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Ron Newbold of Prescolite on expanding LED adoption and more

20 September 2011

Ron Newbold is the Vice President of Brand Management for Prescolite (a division of Hubbell Lighting) which is based out of Greenville, SC. He has worked in many capacities for manufacturers of downlighting, which also includes Lithonia Lighting and Progress Lighting, for 21 years. Ron has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology and a Masters Degree of Science in Management. He holds several patents in lighting, including a patent for the first downlight designed for fire resistance in fire rated ceiling and roof assemblies. As Prescolite's Brand Manager, he is responsible for new product development, engineering, marketing, sales, and product management for the brand.

Ron will be sharing more of his thoughts on-site at LEDs 2011 during the "Fixture Manufacturers Panel Discussion: Addressing Challenges and Reliability at the Fixture Level." Register today to make sure you're there!
Ron Newbold Prescolite

On the shelves of Big Box stores "Lighting Facts" on labels are evident on retrofit lamps, how do you foresee the consumer understanding these labels? Are color temperature and efficiency tradeoffs understood or relevant to the consumer? How is your company addressing these challenges?

I do not believe the normal buyer in a big box store understands our industry terminology that this label contains. We do not sell LED products through any of the big box stores, though. I would recommend references be made on consumer labeling that shows direct comparisons to lamps for which they already have familiarity that states, "Light output is same as 65W BR30 lamp" or something like that. Unfortunately, I believe there are many consumers that still look at the wattage as an indicator of light intensity. I do like how the label gives a visual for the Kelvin range so at least the buyer can understand what "color of white light" they are purchasing.

How is your company finding ways to "build a better mousetrap" in the era of patents and IP for lighting?

We have taken a strong educational approach for those that specify our products. We couple that with high integrity in thermal management in our designs. Each unique LED fixture possesses a maximum ambient temperature capability for which it can maintain its stated life/lumen maintenance (or lumen output in the case of thermal feedback loop systems), and we publish that number for every fixture so the specifier can be better informed in how to specify the fixture. Also, we have always possessed a core competency in optical designs where we design reflectors around LED modules that provide very intentional distributions that address uniformity, smoothness of the beam's edge, efficacy, brightness control, and spacing criteria. Sustainable designs also ranks high here. Fixtures that represent minimal negative environmental impact gain higher traction than those that are "throw away" fixtures at end of life. This can be salient through manufacturer recycle programs and designs that have easily field replaceable driver/LED modules.

The industry is trying many techniques to accelerate end user adoption of LEDs, from new topologies (like remote phosphor) to common LED package sizes. From your point of view, what is the most effective way to increase adoption?

Lower prices (and costs to manufacturers) will always aid in the acceleration of the adoption curve where ROI's can be reduced to be more in line with traditional source fixtures. Also, we have seen where specifiers are actively looking for systems that have designs that allow for the module to be replaced easily in the field and where the modules are widely available through distribution. They are looking for this type of solution to avoid having to replace the entire fixture at the LED module/driver's end of life. The Fortimo system is a good approach for this reason, but the fixture manufacturers need to make sure they design their products so it can be easily replaced in the field and still maintain its thermal integrity after the module is replaced.

What are you looking forward to at LEDs 2011?

The group panel discussion and meeting with other colleagues.