As LED light quality improves and prices continue to drop, more consumers are choosing to replace incandescent, halogen and CFL bulbs in their homes with efficient and environmentally friendly LED bulbs. In fact, IHS forecasts that by 2022 nearly half (42 percent) of light bulb shipments to the residential sector will be LED replacement lamps, compared to just 4 percent in 2014.
These LED bulbs are designed to replace traditional bulbs, so the fittings or luminaires that house the bulbs generally remain in place. While that's convenient for consumers, and helps keep the initial costs down, in terms of engineering the situation is far from ideal. Not only do driver electronics need to be squeezed into the base of the bulb, but heat dissipation is also a challenge, due to the relatively small size of the bulbs.
One alternative to bulb-integrated driver electronics is to integrate the LED light source and driver electronic into the luminaire itself. Incandescent bulbs must be replaced every year—or even more often—due to their short lifetime of about 1,000 hours. LED bulbs, on the other hand, boast lifetimes of up to 50,000 hours, so there is no need to replace them for 20 years or more. Because there is less need to replace bulbs, hard wiring the LED chips and electronics into the luminaire has several benefits. For one, it offers greater flexibility, in terms of design and heat management. And because fewer parts are needed, the cost of an LED integrated luminaire is potentially lower than the cost of a traditional luminaire plus an LED replacement bulb. It may take some time until LED integrated luminaires find their way into buildings where fittings already exist, but they are obviously an attractive option for new construction.
Some luminaire types are better suited than others for integrated LED lamps. Last year, 39 percent of all street-light luminaires shipped were LED integrated, and that number is forecast to increase to 82 percent in 2022. Retrofitting street lamps with replacement bulbs often makes little economic sense, since they tend to be upgraded to smart lights, which require new wiring and fittings anyway.
Overall, about 44 percent of luminaire shipments are expected to be LED-integrated in 2022. Even in the residential sector, which has the slowest LED penetration, the number is forecast to exceed one third of the market. Traditional replacement lamps might not vanish from store shelves quite yet, but a future in which the lights are only replaced when a building is renovated seems increasingly likely.
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