Next week’s LightFair (aka LEDFair) promises newest in solid-state lighting
Margery Conner - May 1, 2012
Next week is the lighting industry’s pre-eminent trade show, LightFair, which to be as accurate as possible should change its name to LEDFair. The show fills up the massive Las Vegas Convention Center, and virtually every booth there is showing off LED-based lights. Which is a little strange because as it stands today, LEDs have very little penetration into the general lighting market.
Lighting isn’t like consumer electronics, susceptible to the whims of consumers who generally have very similar needs. Consumer products are quickly commoditized and new product categories such as smart phones, or product improvements, such as flat-panel LED TVs, can overwhelm old technologies in a matter of months.
Lighting is more of an infrastructure decision, where changes require expensive labor enhancements, such as new light fixtures or even re-plumbing electrical wiring. Building owners expect lighting systems to last for 10-20 years, so unless it’s a new construction, it’s not a slam dunk that a building owner is going to embrace a new LED-based light system. True, often (if all goes well) the payback in energy savings can make LED lights attractive, but unlike residential lighting, most commercial lighting already uses relatively efficient fluorescent lighting, so the payback may not be fast enough to pry a building owner’s wallet open.
Here’s a slide that IMS Research presented at LEDs 2012 last October:
It predicts that this year, 2012, is the year that LEDs in lighting finally start to show a pulse, gaining momentum and overtaking incandescent/halogen in five years. In revenue, they become dominant by the end of 2013, which is why no lighting company wants to be left without higher-margin LEDs in its product portfolio.
The typical LightFair attendee is not an electronics circuit designer – most attendees are lighting specifies, light designers, or lighting architects. But there are many, many component vendors there including LEDs, thermal management, power management ICs, and electronics distributors to make it a very good show for EDN’ audience. Here are the topics I’ll be looking for more information one:
LED power management, specifically dimming: Every year, several power IC vendors announce that they’ve created the perfect LED dimming IC. Who will it be this year?
LEDs as components: LightFair is the best show to see what’s new from the big LED players, such as Cree, Osram, Lumileds, Nichia etc. Last year, Samsung announced they were jumping into the LED business. What about AC-driven LEDs, or high-voltage LEDs, or novel substrate such as silicon-substrate LEDs? This is the show to hear about what’s new.
OLEDs: So what’s the current story for organic LEDs? Are they ever going to get their light output as well as lifetime up?
(Feel free to add other topics that will be hot at LightFair in the comments below.)