Saturday, September 4, 2010
More efficient lighting with LEDs
The future of lighting, all kinds of lighting, is LED’s. Only a major and totally unanticipated discovery would prevent LED’s taking the place of incandescent and fluorescent lighting during the next five years. LED’s will soon dominate the lighting industry because they are much more energy-efficient, they stay cool, they are small and light-weight, and they are more earth-friendly to manufacture and dispose.
Energy-efficiency and operating temperature are closely linked. Incandescent light bulbs waste approximately 90% of the electricity used producing heat instead of light. Fluorescent bulbs waste nearly half of their power as heat. LED’s produce light with more than 90% of their electrical draw. This enormously reduces the amount of energy needed to light an area while also reducing the energy needed the keep that same area cool. The lights themselves are now quite expensive but the energy savings will make up for the price difference. Prices will rapidly decline as demand and production increase(remember how “expensive” compact fluorescent bulbs were when first introduced?).
Longevity is the LED’s forte. Most currently being sold will last at least five years if never turned off. For most businesses, changing dead light bulbs is a daily or weekly(at least monthly) necessity. Switching to LED lights could allow a maintenance department to forget how to change a light bulb. How many saved labor hours, reduced storage space and inventory could this be worth to the average business? How much aggravation and space could be saved in the average home?
These are the reasons for the “LED Section” of my investing watch-list. I now monitor: Cree, Inc.(CREE) of Durham, NC; Veeco Instruments, Inc.(VECO) of New York, NY; Carmanah Tech Corp.(CMHXF) of Victoria, BC, Canada; XODTEC LED, Inc.(XODG) of Taiwan; Obelux of Helsinki, Finland and Bridgelux of Sunnyvale, CA. My not-so-secret wish is that Obelux and Bridgelux go public in the near future. These companies should all have a very bright future in the lighting industry.
Veeco Instruments makes the equipment other companies need to produce LED lights. Cree is one of the oldest and best established LED lighting manufacturers. Carmanah specializes in self-contained solar-powered outdoor LED lighting units. Obelux specializes in aviation and architectural lighting and has just announced a 200,000 candela white LED aviation marker light that is Federal Aviation Administration approved and uses just 350 Watts. Bridgelux is lead by ex-Seagate Technology CEO Bill Watkins and has already applied for over 250 patents covering various aspects of LED light production.
Stock market performance of these companies has been less than stellar so far. This is expected in with just-emerging technologies. As a greater variety of products becomes available, product prices drop and the importance of energy-efficiency increases, share prices of these companies should soar. I continue to wait and watch and monitor new developments within the industry.
Large private-sector companies and governments, led by the military, will undoubtedly be the early-adopters of large-scale LED lighting, followed by smaller companies and then individuals. Starbucks has already committed to making the switch in all of its stores. The U.S. Navy has committed to LED lighting on its combat ships. Many more forward-thinking organizations will soon figure out the many advantages of LED lights even at present prices. By the time they have to change the first dead light, replacement prices will probably have dropped by 60% or more and the initial investment will have been repaid several times over in energy savings.