Luminaires for general commercial applications showed marked improvement, compared to previous years, at the fourth annual Next Generation Luminaires (NGL) Solid-State Lighting (SSL) Design Competition. Recessed modulars (also known as troffers) and linear pendants, in particular, generally demonstrated higher efficacy than fluorescents and with comparable lighting quality, according to NGL. On the other hand, the judges frequently noted that initial cost remains an issue in solid-state lighting.

"In general, the performance has increased substantially," said judge Craig Bernecker, founder and director of the Lighting Education Institute and associate professor of lighting design at Parsons. "We were surprised, particularly by the high-bay luminaires. Typically we think of LEDs as low-output products." He also noted that glare control had improved for many products and that many luminaires showed less pixelization.

Results for the competition, which was launched in 2008 to promote excellence in the design of energy-efficient LED luminaires for general illumination in commercial lighting applications, were announced May 10 at Lightfair in Las Vegas. The competition split up indoor and outdoor lighting products for the first time in 2012. The contest is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and the International Association of Lighting Designers.

Of the 187 products proposed for submission in the indoor competition, 114 of which met the stringent documentation requirements to be judged, 53 were recognized as winners, indicating the judges considered them worthy of specification. Three products were recognized as Best in Class, meaning they stood out significantly above the other products in their category. Intense Lighting was selected for its MBW2 LED Track accent lighting fixture, Albeo Technologies for its H-Series LED high-bay luminaire, and Lithonia Lighting for its ST Series LED utility/general purpose luminaire.

"Hearing how Ruth [Taylor, manager of the design competition] described how selective the judging process was made the award even more meaningful," said Paul Winker, director of business development for Albeo Technologies. "When we're developing products, we're looking for value to the end user. That value is created from performance, energy efficiency, and lifetime. Part of why [the H-Series] was selected was the reliability and lifetime." Having a high-bay luminaire winning a Best in Class award indicates the viability of the product type, Winker said. "This will help spread the word that LED high-bay is a truly viable solution."

The large number of products recognized as winners indicates the increasing depth of LED products, said judge Liesel Whitney-Schulte, light product manager for South Milwaukee, Wisc.-based Franklin Energy Services. "There were a lot [of products] we felt were practical and worth consideration," she said. "In efficacy and distribution, they seem very useful."

The 53 recognized products cover 15 categories: cove lighting, decorative lighting, recessed downlighting, pendant lighting, linear lighting, linear pendant lighting, recessed linear lighting, recessed accent lighting, recessed modular lighting, recessed wallwashing, tasklighting, accent tracklighting, surface-mounted lighting, high-bay industrial lighting, and utility lighting.

The rest of the manufacturers recognized in the 2012 NGL indoor competition are:
Recessed Accent Lighting: Amerlux Global Lighting Solutions, Juno Lighting Group, Intense Lighting, Cooper Lighting, and Focal Point
Accent Tracklighting: Intense Lighting, Amerlux Global Lighting Solutions, and Philips Lightolier
Recessed Wallwashing: USAI Lighting (two fixtures) and Amerlux Global Lighting Solutions
Cove Lighting: The Lighting Quotient and Lumenpulse
Decorative Lighting: Pure Edge Lighting, Architectural Lighting Works, and Eureka Lighting (three fixtures)
Linear Lighting: Juno Lighting Group
High-Bay Industrial Lighting: Digital Lumens and Lithonia Lighting
Recessed Downlights: Cooper Lighting, USAI Lighting (two fixtures), Juno Lighting Group (two fixtures), and Amerlux Global Lighting Solutions (two fixtures)
Recessed Modular (troffer) Lighting: Cree, Finelite, OSRAM Sylvania, Galaxia Electronics Co., and Lithonia Lighting (four fixtures)
Tasklighting: Humanscale, Prism Co., and Koncept Technologies
Linear Pendant Lighting: Selux, Cooper Lighting - Corelight, Axis Lighting, and GE Lighting Solutions
Pendant Lighting: Lumenpulse, MarulaLED, and Eureka Lighting
Recessed Linear Lighting: Selux
Surface-mounted Lighting: Lighting Science Group
Utility Lighting: On-Q Lighting Systems

Visit the Next Generation Luminaires website for images of all of the winners.