LED the Sunshine In


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After a relatively slow start, LED lamps are now becoming affordable, and domestic LED lighting is about to take off. It is expected that by 2020, more than 65 to 70% of all lighting will use LED lamps or LED modules. The manufacturing process for LED lamps is based on SMT, and this month’s column explains some of manufacturing’s special requirements.

To save energy and limit carbon emissions related to lighting energy, the EU has legislated to ban incandescent lamps. Starting in 2009 with 100-watt lamps, all incandescent lamps were phased out of the market by the end of 2012. Customers have three options to replace them: improved efficiency (halogen) incandescent lamps, energy-saving fluorescent lamps, or LEDs (the benefits of LEDs make them clear favorites for most domestic lighting).

In the early days, drop-in replacement LED lamps did not come up to customer expectations. Luminous flux and light color (too cold) were disappointing, and prices were high (up to US$52 for a 60-watt equivalent). The promised long (50,000 hrs) lifetimes were usually not met. In the past few years, LED technology has made a giant leap forwards, though. Affordable lamps now offer warm white light color, light flux comparable to conventional lamps and good quality (constant lighting properties over time, and long life). LED lamps also offer much better lighting efficiency and controllability (both luminance and color). Finally, the small form factor of LEDs gives the lamp designer new possibilities for elegant design.

The world market for packaged LEDs is expected to grow until 2016, and stabilize between 2017 and 2020 at a revenue level of about $16 billion (Figure 1). There are two main reasons for this stabilization: market saturation since most incandescent lamps will have been replaced by LED lamps/modules (with a lifetime 10–50 times longer!) and upcoming OLED lighting solutions (offering large area homogenous lighting).

Figure 1: Packaged LED market by application (source: Yole Développement, September 2013). 

Read the full column here.


Editor's Note: This column originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of SMT Magazine.

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