California Bans Fluorescent Lamps

Last week California joined Vermont and the European Union in enacting a ban on fluorescent lamps.  The California ban covers:

  • Screw or bayonet base CFLs beginning January 1, 2024
  • Pin-based CFLs beginning January 1, 2025
  • Linear fluorescent lamps (aka fluorescent tubes) beginning January 1, 2025

The ban isn’t complete because there are some specialty fluorescents that are not included, such as those used for copiers and scanners, disinfection, sunlamps for tanning, and specialized lamps for medical purposes.  However, it does apply to:

  • CFLs of all tube diameters and all tube lengths, including PL, spiral, twin tube, triple tube, 2D, U-bend, and circular
  • Linear fluorescents including:
    • single-pin, two-pin, and recessed double contact
    • all tube diameters, including T5, T8, T10, and T12
    • all tube lengths from 6″ to 8′
    • all lamp shapes, including U-bend and circular

Over the next few years hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of fixtures will need to be replaced or, if possible, converted with LED retrofit lamps.  From the perspective of efficiency and quality of light replacement is certainly preferred, but it won’t be cheap.  It’s not clear if California or utilities will offer any sort of financing to make the change.

You can download the law here.

Designing with TM-30

Tony Esposito and I gave four presentations of Designing with TM-30 at this year’s ArchLIGHT Summit.  It was video taped and is now available on Vimeo.  Watch it here.

 

Update:  One of the attendees sent the following feedback to ArchLIGHT Summit.  “The TM-30 presentation was phenomenal. One of the best lighting presentations that I’ve ever seen. Great work.”

ArchLIGHT Summit and Get A Grip On Lighting

Next month I’ll be at ArchLIGHT Summit in Dallas.  Together with my IES Color Committee co-chair Tony Esposito, we’ll be giving several presentations on how designers can make better use of TM-30 by integrating it into their workflow.  In anticipation of our ArchLIGHT Summit presentation we were interviewed on Get A Grip On Lighting, where we talked about TM-30, color perception, and color rendering, among other things.  You can watch the interview on their web site, or below.

 

Predicting LED Lifetimes

Recently, a corporate client asked me to specify only LED fixtures with a lifetime of 100,000 hours, and preferred fixtures with a life of 200,000 hours.  I don’t know where they came up with these numbers, but my reply was that an L70 of 100,000 hours or more cannot be validated through standard testing procedures.  Here’s why.

To begin with, LEDs themselves don’t experience catastrophic failure the way incandescent and fluorescent lamps do. The don’t stop making light, but their output declines over time.  Today the generally accepted calculation of the life of an LED is called L70, which is the length of time before the light output has fallen to 70% of initial output.

The IES approved lifetime calculation method begins by collecting data using the procedure described in LM-80 (ANSI/IES LM-80 Measuring Maintenance of Light Output Characteristics of Solid-State Light Sources). Please note that LM-80 measures “LED packages, arrays, and modules” not fully fabricated fixtures, and there’s some dispute about whether or not testing bare modules is appropriate.  However, it does permit module manufacturers to test once and derive a lifetime, rather than every fixture manufacturer testing every fixture with every module they want to offer, which would be incredibly burdensome and expensive.

LM-80 requires a minimum collection time of 6,000 hours (250 days) but sets no upper limit.  If manufacturers want to use the data they’ve collected and project future performance they use the calculation procedure in TM-21 (ANSI/IES TM-21 Projecting Long-Term Luminous, Photon, and Radiant Flux Maintenance of LED Light Sources).  Importantly, TM-21 only permits data to be projected to six times the LM-80 data collection time period.  This is because of uncertainties involved with longer predictions (see PS-10-08 IES Position on LED Product Lifetime Prediction at https://www.ies.org/advocacy/position-statements/ps-10-18-ies-position-on-led-product-lifetime-prediction/).  So, an L70 of 50,000 hours is based on at least 8,333 hours of LM-80 testing.  That’s 347 days.

Thus, to say that an LED has an L70 100,000 hour life would require a data collection period of 16,667 hours (695 days), or 1,390 days (3.8 years of continuous testing) for a life of 200,000 hours.  Today, no LED manufacturer conducts LM-80 tests for that extended period of time because the lifetime of a given LED product is too short.  By the time you’ve finished a 4 year long test, the LED being tested is out of production and replaced by something new.  In the future, when the LED industry has matured and we’re no longer seeing continuous improvements in efficacy, color rendering, etc., they may test for that long, but not now.

Where do these 100,000 hour and longer lifetimes come from?  It seems that some manufacturers are using an internally generated prediction to get to these numbers.  The thing is, we don’t know what’s involved in that prediction, which means we can’t validate it or compare it to any other prediction.  We just have to take their word for it. With the LM-80/TM-21 procedure, on the other hand, we know that testing labs, regardless of who or where, are using the same procedure and their results should be consistent and repeatable.  That allows us to reliably, confidently compare fixtures by any number of manufacturers.

Don’t Call Me A “Creative”

I was recently referred to as a “creative” and the person who said it was surprised when I asked not to be called that.  Here’s why I hate that word used as a noun.

In other industries the training, talent, and roll of individuals is recognized.  In finance, for example, there are bank tellers, stock brokers, analysts, hedge fund managers, etc.  While we might say they all work in the financial industry, we don’t call them “financials” or “moneys”.  We describe each person’s role using the name of their distinct profession.  Kayla is a financial analyst, not a “money”.

Likewise, in medicine there are nurses, doctors, surgeons, EMTs, etc.  We might collect all of their expertise when we refer to the medical or health care field, but we don’t call the individuals “medicals”.  Again, we describe each person’s distinct role or profession.  Alex is a registered nurse, not a “health”.

I work in a creative profession, but I’m a lighting designer not a “creative”.  I’m not a poet, choreographer, photographer, or web site designer.  I find it lazy and dismissive to lump all of us into one category and call us “creatives” as though we’re interchangeable, without regard to the education and skills of our very distinct professions.  You don’t want a web site designer lighting your building, or a choreographer making your web site.  To me, calling us all “creatives” disregards and degrades our unique abilities and contributions, essentially saying that what we do isn’t worth recognizing or naming.

Designing Beyond Fidelity

I recently began a project that includes about 8,000 SF of office space that is completely without windows or skylights.  I’ve renovated spaces like this before, and the common complaint from occupants was a disconnect from daylight, weather, and the way they indicate the passage of time.  On this project, I determined that the most appropriate solution was to use a light source that rendered colors in a way that is highly preferred to make the spaces more pleasant to occupy and use.

Of course, as a designer who is very knowledgable about color rendering issues and is a TM-30 advocate, I know two things.  First, highly preferred is not high fidelity.  People prefer a light source that slightly increases the saturation of object colors (especially reds) over a high fidelity source.  Second, TM-30’s Annex E provides specifiers with ranges for certain TM-30 measurements that allow us to accurately specify highly preferred light sources.

The task seemed simple enough.  Forget about fidelity and find a fixture/LED combination with a spectrum designed for preference, i.e. a light source that meets the TM-30 Annex E specification for a highly preferred (aka P1) light source.  After all, we’ve had TM-30 for seven years now, and Annex E for four years.  Surely, by now LED manufacturers have introduced products that meet color rendering goals other than fidelity, right?  Who wouldn’t see that as a huge marketing opportunity?  And surely fixture manufacturers would offer specifiers that LED, again to differentiate their products from the many, many, many similar products from other manufacturers…right?

Alas, the answer is, “No.”  One member of the IES Color Committee shared with me a database of over 1,000 LED products, their SPDs, and their various TM-30 measurements, including the Annex E Preference Design Intent.  Of those, there are a generous handful of retrofit lamps, most of them by Soraa and Cree, that meet the P1 specification, but only one LED in commercially available linear LED fixtures – Focal Point’s Preferred Light series.  That’s it!

Fortunately, this project is for a private firm so I don’t have to worry about developing a three-name or performance spec.  Otherwise, I would have to give up on a preferred spectrum and default to high fidelity not because it would be appropriate for the project but simply because there are more options.

I’ve mentioned fidelity and preference.  You might be asking if there are other color rendering goals.  The answer is, “Yes.”  Other color rendering design goals, with brief explanations, include:

Preference.  Light distorts object colors with slight increases in saturation, especially reds, in a way that is preferred over the reference light source (that is, preferred over high fidelity).   This might be the goal in an expensive restaurant where you want to emphasize the beautiful colors of the food, people, and interior design.

Vividness.  Light renders object colors as more or less vivid, or saturated, than the reference light source. Vividness is different from Preference in the degree of distorted saturation and the design intent – making colors pop, not making colors more attractive.  This might be the goal in the Skittles store in Times Square where you want the colors to leap out at people.  

Naturalness. Light renders object colors as expected, which, surprisingly, is usually not the same as fidelity.  This might be the color rendering goal in a grocery store where you want the food to look ripe and appetizing.

Discrimination.  Light renders object colors so they can be appropriately sorted. This might be the goal in a facility where even slight color variations must be detected.

Specifiers are captives of manufacturers.  We can have design goals oriented toward the needs of the users and the success of the project, but manufacturers only want to sell us fidelity, the same way they’ve been selling us fidelity since CRI was introduced in 1965.  For 50 years we only had a hammer (CRI) so all problems were nails (fidelity).  TM-30 changed that and it’s time for manufacturers to catch up.

IES Publishes “Standards Toolbox”

The IES has added a Standards Toolbox to their web site that features an online TM-30 and TM-21 (projected luminous flux maintenance, i.e. LED lifetime projections) calculators, an interactive illuminance selector (for subscribers to the IES Online Library), and an IES Reference Retriever where members can access all of the documents, articles, and papers referenced in various IES documents.

Of course, I’m most excited about the TM-30 calculator which imports and exports spectral data and reports in a variety of formats and increments, and will always be the most up-to-date version.  As a bonus, the calculator’s code is also available for download on GitHub, which may be of special interest to manufacturers who want to bring calculations in house instead of doing them online.

The TM-30 calculator includes CIE S026 Alpha-Opic calculations (CIE S 026:2018. System for Metrology of Optical Radiation for ipRGC-Influenced Responses to Light) and output, and is expected to include additional spectral calculations in the future.

Manufacturers Don’t Understand Color Rendering

I attended LEDucation in New York City this week.  While there I spoke to over two dozen manufacturers, none of whom understood color rendering beyond the (partially accurate) belief that higher CRI is better.  My conversations when like this.

Lighting Salesperson: “Our color rendering is great.  Our CRI is over 90 and our R9 is over 50.”

Me: “CRI measures color fidelity.  What if my goals are something else?”

Lighting Salesperson: “…”

or

Lighting Salesperson: “Our color rendering is great.  Our CRI is over 90 and our R9 is over 50.”

Me: “CRI has inaccuracies that have been known for decades while TM-30 is the most accurate and up to date system.  If color fidelity is important to you, why aren’t you using TM-30’s Rf?”

Lighting Salesperson: “Well, lighting designers don’t understand TM-30.”

Me: “Oh, I think many of them do.  But, even if they don’t, don’t you want to be sure that your color rendering claims are true?  Couldn’t you educate designers about TM-30?  The IES Color Committee will help.”

Lighting Salesperson: “…”

So, (big sigh, big eye roll) let’s go over this again.  If we think of CIE 13.3-1995 Method of Measuring and Specifying Colour Rendering Properties of Light Sources, aka CRI, as a technology, then it’s a technology from 1965 which is when the first version was published.  In 1965 Lyndon Johnson was president, Bonanza was the most popular TV show, Wooly Bully by Sam the Sham and The Pharaohs was the most popular song, and the Chevrolet Impala (Jet Smooth Ride!) was the most popular car.  CRI is O-L-D.

As with any other technology that is 57 years old,  the science has advanced.  Unfortunately, CRI has not. There were two minor corrections, the most recent in 1995, but they did little to fix at least a half dozen errors and inaccuracies that have been well documented for decades.  The CIE basically admitted that when, in 2017, they published CIE 224 Colour Fidelity Index for Accurate Scientific Use, which is TM-30’s Rf measure of fidelity.  Why publish 224 and not withdraw CRI?  Why have one measure for accurate scientific use and one for (inaccurate?) general use? The CIE requires unanimous votes for any action to be approved.  I’m told by reliable sources who were in the room that one global lamp manufacturer has been resisting updating or replacing CRI for decades, and that one manufacturer has held up progress or change.

So, CRI is has known inaccuracies resulting from a combination of outdated internal calculations along with other limitations.  Meanwhile, TM-30 is known to be the most accurate measure of fidelity.  If fidelity is your concern, Rf is the measurement you want to use.

What about concerns other than fidelity?  When TM-30 was published in 2015 there wasn’t evidence it could be used for purposes other than fidelity.  However, by 2018 studies provided ample evidence that TM-30 measures could also be used to evaluate light sources for preference and vividness.  The studies are summarized in TM-30’s Annex F, and recommendations based on those studies are in Annex E (yes, that seems backwards, sorry).  Here’s an explanation of all three color rendering goals. (Oh, and TM-30 is still a free download from the IES!)

I think preference is an incredibly interesting color rendering goal.  Color preference means that the light source in question renders colors differently than the reference light source (and therefore has a lower fidelity) but does so in a way that is preferred by most people (usually by slightly increasing the saturation of colors, especially red).  Color preference is usually my color rendering goals in spaces, such as hospitality, where aesthetics are the primary concern.

Manufacturers don’t get it. Designers do, and we have to demand that they educate themselves so they can provide us with the tools we need.

Updating the CCT Calculation

As I noted in Chapter 9 of the 2nd edition of Designing with Light, we calculate color temperature, correlated color temperature, and distance from the Plankian locus in a perverse way.  The calculations are performed in the CIE 1960 (u, v) chromaticity diagram (which is why distance from the Plankian locus is Duv).  However, since 1960 (u, v) is obsolete, we perform the calculation using CIE 1976 (u’, v’) chromaticity diagram, but then scale the v’ axis by .66 so that we’re using 1976 (u’, ⅔ v’) which is 1960 (u, v).

To complicate things, to present information graphically, most manufacturers transpose these calculations to the 1931 (x, y) chromaticity diagram, resulting in the industry using 2 ½  chromaticity diagrams for various calculations and illustrations.  Unfortunately, they also use 1931 (x, y) to illustrate the gamut of multi-colored luminaires even though it isn’t uniform, making the illustration of questionable value (they should be using CIE 1976 (u’, v’), which is perceptually uniform).

In a counter to this fragmented system, yesterday Leukos published a research article called Improved Method for Evaluating and Specifying the Chromaticity of Light Sources.  Among other proposed improvements to how we perform chromaticity related calculations, it introduces a new uniform chromaticity scale (UCS) diagram with coordinates (s, t), a measure of correlated color temperature (CCTst), and a measure of distance from the Planckian locus (Dst).  Importantly, it makes all chromaticity calculations in a single chromaticity diagram instead of the 2 ½ diagrams we use today.  It’s heavy on the science, but is an important step in fixing our current system.

Designers Thinking About Light – IES Vancouver Section

On February 24th I’m giving an online presentation called Designers Thinking About Light to the Vancouver section of the IES.  I’ll be talking about how lighting designers think about light as an artistic medium.  The presentation will include some ideas you probably know, as well as some approaches that will be new.  To register, visit the IES Vancouver Section web site.