If you haven’t noticed by now, we’re seeing a lighting renaissance taking place that is truly astounding and which historically has only occurred a few times in the history of mankind. The migration from one predominate light source (incandescent) to another (LED) is occurring literally right in front of our eyes. Most astoundingly is the rapid emergence of lighting-grade LED technology that really only started in earnest less than 10 years ago. As one might expect with a new lighting technology and as can be readily observed in past history, the transition isn’t without some growing pains.
Driven by the need to conserve energy in an environment of a growing and developing populace, LED technology and its benefits are quickly becoming apparent to designers, manufacturers and consumers. Market pull for LED-based products is generated by the simple fact that that we can simply no longer continue to expend 18 percent of our global energy production on lighting alone nor can we continue to burn through the extra 1,800 million barrels of oil needed for the less efficient light sources that are well established in the marketplace.
As with any new technology, there is a period where designers and users need to figure out what to do with it and how to utilize it in saleable products. Lighting-grade LEDs are no different. Typically, the first devices are typically pretty crude yet functional to get people thinking about the possibilities of the new technology. As the technology develops and designers gain experience with it, more elegant solutions begin to emerge that start to truly take advantage of the technology and its capabilities. One doesn’t have to look too far to see that we’re well into the “elegant” phase of LED lighting and that designers are starting to have fun with the technology!
Interestingly, with any new technology, what follows or what progresses in a lagged-parallel fashion is an entire infrastructure of supporting products. To create truly innovative designs, an entire class of various supporting products need to develop around it to make it easier to integrate and use. New heat sink technologies, novel LED packages, innovative optics, unique interconnect solutions start to emerge as the basic LED and its applications evolve. This further feeds LED fixture innovation and serves to create pull to ever-improve these supporting products.
Indeed, designers of the most efficient, manufacturable and easily used designs embrace a holistic approach to design that considers and integrates all key elements of a fixture in parallel. Interconnects in particular are usually the last thing to get considered in these new designs however, they form an integral and key part of the entire system. Without the ability to provide power to the LED system and distribute it effectively and easily, even the most unique, innovative LED lighting fixture is simply another object d’art.
From an interconnect standpoint, there are a wide and sometimes dizzying array of options available to the designer. Options are always good and there are a number of unique, SSL-targeted connector products that are optimized for different applications within a lighting system. Next month we’ll start to explore these options starting with the LED itself.