The LED Revolution’s Next Phase

By: Craig DiLouie

The LED revolution continues s at a rapid pace. A new report from Memoori (, LED Lighting in Buildings 2014-2018, estimates that worldwide market penetration of LED lamps and luminaires in buildings grew to about 5% and 10% respectively by the end of 2013. By 2018, penetration is predicted to reach 8% and nearly 30%, respectively. However, while the cost of LED lighting systems is declining by about 18% each year, initial cost remains an issue. For this reason, Memoori sees an opportunity for LED product manufacturers to develop and promote smart lighting controls, which can reduce payback from five years to two to three. LED lighting products are primarily sold today based on the benefits of energy savings and long service life, presenting a lower total cost of ownership. While LED technology is expected to continue to improve in terms of cost, service life, and performance, lighting controls offer dramatically expanded capabilities.

Currently, smart lighting systems are used in only a very small percentage of buildings. However, as new technology develops its value proposition and finds its applications, smart control in which each lighting product features embedded intelligence—may expand the market for LED lighting. In fact, it offers the potential to redefine lighting as we know it from “dumb” fixed systems into in telligent, highly responsive devices.

Examples include:

  • Color tuning. Color tuning enables owners to adjust the shade of white light (and, in some cases, colors other than white) manually or automatically according to a schedule or space function to satisfy business and occupant needs.
  • Integration with nonlighting systems and devices. At the 2014 Lightfair in Las Vegas, manufacturers unveiled smart LED luminaires that integrate lighting  controls and sensors with nonlighing equipment to enable functions such as surveillance and parking garage wayfinding.
  • Visible light communication. Manufacturers such as Acuity Brands, GE, and Philips are now introducing visible light communication-enabled lighting systems that allow LED luminaires to communicate with smart phones using light as the communication path. A prime application isbig box retail, where the LED system enables wayfinding to products and communication of value offers.

The industry also offers an increasing selection of wireless smart lighting solutions, providing a wireless option for new con struction while facilitating deeper penetration of sophisticated lighting control into existing buildings. 

All of these capabilities offer extraodinary value that goes far beyond LED’s current primary benefits of energy effciency and longevity. They create the potential to redefine the high end of the LED market from being based on performance to having a combination of performance and control capabilities. 

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