LED lights have become a vital phenomenon. The lighting technology consist many advantages that currently almost everyone has switched to lighting that cares over the conventional source of lighting. Speaking in a modern technological term, the LED lighting system has become smart, thanks to the advancement of the internet of things (IoT). Though, this LED issue is not about the LED but putting a well-deserved spotlight to the component that provides the power to the LED – the LED DRIVER. Onboarding the tech veterans from the major industry player for LED Drivers in an interactive conversation with, HakanYilmazer, Global Head of Application Marketing for Lighting (PMM), Infineon Technologies AG l Randall Restle, Vice President, Applications Engineering for Digi-Key l SumitPadmakarJoshi, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Signify India Innovations Limited l and RakeshZutshi, Managing Director, Halonix Technologies Private Limited who further simplify the importance of the LED driver and what the industry is currently on and about.
Critical Factors to consider while selecting a LED Driver
SJ: Some major factors before selecting an LED driver includes whether one needs a constant current or a constant voltage driver. Other factors to consider are the type of LED to be used, its junction temperature, the application of the fixture, the space constraint within the fixture (if any), the commercial viability, whether dimming is required etc. For most of the applications, low voltage DC input LED drivers and high-voltage AC input are recommended primarily because of their reliability and stability. Nowadays, dimmable drivers are gaining popularity.
RZ: Choosing the right LED Driver is of utmost importance to power today’s state-of-the-art energy efficient LED lighting system. LED drivers are selected on the basis of the critical factors like the output current, output power, output voltage and IP Rating, etc. However, before selecting the LED Driver, it is important to figure out whether you need constant current LED Driver or constant voltage LED Driver.
RR: There are multiple markets for LED drivers and Digi-Key serves them all as the distributor carrying the latest technology devices for engineers to prototype their designs. Design factors vary greatly depending on the application. Consumer markets are focused on cost minimization once a design is in production whereas industrial and commercial markets focus on specific features. Consumer applications will typically put LEDs in series to reduce the number of drivers required to reduce cost and, since the LEDs are in series, the current supplied is the same to all LEDs thereby meaning that drive voltage is a prime consideration. Since power is current multiplied by voltage, drivers require heatsinking to remove heat. A commercial application might focus on driving multiple LEDs, perhaps of different wavelengths, in order to modulate color output. Critical factors of these drivers are adjustable output current per channel.
HY: I believe, the critical factors that needs to be addressed in a LED Driver are firstly i) efficiency, ii) reliability iii) brand vs non-brand iv) fulfilling the technical requirements, i.e. Power rating, Input / Output voltage range, output current, power factor / Total harmonic distortion and v) numerous other
Future Trends of the LED Driver Market
RR: The LED market was slow to take off as lighting fixture manufacturers were more mechanical companies than they were electronic firms. Their job was to stamp and shape metal to accommodate standard incandescent lamps. Many lighting companies remain fixture manufacturers because they are able to buy ready-made electronics including those that fit the pervasive incandescent lamp sockets. Then there are the custom manufacturers who combine both mechanical and electronic expertise to design exactly what the job requires but digital signage is another market driving demand. We believe the lighting market continues to evolve; we do not see the market consolidating. The flexibility of LEDs offers so much more than incandescent lights that new applications will continue to emerge. I remember being surprised to learn that LEDs were being used to determine the fertilized state of chicken eggs. How many more applications are there? Probably a lot.
HY:Among the various trends, LED Drivers in the future are going to have the following:
a. Higher power → 600W – 1kW and even above
b. Higher efficiency → > 90%
c. Two channel for tunable white
SJ:The future of the LED driver market looks attractive, with opportunities in the residential, commercialand industrial lighting sectors. The major growth drivers for this market are increasing building and construction activities, favorable government regulations to improve energy efficiency, and the increasing adoption of LED lighting in emerging countries. In the next few years, the field will witness suppliers that adopt a more integrated approach. This will make future LED drivers significantly different from what we see today. Higher levels of efficiency will become the norm, and drivers will also deliver improved performance and power monitoring. In addition, the higher integration of chip systems (SoCs) will continue to reduce the size of the final product while maintaining the overall design reliability. Also, the concept of DOB – driver on board is slowly gaining popularity, which is basically a chip that acts like a driver. Since it’s a solid-state device, it does not have any decay element. Thus, its life is supposed to be almost similar to that of LEDs.
RZ: Yes the LED Driver industry is expected to grow with a CAGR of 15.5% from 2018 to 2023, hence it looks very attractive and the scenario has presented a host of opportunities for the players to capitalize upon. The increasing construction activities, especially in the luxury housing market, besides the government’s renewed focus and commitment towards energy efficient lighting systems are altogether bringing significant growth and new trends in LED Driver Industry. As far as the latest trends of the market are concerned, LED Drivers for residential, industrial and automotive LED lighting segment are expected to witness significant growth in demand. Alreadythe drop in prices has helped the industry achieve next level of growth and the demand for new technology for LED Drivers is growing. The rapid urbanization and changing lifestyles of the people have also increased the demand for unique LED drivers for the products with compatible size and aesthetic look.
Other Industry Domains that LED Drivers are likely to hit
HY: There is a highly anticipated growth of the devices especially in Urban / Vertical farming domain in the coming years.
RZ: Apart from residential, commercial and institutions LED lightings, the growth of LED Drivers is all set to be fueled by the emerging high demand in automotive lighting sector. Among the major growth drivers for the LED Drivers market are the increasing building and construction activities and the favorable government regulations in terms of energy efficiency and increasing adoption of LED lighting across the country.
RR: Digital signage is a growth driver. Signage consists of the application of standard LEDs into arrays that can be programmed to illuminate nearly any pattern. I was recently in Asia and noticed signs changing from Chinese to English and other languages. These are huge, worldwide markets.Digi-Key’s customers are not required to share how they’re using LED drivers when they place an order, so we don’t know the specific applications unless they volunteer the information. We do know that it’s farreaching from medical applications to fertilized egg detectors, but ultimately the general lighting and signage markets are driving the market.
SJ: In the coming times LED lighting is going to open up immense possibilities not only by lowering energy consumption levels but also enhancing the overall lighting experience with respect to control, monitoring/sensing and connectivity, coupled with the convenience of longer life and improved aesthetics. Some emerging technology trends that will shape the LED lighting market in India will be connected LED lights. Lighting systems will get smarter, as the possibility of autonomous, self-commissioning illumination systems is emerging. The industry has been transformed from analogue to digital as LED lighting allows users to control, monitor and measure lighting output. This transformation is taking place across public, home and professional lighting, and connected LED lights will emerge as the largest IoT device segment within the next five to ten years. Control devices, dimmers and wireless lighting with advanced sensors will cater to the needs of modern consumer. Rough Roads in the LED Driver Market RZ: First of all, LED Drivers Market is being adversely affected by the intense competition from Chinese Players who offer their products at much cheaper price points though of substandard quality. Heavy revenue leakage due to the levy of GST is one of the major challenges faced by the local manufacturers. Lack of technical standardized norms for the LED Drivers Market is another challenge straining the growth of the LED Drivers Market.
SJ: LED technology has revolutionized the lighting market on many counts— efficiency, form factor, longevity and controllability, and continues to offer new lighting solutions. LED drivers have improved and been optimized over the past decade. The immediate challenges that could derail the growth of this industry in India are:
• The basic problem of power conversion technology has remained largely unchanged. Little bit of government intervention will not only help the LED lighting industry to achieve sustainable growth but also help the country to move towards greater self-sufficiency in power generation. This will make more power available to the public, so that within the next two to three years, electricity can reach even the far-flung hamlets and the hutments of the poor, many of whom have never seen any artificial light other than oil lamps
• Mushrooming low quality, unauthorized manufacturing units making substandard products, and low-cost Chinese imports of poor quality could result in low consumer confidence
• Lack of awareness among consumers as well as institutional buyers about the efficiency of LEDs with respect to lux, wattage, life expectancy, etc. This results in the use of products with higher wattage but lower efficiency
• Use of inefficient drivers, resulting in higher energy usage as well as product failure.
HY: The only challenge that hinders the market is the high cost pressure.
RR: Unfortunately, LEDs have a forward voltage drop across them and a current traveling through them and this means they must dissipate power in the form of heat. Since a driver must supply that voltage and that current, drivers have an issue with heat, too. There are semiconductor materials such as silicon carbide that can sustain very high temperatures, but many enclosures cannot. Returning to medical applications, an LED might be small enough to position inside one’s body during a surgical procedure but the heat the LED and its driver generates might not be tolerated. In this case, the LED and its driver have to be remote and the light fed into a light pipe that is then positioned on whatever needs to be illuminated. Of course, having an umbilical light cord is not desirable so heat extraction probably remains the more persistent challenge.
Companies Holding Up to the Latest Trends.
RR: Digi-Key’s mission is to offer the latest technology devices available for immediate delivery to fuel our customers’ innovation. Our stocking thresholds are very low. This means that a designer can depend on a device being areal device if Digi-Key stocks it. Customers can count on being able to procure devices for production once their prototypes are complete. Designers can stay on the cutting edge of LED driver technology simply by visiting Digi-Key’s website and keying inLED driver into the search box. As of today, they can find nearly 10,000 solutions. If it’s the latest devices that one seeks, one can click on theNew Products linkadjacent to the main category of device families to find the latest devices that Digi-Key has added to stock.
SJ: Signify firmly believes that constant improvements in design are always required. While various kinds of protection should be in place to provide a robust design, LED drivers need to be more reliable and provide better efficiency to save more energy. With the advent of new technologies, we have been improving the reliability and the efficiency of the drivers used for residential lighting, street lighting, downlights, landscaping, monument lighting, security lights, industrial lighting, office space lightingand much more. The new technology will help save energy, avoid damages from high voltage and current surges, and control lights remotely. Emerging trends in the LED driver industry include the development of visible light communication (VLC) LED drivers and of colour-adjustable drivers. Our Next-generation LED lighting products are equipped with new technologies and solutions to meet the changing industry demands.
RZ: The emerging trends, which have a direct impact on the dynamics of the LED driver industry, include the development of visible light communication (VLC) LED drivers, and the development of color tunable LED drivers. India is wellpoised to become one of the largest manufacturers of LED Drivers on the back of the Make in India drive. At Halonix, we remain committed to create conducive environment for the development of every new technology with aim to enhance our product portfolio and capture a major share of India’s fast growing LED market segment.
HY: Infineon is focused on being customer connected with our dedicated global lighting team.