02 June 2008

No retrofitting please!

Early attempts to apply LEDs to general lighting failed because LEDs did not meet the required luminous efficacy or color requirements. Technology has reached a point where using LEDs for general illumination is now a viable option. But, taking over where I left, I believe trying to repurpose existing technologies' lighting fixtures to house LEDs is inappropriate.

LEDs represent a disruptive innovation for the lighting industry. A disruptive innovation is technologically straightforward, using off-the-shelf components put together in a product architecture that is often simpler than previous approaches. These products are usually less capable in the traditional aspects of what is required in established markets, but feature different bundles of characteristics that were not considered important in the past. Applied to LED technology one may think of energy efficiency, resistance to vibration and unidirectional luminous flux, to cite a few.

Conventional approaches to developing power LEDs based general lighting often involve retrofitting existing fixtures to house the new technology. Many early attempts simply used traditional lighting standards and housings instead of investigating the challenges and benefits of LEDs. But LED technology breaks traditional rules, and it quickly become apparent that old thinking cannot be applied. A LED module may physically fit into an existing fixture’s housing, but that housing will not leverage the inherent qualities of power LEDs, mainly because:

  • standard housings do not handle the challenges of LED thermal management, which is vastly different from those of incandescent or fluorescent lighting.
  • optical design used in most traditional fixtures does not maximize the LEDs' efficacy.

Furthermore, power LEDs last a very long time, and the expectations for fixtures' life span are getting higher. Typical specifications for LED lighting fixtures tend toward more durable, longer-lasting products using higher quality materials than those commonly associated with other lighting sources. A state of the art LED module in a cheap fixture would defeats the purpose.

A disruptive innovation is not the same as a radical innovation. A radical innovation is just a major improvement along an existing performance dimension. A disruptive innovation creates a different performance dimension, one that is not particularly important to incumbent firms' most profitable customers. Let’s hope lighting industry experts accept the change and gain a better understanding of how to capitalize on that technology.

About This Blog

Form is the visual shape of mass and volume. Light makes form legible. There is no form without light.


This blog does not provide a comment feature, because it only expresses my opinion.
If you want to comment, write about it at your own blog and link back to this blog. If you want to comment in private,
Alternatively you can make suggestions on the content.


Template Design | Elque 2007