2011 was an eventful year for LED Waves – we launched an exclusive new line of LED lights made in the USA, raised over $1,400 for disaster relief in Japan, and started work on a new logo and improved browsing experience for our website.
And 2012 promises to be another big year – we’re planning to unveil exclusive new LED MR16 and PAR20 light bulbs, which will be manufactured here in the United States!
2011 was also a big year for the LED lighting industry at large. Here were the top 5 stories on our radar.
The BULB Act hysteria. When President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 it had bipartisan support; Congress agreed that efficiency standards were a good thing. Under a different administration, now the far right thinks this crazy lefty law is banning incandescent bulbs (not true), forcing citizens to use ugly poison-filled CFLs and LEDs (only somewhat true of CFLs), and killing American jobs (never mind that the green tech industry is expanding faster than US-based incandescent bulb factories are shrinking). Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced the BULB Act to repeal the upcoming lighting efficiency standards. The rightwing media jumped in, dragging the good name of LED technology through the mud and spinning the story to the point that enraged anyone who was actually familiar with this issue. The BULB Act failed to pass the House vote on July 12. However, the DOE was stripped of their funds to enforce the efficiency standards. Americans are fortunate enough to still have plenty of lighting options from law-abiding manufacturers of LED light bulbs, CFLs, and incandescents who had the forward thinking to adopt higher efficiency models before this whole BULB Act nonsense.
The nation of Japan embraces LED lighting. The tsunamis last March took out two nuclear reactors, rendering the Tokyo Electric Power Company with a 20% capacity shortfall. Japan introduced a policy of energy conservation which the citizens embraced with the enthusiasm that, frankly, one can only wish of our fellow Americans. (“My compostable bag of SunChips is too noisy, wah! Back to nonrenewables.”) They scaled back on public lighting where it wasn’t necessary – like unused portions of train stations – and it goes without saying that LED bulbs started popping up in every prefecture. They even edged out the likes of Lady Gaga in Dentsu’s 2011 Hit Products in Japan!
Everybody’s talking about intelligent LED lighting controls. If you’re involved in the lighting industry, you’ve probably been to LightFair or LEDucation or a number of other similarly-themed trade shows. And you’d know that the topic on everyone’s lips this year was lighting controls: whether it’s connected to occupancy sensors or to a wireless communication system, solid state lighting is emerging as the do-it-all technology since they’re inherently programmed – not based on chemical reactions between gases and filaments. When LED Waves launched in 2000, we figured that buying LED lights was smart; who knew that the lights themselves would turn out to be so intelligent?
The First L Prize awarded. The Department of Energy sponsored this contest among manufacturers to develop high-quality, high-efficiency solid-state lighting products to replace the common (60 Watt incandescent) light bulb. At stake? A cash award and federal purchasing agreements worth about $10 million. Unfortunately, the submission requirements made it difficult for LED startups and small businesses to enter (not that we’re bitter about it or anything). After the contest ran for 3 years with only one submission, Netherlands-based lighting giant Philips scooped up the award on August 3 this year for their 2009 EnduraLED bulb. (Still not bitter!) That same week, our partners at Cree unveiled a bulb that blew the EnduraLED out of the water with over 150 lumens per Watt which was sadly ineligible since it was a prototype. Next on the table is an prize for the best PAR38 replacement bulb – but only after the DOE “modif[ies] the L Prize competition requirements for the PAR38 category, to incorporate lessons learned from the 60-Watt competition process.” <- What? I dunno. Not bitter!
Lighting Facts – not to be confused with Lighting Facts – confusion. In 2010 we reported the FTC ruled that all light bulb manufacturers had to put a Nutrition Facts-style label on their products starting in 2011. This was to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about their lighting options, beyond just Wattage. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association successfully petitioned the FTC for an extension this summer. So, keep an eye out for the new labels hitting store shelves after January 1, 2012. Meanwhile, the DOE recently slapped “LED” onto their Lighting Facts program website to help clarify the difference between the two labels. Basically, the FTC label is mandatory for all screw-base bulbs, although those manufacturer claims aren’t necessarily tested. The DOE’s Lighting Facts label is voluntary, only applies to solid state lighting of all types, and reflects performance numbers from actual independent product testing. You can read more about the difference in this handy FAQ. Look for the DOE’s Lighting Facts Label on the American-made LED lights launched by LED Waves this year: the New York LED PAR38, the Chicago LED PAR30, the Genesys LED T8 tube, and the Midtown LED down light fixture.
Have a happy and safe New Year, folks! Please don’t drink and drive. We love you!