The LED market can seem a bit like the Wild West. It’s a whole new frontier with different standards, capabilities and potential benefits, and there’s a veritable ‘land grab’ for the many potential markets. Both customers and vendors are anxious to tap into the massive dividends LEDs offer — energy savings for customers and new product adoption for vendors. But where’s the law and order in this new territory? Who is going to be the sheriff who ensures that customers get what they want and that renegades don’t over promise and under deliver?
The sheriffs in town are the emerging solid-state lighting standards bodies. Don’t worry – no frontier justice is being dispensed. This network of credible organizations has been busy promoting adoption of energy efficient lighting, while holding manufacturers to a consistently high set of criteria. The groups are comprised of utility representatives, lighting academics, industry experts, U.S. Department of Energy representatives and other interested parties, each with a slightly different purview – from residential to industrial applications. They’re all working diligently to build a common framework for educating customers and reviewing vendor claims.
For some LED applications, Energy Star™ is the law, providing a framework and criteria to protect customers. For other categories not addressed by Energy Star (including our highbay solutions), there’s the DesignLights Consortium, which provides certifications to facilitate rebate approvals by participating utilities. (Shameless plug – Digital Lumens was the first highbay aisle product to receive DLC certification, which we announced earlier this week.) There’s also Lighting Facts, another DOE initiative designed to ensure consistent product labeling. In addition, the DOE has just announced a new program designed to educate the marketplace about solid-state lighting and re-train the customer so they are more knowledgeable and empowered consumers of this new technology. The days of buying lighting based on lamp wattage are gone; it’s all about light output.
As an LED systems vendor, what’s our take on the LED frontier? The widespread adoption of LEDs isn’t an ‘if,’ it’s a ‘when’, and we want to make sure this transition happens sooner than later. We want customers to embrace LED applications which truly deliver the benefits promised. We don’t want them to get burned by products which don’t live up to their manufacturer’s claims about performance and lifetime. If that happens, the well will be polluted, slowing adoption of this incredibly energy-efficient illumination technology. That’s where the standards bodies come in.
So count us on the side of ‘law and order’, as we tip our hats to the groups who are working tirelessly to build bridges with the LED innovators, while developing guidelines to ensure that customers get what they’re promised.