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LED lighting gets credibility warning

Testing shows that misleading claims still abound, while some in the industry are successfully improving fixture performance.

The latest set of US government solid-state lighting tests has shown continued unreliability of many manufacturers claims, prompting the test manager to warn about possible damage to the industry's progress.

In the fourth round of the Department of Energy s (DOE) CALiPER testing program only one product out of 20 came with an accurate description of its performance. The experiments, which were performed from September to December 2007, also found that one product exceeded its claimed performance.

Mia Paget, who leads the testing team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington, illustrated the kind of pitfalls that these disparities could create for solid-state lighting (SSL).

“Inaccurate and misleading claims about product performance could be highly detrimental to SSL technology, as seen from lessons learned in early years of compact fluorescent lighting,” Paget told compoundsemiconductor.net.

“Under-performing products can discourage the efforts of early adopters of this new technology, can significantly delay market penetration, and may thus disadvantage the entire industry and negate the potential for significant energy savings,” she said.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most accurate figures are generally provided by companies with close involvement in the DOE s SSL activities and large, existing lighting companies. In general, luminaire manufacturers, new market entrants, large retailers, and overseas vendors that access the US market through the internet provided the least reliable performance data.

The DOE report suggests inexperience of the latter group as one explanation of their failings. However, it also points a finger at the lack of standardization in the industry, lack of clarity in the documentation, and the possibility of exaggerated data.

Overall, Paget says that overall light output and efficacy of SSL products have steadily increased over the testing rounds performed so far. However, although the performance of the best fixtures has improved, CALiPER continues to see products that have very poor performance.

“With each new round of testing, we observe new, innovative design concepts that appear well adapted and targeted to SSL technology, but also products that may simply be designed to cash in on this new technology without adequate understanding of how to design products that use SSL,” Paget said.

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