The world leader in LED lamps built from pure gallium nitride substrates (GaN on GaN), Soraa has urged the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ENERGY STAR program to specifically address light quality and colour rendering in its upcoming new lamp specification.
Soraa aren’t the first to jump on the bandwagon supporting higher colour rendering, with many individuals and industry groups backing the move, including California Lighting Technology Center; Professors Shuji Nakamura and Steven DenBaars; the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD); Northeast Utilities Companies (NSTAR); and lighting designer Chip Israel; who all filed formal comments on EPA’s Draft 3 product specification for LED lamps.
“Poor light quality ruined many consumers’ confidence in compact fluorescents,” said Mike Krames, CTO of Soraa. “The ENERGY STAR qualification must be associated with LED lamps that provide a better quality of light; otherwise, the program will start to lack credibility with end-users and the low adoption rate history of CFLs will be repeated by LED lamps.”
The reality of the situation is that while CFLs may be highly efficient, the light they emitted was not up to spec, with many customers regretting the decision to swap: often, comfort will outweigh any efficiencies and cost-savings, as was the case with light bulbs.
Soraa hope to avoid such a situation reoccurring by addressing the lack of a second high colour rendering index (CRI) tier, asking the EPA to make light quality and colour rendering minimum requirements higher than they currently stand. Bulb manufacturers will engineer their products to perform close to the lower boundaries of whatever specifications the EPA set, as they did with CFLs, and therefore raising the bar will create energy efficient technology that consumers will be happy with. Soraa fear that if the EPA does not address this issue then adoption of efficient lighting technology will stall, similar to what has been observed to date with CFLs.
“To persuade consumers to purchase LEDs instead of incandescent lamps, LED lamps must be seen as high-quality products worth the initial higher price differential. Therefore, LED lamps must closely replicate the color rendering of the incandescent and halogen lamps that they replace,” said Ravi Parikh, Energy Services Specialist at Burlington Electric in Vermont. “The SORAA VIVID is such a product, providing superior color quality while improving energy efficiency. As a utility, we are always willing to consider higher incentives for projects utilizing lamps such as SORAA’s. We want to ensure customer satisfaction by reduced energy bills and maintained—if not, improved—quality of light. There is no need to sacrifice quality for efficiency. It is critical we understand the value in both.”
According to Soraa;
To provide a more balanced portfolio of ENERGY STAR lamp products on the market and mitigate color quality as a barrier to wider adoption of energy efficient lighting products, Soraa proposed to the EPA a second high CRI tier with differential efficacy requirements taking into account the inherent lumen per watt trade-off as a function of CRI for phosphor converted white LEDs. Soraa proposed to keep the existing minimum efficacy requirements, but raise the color quality to a minimum CRI 90.
The adoption of such a proposal will likely increase the overall energy savings through an increase in adoption of higher light quality lamps, as well as a greater level of efficiency in bulbs with a medium-level light quality.
Those of us who pay attention to these issues are already aware of what light bulb will be most efficient in our house and choose accordingly, but for the average consumer all that matters is that the light in their house is what they’re used to and comfortable with. For a long time CFL bulbs did not meet these requirements, and therefore adoption has been slower than would be preferably. Acting now in LED infancy will help to grow its adoption in years to come.
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