LEDs Magazine News & Insights 16 Jun 2021 – Editor’s Column

June 16, 2021

Welcome to the LEDs Magazine News & Insights newsletter for June 16, 2021. I tend to be a glass half-full type of person. Yet the LED and solid-state lighting (SSL) sectors can challenge such optimism on a regular basis. Consider test methodologies and product lifetime projections for LED sources and luminaires.

I do think of myself as an old-timer in the SSL game at this point. When I started writing almost exclusively about LED technology around 2010, standardized test methodologies were under development. Lifetime projection methodology was more a dream. And the reality was manufacturers making wild and unsubstantiated claims about LED and luminaire performance and lifetime. Of course researchers such as Nadarajah Narendran of the Lighting Research Center (LRC) had been feverishly pursuing characterization of high-power LEDs for more than a decade before I joined the fun.

The IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) LM-80 work standardizing LED testing methodology came to the industry early in my time covering LEDs and SSL. And I have seen the situation optimistically for the most part. LED-based products generally carry accurate performance and lifetime specifications today. But things could always be better.

Better testing and lifetime projection is the subject of a research report just released by the International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy Efficient End-use Equipment (4E) Solid-state Lighting (SSL) Annex. The LRC authored the report. And I’m happy to report that a core group of researchers remains at the LRC including Narendran, even though the lighting for health work of that laboratory has moved to Mount Sinai.

The report suggests that testing of LEDs and SSL should include power cycling and also stress conditions in high humidity. Existing testing methodologies do not cause catastrophic failure events that often happen in actual usage, according to the LRC team.

Still, the advancements in LED lighting are profound and unmistakable. One of the last applications that LEDs penetrated was sports venue illumination where required light levels are extremely high. And now we often take such news for granted. We actually had a discussion internally about whether we should write about yet more LED lighting for top-level football (soccer) facilities in Europe that debuted with the Euro 2020 multinational tournament that kicked off this week after a one-year pandemic postponement. A number of the stadiums that will host games between national team are sporting new SSL and others have been retrofitted previously.

I’ll close this week with the suggestions that you should read Carrie Meadows’ blog on patent infringement. Intellectual property (IP) skirmishes dot the history of the SSL timeline, and some have been vicious. I have realized for some time that the IP battles would get brutal surrounding the ultraviolet (UV) disinfection space. Carrie was prompted to write based on online discussion of whether a company could patent the usage of a UV-C wavelength. According to former patent examiner Marshall Honeyman, the answer is technically no — but you might not want to write that down in permanent ink, as I read it.

You will find many more stories of interest in the body of today’s newsletter. And always feel free to contact me to discuss content we post or to pitch a contributed article.

- Maury Wright, (858) 208-9442, [email protected]