Race to the Socket

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

GE Lighting offers a wide range of LED replacement lamps for retail, hospitality, healthcare, office, commercial, and home applications. They have the aesthetic and practical qualities of conventional lamps, as well as being very efficient and environment

From the horseless carriage to digital photography…if you are an 8-track tape manufacturer in 2013, business is probably not too good. Buggy whip manufacturers had to reinvent themselves or go hungry. As wonderful as innovation is, on the flip side it forces formerly healthy segments out of business.

Lighting has experienced disruptive innovation before, but it was before you were born. The lighting industry went through this just before the turn of the 20th century when the electric lamp replaced gas lamps. I can only imagine the resistance by the gas industry. "Electric lights are just a fad. They're too expensive. They emit too much glare. The color of incandescent light is too cool. The gas infrastructure is in place. Stick with the sure thing." But we all know how that worked out for them.

Today the lighting industry is facing a new disruptive technology. LED lamps are replacing filament and arc tube sources in the same way that electric lamps displaced gas 100+ years ago. The question is, on what side of this disruption do you want your business to be?

An architect told me this week: “I don’t see any reason why any lighting being installed today would not be LED.”

So what happens if every light installed today is LED?

  • Traditional lamp sources typically last around 20,000 hours (or 5-10 years in a typical office building.) If a facilities manager installs one type of lamp today, there is still a “next time.” There is an opportunity to get them to change to a better or different lamp in the future when these lamps fail.
  • New LED sources claim around 50,000 hours of life, and may last even longer. This is 20 - 25 years in a typical office building. Gulp. That means that once the existing lights are replaced, there is a good chance they won’t be replaced again during my entire career.
  • If it is a bad LED – if it is a brand you don’t like or a color I don’t like or if it has poor color rendering – too bad. The investment has been made. People buying LEDs today should do their research because their purchase is the right one for the long haul. My favorite coffee shop has already replaced their lamps with LEDs. They won’t have to do that again for as long as I visit that coffee shop. I’m glad they made a good choice. There’s still a warm and cozy atmosphere there.

As a lighting designer my concerns are for quality. During our lifetimes, the majority of the lamp sockets in existence today will be filled with LEDs.

The race is on. Whoever gets to those sockets first will be the one in place for the rest of our professional lives…unless another disruptive technology comes along and takes us all by surprise!

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting.

 

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