As the world takes in the effect of global warming and Fukushima’s nuclear reactor disaster in Japan, electronic manufacturers have joined the race to reduce energy consumption from lighting, while at the same time increasing the comfort, safety and security of consumers. No less than 2,100 international manufacturers showcased their latest solutions at the recent Light+Building 2012 trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany. The Jakarta Post’s Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak was one of the Asia Pacific media attendees invited by market leader Philips to report on the high-tech lighting industry, currently moving in an interesting direction.
Light up: The retractable chandelier made of Lumiblade OLED panels is the highlight of Philips’ booth at the Light+Building 2012 trade fair. JP/Tertiani ZB SimanjuntakDemands for energy-saving lighting products are in upward trend, energy-saving lamps to replace incandescent bulbs are an important force in the green transformation being ushered in during the golden age of development.
The last couple of years have been witness to a revolution in lighting technology with Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) bulbs taking households and city lighting by storm, although not without its critics.
Due to efficiency and long lifespan, LED bulbs are considered to be a good replacement for incandescent, halogen or compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in the home; however, there were initially reports of how LED bulbs didn’t fit the standard light bulb socket, while many people were not willing to tolerate the light output — not to mention the substandard quality of knockoffs that have raised doubt on how environmentally friendly and sustainable the manufacturing process actually was.
During the Light+Building 2012 trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany, held in the Messe Frankfurt fair and exhibition center from April 15-20, leading lighting manufacturer Philips introduced its latest step in LED technology and its newest generation: the organic LED (OLED) lighting.
OLED, or Lumiblade as patented by Philips, gets its name from the organic semiconductors used in the product along with the minimum amount of waste during the production process at the factory in Aachen, Germany.
With a dimension of 10-centimeter by 10-centimeter, and a width of 2 millimeters (including the glass cover), the thin, flat panel used for general lighting is rated at 35 lumens/Watt in energy efficiency and lasts up to 10
times longer than an incandescent lamp (rated at 10,000 hours), while giving off light equivalent to 75 Watts of an incandescent lamp, currently still illuminating many homes and offices.
Besides its energy efficiency, the best thing about the OLED panel is that the light it produces is comfortable on the eyes, a noticeable difference compared to the widely used glary lightings.
“OLED takes lighting to a new frontier. It emits gentle, diffuse light … It opens up a new host of possibilities for creative designs and quality of lighting,” said Philips CEO Frans van Houten.
Last year, American hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas went on stage in Paris for three shows, wearing clothes embroidered with LEDs and OLED lighting panels from Philips. Fergie opted for a leather outfit studded with 75 white Lumiblade OLED panels — unconfirmed reports said that the lighting would not make her looked fat — which were controlled remotely and were synchronized to the music and lighting sequences.
Although consumers will have to wait for another six years to get more advanced OLED (40-centimeter by 40-centimeter dimension, 40,000 hours with 130 lumens/Watts in efficiency for clear OLED and 1-meter by 1-meter color-changeable decorative lighting) the current product has already offered so much freedom in its usage.
Boasted as the only flat light source currently available, OLED has the freedom of shape and design, in addition to the freedom of color. This is where a collaboration of high tech and high-end design is introduced. The output enables a city government to install 3-dimensional living structures for a landmark or for a hotel to install a living room wall beckoning guests. By living, it means the structure can interact with people, thanks to the installed camera or infrared censoring that can activate different dimming sequences.
At present, Philips only targets government and businesses as potential markets for the premium product.
According to Marc de Jong, general manager of professional luminaires at Philips Lighting, the price of one OLED panel was US$50, but could save the buyer up to $165 in its lifespan.
“The product is expensive, but each one is unique as it can be customized. Customers are ready to pay more for high quality lighting that meets artistry,” he said when asked how design converted to actual sales.
“Overtime, the product will be more affordable,” he said, adding that a LED bulb offered a retail price of $35 two years ago but has dropped to about $10 today.
Cities and companies are increasingly seeking solutions to save energy due to issues related to the worsening energy crisis, resource scarcity, safety, climate change, maintenance, productivity in offices and an enhanced sense of health and well being, increasingly placing pressures on the economy.
Philips believes that the professional sector, in which lighting accounts for about 20 percent of commercial building electricity consumption, offered the largest energy saving potential. The professional industry accounts for 60 percent of the world’s lighting consumption.
The hospitality sector, which included hotels and restaurants, could also cutting costs associated with lighting, as lighting accounted for about 40 percent of the total energy used in the sector.
The move to switch to an energy efficient lighting system could result in energy savings of up to 50 percent, reduced costs for businesses and the economy, while reducing carbon emissions, de Jong said.
“High-quality LEDs can now be used for general lighting in almost all areas. By 2015, we believe that 45 percent of lighting systems globally will be using LED,” he said.
The energy sipping LED lighting has a variety of color temperatures, based on the need to create different lighting environments in households, schools, shops, offices and the town hall with a wide range of applications.
Some world cities in Europe and Asia have installed LED lighting systems on the streets to help motorists have better night vision. A digitalized system could control brightness, therefore further reducing energy usage while also alerting operators should there be a malfunction. The use of LED luminaires as streetlights increases the space between streetlights, which may reduce the cost of application.
A simulation of professional lighting is available at Philips’ Outdoor Lighting Application Center in Lyon, France.
Office buildings could also apply LED-based products which would enhance productivity, while at the same time reducing energy consumption. There are also products sensitive to natural lights and sounds which will automatically be dimmed or turned off in situations where less lighting is needed.
Retail shops and fashion chain stores in Europe have also enjoyed the benefit of switching to LED-based lighting systems. As lighting has become the second level of communications, the installment of video walls and up lights has resulted in an increase to customer numbers by 20-30 percent. The PureDetail lamp that accentuates the characteristics of fashion and textile products has driven sales by 4-5 percent, according to de Jong.
“According to an independent survey, the use of our SchoolVision, which could create a classroom atmosphere that is able to make students learn 30 percent faster, make 50 percent less mistakes and reduce hyperactivity by 70 percent,” said de Jong.
Philips also offered a customized package of end-to-end services — rapidly deployed at scale — from design to maintenance over a planned period of time.
“We aim to remove the complexity and the risk, which governments and companies face today, when considering the switch to energy efficient lighting,” said de Jong, adding that emerging markets in Asia were ready to switch due to mounting pressure for reduced energy consumption.