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Lighting Technologies, LEDs and CFLs Conserve Energy and Offer New Product Development Potential, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

One of the easiest targets for green technology advancement is in lighting. It is universal, it is essential and it burns a lot of electricity.  LED (light emitting diode) lights can be vastly more power efficient that traditional bulbs (incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes).  LED is clearly a leading lighting technology for the long term.

Lighting is found in everything from residential and commercial buildings to roadways, signs, medical equipment and automobiles, burning as much as 25% of the world’s electric output.  Residential lighting is the largest use.  Unfortunately, traditional bulbs give off a lot of heat that is often unwanted, in addition to burning a lot of power. 

Lighting is selected by consumers based on multiple factors, including initial cost, light intensity, color or quality of light, and other aesthetic effects.  Energy efficiency and life of the bulb are also factors.  The challenge for the light bulb industry is to ramp up enough economy of scale in manufacturing to bring LED prices to levels where consumers will find it generally acceptable to pay somewhat more for bulbs that last longer and use less power.  Today, LED lighting prices are much more affordable than they were in their early days.  Meanwhile, quality of light will remain a critical factor for consumers, especially among Baby Boomers who require better light in order to read and see well as their eyes age.


SPOTLIGHT:  Innovative LEDs from Cree, Inc.

LED maker Cree, Inc. ( ) began as a manufacturer of components that it sold to other LED bulb firms.  Then Cree added its own bulbs, while it has also become a leading maker of semiconductor products for use in power inverters and other power and radio-frequency systems.  Cree's unique technology manufactures LEDs on silicon carbide wafers.  It is thus able to produce more light from an LED than its competitors that utilize sapphire substrates instead of silicon carbide.  Cree has captured a significant portion of the U.S. LED market.  Its products are sold at mass retailers.


Meanwhile, the U.S. and some other nations have set regulations requiring a gradual increase in the efficiency of bulbs.  Less efficient, incandescent bulbs may eventually be outlawed in many nations.  As a result, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association estimates that U.S. energy savings could eventually reach $10 to $15 billion yearly. 

Some manufacturers have shifted to offering bulbs that are based on halogen or LED technology and shaped like normal bulbs.  They are more energy efficient, and are only slightly more expensive to purchase. 

Firms seeking to offer innovative products for the lighting marketplace have many avenues to pursue other than bulbs.  New products that turn lights on and off when people enter or leave a room, new types of fixtures that make the most of the output of advanced bulbs such as LEDs and similar items are finding success in the marketplace.  A company called Sensity Systems offers what it calls “smart lighting networks.”  Its “NetSense” platform equips outdoor LED lighting fixtures, such as parking lot lights, with sensors and Wi-Fi networking.  The embedded sensors can track, count and analyze parking lot traffic; control the energy-efficient LED lights, turning them on only when required by the presence of traffic; analyze real-time video for improved security and extend Wi-Fi access to people while they are in parking lots.  Sensity Systems was acquired by Verizon Communications, Inc. in September 2016.

GE announced that it would introduce an Internet-connected light bulb that would be appropriate to work with home automation systems.  Other leading lighting brands are similarly innovating their light bulb lines, with a particular interest to adopt LED and Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies.


Light Bulb Comparison:


Traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb

·   Uses 60 watts of electricity.

·   Creates unwanted heat.

·   Lasts about 1,000 hours.

·   Creates high quality light.


LED (Light Emitting Diode)

·   Uses 10 to 12 watts of electricity.

·   Burns in a cooler manner.

·   Lasts up to 25,000 hours—extremely cost-effective over the long term.

·   Creates high quality light.


CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light)

·   Uses 14 watts of electricity.

·   Burns in a cool manner.

·   Lasts 6,000 hours.

·   Creates light that consumers do not like, but quality may be improving.


Halogen Bulb

·   Uses about 45 watts of electricity.

·   Creates high heat.

·   Lasts about 1,000 hours.

·   Creates high quality light.



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