The story behind LED development—only the 4th lighting technology developed in human history— is remarkable. The potential ahead of LED lighting to deliver real and measurable advantages— to save energy, last years longer, significantly lower bottom-line costs—is limitless. That said the LED industry must focus on addressing a number of technical issues that are currently interfering with more widespread adoption of LED lighting.
Today, legacy infrastructure—the transformers, fixtures, and control devices already incorporated into built environments—create unique and challenging compatibility interferences with widespread LED adoption.
What we’ve seen to date in our current, ongoing preliminary phase of LED adoption is “plug and play” applications – a customer simply installs an LED bulb into an existing fixture. Sometimes that fixture works with the LED bulb’s mechanical, electric, and thermal requirements; sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes there are mixed results.
Any new technology only has a small window to prove its value. Second chances with first impressions do not exist – which is why in any market, it’s essential to capitalize on the moment of market introduction. It’s an opportunity – and a test – to gain the trust of the consumer on the first try. The LED industry, peers, partners, and competitors, must work together to ensure full compatibility with the millions of lamps, dimmers, transformers, and fixtures on the market.
When looking at the compatibility problem, there are three separate issues to address: electrical compatibility, mechanical compatibility, and thermal compatibility. We’ll take a brief look at the first two and take some time to elaborate on the third.
Electrical Compatibility: Common voltages in lighting systems are significantly higher than LED requirements. As a result, the transformer and dimmers often don’t operate consistently, or properly. Frequently this causes the LED to flicker and dim erratically, one lamp powering off before another, or the LED not even powering on at all.
Mechanical Compatibility: Problems arise when LEDs do not match the size and dimensions of traditional lamps. It’s simply a matter of fitting a square into a round hole—the LED does not fix the legacy fixture’s width or height.
Thermal Compatibility: Traditional light sources and LEDs operate at dramatically different temperatures. While some halogen lamps operate at 200 degrees Celsius, LED lamps must operate between a specific thermal temperature to ensure long life and safety standards. In much of the legacy fixture infrastructure, there’s no means to dissipate heat in the bulb design.
Ledzworld has developed a range of lamps featuring hydrodynamic cooling; we call it our “Active Cooling System” or “ACS”. The original challenge was finding a way to integrate the driver to power the cooling system in some of our sophisticated ultra-dimmable LED designs. Once we solved this with the ACS, we were able to achieve an output of 4000 lumens at 50W.
The hydrodynamic active cooled lamps we’ve been able to produce are lightweight and 10 to 15 degree C cooler at the case temperature (Tc) level compared to a lamp without the hydrodynamic cooling system. Additionally, the ACS lamps do not require metal heat sinks and have higher lumen outputs. The cooling system utilizes a superior bearing-less shaft that increases the reliability with inaudible noise and low vibration compared to the other existing systems available on the market. The bearing-less cooling mechanism minimizes the wear and tear on the lamps, which also leads to a longer life. Another contributing factor is the system uses high performance oil instead of a bearing between the rotating shaft and the cylinder. Life tests in rigorous conditions have resulted in an operating life of >45,000 hours. Also being developed are LED drivers that will work seamlessly on a wide range of magnetic and electric transformers and in combination with commonplace dimmers.
Recently, the company launched a breakthrough MR16 LED lamp with our patented Chameleon driver. The Chameleon driver self-adjusts to its environment by first detecting the transformer type, then analyzing its waveform, and finally adjusting itself to make a perfect electrical fit with that particular transformer. This driver makes the company's MR16 LED retrofit lamps truly "plug and play" devices that can be used in a wide variety of transformer and dimmer combinations.
Within the Chameleon driver is a new cooling technology called controlled thermo regulation (CTR). The CTR provides an intelligent temperature-control monitoring system and acts as a watchdog — continuously measuring the ambient temperature inside the driver compartment by a builtin thermal sensor embedded in the chameleon driver chipset. The temperature-sensor triggers the driver-current to be reduced as soon as the ambient temperature inside the fixture increases beyond its specified operating temperature. Due to the availability of a large variety of fixture- designs, the intelligent driver will regulate its power to suit its operation. If the fixture is unsuitable for a particular LED application, the lumen output will be reduced to a level where it no longer delivers sufficient lightoutput to the user.
We strongly believe compatibility is the number one compelling problem facing the entire LED industry today. No end-user, designer, or specifier should care what promises and potential LED technology holds in the future, if it doesn’t meet their needs in the present.
This is an issue the industry needs to bring to the table and address to ensure that the LED is the lighting of tomorrow. It’s time for the entire LED industry to tackle compatibility together.
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