ANN ARBOR—In an advance that could boost the efficiency of LED lighting by 50 percent and even pave the way for invisibility cloaking devices, a team of University of Michigan researchers has developed a new technique that peppers metallic nanoparticles into semiconductors.
It's the first technique that can inexpensively grow metal nanoparticles both on and below the surface of semiconductors. The process adds virtually no cost during manufacturing and its improved efficiency could allow manufacturers to use fewer semiconductors in finished products, making them less expensive.
The inside of the main concourse of the molecular beam epitaxy apparatus, which University of Michigan engineering researchers used to make the advanced nanoparticle-infused gallium nitride semiconductors. The semiconductors could boost LED efficiency by up to 50 percent, and even lead to invisibility cloaking devices. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering
The metal nanoparticles can increase the efficiency of LEDs in several ways. They can act as tiny antennas that alter and redirect the electricity running through the semiconductor, turning more of it into light. They can also help reflect light out of the device, preventing it from being trapped inside and wasted.
The process can be used with the gallium nitride that's used in LED lighting and can also boost efficiency in other semiconductor products, including solar cells. It's detailed in a study published in the Journal of Applied Physics.
"This is a seamless addition to the manufacturing process, and that's what makes it so exciting," said Rachel Goldman, U-M professor of materials science and engineering, and physics. "The ability to make 3-D structures with these nanoparticles throughout is going to open a lot of possibilities."
The key innovation
The idea of adding nanoparticles to increase LED efficiency is not new. But previous efforts to incorporate them have been impractical for large-scale manufacturing. They focused on pricey metals like silver, gold and platinum. In addition, the size and spacing of the particles must be very precise; this required additional and expensive manufacturing steps. Furthermore, there was no cost-effective way to incorporate particles below the surface.
Former materials science PhD student Sunyeol Jun prepares the molecular beam epitaxy apparatus that’s used to make the nanoparticle-infused gallium nitride semiconductors. The semiconductors could boost LED efficiency by up to 50 percent, and even lead to invisibility cloaking devices. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering
Goldman's team discovered a simpler way that integrates easily with the molecular beam epitaxy process used to make semiconductors. Molecular beam epitaxy sprays multiple layers of metallic elements onto a wafer. This creates exactly the right conductive properties for a given purpose.
The U-M researchers applied an ion beam between these layers—a step that pushes metal out of the semiconductor wafer and onto the surface. The metal forms nanoscale particles that serve the same purpose as the pricey gold and platinum flecks in earlier research. Their size and placement can be precisely controlled by varying the angle and intensity of the ion beam. And applying the ion beam over and over between each layer creates a semiconductor with the nanoparticles interspersed throughout.
"If you carefully tailor the size and spacing of nanoparticles and how deeply they're embedded, you can find a sweet spot that enhances light emissions," said Myungkoo Kang, a former graduate student in Goldman's lab and first author on the study. "This process gives us a much simpler and less expensive way to do that."
Researchers have known for years that metallic particles can collect on the surface of semiconductors during manufacturing. But they were always considered a nuisance, something that happened when the mix of elements was incorrect or the timing was off.
"From the very early days of semiconductor manufacturing, the goal was always to spray a smooth layer of elements onto the surface. If the elements formed particles instead, it was considered a mistake," Goldman said. "But we realized that those 'mistakes' are very similar to the particles that manufacturers have been trying so hard to incorporate into LEDs. So we figured out a way to make lemonade out of lemons."
Former materials science PhD student Sunyeol Jun prepares the molecular beam epitaxy apparatus that’s used to make the nanoparticle-infused gallium nitride semiconductors. The semiconductors could boost LED efficiency by up to 50 percent, and even lead to invisibility cloaking devices. Image credit: Joseph Xu, Michigan Engineering
Toward invisibility cloaks
Because the technique allows precise control over the nanoparticle distribution, the researchers say it may one day be useful for cloaks that render objects partially invisible by inducing a phenomenon known as "reverse refraction."
Reverse refraction bends light waves backwards in a way that doesn't occur in nature, potentially directing them around an object or away from the eye. The researchers believe that by carefully sizing and spacing an array of nanoparticles, they may be able to induce and control reverse refraction in specific wavelengths of light.
"For invisibility cloaking, we need to both transmit and manipulate light in very precise ways, and that's very difficult today," Goldman said. "We believe that this process could give us the level of control we need to make it work."
The team is now working to adapt the ion beam process to the specific materials used in LEDs—they estimate that the higher-efficiency lighting devices could be ready for market within the next five years, with invisibility cloaking and other applications coming further in the future.
The study is titled "Formation of embedded plasmonic Ga nanoparticle arrays and their influence on GaAs photoluminescence." The research was supported by the National Science Foundation through the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center at U-M.
Source: Nanoparticles could spur better LEDs, invisibility cloaks
Wired lighting infrastructures have a history of providing dependability that, until recently, wireless networks couldn’t match. And while there are other benefits to installing a wired network, many of today’s wireless platforms—especially those supported by a Bluetooth® mesh network—ensure greater flexibility and extensibility at a reduced cost.
Wired vs Wireless
Advancements in wireless connectivity make it hard to justify choosing a wired infrastructure over a wireless platform. An argument could be made that wired networks still offer better reliability, but installation costs, for both materials and labor, are significantly higher. On top of the added expense, there’s also a greater chance of disruption to day-to-day operations when deploying or upgrading a wired system, especially in highly active commercial or industrial environments. A wireless network provides significant cost savings with minimal disruption during deployment.
Additionally, a wired network is a concrete part of a building’s infrastructure and does not scale easily. Upgrades often require new component installs to improve performance, and in some cases, an entire rip and replace of the existing system is necessary. Wireless platforms are easier to install and upgrade, offering the flexibility you need to respond quickly to changing business demands.
Commercial Lighting and Bluetooth Technology
A wireless platform supported by a Bluetooth mesh network allows a system, such as lighting, to provide additional capabilities beyond its primary use, offering greater overall value and ensuring a higher return on investment. “It may be necessary to integrate a lighting system with various types of sensors in the building,” said Martin Wooley, technical program manager, Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). “It’s possible to achieve this with wired systems, but often this requires separate control equipment to orchestrate sensor and lighting behaviours. Bluetooth mesh was designed to address problems of this sort…, specifically with commercial lighting systems in mind.”
Bluetooth mesh networking is a full-stack solution designed for commercial lighting applications and includes features specific to a wireless lighting platform. In James O Malley’s recent Gizmodo UK article outlining six reasons why Bluetooth mesh will make a big impact, he talks about the versatility of a Bluetooth mesh network when used for lighting. Malley explained, “…if you have a home or a workplace where every light-bulb is Bluetooth enabled, this doesn’t just mean you have smart lighting… you have in fact built a building-wide Bluetooth network blanket, which can talk to every other Bluetooth device in the building.”
In addition to supporting common lighting requirements, a Bluetooth mesh network can include fully integrated non-lighting features, such as sensors. In Wooley’s technical paper, Bluetooth Mesh Networking: Paving the Way for Smart Lighting, he illustrates examples of lights that can act as Bluetooth beacons, allowing smartphone apps to help visitors find their way around a building. Or a lighting system that can collect a range of data from building sensors, making it available for analysis and real-time use.
“The more interesting and potentially substantial opportunity, which a Bluetooth mesh lighting system offers, is that installing such a system equips the building with a wireless network and creates a distributed platform for other wireless building services,” said Wooley. “Lights and switches are microcontrollers with a Bluetooth mesh communications capability and software which controls what those devices can do. Software can be upgraded and added to, so new capabilities…can reside within the lighting system.”
Designed with Lighting in Mind
The Bluetooth mesh network specification provides an innovative wireless solution for commercial lighting. It offers reliability that is functionally equivalent to that of a wired system, but with the added responsiveness, scalability, and extensibility that you can only get from a wireless solution. "Bluetooth mesh networking is the most robust and powerful low-power radio technology for connected lighting in commercial spaces,” said Rafal Han, CEO, Silvair.
Combine that with the multi-vendor interoperability, low power, and low latency of a Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) stack, and you get a comprehensive lighting system that also serves as an industrial-grade platform for distributed wireless building services. This enhances operational efficiency and creates a flexible network infrastructure that can adapt to changing business needs.
Source: Bluetooth Mesh Shows Wireless Connectivity in a Whole New Light
Industrial-strength savings: Michigan companies take steps to reduce energy used in industrial, office facilities.
Greg Pflum was hoping to lure a new plant to the BASF facility he oversees in Wyandotte four years ago when he got an unwelcome reminder about the importance of energy costs.
High Michigan energy prices made the site uncompetitive, said Pflum, the vice president and general manager of BASF Corp.'s Midwest Regional Hub. "I want to grow our business, (so) we have to be competitive."
The plant would have brought 100 jobs to Wyandotte. Instead, BASF decided to build it outside of the United States.
It's one dramatic example of the role energy costs play in business decisions, and why they are leading companies across Michigan are taking steps to reduce the amount of energy used in industrial and office facilities.
At the BASF facility Pflum runs, recent energy-saving measures have played a part in the addition of about 100 new jobs a year, he said, estimating energy accounts for about 5 percent of overall operating costs.
Pflum's team is keeping costs down by:
Last year, when a BASF facility in Southfield Pflum oversees needed a new roof, crews installed a polyurethane material that has reduced building energy use by 5 percent to 10 percent, he said.
In Wyandotte, a new steam operation, used to heat buildings and power manufacturing, is estimated to save about $1 million a year, Pflum said.
"It doesn't take long to justify the investment," he said.
Across the state, office furniture maker Steelcase Inc. also has an eye on energy savings.
"In the office furniture industry, we compete on sustainability," said John DeAngelis, energy and special project manager for the Grand Rapids company. "It's important to our customers."
In early 2016, Steelcase gained significant energy savings by relighting a 1-million-square-foot distribution center in Kentwood.
That one project reduced the company's global energy bill by 2 percent, DeAngelis said.
"For a company with operations all over the world, that's a huge impact," he said. "We saved hundreds of thousands (of dollars). It paid itself back in less than two years."
The relighting allowed Steelcase to zone areas of the facility — meaning it can light some areas and shut down or reduce lighting in areas where it isn't needed.
Steelcase did a similar project at its Caledonia wood plant, where desktops and cabinets are produced. A wireless control system allows Steelcase to turn lights down or off — even from offsite.
"We constantly change the layout of our plants," DeAngelis added. "You can control those lights without having to make any physical changes (to the way they're configured)."
Steelcase also uses energy-efficient LED lighting and controls in its office buildings and asks security staff on night rounds to double as energy auditors — making sure fans and TVs are off.
Another Michigan company leading the way in energy-use reduction is Gibraltar's HyCAL Corp. The company won a Governor's Energy Excellence Award for its 18-month conversion of a 1950s-era portion of the former McLouth Steel site to a modern, energy-efficient factory.
"This was just a metal building with holes in it," said HyCAL General Manager Steve Swan, whose company will produce high-strength steel for auto industry. "We did a complete renovation and basically turned it into a new building."
The $15 million renovation on the 550,000-square-foot factory included new siding, roofs and insulation, as well as installation of energy-efficient doors and 650 LED lights. By making the building airtight, HyCAL eliminated the need for heating units.
"We are using the heat from our process to heat the building," Swan said. "Before, it was all going outside."
Swan, who estimated that 30 percent of HyCAL's operating costs go to energy, said those costs would have been 10 percent higher without the renovations.
"By spending money now, we're (reducing) cost later," he said.
That mindset is in place across the state, as businesses look to shift available dollars from energy bills to other parts of their operations, said Dan Scripps. Scripps is president of the Institute for Energy Innovation, a nonprofit that aims to makes a business case for energy savings, and vice president of the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, a trade group that includes including wind, solar and other companies.
"We see significant savings in energy efficiency," Scripps said. "It means businesses are more competitive at the end of the day."
Companies are finding savings in everything from using better HVAC systems and energy-efficient lighting to using increasingly affordable renewable energy. Solar panels, for example, cost 1 percent of what they did 25 years ago, he said.
Some companies are forging deals with utilities to reduce their power use during peak times.
"If you've got some flexibility in when you use energy, that can be a huge savings," Scripps said.
Businesses may take their industrial operation offline for 15 minutes or shut down office air conditioning for a short time — or temporarily allow utilities to reduce their power supply. Not only do companies realize savings when not using power, but utilities also provide them a lower rate throughout the year for cooperating.
Utilities benefit because reduced power load demand means they don't have to fire up another generation station, Scripps said.
They also benefit because of a 2008 law that requires them to hit energy-use reduction targets, said Dave Walker, a public utilities engineer for Michigan Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities.
Adds Patricia Poli, manager of MPSC's Energy Waste Reduction Section, "They entice customers with rebates. The customer gets a discount, and the utility gets to claim the savings. If it delays the need to build a power plant, because you're offsetting increases in demand, everyone benefits."
To assist businesses seeking to improve their energy-inefficient buildings, the State of Michigan passed the Property Assessment Clean Energy act in 2010, also known as PACE. However, few companies have taken advantage of it so far.
"It's been slower than I hoped," said Andy Levin, president of Detroit-based Lean and Green Michigan, which administrates the program for 32 local governments and 22 counties. "It's just getting started."
Businesses that do an energy audit on a building may opt not to fix leaks, because of the cost and a long payback time, he said.
Through the PACE program, a business can get a loan for up to 20 years that is secured by a special tax assessment on the building. Lenders feel more secure, because failure to pay the assessment can lead to foreclosure.
"If you don't pay them, the county sheriff is going to come take your hotel," Levin said.
If the project cost is $250,000 or more, a contractor has to guarantee energy savings will be greater than cost, Levin said. If the savings fall short, that contractor has to write a check or fix the problem, he said.
While businesses have completed only a handful of PACE projects — about $3 million to $4 million worth — they've run the gamut from a manufacturing facility to a beer distribution operation to apartment buildings.
"We've had every kind of energy efficiency (upgrade) — windows, bay doors, wall insulation, roof insulation," Levin said. "Almost everyone includes lighting — LED lighting."
Levin said he expects the program to include more than $100 million in projects annually once it catches on.
"It's going to be very big," he said.
Two recent projects are an overhaul of The Whitney restaurant in Detroit, housed in a 19th century mansion, and an office building in Clinton Township. They are the first PACE projects to be financed in Wayne and Macomb counties.
Pension funds and private equity funds are supplying the money for PACE projects, said Bob Mattler, who recently started Green Portfolio Solutions LLC of Bloomfield Hills to arrange the deals.
"It provides an owner the ability to upgrade his building with nothing out of his pocket," he said. "If you can save 25 to 30 percent or more on your electric or gas bill, you can pay off the loan with those savings."
Building owners can get an interest rate of 5 percent to 7 percent and are not prohibited from selling the building, he said. The assessment is assumed by the next owner.
"Here in Michigan, we have so many old buildings, and we always need capital to improve them," Mattler said.
Source: Crain's Detroit Business
New nLight® AIR Wireless Controls from Acuity Brands Reduce Complexity and Cost of LED Retrofit for Building Owners and Contractors
Acuity Brands, Inc. (NYSE: AYI) today announced the nLight® AIR platform, a wireless extension of its widely deployed nLight® digital lighting control platform. As a fully wireless lighting control system with a five-tier security architecture, nLight AIR is ideal for building owners and contractors looking to seamlessly upgrade facilities to LED lighting control solutions that are designed to support compliance with state energy code requirements. nLight Air is especially suited for spaces where wiring is cost prohibitive, or for retrofits where running new wires can be difficult or complex.
The nLight AIR control system consists of nLight AIR enabled LED luminaires (equipped with eldoLED® LED drivers), wireless battery powered wall switches and a mobile configuration app, CLAIRITY™, for quick and easy startup. nLight AIR systems are deployed using the building’s existing wiring, which reduces installation costs and accelerates payback.
“Commercial lighting integration suffers all too often from a fragmented approach with disparate systems, software and networks that make installation and maintenance cumbersome and costly,” said Audwin Cash, Vice President, Acuity Controls. “nLight AIR is designed to be contractor-friendly, with a consistent, simplified installation and start-up procedure, a single interface into the network and an intuitive mobile app which can be used to configure the system. Combining the nLight AIR control system together with Acuity’s long-life LED luminaires offers facility managers, building owners and electrical contractors with a solution that can provide energy savings for years to come.”
This new wireless lighting control solution represents significant advancements in lighting system technology:
Last week we mentioned the possibilities of wireless mesh controls integrating with LED light
fixtures. When the time comes that we are able to offer lighting options like this on a large
scale, the energy savings and environmental impact could be quite significant. Last Thursday
(August 3, 2017), an article came out that discussed a current application, in southern Holland
(yes - across the pond), at the Chemelot Industrial Park in Geleen. One top priority of the
conversion from fluorescent lighting to wireless mesh controlled LED lighting was to be able to
control the 17,000 outdoor lights to either turn on or off and/or increase or decrease the lumen
output when and where it is necessary. Now that is awesome!
The article that I am referring to is “Wireless mesh controls augur huge savings, slash light
pollution at Dutch chemical plant” Published on August 3, 2017, By Mark Halper, Contributing
Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology Journalist. The article states:
“The new ability to turn lights off and to dim them augurs enormous savings in electricity and
CO 2 emissions. It should also drastically reduce light pollution…The combination of the LED
luminaires and the wireless mesh controls should also slash maintenance costs, given the
expected long life of the LEDs as well as the modules' ability to monitor the performance of the
“Because we 'switch' the lights with software, dimming and switching is now possible,” said Han
Bak, CEO of Haarlem-based Chess Wise, the company providing the mesh technology which it
calls MyriaMesh [Chess Wise is one of several lighting-related companies involved in a one-for-
one replacement of existing fluorescent luminaires with LED models in a 15-year service-based
scheme]. “The main thing is the lights are only on when you really need light, which is
completely the opposite of the existing situation, when the lights were on 24/7.”
“MyriaMesh uses Bluetooth radio chips, but Chess Wise deploys its own proprietary radio-
agnostic mesh protocol, rather than using the recently ratified Bluetooth mesh standard. Chess
Wise builds modules that operate at either 868 MHz or at the Bluetooth frequency of 2.4 GHz,
as it has done for Chemelot.
Bak said Chess Wise is considering a Bluetooth mesh version to support customers who might
prefer it. Different requirements would benefit from different protocols. For example,
MyriaMesh might work better when signals have to travel longer distances between luminaires.
Chemelot's 17,000 lights are an apt fit with the MyriaMesh brand name, as “myria” literally
means a unit of 10,000.”
We will keep our eyes out for more examples and do our best to keep you updated on the
progress of Bluetooth mesh and LED lighting.
http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2017/08/wireless-mesh- controls-augur- huge-savings-
slash-light- pollution-at- dutch-chemical- plant.html
Last month the Kirkland, WA based Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG), the organization that
oversees Bluetooth wireless communication protocols, agreed to and published a set of specifications
that created a standard that will allow us to integrate smart lighting controls to cover large areas - even
when we mix products from different lighting manufacturers. An article, published a couple of weeks
ago, titled, “Bluetooth’s range just widened, and IoT lighting companies are thrilled”, published on July
18, 2017, by Mark Halper, Contributing Editor, LEDs Magazine, and Business/Energy/Technology
Journalist, opened our eyes to just how important this agreement may be to future LED lighting
“After at least two years of internal wrangling and difficult technology choices, the Kirkland, WA-based
Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) ratified a means to mesh together Bluetooth beacons, allowing
them to hand off instructions to each other. The move effectively boosts Bluetooth's reach far beyond
the 30 feet that is typical for the Bluetooth that consumers commonly use to share things like audio files
among smartphone, computers, tables, TVs, and other devices.
“We just completed a several-year effort of completing a set of specifications that define a standardized
approach for creating true industrial-grade mesh networking solutions using Bluetooth technology,”
Bluetooth SIG vice president of marketing Ken Kolderup said in a phone interview with LEDs Magazine.
“Now there's a standard way that defines how mesh networking gets done on Bluetooth, so that all
the vendors can now create interoperable solutions.”
Now that, potentially, clears a lot of road blocks, especially for organizations, like retail stores,
warehouses and commercial offices, that choose to upgrade their lighting to LED over the course of time
and prefer to control them all from a single point or device. “There was some real work to do; it's very
demanding, especially for a commercial environment,” said Bluetooth SIG's Kolderup, who noted that it
took time to work out details related to reliability, scalability, performance, latency, security, and other
aspects. The SIG also performed extensive interoperability testing to assure the best chance of all
Bluetooth devices — the SIG has 32,000 members — working together in any scenario. For example,
“We need to make sure that a switch you buy today can work with a light bulb you buy from a vendor
that may not even exist today, 20 years from now,” he noted.
Now that is truly working together to accomplish a goal that will benefit us all. For more information, or
to read the complete article, please click on the link below.
As we become more familiar with the latest evolutionary (some may even say revolutionary) lighting
options, for both commercial and residential lighting, namely, LED Lighting, we have begun to hear more
and more about smart lighting controls. The beauty of smart lighting controls is that you are able to
integrate wireless controls either directly onto your fixture or in-line at the point of power input of the
fixture. You can then preset or manually adjust dimming levels, conserve energy through daylight
harvesting and/or make use of occupancy sensors to meet your specific application goals. There are
several platforms out there today that require a hardware device, like a gateway or hub, to
communicate with your wireless LED lighting fixture controls, but, lately there has been a push to
develop a way to accomplish this right from your smart phone or mobile device. It looks like that goal is
on the way to being accomplished.
From an article titled, “Vendors roll out compliant Bluetooth Mesh enablers for solid-state lighting
products”, Published on July 26, 2017, By Maury Wright, Editor in Chief, LEDs Magazine, I read the
“…the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) delivered the long-anticipated Bluetooth Mesh standard
last week formalizing support for mesh-based networks, including lighting-centric applications that
combine LEDs and connectivity. Now companies that deliver ICs and/or Bluetooth software stacks that
can accelerate solid-state lighting (SSL) product development are offering Bluetooth Mesh-compliant
building blocks — Qualcomm, Silvair, and Silicon Labs are among the first to announce such enabling
technologies. Those products may be critical in the acceleration of SSL as a part of the Internet of Things
Bluetooth Mesh has been long anticipated because the new mesh technology will still interoperate with
the Bluetooth links in our smart devices allowing connections with LED-based lighting products without
the need for a gateway such as would be required with ZigBee-based products and most other wireless
schemes. Bluetooth has lacked the range to serve in even a robust residential SSL installation or even
the simplest commercial implementation, but the mesh capability extends the range by passing
messages from node to node…
“We expect to see a wave of new devices hit the market quickly by leveraging ubiquitous Bluetooth
connectivity to create hub-less mesh networks that extend the range and reliability of Bluetooth
systems,” said Daniel Cooley, senior vice president and general manager of IoT products at Silicon Labs.”
http://www.ledsmagazine.com/articles/2017/07/vendors-roll- out-compliant- bluetooth-mesh- enablers-
for-solid- state-lighting- products.html
Green Creative's THINFIT Series 6- and 4-in. LED downlights for new construction are Energy Star certified
SAN BRUNO, CA - Green Creative, the commercial grade LED lighting manufacturer, proudly announces the release of its THINFIT Series 6’’ and 4’’ new construction downlights.
Part of Green Creative’s new THINFIT Series, the 6’’ 11.6W DLNC and 4’’ 8.5W DLNC feature an integrated J-box and allows for installation in either new construction or remodel applications. These lamps also contain edge lighting technology that produces a smooth uniform lighting effect.
“These downlight’s quick-connect accessory makes installation fast and easy with no rewiring necessary.” says Green Creative’s Marketing Director, Matt Leonard. “As a result, these naturally low glare downlights integrate seamlessly into all ceiling applications.”
All wiring takes place inside the integrated J-box which features a pre-installed wire clamp, quick connects and an easily removable lid. The THINFIT Series slim design allows these IC-rated downlights to fit seamlessly into any type of ceiling, including those with shallow plenum space.
The THINFIT Series new construction downlights are ENERGY STAR® certified, dimmable, turn on instantly and last 40,000 hours. Both the 4’’ and the 6’’ new construction downlights are available in 2700K, 3000K and 4000K CCT.
Find out more here: GreenElectricalSupply.com
Source: LEDs Magazine
As of Sept. 1, lighting manufacturers are now required to submit all applicable products under a new set of DLC requirement updates which will go into effect for consumers on Jan. 1, 2017. Now, I don’t pretend to think that all of you reading this article know what DLC stands for and why it exists, but it will have an impact on the lighting you purchase. Let’s break that down before we dive into how these changes may impact your lighting.
What is DLC?“DLC” stands for “Design Lights Consortium” (oh you knew that did you?) and, according to their website, the designation “is dedicated to accelerating the widespread adoption of high-performing, energy efficient commercial lighting solutions. In collaboration with industry stakeholders, DLC defines high performance through technical requirements, facilitates thought leadership, and provides tools, resources, and technical expertise to members and industry.”
In layman’s terms, that means that DLC is a rating system that identifies through testing and manufacturer data which lighting products are generally regarded as being acceptable for their intended use.
Essentially, DLC is like having a “CarFax” report. That used car may look like it will perform well, but the CarFax shows what it has been through and what to expect. DLC does something similar (they don’t rate cars yet, unfortunately) in regards to lighting.
Here are a few of the categories that DLC looks at:
Conversations began taking place toward the beginning of 2016 by DLC stakeholders about establishing a “DLC Premium” category and a “DLC Standard” category that would differentiate products that were qualified for DLC. The reason behind this was to show those products that rose above and beyond the technical requirements and could be viewed as “premium” choice lighting products.
So, what is DLC 4.0?Manufacturers were required, as of Sept. 1, to submit all products for a new, more stringent set of efficacy standards, otherwise known as DLC 4.0. With this new standard, the gap between those standard and premium products will be even greater as DLC calls manufacturers to higher lumen-per-watt, or light output per energy consumption, standards. Just as important, products that no longer meet the DLC 4.0 standards will be de-listed on Apr. 1, 2017.
Here is an outline of the changes and how they may affect your lighting:
1. The primary update to DLC was in regards to the efficacy of all DLC-qualified LED productsLED lighting technology has improved immensely over the last five years, and the attention of the manufacturers has turned toward the efficiency of their drivers and their products’ performance. Efficacy, usually expressed in lumens per watt (LPW), is now a leading parameter for what type of rating will be given to a product, whether Standard or Premium. The more efficient the product, the more lumens (measured light output) you will get out of your wattage.
Let’s take a linear LED troffer as an example. Currently for that product to be DLC Premium, it must achieve 110+ LPW. With the revisions in June 2016 and the new products hitting the QPL in January 2017, the new requirement is 125+ LPW. The reasoning behind this change is to differentiate between the mass amount of product that currently qualifies as DLC.
2. Utility companies are going to follow this revision with their incentive programsOne of the reasons these DLC changes should be paid close attention to is that it will affect the amount of utility rebates you will receive. Utilities need to find unique ways to take energy off the grid, and offer rebate programs to commercial businesses for lowering their electrical load.
We are already seeing certain utility companies offer “tiered” rebate approaches for lighting products involving DLC Standard vs. DLC Premium. Once the QPL is published in January 2017, delineating between DLC Standard and Premium under 4.0, the rebate levels can then be applied accordingly to drive ROI for your building projects. Similarly, the non-DLC 4.0 compliant products removed from the QPL on Apr. 1, 2017 will likely no longer qualify for many rebates.
Final thought: Be “choosy” on your lighting project and lighting product choiceYou can probably tell that the lighting industry and its certification groups want you to be informed and careful when choosing lamps or fixtures. What type of product are you installing? What is its proper rating and intended application? Where is it being used? What is the warranty and expected life?
These are all questions that DLC wants you to ask as you look at your lighting project. Through proper research and partnership, your project could offer a beneficial return for years to come.
If you're interested in learning more about how these DLC updates will affect you, please contact one of our lighting specialists.
Source: Regency Lighting
In June, DesignLights™ Consortium (DLC) announced the final version of its Technical Requirements Table V4.0, which significantly increases the efficacy requirements for products to remain DLC qualified. Shortly thereafter, several additional proposals were introduced and have the potential to expand the DLC program to additional product types.
Technical Requirements Table V4.0:
The primary changes from the V3.0 to V4.0 requirements are the increases in efficacy, although there are also minor changes that will allow the DLC some flexibility to address specific situations in the future.
Unlike the 2015 V3.0 updates, which reorganized the specification, V4.0 updates are relatively straightforward as they raise the efficacy bar for every category. The DLC’s reasoning for this is that the requirements had not been meaningfully increased since 2014 but the efficacy of products has been steadily increasing.
The increases in luminaire efficacy are significant, with DLC Standard Efficacy products increasing 20 to 30 lumens per watt and DLC Premium Efficacy products increasing 10 to 40 lumens per watt. A full comparison of existing V3.X to new V4.0 requirements is below:
Similar to the increase in efficacy for luminaires, there has been an increase in the efficacy requirements for Lamps. The efficacy increases for E39 type lamps are the most significant, rising 15 to 25 lumens per watt.
Allowances and Other Changes:
In addition to the changes in efficacy, the technical requirements also include a new section that refers to allowances for lower efficacy for specific product type and feature combinations. This section is currently empty as there are no specific allowances included yet, but this allows DLC some flexibility in the future based on feedback and suggestions that they receive. This is, in a way, similar to the specialty luminaires in that the DLC is keeping the door open for situations that were not anticipated in their specification development process.
The other minor change included in the V4.0 technical requirements is the ability to report TM-30 data. This is not a requirement, but is notable for the partial adoption of such a recent metric. This change allows those who target a high TM-30 score the ability to distinguish their product while also offering additional decision tools to those looking for more information on color quality.
DLC Proposals for V4.1 (and Beyond):
DLC has several proposals that would expand the reach of the DLC program to include additional products. It is important to note that these are not effective yet, but are a good indication of how DLC intends to change its program in the future.
Outdoor Very High Output:
Part of the proposed V4.1 would separate out the “Outdoor High Output” category of luminaires, which currently includes everything over 10,000 lumens, and split it into two categories. The categories would be the existing High Output category, which would include products from 10,000 to 24,999 lumens, and a Very High Output category for products that produce 25,000 or more lumens. This change aims to address the large number of products that far exceed the minimum output to be considered an “Outdoor High Output” luminaire while also capturing some of the additional energy savings that can be found by increasing the efficacy on these “Outdoor Very High Output” products.
U-Bend SSL Lamps:
While DLC has covered linear SSL replacements for tube-style lamps for some time, they have not included the U-bend versions of these lamps. The V4.1 proposal to add the U-bend is a welcome one, particularly for those who experience the high shipping costs and breakage rates associated with legacy fluorescent products. No specifics have been given, but the requirements are likely to mirror those of the 4-foot T8 lamp replacements and would likely include measurement in a luminaire.
T5 SSL Replacement Lamps:
While mentioned in the V4.1 proposal as an area of interest to DLC members, there is not a proposal to include these products; however, DLC may consider including these products in future revisions, and they would likely assign requirements that differ from those covering T8 lamps.
Hazardous Location Luminaires:
In response to a large number of products applying for the special category for Hazardous Location Luminaires, DLC indicated in the V4.1 proposal that they intend to develop requirements for defining what a product must be considered to be a hazardous location luminaire. This is an early indication, but could include IP ratings, safety ratings and classifications per the National Electrical Code or Canadian Electrical Code.
Refrigerator Case Lighting Revision:
In the V4.1 proposal, DLC revised the definition of refrigerator case lighting to only allow pin-type connections that support electrical connections for refrigerator case lighting products. Products using pins for mechanical support will not be permitted. Products that use the pins for mechanical and electrical support would be better categorized as tubular LED lamps. This revision would provide a potential loophole and would impact already certified products.
In addition to the V4.1 proposal, DLC issued a number of other proposals that would include expansions and additional requirements.
While DLC has required proof of safety certification since V3.0, they issued a proposal to require proof of safety certification for private labelers. Many partners not having safety certification multiple listed in their own name causes additional work and concern regarding the program and this proposal is intended to eliminate those concerns.
Wider CCT Range:
DLC proposed adopting the newer ANSI C78.377-2015 standard for CCT and chromaticity, which has the biggest impact of allowing for very low CCT products in the 2200K and 2500K CCT ranges. It would not extend the high end limit of 5000K or 5700K (as applicable to the product); however, lower CCTs would allow for indoor products to give the appearance of dimmed incandescent or for outdoor products to have a lower CCT to address desires to replicate an incandescent or gas lamp type appearance.
DC Powered Products:
One of the more significant DLC proposals addresses the potential qualification of DC powered products. This will allow for some of the unique systems that enable connection to microgrids (including those that tie into renewable energy, such as solar and/or wind energy). This also includes Power Over Ethernet (POE) products, which allow for easy repositioning of Luminaires within a space due to the low voltage that is provided to the luminaires.
DLC must answer many questions before including DC powered products, but most of these questions focus on how to consider this type of energy efficiency. DC systems also have additional considerations, such as the external AC to DC conversion from the grid, and, depending on voltage, wiring can have a major impact on the efficiency of the system.
4-Pin SSL Replacement Lamps for CFLs:
Another significant expansion proposal is to include SSL replacements for 4-pin compact fluorescent lamps. These products are common in many commercial applications but are not currently covered by any energy efficiency program. The current proposal would include some similarities to measuring linear fluorescent lamps, such as performance in a luminaire. DLC is also including some pre-approved equivalent luminaires and pre-approved equivalent ballasts.
Alternates to these lists are allowed but are considered by the DLC on a case by case basis. It was noted that the DLC would be updating lists, so additional approved fixtures for these products would be included over time. The general categories of fixture are horizontally mounted downlights and vertically mounted downlights. The products can test in any category fixture and, given the allowable categories, are likely to focus on one application or the other, as CFL downlights are not the most efficient at redistributing light due to the large size of the source.
The biggest change in the near future involves required efficacy levels, which will impact many of the currently certified products. Existing products that meet the requirements will continue on to V4.0 without change, but it is also a good time to update product performance if changes have been made to LEDs or drivers. DLC Premium products will be downgraded to standard if they do not meet the new premium requirements, but will otherwise carry over.
Many proposals were made, but they remain just that: proposals. Which of the proposals will be adopted, and what modifications to the proposals are enacted, will be important to watch. The future holds additional opportunities for products that have not been able to achieve DLC qualification in the past and will open up the opportunity for incentives to a wider range of projects.
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