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News – Show Review, Light+Building Controlling the future of lighting

196,000 people attended the 2012 edition of Light+Building

LED standardisation and complete solutions were top of the agenda at Messe Frankfurt

By James McGrath

Visitor attendance at this year’s Light+Building reached a total of 196,000, and walking the halls of Messe Frankfurt one could well believe it. This represented a 7% increase on the previous event held in the same venue in 2010. On the show floor 2,352 manufacturers from 50 countries presented their latest products and trends for the fields of lighting, electrical engineering, home and building automation, and software for the construction industry, representing a 9% increase on the show’s previous offering. “The very good result shows the extent of worldwide demand for environmentally friendly light and building services solutions – and that Light+Building is the foremost meeting place for the industry and decision makers,” said Wolfgang Marzin, president and CEO of Messe Frankfurt.

LED transition

The lighting industry has long been aware of the benefits of LED light sources; on average a white LED lamp can last around 100,000 hours, with 11 years of full operation and 22 years of 50% operation. What’s more, these sources are free of toxic chemicals, whereas most conventional fluorescent lamps (CFLs) contain elements such as mercury. But despite LEDs ticking all the boxes where energy efficiency and eco-friendliness are concerned, price and standardisation have both been left stationary while the technology has thundered ahead.

Cooper Controls’ European sales manager Lucien McQueen said: “Standardising LEDs is one of the big issues because they’re hard to regulate. There are many different types of drivers and this can pose long-term problems for any project.”

Manufacturers and distributors at the show were in agreement that LED technology has been developing with no uniform guidance. It is widely recognised that if a building undergoes installation of an LED lighting system, then the installers are tied down to a particular manufacturer because its LED light engines work together with light sources almost exclusively. This leaves little or no freedom should the building require new lighting fixtures or a change to the system. Unlike the CFL segment of the lighting industry, there has been no precedent for LED light engines. However, change is on the horizon; with organisations such as Zhaga – an international organisation aiming to create standardisation in LED lighting –

6 IE May 2012 Light + Building occupied 10 halls at Messe Frankfurt

making its way into the industry, companies are welcoming the potential for complete interoperability between LED light sources.

“We’re beginning to build our reputation in the LED market as we feel this is the right place to be,” stated Fred Bass, director at Neonlite, the company behind the Megaman lighting brand, which is a member of the Zhaga initiative. “But customers are often confused by the LED industry because there is so much out there and no standardisation.”

McQueen reiterated: “There’s definitely a big future for LED lighting, but at the minute it’s not quite there in terms of cost-benefit for large-scale commercial lighting applications such as office blocks. CFL is much more cost effective because larger areas can be lit for half the cost, and it may take a few years for LEDs to reach that cost point.” Bass confirmed: “The market is moving so fast that it won’t be long before LED light sources take the lead. They’re plenty powerful enough, and you get more flexible lighting options from them. For instance you can’t get an 8º beam from a CFL.”

The Z factor

Since forming in February 2010, Zhaga has grown to consist of over 180 members from Asia, Europe and North America. The consortium’s goal is to enable easy integration of LED technology through the interchangeability of LED light sources made by different manufacturers. “All the successful light sources have always been interchangeable. This allows luminaire manufacturers to choose from many manufacturers, providing countless lighting options,” stated Zhaga’s secretary general Menno Treffers.

To put Zhaga’s two years of gathered momentum into perspective, the organisation was not even present at the previous Light+Building show in 2010,

but had its logo featured by no fewer than 30 companies at this year’s edition. “With Zhaga now organising everything, a spin-off to this is that the whole industry gets together every month or two, which really contributes to the forward movement of the industry. The discussions that take place in these meetings contribute to the writing of the theorised book,” stated Bass.

Currently there are six books detailing Zhaga standards which member companies abide by. The open- membership association is currently working on book seven entitled ‘Office LED light engine with separate electric control gear’, as the consortium moves quickly to compile new specifications.

Building management

With energy efficiency the central theme of this year’s Light+Building, exhibitors were keen to show how they’re approaching the subject of complete lighting solutions for buildings. Lutron, which is currently involved in RE:FIT London – a scheme aimed at making London’s public buildings more energy efficient – showcased Quantum, a light management system that aims to reduce commercial lighting energy output by up to 60%. The system consists of a range of products from the Lutron energy suite that allow users to configure, control and monitor all electric light and daylight within a building to save money and energy. “We’re experiencing a rise in the retrofitting segment of the market, especially in Europe because of the economic downturn. Companies aren’t investing in new builds anymore, instead they’re updating existing systems in existing buildings to make them more

efficient,” commented Guy Simmonds, national sales manager at Lutron. Helvar presented a new building management system for lighting applications. Created from a partnership with software manufacturer Tridium, the Helvar Tridium Driver features the software company’s Niagara AX Workbench, which is connected to either a Tridium controller or AX supervisor. The system works as an operating tool for users of Helvar’s Digidim and Imagine systems. Anolis – the architectural division of Robe – demonstrated its ArcSource outdoor range of LEDs at the show. John Saunders, sales director at Anolis, commented: “We’re currently experiencing growth in Russian- speaking territories and their respective markets. On top of this the UK is also proving to be a good market for us in 2012 – both have exceeded our expectations for the year.”

Sommer Cable presented its new Syswall 45, 50, 55 models at the show. Modules for different cable connections slot into the system, which is then mounted to the wall, making it customisable for specific applications. “With more technology going into the classroom there is more need for safe cabling systems that adhere to European standards. It’s no longer just about the product that is being installed, it’s about the complete system – and we’re able to provide solutions which contribute to a safe system,” said Peter Rieck, key account and distribution manager at Sommer. The next Light+Building will be held in Frankfurt am Main from 30 March to 4 April 2014. IE



. For more comment and to read about activity on the showfloor, including new products from Megaman, Pulsar and Acclaim Lighting, visit

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