Lighting Korea 2012: In interview with Light Laboratory – the LED luminaries certification lab

Any electrical appliances are required to obtain a mandatory conformity mark that prove that they are certified by national- or industry-accredited bodies. LED luminaries and LED backlight application are no exemption from this industry norm. The US-based Light Laboratory, Inc (LLI) – a photometric testing laboratory that specializes in testing luminaries thus outstands itself.

LEDinside has the opportunity to meet up with LLI company CEO Jason Gee during the recent Lighting Korea about his views over company competitive grounds plus LLI’s professional comments about vendors’ deployment in the US market from a certification point of view.

LLI was established in 1974, based at Orange County, Southern California. Gee has been performed as the company CEO for a decade. The lab is accredited through the National Voluntary Laboratory Accreditation Program (NVLAP) for ISO/IEC 17025. Any photometric products produced at the US are required to validate at a ISO/IE 17025-accredited lab.

The number of validation at LLI has doubled in 2012 and a stronger double growth is expected in 2013, Gee highlighted. Backed an eight-fold jump in terms of sales volume starting from 2010, Gee emphasized that the LED validation market delivers substantial potentials, especially for the Korea market. Given that Korean companies attain their own technology strength with a complete supply chain, he believes that Korea will play a vital role in worldwide LED market.

The only resistance for Korean companies to raise their position is the lack of sufficient information about how to enter into the US market, which Gee believes that LLI builds its competitive edge here. LLI tailors made its service to Asian customers by providing them services such as consultation over any industry-standard application. Validation-related flow and requirement are complicated, thus verification is needed case by case as industry standard varies along with trends, highlighted Gee. For instance, LLI has launched the UL 1598C validation which is specializes for LED tube retrofit kit. In July 2012

LED luminaries certification snapshot

Having products to comply with accredited certifications are not essential yet important to gain customer confidence, Gee said. Many distributors and retailers request vendors to provide corresponding certifications for their products in order to guarantee a smooth penetration. For some rebate programs, certification such as DesignLights Consortium (DLC) and Energy Star is a must for any official sale, he remarked. Products complying standards such as LM80 and TM21 are suggested, Gee said. UL Package is also suggested as it guarantees those appliances which adopt UL Package-certified modules to be certified by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). For luminaries, UL ETL is required. DLC, Energy Star and lighting facts are some other available certifications, he detailed.

Certification requires an approximate of US$500 to US$1,500 with most certifications valid for a year and a few valid for five years. Under the provision of grandfather clause, certifications are exempted for those products which are already in or a part of the existing certification system.

US is a highlighted market in terms of its derived potentials, especially when comparing to Asian market that delivers relative insufficient potentials at the time being, Gee said. Yet, penetration becomes difficult for Asian companies as they are in lack of professional luminaries designers, he highlighted. Most professional luminaries designers are oriented from the US and Europe, implying Asian companies should devote more resources on corresponding training and recruitment, he added. This is also an area which LLI eyes on as industry trends keep updating amid the flourish development. Trends that emerged in the past five years are much more than what the industry witness in the past five decades, he stressed.

Despite the US LED market is still very much dominated by the big names such as GE, Osram and Philips, there still exist opportunities for small players. LLI believes that it has the position to help its customers to penetrate into the US market, builds on its competitive edges of its expertise and its geographic location – where most Korean and Asian LED companies also have their HQ located.

In terms of certification information, Gee noted that Taiwan and China LED companies do enjoy an advantage over Korean vendors as they hold relatively more sufficient information. This exactly justifies the importance of certification which is subject to be educated among the Korean vendors, he added.

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