Need an LED Replacement for a T-8 Fluorescent?

Optics.org posted a little article about a company called the ATG Electronics Corp, which manufactures an LED T-8 that gives a lamp life of around 50,000 hours.  This is just a little better than a fluorescent’s lamp life, which is around – you know – 5,000 hours.  I guess that’s a little bit more, isn’t it.

From the ATG website:

With power supply placed outside, patented thermal control technology, and special designed aluminum housing, iBright™ T8s substantially achieves good thermal property and plays more stable performance and of course will last up to 50,000 hours compared to 5,000 hours from conventional fluorescent lights.

You know, that is really great.  Now give it to the public at slightly more than a typical T-8 fluorescent, and you’ll be awesome.  I don’t know how much these are retailing for right now, but if it says anything, you can only get a price quote first.  Don’t get me wrong – energy saving, overall cost saving, high quality light, low heat, and boosting green technology is “priceless.”

But MAN – “priceless” is expensive.

Interview with Tony McGettigan, Director and CEO of LUXIM

I recently had the pleasure of having an interview with the director and CEO of Luxim, Tony McGettigan.  Luxim is the company that has created the LIFI source – the HID source that is practically the size of a Tic Tac and puts out insane amounts of lumens.  120 lumens per Watt, to be more precise.  Luxim’s LIFI lamp also doesn’t have any electrodes – it’s fired by an RF “pump” of sorts.  People need to watch Luxim, they’re going to be huge.

The Interview:

JimOnLightWhere did Luxim find the inspiration to attack such a vital improvement in energy efficiency, color rendering, and output?  The LIFI systems being developed by Luxim are no small feat – what was the muse for the project?

Tony of Luxim:  Thanks Jim and great question.  The initial motivation was to find a long life, high color quality source for projection display systems such as business projectors and more importantly Rear Projection Televisions.  That’s where LIFI® got its start.  In fact, you may not know this, but we have over 60,000 LIFI® light sources installed in a variety of projection display products.

But, from the outset we knew that the technology had a much broader reach and we expanded into markets where color and life are critical.  Sustained R&D initiatives kept producing new efficiency breakthroughs and we soon had a technology that could compete on the basis of efficiency, life and color.

JimOnLightThis may sound like an odd question, but do people understand what Luxim has developed with LIFI?  This technology should be everywhere that HIDs are used.  How are customers and clients reacting to the introduction to such a lucrative product on the market?

Tony of Luxim:  LIFI® is increasingly being recognized as a breakthrough lighting technology.  Seeing is believing, especially when it comes to light sources.  When we show the compact package with high efficiency, excellent color and high output, people immediately understand the breakthrough and are as excited as we are about LIFI’s potential.

We are seeing very broad interest in LIFI® across several segments, including instrumentation, entertainment, architectural and outdoor lighting.  Moving forward, we expect to generate further breakthroughs in efficiency, color temperature and lumens output.  This will expand our range in the existing markets and open new market segments.

JimOnLightThe Entertainment Lighting market is a place Luxim can very sharply make a difference – you have a section of the Luxim website devoted to LIFI Entertainment products.  How has the Entertainment Lighting market been helpful, or have they been unhelpful?  I think of how absolutely product-changing a LIFI source in a DL2 projector would be, or how hardened LIFI lamps would reduce load-in time on the road in moving lighting.  Has the Entertainment market latched onto Luxim yet?

Tony of Luxim:  Entertainment lighting is a great match for our technology for several reasons.  High output from a small package is a must, color quality is critical and the ability to improve efficiency, durability and life is highly valued.  Many of these systems swap out sources every 400 hours: with LIFI® life can be extended to 10,000 hours.  Several of these systems have an overall efficacy of 15-30 LPW:  with LIFI® this can be improved to 30-45 LPW.  Improving efficiency has the added advantage of reducing fan size and noise.

So far, we’ve had a terrific response from entertainment lighting manufacturers.  The customer base has been very receptive and the industry experts have been informative and helpful.  We appreciate the enthusiasm for our technology and we look forward to working closely with the industry over the next several years.  We are confident you’ll see better products AND new types of products and architectures.

JimOnLightAre you working with any specific vendors or manufacturers for Entertainment Lighting products?  I can’t say that I have noticed Luxim’s LIFI products to be saturating the market, which is a shame considering the beauty you’ve brought to the market.  Where can I find your goods?

Tony of Luxim:  Thanks for the comments.  To put things in context, we first showed LIFI® at ProLight in 2008 and we were already in a couple of products by LDI 2008.  I can’t say too much, but keep your eyes peeled in 2009.  Longer term, our goal is to be in EVERY important entertainment lighting system by 2011.

JimOnLightA technical geek observation – I noticed on the LIFI Entertainment products site that the indensity distribution is listed as Lambertian, whereas some of the the civil works products from Luxim are listed to be distributing in a forward-emitting fashion.  How exactly does the LIFI system consider optical systems with regards to ellipsoidal and spherical reflector systems?  For the reader’s benefit, we all know Lambertian reflectance as an even distribution of intensity across a surface to all viewers.  How do the LIFI Entertainment sources achieve what seems like you’re saying is a flat field?  Lighting Designers are used to a beam/field split to deal with, how does this change?

Tony of Luxim:  When we say forward emitting, what we mean is that all the light is moving in the same direction along the optical axis.  In this sense a LIFI® source is much like an LED.  When we say Lambertian, what we mean is that the angular distribution of the emitted rays is similar to a Lambertian distribution with a peak on axis and a general inverse cosine distribution.

Two effects, intrinsic to the source, help create the flat field.  In the first place, unlike a conventional HID lamp, light does not leave the LIFI® source directly.  Instead, the light recirculates in a reflective cavity.  This recirculation broadens the spectrum and reduces brightness and color variation across the source.  These effects all help produce the uniform spot.

A second aspect relates to the collection optics design.  Traditional systems use imaging optics (elliptical, spherical reflectors).  These designs are based on a system that duplicates the spatial pattern of the source at a secondary aperture, thereby duplicating the spatial/color variation.  Because LIFI® emits in a forward pattern, different collection optic designs can be used including designs that will further homogenize color and brightness producing a more uniform disc of light at the aperture.

JimOnLightFor a client wanting to completely retrofit a touring light rig with LIFI sources – is Luxim to that point with the LIFI technology?  Is Luxim prepared for the lighting market’s mad dash to you once they realize the magic you’ve developed?

Tony of Luxim:  The products we have today can displace conventional 250-550Watt HID sources.  We are expanding the line-up to cover the full range of wattages and color temperatures used in entertainment lighting products.

With respect to readiness, we already have the global supply chain and manufacturing capacity in place to build more than 1000 units/day.  Building that infrastructure was a big priority when we first set out to supply LIFI® technology to global manufacturers of rear-projection televisions.  So we are in a very good position to satisfy initial demand. We also have a strategy that allows us to scale capacity rapidly and cost effectively.

JimOnLightWhat has the experimentation and control been like for LIFI in the, say, Automated Lighting world?  Have the LIFI lamps seen any beta testing on major market tours?  Are designers starting to ask for the LIFI system by name?

Tony of Luxim:  We test at two levels:  LIFI® testing is done by Luxim while application level testing is done at the customers’ sites.  The Luxim internal testing is extensive with 250 test beds at our Sunnyvale facility and a further 750 test beds at our contract manufacturer.  A number of customers have completed application level qualification while several more are finalizing designs and beginning qualification testing.

Suffice to say that the LIFI® brand is resonating with influential fixture manufacturers globally with key people asking specifically for LIFI® solutions by name.  This momentum is a tribute to the strength of the technology but it also tells us that there’s a need for new high-efficiency light source solutions that combine high-output, great color advantages and a longer life in a very compact package.

JimOnLight Can you give the readers an idea as to what kinds of specialty projects that Luxim might be involved with to date?  Let’s stick to basically non entertainment, non civil (street lamps, overhead illumination, etc) and focus in on medical technology and analytical lighting and products.

Tony of Luxim:  I’m glad you raised the topic of opportunities for LIFI® in medical instrumentation applications. We believe that LIFI® has great potential here.  I cannot give too much detail because of confidentiality agreements, but I can say that you will see five or six different types of medical products with integrated LIFI® solutions in 2009.  It is a great thrill for us to know our products are helping leading scientists in their research and helping physicians save lives.  Again, it speaks to the breadth and potential for LIFI® technology.

JimOnLight I appreciate you bearing with me on all of these questions.  People need to know about LIFI and Luxim!  So, what’s next for Luxim?  What’s in the future for the company, and where has R+D found itself lately?

Tony of Luxim:  We are still in our infancy and there is great potential for growth and success.  But, we want to be smart and pragmatic in how we grow our business and how we continue to innovate on the technology front.

Our main focus moving forward is efficiency.  Did you know that powering a high-output lamp generates about the same amount of Carbon Dioxide in a year as driving a family car 15,000 miles?  At the same time, the investment needed to upgrade the lamp is fifty times less than the investment needed to upgrade the car.  That potential for high-energy savings at modest investment levels creates a huge opportunity for us and it’s what galvanizes our R&D team.  Everywhere we look, we see opportunity to make things better by improving efficiency.  Efficiency reduces energy costs, simplifies infrastructure and abates climate change.  So we are all about being more efficient, without compromising the quality of the experience.

At Luxim, we are privileged to lead such a mission and we appreciate your interest and support.

Watch for us!


Tony, thanks again for the interview.  We are looking forward to seeing Luxim as a “household” name in the lighting industry!  JimOnLight.com readers, go check out Luxim’s product line – it’s incredible.

Flat Fluorescents?

If you used them for ten hours a day constantly, they’d last you 16 years, give or take a few weekend parties.

I am talking about the flat fluorescent sources from South Korea’s Mirae Lighting – a company that built a factory for backlighting 32″ HDTV’s right after the desire for the 32″ model pretty much stopped.  The factory, apparently taking about 30 million bucks and several years to build, was fully equipped to make backlighting for 32″ tv’s when everyone was now buying 42’s and 52’s.

Bummer, huh?

Well, not particularly for green-minded folks – the product that Mirae made and sold to a company called Lumiette (co-founded by the then Samsung executive Noel Park) who wants to mass produce and sell their new innovation on Mirae’s misfortunate delays called the FPL, or Flat Panel Light.  This lamp was once a backlight for flat panel TVs, and now it is an efficient, long life lamp.

From the article at Green Tech Media:

Next year, Lumiette – which effectively bought the technology and underlying patents – will see if there is a second act in the lives of illumination technologies. The Cupertino, Calif.-based startup wants to mass produce the thin, florescent lamps which it calls Flat Panel Lights (FPLs) as alternatives to incandescent bulbs, florescent tube lighting and even arrays of light emitting diodes. Investors include chairman William Miller, the former CEO of SRI and former provost of Stanford University, and David Aslin, a venture partner with Nexit Ventures. The first products are expected to start rolling off the line in the middle of 2009.

These lamps are different than normal fluorescent lamps because the electronics are actually outside the lamp – when a regular fluorescent lamp starts to fail, it’s typically the electrodes wearing down.  The FPL’s electrodes are on the outside of the lamp because – well, the lamp is four millimeters thick.  Yeah, four.  And flat.

This flat lamp is reported to project about 97 percent of its light forward.  How efficient is that?!

Check out the article at Green Tech Media.

Lighting 101: HID Lamps

Have you ever been out shopping for replacement lamps for your home and saw acronyms like HID, HPS, MSR, and HMI?  These acronyms refer to lamps that are different than your typical household incandescent with a filament – HID stands for High Intensity Discharge lamp, and refers to lamps that utilize an electric arc to create light.  HID sources are typically very, very bright, and have a very high color temperature on average.  Color rendering indexes, and correlated color temperatures are all usually very high in HID sources.

High intensity discharge lamps don’t have a filament, and do not function like an incandescent lamp except for in the fact that they require electricity.  As a matter of fact, they’re about twice as efficient than incandescent Tungsten Halogen filamented sources, typically.  Once the lamp is ignited, it burns consistently and clean during its arc phase.

Take a look at this image:

HID sources usually consist of a few basic parts – an arc tube, arc electrodes, a metal salt, and a gas, usually of the halogen or chalcogen family on the periodic table.  Once the arc is ignited, the gas and metal salts heat and evaporate to a plasma phase, which greatly increases the light output of the lamp, and also makes it use less electricity.  HID lamps need a ballast to both start and maintain the arc that occurs in the arc chamber (the glass envelope part of the lamp) – to start, the ballast sends a high voltage across the arc gap, which refers to the distance between the electrodes.  Depending on the lamp, this could be as little as 500V or as much as 3500V.  Once the arc is established, the ballast drops the voltage down to a “maintenance” voltage, maintaining the arc and keeping the lamp lit.

HID laps are similar to welding – they put off high amounts of very high color temperature light that can hurt your eyes if you look directly at them.  HID lamps are sort-of like controlled welding in a way, except the deposit that welders make is not quite how HID lamps operate.  HID lamps are made of all sorts of chemistries, from Mercury Vapor lamps (the streetlights that are extremely white/blue), Sodium Vapor lamps (very yellow/amerish light), to Medium-Source Rare-Earth or Hydrargyrum Medium-Arc Iodide lamps.

What?  Hydrargyrum?  Did someone burp?  Hydrargyrum is another name for Mercury.

HID sources are used all over the place.  When a need for wide area lighting is required, HIDs do the trick – next time you’re at your favorite big-box retailer, look up and see what’s lighting the store.  Fluorescent tubes are HID lamps, and they are found everywhere.  HIDs are used in Film and TV Lighting, moving lights, and anywhere that a bright, consistent and efficient source of light is needed.  They’re everywhere – the World Trade Center site, atop the Luxor in Vegas, in some car headlamps, video projectors, and in millions of other places.

Handling of HID sources takes some extra care; when changing out an HID source, the best bet is to use some sort of face shield and eye protection while it is still warm.  As the lamp cools down, the lamp is even more fragile than in its cooled state, and could possibly explode in your face if you weren’t careful.  Never look at the source, as mentioned before – this can cause overall blindness and loss of night vision.  HID sources are usually high voltage sources too when in operation.  Take extra care!

The Ostar LED Headlamp

Osram Sylvania is going to be introducing a line of standardized LED modules in 2009, effectively (and affectionately) called the “Joule” System.  LEDs Mag has an article about the upcoming LED module, with all of its 50mm standardized automotive LED system glory.  An Osram spokesman, David Hulick, had this to say about the Ostar headlamp:

“The JFL2 is well suited for daytime running lights and fog lights, but very clearly also functions for  headlamp apps of the future. It’s amazingly compact. It has very long life. The quality of the light output – very crisp clear light – will also be very attractive.”

The Ostar system is a forward lighting system – basically replacing existing technology in headlamps and tail lights.  One of the main pieces of good news is that it cuts down on consumer cost – Hulick, in his conference, said that the average dealer price for a custom array LED rig for your rear lights runs about $300, whereas the Ostar rig will be around $174, or 71% less.

Cool.

GE Focuses on LEDs, Incandescent Lamps Cease Development

It looks like GE is going to stop developing incandescent technology.  More specifically, they are ceasing development of their high-efficiency incandescent lamps (HEI’s).  We were going to be seeing an HEI lamp with no mercury and better light quality than that of a CFL, but bans that have been coming as close as 2012 from places like Australia, Canada, and some US states have made GE change their minds.

GE will now be focusing on LED lamps and their OLED brethren.  David Schuellerman from GE said, about their current plans:

GE Consumers & Industrial and GE Global Research have suspended the development of the high-efficiency incandescent lamp (HEI) to place greater focus and investment on what we believe will be the ultimate in energy efficient lighting — light emitting diodes (LEDs) and organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs). Research and development of these technologies is moving at an impressive pace and will be ready for general lighting in the near future. LEDs and OLEDs used in general lighting are now poised to surpass the projected efficiency levels of HEI, along with other energy-efficient technologies like fluorescent, and have the additional benefits of long life and durability.

Thanks, Clean Technica, for the article!

Luis Eslava’s Bulb Shade

Spanish designer Luis Eslava has come out with a light source that mixes both the lamp itself and the lamp shade – the lamp/fixture can either be set on a table with an edison base attached, or can be hung from an existing edison base.  The piece is made of Pyrex glass and sandblasted; form loves function.

Thanks to Yanko Design!

Also, check out some of Luis’ other works in the dropdown menu on the right of his page.  Tria Lamp is another beautiful project from Luis’ studio.

NEMO: A LIFI Color Engine

Seachanger, the color mixing engine that you attach to a Source Four ellipsoidal, has just announced that they are selling a high-output color engine that runs on a LIFI lamp.  LIFI – I blogged about this a few days ago, but it means “Light Fidelity.”  It’s a high output lamp, very efficient, and uses plasma.

Plasma.  The NEMO is 83 lumens per Watt.  EIGHTY THREE.
Did I mention 83 lumens per Watt?  NEMO outputs 15,000 lumens on a mere 180W of power.

The Seachanger NEMO, from older posts I made about the regular spot and wash units, is also the kind of unit where you attach a Source Four barrel to the device and go.  NEMO is basically an HID source (in output terms) for a Source Four – like the Mole Richardson lamp units for the Source Four.  All of the same filters and xG (extreme green) stuff come with the NEMO.

From the product page:

Say hello to Nemo, the latest in the SeaChanger range designed to deliver a new class of high-intensity lighting.

Nemo is the first ETC Source Four® compatible color engine with a LIFI® plasma source that delivers 15,000 lumens on a modest 180 watts of power. That’s over 6 times the efficiency of comparable color engines.

The SeaChanger Nemo uses existing ETC Source Four front-end barrels as well as an assortment of ETC FOV optics. It comes equipped with SeaChanger’s own Extreme Green wheel that extends the CMY color gamut to create more dramatic, vibrant colors.

Because of its lamp life, Nemo is the perfect solution for hard-to-reach installations, domes, atria and theme parks. It bridges the gap between incandescent and LED lighting at a price that’s within reach.

Go efficient. Go Green. Go Nemo!

The Price of LED Replacement Lamps

LED replacements are something that everyone *should* be interested in pursuing, simply because of their ridiculously long lamp life, color temperature, and lumens per watt to name a few reasons.  The major issue right now facing the LED market for items like replacement lamps is the price point.  Unfortunately, as awesome as LED replacement lamps are and for all of the “green” issues they solve, a major drawback to them is cost.  Especially in our deflated economy right now, price point is something that can and will drive LEDs out of range until the cost to the consumer comes down.

A case in point, Lighting Science has a relatively wide variety of LED replacement lamps of all base sizes and shape flavors.  Check out the Sol 38:

Now this is a very efficient, extremely cool looking LED R-type lamp replacement.  Cooling fins keep the heat low in environments that need it, and is a 15W lamp at 800 lumens in cool white.  It’s got a lamp life of 50,000 hours, and it replaces a 60W halogen.  But – and this is a big one – it’s $145.  That is a very, very high priced lamp.  What the bummer would be would be convincing the budget people that it’s a great investment, even though it is a great investment.  If you’re paying a couple of bucks for your R-lamps, trying to get these into your budget would be like getting AIG to stop having $400,000 “seminars.”

Lighting Science also has a replacement G11 base LED:

What a great concept – LED replacement G11 lamps!  Long standing installs, hard-to-get places, these are PERFECT.  They’re also $20 a pop – and if you need a few hundred of these…

I’m sure at some point in the future, LED replacements will be just as cheap as everything else that was once very expensive.  Right now, LED replacements are still a bit far out of reach for a lot of consumers.

Lighting Science, no one is picking on you, by the way.  Your products are quite frankly excellent.