This post was written by Keith Dawson for UBM Tech’s community Web site All LED Lighting, sponsored by Philips Lumileds. It is archived here because the All LED Lighting site has gone dark. This material is Copyright 2013-2015 by UBM Americas.

2013-09-09

Monday Roundup: Automation Armageddon

This week: Lighting scare stories, automation Armageddon, and some real competition for LEDs.

Lighting scare stories
Lux Review is running an uncredited piece that purports to separate wheat from chaff about 10 stories that have made the rounds about ways lighting can be dangerous. Is LED lighting disturbing sleep? (Apparently so.) Do CFLs emit carcinogenic chemicals? (Maybe some, but follow ups haven't been done.) And the perennial favorite: Do blue LEDs damage human retinas? (Not realistically.) It's fun reading.

An induction light with 100,000-hour life
MaxLite has introduced a canopy light, suitable for parking garages or low-bay use, that compares favorably with LED fixtures on a number of dimensions. Models of the induction lights are offered at 40 and 80 Watts; they put out 2800 / 6400 lumens, for 70 / 80 lm/W, at a CRI of 84 / 80 and a CCT of 5000K. The LM-70 figure of 100,000 hours is similar to those obtainable with LED lighting and MaxLite offers a 10-year warranty. The lights are usable in temperature conditions (-25C to 50C) similar to those covered by LEDs. They are certified for damp locations. The power factor is above 90.

About the only clear advantages LEDs have over these induction products are dimmability, controllability, and focusability.

And the induction lights are cheaper. Shine Retrofits has the 40W version of the MaxLite canopy fixture for $200. Bees Lighting carries the roughly equivalent Lithonia VRC LED canopy light -- 5000K, 84 lm/W, 67 CRI, 5-year warranty -- for $357.

Automation Armageddon
Andy McMillan, president of BacNet International, warns that the somewhat sleepy building automation industry is in for massive disruption, thanks to LED lighting. He gives historical perspective from other industries that have experienced technology-based revolutions, not merely evolutionary change. History says that the incumbents don't fare well in such times. LEDs are driving the agenda for building automation, due to their compelling ROI, and they are bringing with them wireless and cloud technologies that are a far cry from the HVAC controls the industry is accustomed to dealing with.

McMillan will be offering a session on this disruption at the National Facilities Management & Technology Conference coming up in a couple of weeks.

Does LED street lighting improve property values?
The city of Ypsilanti, Mich., has hit upon a singular way to finance the half-million dollar cost of retrofitting LED street lighting: they want to impose an assessment on property owners. Now, under Michigan law (and other places too), they can only do that if the project will result in an increase in property values. Will LED street lighting induce someone to pay more for a house? The city council, which voted 5-0 for the plan, didn't argue that property values will rise, merely that the city will save $115,000 per year in energy costs.

Under the plan, owners of 4,812 parcels of land would pay $116 each, spread over two years. An earlier version of the proposal featured an assessment stretching over 16 years and mounting to $1,353 per head; it withered under strong opposition. A council member who seemed to lean against the assessment (though he ended up voting for it) said that because the fee was so small, no one would bother to fight it: "The unfortunate thing is that no one will take the effort to sue us, so whether or not it's right... we're going to get away with it."

What do you think? Is this a legitimate way to pay for municipal improvements?

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