Cree expands CR Series LED troffer family, increases efficacy

Cree has added a high efficacy version of the CR troffer series that maximizes energy efficiency and boosts the performance of the existing product line. The company has also announced a new lower-CRI version that accelerates payback.

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Cree Lighting has announced new products in the CR LED troffer family that essentially offer lighting designers and specifiers three options in matching application requirements – a more expensive 130-lm/W version for maximum energy efficiency, an improved standard product, and a lower-cost choice that lowers CRI from 90 to 80. All of the products are also now available in a 5000K CCT, include a ten-year warranty, and are rated for 100,000 hours of life.

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Cree originally announced the CR series in April 2011 as an energy-efficient alternative to high-end, lensed fluorescent troffers. The products have been based on the company's TrueWhite technology that mixes light from amber and red LEDs to deliver both high efficacy and high CRI. All of the company's lighting products that carry the TrueWhite label have a CRI of 90 or better.

The existing CR series has delivered efficacy of 90 lm/W at the system level including the driver. Cree has now improved that level to 100 lm/W in the standard product line without changing pricing. Meanwhile the CR HE (High Efficacy) models reach efficacy of 130 lm/W.

About the type of specifier that might opt for the HE option, Cree product portfolio manager Jeff Hungarter said, "First cost may not be a primary concern." Maximum energy efficiency would be. Hungarter added, "They might want to be LEED Platinum." And clearly there are other energy regulations in places like California where higher efficiency is necessary.

HD series for lower cost

At the other end of the spectrum, Cree has also introduced what it is calling the CR Series High Definition (HD) family members. We, as consumers of electronics, have good reason to associate the term HD with high quality, although in this case it applies to a series of luminaires with a CRI of 80 or above, whereas the standard CR series and the HE series have a CRI of 90 or above. But Cree wants to make the point that the HD series still has a much more robust spectral power distribution than do linear fluorescent lamps.

Cree's Hungarter said that the HD series still utilizes color-mixing LED technology and lessons learned from the TrueWhite products. But Cree doesn't call the HD series TrueWhite because that label has always implied 90 CRI or above.

The motivation for offering the HD series was specifiers that are most concerned with first cost. Hungarter said, "We felt we were missing out on some applications where first cost and payback were the most important factors."

The result of the new announcement is a CR family with three performance levels and three price points. A quick check on the Internet shows the standard CR24 2×4-ft troffer selling for $259 to $399 depending on the specified light output – essentially the number of LEDs in the fixture. Cree has said all along that the product is priced competitively for high-end, architecturally specified fluorescent troffers.

The HE series will cost 15-18% more than the standard CR series. And the HD series will cost 15-18% less than the standard products.

While Cree has rated the products for 100,000 hours of life, the company said the designs now deliver 75,000 hours to L90 – 75,000 hours delivering 90% or more of initial lumen output. And that lifetime and ten-year warranty is offered across the product line now in CCTs from 3000K to 5000K. The performance and life are enabled by the newest LED technologies and a unique thermal design that places the heat sink on the room side of the fixture – essentially the decorative metal element running the length of the fixture.

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