gaga for zhaga

In the realm of plain ol’ white light, there is a desperate need in the industry for basic standardization of LED lamp modules.  This would be akin to ye olde Edison screw base…but the 2010 version.  Without such standardization, the adoption rate of LED technology for general illumination will be stifled.  Who wants to install expensive fixtures that use flavor-of-the-month LED technologies, custom circuit boards and drivers, non standard geometries, and “disposable” non-relampable fixture designs.  Most specifiers that I’ve spoken with certainly don’t want to…and that is why you are not seeing many projects using LEDs for general illumination, even though the LEDs themselves are generally ready for the task.  Designers are rightfully spooked.

Thankfully, Philips and OSRAM have recently led the charge for standardization.  They, along with numerous other industry heavyweights, established the Zhaga Standard consortium.  “Zhaga” doesn’t mean anything to the lighting industry…the word is in fact the name of a Chinese waterfall.  But the consortium is rushing to implement basic geometric, thermal, and optical standards for certain categories of LED lamp modules.  The consortium has started with small point sources (ideal for downlights, track fixtures, etc.) but has task groups beginning development on other popular categories.

What’s especially interesting about Zhaga is that the membership list hints at the future of the lighting industry.  The stalwarts are all there — GE, OSRAM, Philips, Cooper, Acuity, Zumtobel, etc. — but so is a host of global technology superpowers, such as Toshiba, LG, Sharp, Samsung, and my company, Micron.  These companies are bringing literally billions of dollars of new investment to the lighting industry.  But to justify the scale of the investment, they expect that the channels necessary for LED technology to penetrate the $90b global lighting market will quickly form, which is why standards are so critical to the long term health of the industry.

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