Like all new technologies that emerge quickly in the marketplace, there is always a period of trial and error when it comes to product development and project applications. Such is the case with solid-state lighting and LEDs. In the past six years, LEDs have become the latest light source paving the way for a revolution in lighting—daring to imagine a new paradigm of illumination. But the desire to promote this technology, provide accurate data, and find appropriate uses has not always met with a consistency or reliability that make LEDs an absolute given in terms of choosing a light source.
While LEDs have come a long way—moving beyond gimmicky color-changing applications to viable street and roadway lighting options and most recently some emerging resources for interiors—this 21st century light source currently is experiencing some backlash from the lighting design community. Burned enough times now by false manufacturer claims, unavailable test data, and warranty backing, lighting designers are no longer interested in having their projects and clients act as guinea pigs for this technology—particularly in this economy. Designers are reluctant to specify LED-based luminaires unless there is reliable specification documentation and they can work with manufacturers that will stand behind their LED products from chip to fixture. From the steps of Times Square and the roadways of Minneapolis to the façades of Boston and Berlin, when everything aligns—lighting technology and product meet and accomplish design intent—the results can be magnificent. See the projects discussed in this issue of A|L LED.
There is still a long way to go when it comes to LEDs as a lighting source. The key now is for designers to speak up and let manufacturers know what is required to make LEDs a viable lighting resource and not a stalled technological wonder.