I write this week from a warehouse industry conference, where I have met attendees who range from warehousing executives, scientists, and blast-freezing experts, to a wide variety of vendors and others from around the world.  Since I am a ‘first timer’ at this particular event, I tend to ask a lot of questions.  The attendees do, too, and are very interested in LEDs.  The most frequently asked question?  “Are LEDs ready for prime time?”

My answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’ LEDs are absolutely ready for widespread deployment in these large facilities.  But there are multiple parts to the answer, covering performance, quality and cost.  I’ll cover performance and quality today, and will delve into cost in my next post.

First, performance.  The question here is whether the light is bright enough.  LEDs’ performance has broken through the threshold that makes them viable for high-intensity applications, like the high-bay lighting used in large warehouses.  But, to be clear, this is a relatively recent development.  In fact, I talked to a few people who had looked at LEDs 1 or 2 years ago and found their performance inadequate.  It was.  My message on that topic is if you looked at LEDs then and dismissed them, it is definitely time to look again.

Second, quality.  LED-based solutions deliver significantly greater efficiency, performance, and reliability if – and this is the key – if they include high-quality LED packages that are incorporated into well-designed, high-quality fixtures or systems.  There have been LEDs and fixtures brought to market that are not built to meet customers’ quality, performance or longevity expectations.  So it is critical that customers have the information they need to determine whether a given solution will truly be worth their investment — LM-80 for lifetime ratings, LM-79 for photometrics, UL listing, and a multi-year warranty from the vendor.  (Note: I’m including a link here to a PowerPoint presentation from the U.S. Department of Energy site that provides an overview of LM-79 and LM-80.)

My answers aren’t intended to be subtle re-spin of a ‘buy Digital Lumens’ pitch.  They are really intended to touch on broader industry issues that create the comfort and provide the assurance that will help facilities adopt LED technology, benefit from the energy and cost savings and have a positive experience overall.

The old adage — a happy customer tells two people, an unhappy one tells ten – remains as true as ever.  We want to create happy customers who share their efficiency gains and news of their financial savings with their peers so that the LED industry continues to pick up momentum for general illumination applications.

As ever, I welcome your feedback.