The Next Gen: LED Lighting and LED Challenges

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Much has been written about the benefits of LED lighting: longer life (10+ years), lower heat output, and tremendous gains on efficiency.

However, we see a lot of skepticism out there on LED technology, and we know why: early generations of LED lighting were, in one word, disappointing.

We tested LED bulbs as early as 2006.   They were very a cool blue in color, not as bright as similar sized bulbs using traditional or fluorescent technology, and expensive as hell.  Worst yet, they all burned out within less than a year.  It was a dim start (pun fully intended) for the technology.

Fast forward to today, and LEDs are everywhere - and you may not even know it.  I recently spent a few days at an Intercontinental Hotel - and I had to look twice to see if the lights were in fact LED.  The light they produced was warm in color, and from the outside the bulbs didn't have the distinct "array of LEDs" look to them.  Once I sussed that they were in fact LEDs, I took the fixture out to see what exact bulb that they had selected.  It was a Sylvania 6 Watt LED MR16 bulb, specifically a LED6ML16/DIM/827/FL36.

Now obviously, that's a good sign for the technology.  The Intercontinental wouldn't go replacing what must be over 1,500 bulbs just in one hotel with LED MR16s if they didn't have a proven track record and provided incredible benefits to the bottom line without sacrificing a top-end hotel experience.

Even so, the LEDs at the Intercontinental weren't perfect.  One morning, I turned on the lights in the room and the lights in the desk lamp – a more traditional Philips model LED – started to blink.  They stopped shortly after warming up (in less than a minute), but it wasn't exactly the wake up that I was looking for.

Bottom line: LED's are ready for prime time, but even so they should be selected with caution.  That's why when TSP recommends LED technologies for your home automation project, we not only read the specs and do the research, but we also set up the exact same LED bulbs for testing in our labs, with the same bulb, fixture, driver, and dimming unit that you'll have in your own home.  That's the one and only way to assure that the experience that you get with LED lighting meets and exceeds your expectations.