The LED Show: Retrofit lamps, outdoor SSL, and controls on display (MAGAZINE)

Nov. 21, 2013
Maury Wright reports that LED retrofit lamps, adaptive controls, enabling technologies, and luminaires leave an impression at The LED Show.

This article was published in the Fall 2013 issue of Illumination in Focus.

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Like the breadth of content in the conference sessions, the exhibits at The LED Show (August 14–15, 2013, Las Vegas, Nevada) afforded attendees the opportunity to experience a complete cross-section of the solid-state lighting (SSL) industry. LED-based lamps and luminaires were most prevalent, but attendees also got to experience the technology — including packaged LEDs — that goes inside lighting products. Moreover, there were tools for lighting designers and specifiers on display, and, as with all industry events these days, plenty of adaptive control technology. Let’s take a visual tour of some of the products displayed along with some application scenarios in which the products would be typically deployed.

Modules, drivers, and LEDs

Of course, The LED Show is more focused on finished products than enabling technologies, but lighting designers and specifiers can learn a lot about LED lighting and the quality of products by looking beneath the surface. Indeed, exhibitors were ready to discuss thermal management, optics, packaging, and assembly. Here we will cover modules, drivers, and LEDs.

Cree certainly had LED experts aplenty in the booth, but the larger focus of their exhibit was on their SSL modules family that can allow lighting manufacturers to quickly deliver new LED-based products. Lighting designers and specifiers can take advantage of the modular benefits as manufacturers deliver a range of lumen packages and feature sets, all in an identical fixture housing. Prior to the conference Cree had announced that the LMH2 downlight module family had been extended to 4000-lm output that can serve even in very high ceilings. At the other end of the spectrum, the family can be specified with levels as low as 850 lm. The company also offers the LMR2 family at lower lumen levels designed for retrofits in existing ceiling cans.

ERG Lighting manufactures modular driver products for LED lighting. In many cases, the driver electronics are as responsible for the performance of an LED luminaire as the LED and fixture design. Dimming is handled in the driver and key specs such as power factor are primarily a function of the driver. ERG targets the ArchiLume family for architectural-lighting specification where the designer/specifier needs to ensure top quality of the entire SSL system. Examples include hospitality, office, and commercial settings. The family offers a power factor of 0.9 and includes family members that operate at levels to 100W with low ripple and total harmonic distortion.

Seoul Semiconductor is an LED manufacturer that is also a pioneer of AC-LED technology in which an LED light engine is driven directly from the AC line voltage rather than requiring an AC/DC driver. Generally, AC-LED technology can result in smaller light engines for lamps or luminaires because the bulky driver is eliminated. The downsides to the technology have been lower efficacy and, in some cases, flicker. At The LED Show, Seoul said it had achieved system efficacy of 140 lm/W, providing near equivalence to the best DC-driven LED systems. In addition, the company says that its latest generation of AC-LED technology has overcome any flicker problems.

MarulaLED is a manufacturer of LED modules as well as lamp and luminaire products, with the common thread being a technology called CoolTube that enhances thermal management in an SSL product. The module design places a tube that serves as a cooling channel between LEDs in a densely-packed light engine. The designs use a small fan to draw air through the tubes and maximize thermal mitigation. The results can be a smaller product with no visible heat sink. The company believes that CoolTube delivers the best lumen to volume or weight ratios of any technology on the market. Furthermore, it says that the airflow keeps dust from settling around the LEDs and on lenses.

LED tubes

Despite the fact that linear fluorescent tubes perform well, are nearly as efficient as LED lighting, and are cost effective, the SSL industry continues to pursue LED-based retrofit tubes. The enormity of the installed base of fluorescent tubes is simply too big of a target for many companies to ignore. And we have seen some success stories for the products of late, although challenges ranging from light distribution to safety can limit usage of the products.

Luxul Technology takes a different approach with its LED tubes. The company’s EazyLux LED tubes are direct replacements for fluorescent tubes and work with the installed ballast so long as the existing fixture uses an electronic ballast. Luxul developed a custom driver IC to enable direct replacement and asserts that it has more than 40 patents in the area. The typical negatives of leaving the ballast in place include both the efficiency loss in the ballast and the potential failure of the ballast after a retrofit. Luxul says that its tubes draw less current and keep the ballast much cooler, thereby extending the life. Moreover, the company rates the tubes at 80 lm/W.

Honeywell Lighting Solutions is offering LED-based replacements for fluorescent tubes. One of the challenges with LED-based tubes is how to implement driver electronics. Many companies integrate a driver in the tube and require that the fluorescent ballast be removed during a retrofit. Honeywell argues that simply replacing the ballast with an external LED driver is a better option both in terms of safety and performance. The tubes that Honeywell displayed at The LED Show include some unique features such as the ability to aim the somewhat directional LED beam over a range of 30°, since LED tubes don’t radiate light 360° as fluorescent tubes do.


We’ll take a look at some of the LED luminaires exhibited at The LED Show. There were indoor and outdoor products with industrial to residential targets. We saw RGB products for façades, decorative lighting, and flexible LED strips.

Sentry Electric demonstrated post-top outdoor fixtures and, in this case, in a historic-looking style. The nearby photo shows the products in an installation that the company announced earlier this year at Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, New York. The Battery Park series pictured can deliver 6000 lm from a 58W input. Sentry is an outdoor specialist and offers a number of roadway- and area-lighting luminaires along with wall packs and floodlights.

Tempo Industries announced its CLIP (Configurable Lighting Integrated Platform) earlier this year that is intended to allow architects to customize lighting onsite. “It was Frank Lloyd Wright’s prescription that form follows function and CLIP embodies that precept, allowing designs in which the lighting platform serves as an extension of the overall architectural intent,” said Terry Walsh, president and CEO. He noted that the products are designed to meet the needs of the changing SSL/LED market. The company has introduced four series of scalable LED lighting products based on the CLIP concept.

EYE Lighting demonstrated its outdoor SSL products at the event, including the featured KiaroLED product family that includes the post-top product pictured nearby. The family also includes fixtures that mount on extension arms connected to standard poles. The post-top fixtures were recently qualified to the DesignLights Consortium (DLC) qualified products list. Eye Lighting said that the KiaroLED fixture design and optics can deliver up to 89% of the total lumens to the street side of the fixtures.

Nora Lighting featured indoor lighting products in its booth. The company offers a broad array of SSL products including flat panels, recessed fixtures, track and rail lighting, under-cabinet products, and pendants. The nearby photo shows the Nicolas family of LED-based pendants that feature hand-blown Italian glass. Like many of Nora’s pendants, the products are offered in versions that attach to a track, a rail, or directly to a ceiling-mounted canopy. The 10W fixtures deliver 520 lm and can be connected to a dimmable driver.

The Bitro Group is a manufacturer of Lattice matrix lighting products that can serve in applications ranging from signage in light boxes to façades. The company was hard to miss with its exhibit wall covered in the Lattice RGB products. They include color LED pixels spaced on a 50-mm grid that’s capable of delivering 253 lm/ft2. The company also offers RGB control systems along with drivers for its SSL products.

Retrofit lamps

Given the sheer number of LED lamps on the exhibit floor, that segment is making its mark. The displays ranged from standard A19 bulbs to specialty lamps and LED-based tubes designed to replace linear fluorescent lamps. The overarching theme was products that more closely mimic legacy lamps in both look and performance, and that provide the light quality to serve in a broad set of applications.

Soraa has pushed the light-quality angle since the company launched at Strategies in Light in February 2012 as a manufacturer of LEDs and LED-based MR16 lamps. The company says the homogenous gallium-nitride semiconductor layers built on a gallium-nitride substrate in its LEDs deliver more light output and that it has a superior phosphor-conversion system for delivering high CRI. Its lamps on display in Las Vegas have been promoted for use in demanding hospitality applications (shown is an installation at Saison, a restaurant in San Francisco, California).

Morstar Electric is a Sino-American joint venture with manufacturing based in Fuzhou, China. At The LED Show, the company displayed a range of retrofit lamps including A-lamps and directional reflector lamps. Morstar also makes LED panel lights as well as high-output fixtures such as high-bay and street lights. The range also includes tracklights and downlights along with LED striplights.

Green Lighting LED was emphasizing the traditional look and operation of its LEDshine 360 LED lamp among other retrofit lamp offerings and luminaires that extend to high-bay and outdoor fixtures. The LEDshine 360 lamps look nearly identical to a frosted A-lamp. There is a barely noticeable white plastic base near the socket, but the majority of the diffuser globe includes the classic shape. The company offers the A-lamps in 6W and 8W versions with the option of 5500K or 3000K CCTs at both power levels. The flux output ranges from 390–570 lm.

Controls and tools

The LED march on the general illumination world has brought about a complementary advance in adaptive control technology. The fact that LEDs are inherently dimmable makes adding controls a natural extension to SSL. We’re also beginning to see the advent of tunable lighting in lamps and fixtures that will require controls and networks, as well as other novel tools.

Illumra offers simple wireless controls including light sensors, occupancy sensors, switches, dimmers, and accessories based on technology promulgated by the EnOcean Alliance. The wireless products use “energy harvesting” with no battery or AC power required to support the wireless link. Illumra showed a wireless switch controlling a light fixture located down the aisle. When you push the switch, that action creates just enough power for the electronics in the switch to awaken and send a message to the fixture. Sensor offerings operate via embedded solar cells.

Crestron Electronics offers a range of automation and control products and systems for lighting, automatic window shades, and A/V systems; and among other things, Crestron demonstrated the DIN-DALI-2 that is a DALI (digital addressable lighting interface) controller that supports two DALI loops and can control as many as 128 individual LED drivers. LED drivers and fluorescent ballasts with DALI support are available from numerous vendors including Crestron. The company also offers remote-controlled power switches, multichannel dimmer modules, wireless technology to connect with in-ceiling dimmers, and complete control systems.

Moreland Lighting, a tool manufacturer, demonstrated the MK350 spectrometer. The handheld device starts at $2250 but is capable of measuring and storing the key metrics of a light source. The device can measure CCT, and CRI — both the RA average and the individual scores for all 15 color samples. The instrument can determine the dominant wavelength of a light source and provide a spectral power distribution graph. The instrument stores data on an SD card for later download. You can buy a Wi-Fi card to establish a persistent link to a PC. A 3.5-in. color display presents the data on the handheld unit.

About the Author

Maury Wright | Editor in Chief

Maury Wright is an electronics engineer turned technology journalist, who has focused specifically on the LED & Lighting industry for the past decade. Wright first wrote for LEDs Magazine as a contractor in 2010, and took over as Editor-in-Chief in 2012. He has broad experience in technology areas ranging from microprocessors to digital media to wireless networks that he gained over 30 years in the trade press. Wright has experience running global editorial operations, such as during his tenure as worldwide editorial director of EDN Magazine, and has been instrumental in launching publication websites going back to the earliest days of the Internet. Wright has won numerous industry awards, including multiple ASBPE national awards for B2B journalism excellence, and has received finalist recognition for LEDs Magazine in the FOLIO Eddie Awards. He received a BS in electrical engineering from Auburn University.