After having spent more than 30 years designing lighting projects, Naomi Miller is now approaching lighting from a different angle—that of technology development and application. In 2010, Miller closed her Troy, N.Y., lighting practice—Naomi Miller Lighting Design—and relocated to Portland, Ore., to join the team at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. There, she uses her design experience to translate information about LED technology into terms that lighting designers and architects can understand, and at the same time to communicate to manufacturers what designers need. As a go-between, Miller is helping both communities navigate this new technology, which is redefining lighting design.
How are LEDs impacting lighting?
The toolbox that we have to work with keeps getting better; we have more options now.
Are LEDs under a different kind of scrutiny than other light sources?
Absolutely. We expect them to be as good as all other sources put together because we're looking at SSL as a replacement source.
How can the industry maintain good faith in this technology?
The best thing that manufacturers can do is to give us good-performance products that are really going to hold up over time.
What's a challenge in getting LEDs into application?
Installation. Manufacturer instructions are nowhere near as clear as they should be, especially regarding wiring. Electricians don't know how to handle this stuff; the wiring is different—constant current versus constant voltage. The drivers look the same, but when you blow an LED, it doesn't look any different. It's all part of the education, trying to get the manufacturer to listen to issues like that, because there are a lot of engineers who don't ever see the fixture installed.
Where do you see SSL heading?
Optics to reduce glare from bright LED sources, lamps and luminaires with a wider range of lumen outputs and beam spreads, easier dimmability of LED systems, and a way to distinguish between good and bad power supplies and drivers for different applications.
“I think the lighting designer is going to find him- or herself relying more heavily on LEDs to replace some of the older tools in their toolbox. It's a matter of getting used to a new technology, and this one just happens to be more like learning electronics than learning lighting.” -- Naomi MIller, Senior Lighting Engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Portland, Ore.