By Mark Halper
Posting in Architecture
International lighting designers gathered in trendy Milan, where they were incandescent over the banning of traditional bulbs
MILAN -- When it comes to the future of lighting, LEDs are hot, largely for environmental reasons. It’s hard to deny the green appeal of a bulb that cuts electricity consumption by around 80 percent and that purportedly lasts 25 years, minimizing materials, manufacturing and shipping.
But a leading international group of lighting and architectural designers who gathered in Milan recently reminded us of one major hurdle: when it comes to light quality, LEDs still have a long way to go to emulate the warmth provided by the good old incandescent bulb, compared to which, they are cold.
“LED color is not enough for me,” said Yumi Kori, president of Studio MYU Architects, a Tokyo- and New York- based firm. “I can’t feel the warmness of the light source.”
Kori was one of several design experts speaking on a panel organized by Dutch electronics and lighting giant Philips, a leading vendor of LED bulbs and lamps. Philips flew in dozens of journalists -- including the writer of this blog -- to attend the discussion, which ran in conjunction with Milan’s stylish Euroluce annual lighting exhibition. While the designers praised some aspects of light emitting diodes, their message was not quite what Philips had in mind, as they pined for the incandescent bulbs that governments around the world – including the Brussels-based European Union – have banned through various phase out programs.
Gerd Pfarré, founder of Munich-based Pfarré Lighting Design noted that while LEDs in general “are pretty good," he said, “the decision of Brussels was just stupid.” Inga Sempé, a Paris-based lighting and furniture designer added, “I’m still in love with the incandescent bulb -- that’s why I keep buying some on the Internet and on eBay.”
Oliver Jene, a partner with Saarbrücken, Germany-based lighting design firm Tobias Link, noted that LEDs lack the ability to warm up as they dim, unlike incandescent bulbs, which he noted get more atmospheric as they get less bright. He suggested that the LED industry may eventually accomplish that, “but this is really something that I think we all miss.”
Leni Schwedinger, principal of New York City-based Light Projects Ltd., agreed that LED light quality is “very harsh.” Like other designers, though, she is feeding back to lighting vendors like Philips to help improve the technology. “It will get better,” Schwedinger said, noting that not only will the technology itself advance, but also people’s perceptions could change so that LED quality becomes an acceptable norm. Jene agreed, noting that people now widely accept the quality of digital music after disparaging it when it first emerged in the form of CDs over 20 years ago.
Philips claimed that its LED bulbs give off warmer light than others because it coats the diodes that emit the light with phosphor. At the exhibition, Philips showed off its LivingAmbiance control system that allows people at home to wirelessly change both the color and brightness level of LED lamps using a rounded, palm-sized touch device.
Another hurdle that the LED industry faces is price: LED bulbs in Europe can sell for around €20, a psychological consumer barrier, even if the bulbs do last 25 years (we’ll have to wait 25 years to find out if that’s actually true). Prices will have to come down if the consumer market is to take off. Like the renewable energy industry in general, the LED business will not take off at the flick of a switch.
May 2, 2011
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The problem with some electronic equipment that is made in china appears to be in the voltage regulator I told the Chinese manufacture about this that the PIV of the devices are not strong enough to withstand mains spikes and causes failure of internal batteries when charged from PSU rather than usb ports. I think the regulator IC is very costly in these devices when its PIV rating is increased so they cut costs by putting in lower rated cheaper ones, which although the equipment is replaced free has a turn around time of 3 weeks and high failure rate. I no longer buy as it is not worth the trouble. A similar thing maybe happening with LED bulbs because it seems cost comes before quality as there is so much competition and is cheaper for them to replace faulty lamps ( if people bother to send back) than to use higher quality components.
I recently fit a lot of my house with LED's. I used GE A19 9 watt (40 watt replacement) in some areas. These bulbs are 3000k light and a bit too white for some areas. In a ceiling fan they seemed brighter than the 40 watt incandescent bulb, and brighter than the 75 watt incandescent but less bright than an 100 watt halogen. These GE bulbs carried a 10 year warranty Over my kitchen table I had 3 utilitech pro 800 lumen bulbs in a top open fixture. One failed at 53 days....I took it back to Lowes and got a refund. $30 bulb....1/3 failures early. These utilitech pro bulbs only had a 2 year waranty. For some recessed lighting I tried some screw in bulbs. They were ugly. Home depot had a trim/bulb replacement which for 9.5 watts put out 575 lumens of 2700k light. They fit right in. They looked nice. They were Ecosmart CREE LR6 at $40 a can. The home depot ecosmart has a 3 year warranty. It is essentially a cheapened CREE LR6 which carries a 5 year warranty. LED lights are only for the areas where lights are on a lot or bulb replacement cost is high (hard to get to). The entire fixture that encases the bulb must last that long....otherwise this is a money losing proposition. Time will tell if my $800 investment pays back (I estimated a 1.7 year payback...yes I have a bunch of lights on 10-12 hours a day). I trusted the "lifespan". Just make sure whatever bulbs you buy come with a long warranty and come from a company that will be around to give you a new bulb if yours does not last.GE yes, phillips, yes, CREE....I don't know. Utilitech pro.....probably not.
The discussion about colour surely depends on human psyche's attachment to how changing radiation profiles either condition behaviour or indicate differing environments at a subconscious level. The most obvious is the legacy 'campfire effect'; daylight is just that - light we experienced during the day - and, as the day closed, we were exposed to redder and redder spectrums from either the sunsets, the campfire (with it's huge infra-red spectrum) or candles. Move forward to the present day and this effect is largely still present with incandescent lighting dimming to a yellow-red, combined with the infra-red from either open fires, for those lucky enough to have them, or almost certainly the coziness of central heating. So, it's possibly a question of whether we will ever 'get used to' lower levels of the same spectrum of light we get from the full brightness of the current crop of LEDs or if this psychological attachment to red and infra-red is too strong. See how unnerving eclipses are; the light gets dimmer but generally does not change colour. Additionally there is the issue of the nature of the spectral content. Natural light and incandescent artificial light have a broadband spectral content - LEDs (and CFLs for that matter) do not, as the phosphors used tend to convert the base radiation into specific bands of the primary components of red, green and blue. I am sure this is one of the reasons why people tend to refer to these phosphor-generated light sources as 'unnatural', 'harsh' or 'glarey (sp?)' - even if the 'average' spectral content equates to that of an incandescent. However, I'm sure this can be resolved with better phosphors in due course. My personal view is that I hate the 'dim sunlight' effect of the current dimmable LED consumer luminaires. I propose it should be relatively easy to incorporate (broadband) red/yellow LEDs into the luminaire that progressively illuminate as the fitting is dimmed - even some near-infra-red may have a useful subliminal effect. As an old-school electronics engineer, I'd love to tinker with this, but day-job, family, tractor maintenance, and rock gigs to go to mean there are just not enough hours in the day. Alternatively, as others have suggested, provide a device that along with dimming, can be changed to any colour and bandwidth in the spectrum and let the user choose. Ultimately there are many natural shades of illumination, from the obvious cold blue of a British grey day through the warm brilliance of a Tuscan cloudless day to blazing sunsets, but also reflected greens from lawns and foliage, but I think the range of a 'natural domestic' luminaire will always be from warm white down to near red. And one last vital request - let's not have it all chopped up, please! Constant light is essential! There's no duty cycle in natural light and the thermal inertia of incandescents does a pretty good job of ironing out even 50Hz.
Mark good article. Gang- the reason this color temperature and warmness is so important is that different applications clearly demand warm or cold light- and although I don't disagree with anyones preferences (you like what you like) in general the structure in the photo above looks way worse with cold light- whereas the warm accent in the picture is perfect... Flashlights, certain retail applications are fine with the bright white- but the great thing about LED technology is the prices will fall and the color temperature will be achievable to what the application requires. Our company is focused on cooling the LEDs themselves, which allows higher brightness at lower cost- exciting to watch in the next few years.
It's the Phillips influence that worries me! Everything I've ever owned, excepting a TV....made by this company, has failed miserably, the latest being a circular fluorescent in a desk magnifier....switched on to check after replacing the old, different make which I had used extensively for years, fine, switched off...switched on again, and used it for quarter of an hour.....OK. A few days later, switched on, or rather, NOT!....End of story. I'm now going to buy some L.E.D.s and re-design the magnifier!
I purchased a 75 watt flood for use outdoors. Within a month segments of the LEDs inside stopped working. In about 3 months only 1 of the segments was still working. This is the same issue I see every day with the red and green lights in the traffic lights. How many of them do you see every day with sections that are out. An LED may last 25 years but the assembly on the circuit board seems to be pure garbage, making the bulb worthless in 3 - 6 months.
The past 10 years have seen LEDs go from dim to competing with incandescent and florescent lighting. The output color of LEDs can be modified in the LED die, in the lens/body or as a filter/diffuser in front of the LED. Part of the cost of converting LED technology to the standard AC sockets is either converting AC to low power DC or putting enough LEDs in a strand to handle AC (like xmas tree lights.) Some decorative lighting systems use 24v AC for track lighting. An LED lighting system could be developed so that there is a low voltage power source to light and even control LEDs. For ambient lighting, an RGB LED can be set to light up in different colors and intensities.
"we???ll have to wait 25 years to find out if that???s actually true". Fortunately - for you - I have tested LED bulbs. Bought them at Walmart. Quoted life 10 years, actual life less than 10 weeks. Actual cost, more than 10 times the incandescents. Don't waste your money, Stock up on incandescents!
For example the purported longevity/price issue. When CFL's came out they were sold on the energy reductions and cost savings. At 10x the price of an incandescent bulb, the CFL's needed to last. Well, most of the ones that I have purchased last maybe 2-3x longer (at most) than a conventional incandscent. Not only am I faced with mercury/disposal issues and crappy, sub-optimal illumination but the cost savings have never been realized. I seriously doubt that LED's will last 15-25 years.
Getting rid of yellowish incandescents was one of the biggest quality of life improvements for me in quite a while. Now they are pushing CFs which emulate that same expletive deleted yellowish light. Give me a 5000+ degree Kelvin CF or LED with a good CRI any day. Of course I've never appreciated dimmers either. . . Maybe the fact that I'm red-green colorblind may have something to do with it, so the bluer spectrum may help. It certainly helps me match colors.
What a crock of rubbish Yumi Kori speaks ???LED color is not enough for me,??? said Yumi Kori, president of Studio MYU Architects, a Tokyo- and New York- based firm. ???I can???t feel the warmness of the light source." Its not a light source that is deficient in blue so it wont mimic a fire,it mimics daylight and so renders colours more faithfully. If you want to mimic tungsten lights use a mix of coloured LEDs to get the spectrum you want. Im just surprised he is president of a company.
I'm hoping for the day when we can choose the color. My girlfriend likes the yellow. Fine. I'd like to have done with it when she's not there, though.
What was the brand? I'd like to avoid it. I've had some LED backlit electronics still going strong after 11 years. I can only assume that the people making "lighting" today don't know a damn thing about electricity and have a convention full of "designers" rather than engineers. I guess the same would apply to whoever makes traffic signals.
I've been experimenting with LED lights for a year or so now. (I refused to deploy the inefficient, ineffective and and toxic CFLBs) The cheepies don't even last as long as incandescent bulbs. If you want a quality LED bulb for the long haul, you will have to pay $20-$40 or more.
So, you bought Walmart cheapies, and they turned out to be junk. Yeah, that really proves something - that Walmart sells cheap junk! I hope you saved the sales slip, you should be able to get your money back. But maybe I'm being too harsh toward Walmart; it might not be the fault of their product. Since LEDs are electronics, they really need to be behind a surge protector. Maybe you didn't think of that. Have any power surges around that time?
you must be a man. Any woman can tell you that modern white light bulbs show every wrinkle and make you feel 20 years older than you are.
You should refer to Kodak publications on the light spectrum and human health. The so called daylight are NOT daylight as a range of lower frequency light waves are missing. Yumi Kori is tight about the missing warmth which absolutely required for the comfortable and cozy feeling. I have always used 1x40 watt daylight Delux with 2x60 watt incandescent lamps to come close to that comfort level. Only in recent times have the Warm Day Light Delux CFLs with reached this level of physical comfort. It is hard to realize the difference unless you experience both.
"Maybe you didn't think of that." Maybe you didn't think to understand the context of the statements here. Do you know what it costs to surge protect a house? I don't mean the "junk" you can buy in the big box stores for home protection, or the little units the electrician says will protect the whole house---I mean the large units that actually protect the electrical service (Primary Protection) and require Secondary Protection (plug strips) at each device to be protected----Mucho bucks! Oh, by the way, if you install all this surge protection equipment just to protect the LEDs, this equipment may have to be replaced due to service stress----way before the LEDs will. My opinion is that the LEDs are not ready for prime time and need a lot of improvement in light quality, the ability to be dimmed, and costing, perhaps internal surge protection as you have indicated, before they can replace a common filament light bulb. Compact florescent are a perfect example of not being ready----they still can't approach filament light quality and most are not dimmable. The person who said there is a "feel" that you get from a filament bulb hit the nail perfectly----LEDs aren't there yet.
My girlfriend likes the yellow lights, too. She also complains about headaches when she reads inside. Miraculously, she's fine on the Kindle outdoors. I don't bother with the Kindle indoors since she changed all my lights. I have LED backlit screens for indoors, and I use the Kindle outdoors. Yay "whispersync".