Business News | Oct 22, 2010

Consumerizing Solid State Lighting

LED (Light-emitting diodes) lamps are a fast emerging technology which is considered as the true alternative to the Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL). Many commercial products are now available for professional application; however there is rarely any LED retrofit product which meets all the expectations of consumers in terms of price, light output and other functionalities at the same time.

The Consumerizing Solid State Lighting (CSSL) project aims to develop and demonstrate affordable Smart Solid State Light sources for consumers via both technology and application routes. The proposed CSSL project works vertically across the entire value chain from LED die, light source, consumer luminaires, controls and dimmer companies aiming to achieve substantial cost reduction. The CSSL project will also work with the energy companies to both gain valuable end user insights and explore new business model that would further promote and develop the consumer LED retrofit market.

In order to achieve drastic cost reduction on system level, the CSSL project will investigate the technology to grow GaN epilayers for LED purpose on large size silicon wafers, which has the potential to ultimately cut the cost of packaged LED die by half. An inline inspection tool will also be developed which when used in combination with a defect source analysis (DSA) tool will help to improve the LED yield during the semiconductor manufacturing process. In addition, the MCLED architecture, chip configuration and driver topology will be extensively studied and optimised to enable the lowest overall system cost option, namely, system-in-package. Finally, as LED light sources are digital, light sources, implementation of Digital Smart Lighting concept via integration of sensors, actuators and controls for dimmability and controllability, will utilize the full potential of the digital source and offer more functions to the consumer, which could be perceived as additional features when compared with the traditional light sources.

Multiple LED retrofit lamp, luminaries and system level demonstrators will be delivered during the project execution to show the research and development achievements. User perception tests and field tests of comparable LED retrofit products and demonstrators will also be carried out yearly in order to verify and optimise the overall LED retrofit system architecture.

The proposed CSSL project will have profound impact on many European industries such as microelectronics, dimmer and control, equipments and tools and material industry etc, and provide new business growth opportunities and promoting cross industry cooperation. The CSSL consortium will enable the consortium partners to secure a leading position in the emerging domain of consumer LED retrofit. The project will strengthen Europe’s position in the technology competition of spurring lighting manufacturers to  develop high quality, high-efficiency LED products to replace the ordinary light bulb. The results will have a direct impact on energy saving, sustainability and improve the quality of life in Europe and worldwide.

Regulations in Europe will ban the 100W incandescent clear glass lamp starting in September 2009, and will progressively ban all inefficient incandescent lamps by 2012 and all other incandescent lamps by 2016. The Energy Information and Security Act of 2007 began the process of restricting the sale of inefficient lamps in the US. By 2012, with a few exceptions, inefficient incandescent lamps cannot be sold any more.

The currently available CFL technology is only regarded as a transition between incandescent and LED light sources. CFL has unsatisfactory light-quality, limited or expensive dim-ability and is not a true replacement for reflector lamps. Many have placed their hopes of finding a super-efficient bulb on solid state lighting. Therefore there are great market opportunities for LED replacement lamps.

LED (light-emitting diodes) lamps is a fast emerging technology, whose efficacy competes with that of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs). Yet, LEDs for room illumination are today only in the first phase of commercialization, and rare are those that fulfil all the expectations of the consumers in terms of light output and other functionalities. In the long run, LEDs are to become the true alternative to CFL and could potentially lead to energy savings of 80% and more of the GLS energy consumption.

Although the market for LED replacement lamps is still in its early stages of development, the lamp revenues are forecast to grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 107% through 2013. LED Retrofit lamps are right now starting to penetrate the professional market in general lighting as well as down lighting applications, for instance, the commercial and industrial segments are embracing LEDs to control costs and save energy; the LED lamps are used for directed light applications, in hard-to-reach places and where the cost of replacement is very high etc. (Strategies Unlimited, 18th June, 2009)

Consumer SSL retrofit market Gap:
Given the advantages of LED light sources and the current SSL technology, it is time for SSL to step up to fill the gap and become the true replacement of incandescent lamp. It is predicted that the LED replacement lamp markets will accelerate dramatic improvements in commercially available LED performance in the next few years, as well as result in significant cost reduction.

However, the majority of the SSL technology development and innovation effort so far have been the focused on professional market and little has been directed to the consumer market mainly due to higher initial purchase cost compared with other transitional light source.

Initial purchase costs
(building owner)
/1000 lumen
Incandescent lamps (A19 60W) $0.30
Compact fluorescent (13W) $3.50
LED ( Cool White) $25.00

LED lamps that offer comparable lumen output compete with other established lighting technologies on the basis of cost of ownership, which is a non-appealing concept that customers are not used to as opposed to ‘the initial purchase cost’ which appears to be more straightforward and accepted in general.

26 companies & institutes joined to accelerate “Consumerizing Solid State Lighting” at the CSSL kick-off meeting in May 20-21, 2010.