Products, Materials & Tools | Apr 27, 2016

Next Generation Luminaires™ Design Competition Recognizes 25 Commercial LED Indoor and Outdoor Lighting Products

The eighth annual Next Generation Luminaires (NGL) Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Design Competition has recognized 25 commercial LED indoor and outdoor lighting products for excellence. The winners were announced today at LIGHTFAIR® International in San Diego.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the Illuminating Engineering Society, and the International Association of Lighting Designers, NGL was launched in 2008 to encourage technical innovation and promote excellence in the design of energy-efficient LED luminaires for commercial, industrial, and institutional applications.

A number of improvements were observed in the 2016 NGL entries. For example, efficacy for all submitted products was consistently higher than in previous years – although efficacies of Recognized indoor products were roughly the same as in 2015. About four-fifths of all submitted products had lumen maintenance greater than 85% (L85) at 50,000 hours. And for the first time, a significant number (31%) of awarded indoor products had a color rendering index (CRI) > 90.

The idea behind NGL is to make it easier to find the best specification-grade LED lighting products. This means Recognized products have to measure up on many fronts. The 2016 NGL entries were evaluated by a panel of judges (11 for indoor, 10 for outdoor) drawn from the architectural and outdoor lighting communities, and were scored on color, illuminance, glare control, light distribution, serviceability, value, dimming control, and appearance – with lumen maintenance and luminous efficacy ratings based on LM79, LM80, and TM21 submitted to DOE’s LED Lighting Facts® program by the manufacturers.

Submissions making it to the judging phase presented market-ready samples and complete documentation – including luminaire and component specification sheets, LM-79 test reports, lumen maintenance projections, warranty statements, and marketing materials. These documents help make sure actual performance matches what’s claimed.

As LED technology and product design have evolved, NGL requirements have become increasingly demanding. “The NGL bar is set high, and the tires get kicked often and hard,” said DOE SSL Program Manager Jim Brodrick. “So when the judges award a product, you know it was well earned.”

NGL continues to focus on key applications where product quality or availability clearly lags market opportunity. This permits more in-depth and rigorous evaluation, rather than spreading effort over many well-established luminaire categories. Reflecting this focus, two new categories were judged for the first time in 2016: connected lighting (indoor) and sports lighting (outdoor). Altogether, the 2016 NGL indoor and outdoor competitions recognized a total of 25 luminaires out of 93 judged entries, with five of the 25 highlighted as Outstanding.

For indoor products, the 2016 target areas included luminaires with high lumen-output capabilities, as well as several aspects of controllability: simple digital dimming (required of all entrants); dim-to-warm; tunable-white; and connected systems of luminaires, sensors, and controls. The sharpened focus resulted in the evaluation of 62 indoor luminaires, 16 of which were Recognized across just eight categories, with three of those products singled out as Outstanding.

The Outstanding winners in the Indoor competition came from three manufacturers: Focal Point’s Nera linear pendant, Eaton’s Portfolio dim-to-warm downlight, and Kenall Lighting’s white-tunable MedMaster Balance. Among the other Recognized indoor winners, Visa Lighting, Selux Corporation, and LED Linear GmbH all earned praise for their decorative pendant luminaires; and Philips Ledalite received recognition for two of its linear pendant luminaires. Selux Corporation, Acuity Brands Lighting Inc., and Acuity’s Juno Lighting Group were recognized for their white-tunable luminaires, with METEOR LIGHTING receiving recognition for its high-output downlight. Juno Lighting Group earned praise for its recessed accent light; LF Illumination and LumenWerx, for their cove lights; and QuarkStar, in collaboration with Everlight, for a wall wash luminaire.

Connected lighting systems – which integrate luminaires, sensors, and software to monitor and control operation – received special emphasis in the 2016 indoor competition, a first for NGL. Two basic types of connected lighting systems were submitted: those with an external controller and networked luminaires, represented by EnLighted’s Lighting Control Solution, and those with self-contained network controls integrated into the luminaires, represented by Cree’s SmartCast Technology and Philips’ SpaceWise Technology. The judges did not find any single connected-lighting entry to be generally superior, but rather noted that each has benefits and limitations in different applications.

For outdoor products, the target areas included pedestrian-scale luminaires; garage luminaires; and typical roadway, parking-lot, and wall-pack categories. Integrated sensors were evaluated for the garage luminaires, while simple dimming control was required for most other categories. Of the 31 products making it past the prescreening process in the outdoor competition, nine were recognized across just four categories, with two of those products considered Outstanding.

The Outstanding winners in the outdoor competition included Landscape Forms, Inc.’s FGP Path Light bollard and Cree’s RSW Series LED Street Luminaire. Among the other Recognized outdoor winners, First Light Technologies and Selux Corporation earned praise for their bollards, and Landscape Forms Inc. and Eaton received recognition for their pedestrian-scale post-top luminaires. Kenall Lighting, RAB Lighting Inc., and Philips Gardco were recognized for their parking garage luminaires.

The 2016 outdoor competition included sports lighting for the first time. While significant advances have been made in LED sports-lighting equipment for large arena and stadium applications, there remains a need for high-quality, affordable lighting to meet the demands of smaller exterior installations such as high-school and recreation fields, where lower mounting heights call for improved glare management, and light scatter beyond property boundaries can be an issue. The two NGL sports luminaires evaluated – Eaton’s Ephesus Lighting Stadium Pro and KMV’s SUFA-A Sports Luminaire – were considered Notable but were not recognized as fully appropriate for recreational applications.

Through a rigorous evaluation process and detailed feedback from expert judges, the Next Generation Luminaires competition encourages and recognizes exceptional performance and quality in LEDs for general-illumination lighting. 

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