Some folks still claim LED lighting isn’t ready for prime time in general illumination.
However, a closer look at this growing market makes it clear that the lighting industry is on the verge of a major shift to more energy efficient technologies. And LED is leading the way.
Numerous global technology companies have invested heavily in the commercialization of solid state lighting (SSL), and now that high brightness LED products have proven capable of delivering outstanding results for general interior and outdoor illumination, the race is on to see which manufacturers can capture the bulk of the growing LED market.
Some of the names behind LED lighting solutions are familiar to the lighting market. But while Osram Sylvania and GE Lumination have developed various LED product offerings, other leading LED manufacturers are not well known in the electrical industry. One of these companies, Cree, Inc., has according to one source become one of the “big three” that together with Philips Lumileds and Osram Sylvania control over 80% of the LED market.
Other major players, including Nichia and Seoul Semiconductor, are not traditional lighting companies but have mastered the engineering that is delivering high brightness LED products that have proven to be extremely energy efficient, with a very long life, capable of maintaining a high lumen output for many years, while nearly eliminating maintenance of both interior and outdoor lighting systems.
To underscore the strong growth the LED market is experiencing, one needs only to review the 2008 Cree Annual Report. How many electrical manufacturers experienced the 25% revenue growth enjoyed by Cree in 2008? That sizzling growth was fueled by a 35% increase in the company’s LED product sales that helped boost 2008 sales to $493 million.
While some may be resistant to changing their views about the ideal lighting product mix for their customers’ needs, companies like Osram Sylvania and Cree are lighting the way (pun intended) to the gradual replacement of millions of less energy-efficient lighting systems such as high-intensity discharge (HID) with super-high energy-efficient LED systems.
This very realistic explanation of the LED market is found in the 2008 Cree Annual Report:
“LED lighting products are in the initial stages of introduction to the general illumination market. As LED technology continues to develop and improve, the potential market for LED lighting applications is expanding.”
Some companies, including Osram Sylvania, BetaLED, and Sol, Inc., are marketing outdoor LED lighting systems designed to reduce energy consumption and maintenance costs for lighting streets, roadways, walkways, parking lots, sports facilities, and other outdoor locations.
According to data from Osram Sylvania, lighting typically accounts for 22% of a city’s total electrical consumption. New York City alone spends approximately $13.4 billion annually for electricity to power residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, and government needs.
For many cities an easy target for green savings is streetlighting where frequently used metal halide lamps and ballasts typically require from 215W to 450W per fixture. A new retrofit LED system from Osram Sylvania has replaced metal halide lamps and ballasts while using only 38W and dramatically improving the light quality. The company projects this retrofit switch to LED will produce an annual savings of $150 per fixture at a $0.15 per kWh electrical cost. This translates to an annual energy cost savings of $75,000 for the conversion of 500 fixtures.
For a college, university, hospital, or corporate campus this green savings quickly adds up making high brightness LED a business opportunity worth looking into.