light quality."
The Unilume design utilizes 30 LEDs per foot. The company is using blue LEDs from T-Opto, a Toyota Tsusho business, along with the rectangular Chromalit optics.
The fixture includes a mixing chamber that Tech Lighting says is 98% reflective. The company said the combination of the mixing chamber and optic yields a fixture that is thinner and narrower than competing fixtures. The luminaire is less than 0.75-inches deep.
Lighting designers can combine the linear fixtures to create longer linear light sources. The fixtures include jumper connectors that link one unit to the next. Tech Lighting offers the products in 2700K- or 3000K-CCT options and with a choice of 80 or 90 CRI. The fixtures integrate a driver than also works with legacy triac dimmers.
Remote phosphor patents
The Tech Lighting announcement is also interesting in that it comes shortly after Cree proactively stated that companies making remote-phosphor luminaires or lamps will require a license to Cree's patents. Cree announced five luminaire makers with which it had consummated license agreements, and Tech Lighting is not among those five.
When asked about the potential of an intellectual property (IP) issues, a Tech Lighting spokesperson said that the company had addressed IP issues with Intematix and that they don't believe that they are violating anyone's IP.
Intematix declined to comment on the IP issues that its customers face but said that its Chromalit optics don't infringe on others' patents. Cree, however, clearly believes that the fixture makers should have license to its basic patents covering the generation of white light using a blue LED and phosphor (remote or local).