Compared to prior years, the 2012 NGL outdoor results show a marked improvement in overall performance. The recognized products performed best in terms of color, illuminance, and light distribution – the highest-performing criteria overall – and somewhat less well in terms of glare. Tellingly, color and distribution, together with increasing efficacy highlight the substantial improvements manufacturers continue to make in product quality and performance.
One of the major issues that remains in SSL outdoor luminaire design is glare control. Given the nature of LEDs as directional point sources of light, manufacturers are encouraged to seek ways to control the high luminance (i.e., brightness) in the field of view inherent in LED luminaire design. The judges recognize that there is often a trade-off between adequate distribution and glare control, but encourage the exploration of unique optical methods for delivering the light where needed with good control of visual discomfort and/or disability. Deeper luminaires with good shielding, internal baffles, reflector and/or refractor design are possibilities.
Along the same lines, the judges encourage outdoor luminaire manufacturers, particularly those designing roadway and street lighting systems, to explore the effects of environmental dirt depreciation on the maintenance of lighting system output. The unique nature of LEDs may require different maintenance considerations in the actual design of enclosures for outdoor luminaires (enclosures vs. bare LED arrays, etc.).
There is also room for form factor improvement, exploring the full opportunities LEDs provide as unique light sources. Manufacturers are encouraged to divorce themselves from flat-plate LED arrays mounted in relatively traditional housings and look at completely different, and perhaps integrated, luminaire designs for exterior lighting. The products recognized as 'Of Note' show promise in this area and were therefore noted by the judges.
Best in Class and Recognized
The judges evaluated white-light, general-illumination products available for specification in the commercial market. The panel initially selected as "Recognized" 37 products from the 120 reviewed, meaning the panel would recommend these 37 products to other specifiers. From all of the "Recognized," market-ready products, the judges were asked to identify – at their discretion – any that they considered "Best in Class." To attain this level, a product had to both stand out from the others and be evaluated at the top of a majority of evaluation categories. Thus, products named "Best in Class" had to be more than just the highest-ranked of the group. Most entry categories did not have a product that was awarded this distinction.
The judges made note of a number of products that incorporated particularly innovative form factors, capitalizing on the distinctive attributes of LED sources. While these products did not earn recognition on the basis of their lighting and energy performance, the judges believe that the marketplace will benefit from learning about these products and they are included in this "Of Note" category.