Editor’s Note December 2017

We’ve Got to Have Standards

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith the lighting industry becoming more sophisticated through LED technology and wireless connectivity (i.e. smart products), it’s increasingly important for the industry to create standardization in these new areas. For example, while it’s been talked about – on a global level – for a good two or three years, there is still no agreement on a standard wireless communication protocol. Similarly, there is not a standard for LED components outside of the efforts of the Zhaga Consortium (an international organization that has been trying to establish industry standards regarding LED light engines since early 2010 with the goal of pushing LED adoption faster). Over the past seven years, the Zhaga group has published several “books” of standards for various parameters of LED light engines, but their work isn’t finished yet.

Until we can get everyone speaking the same language, the momentum for adoption in LED lighting and smart technology will be hamstrung. It’s hard to convey useful information to end users when even the experts aren’t necessarily using the same terminology.

The Lighting Facts label mandated by the U.S. government for light bulb packaging has helped introduce consumers to new measurements/terminology (forgoing “watts” for “lumens” and indicating brightness/color temperature), but there is more education – and agreement – needed among the industry itself.

For example, some lighting manufacturers simply list the overall “lumen output” and others provide the amount of “delivered lumens.” This is not an apples-to-apples comparison. (“Delivered lumens” will be less than “lumen output” and the consumer will not automatically understand the difference when comparing fixture and bulb packaging.) I think the time has come for manufacturers to come to an agreement about these specifications.

As I’ve been researching LED developments over the past few months, I’ve come across a similar problem with color temperature. I’ve seen manufacturer literature that lists only “correlated color temperature” (CCT) as well as literature that refers solely to “color temperature” (CT). To the end user, seeing two terms can be confusing. Now try to explain that color temperature is separate from color rendering.

These days, selling lighting is an intricate business. Conveying this technical information to customers is where the expertise of a lighting showroom salesperson shines.
I hope that in 2018, we can get closer to standardization in jargon and specs so that it is easier for lighting showroom personnel to make the product selection process much clearer for the end user.

2 thoughts on “Editor’s Note December 2017

  1. The article makes important points. These days standards are the key to specifications, performance, quality assurance and product safety. And good timing is essential too. Standards written too soon slow innovation and needed product improvements while standards written too late result in customer confusion and products that don’t comply which hurts manufacturers and retailers. Note, too, that the standards process typically involves volunteers who give many hours of their personal time as well as manufacturers who involve themselves the process and pull staff from company work to support the standards efforts. The benefits of standards to society are immense and those who help write them are due thanks from all of us.

    1. Thank you, Terry, for providing a thorough explanation of the standards process. I did not realize that there are so many volunteers tackling such an intensive workload as what is involved here, and I’m betting that not many of our readers realize it as well. These individuals indeed deserve our thanks!

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