LAMPS

GE has unveiled its highly-anticipated LED module – and aims to take on the likes of Xicato, Philips and Bridgelux. So how does it measure up? Ray Molony reports

Although GE isn’t always first to market, when it enters a market you have to take it seriously. For instance, it followed Philips into the ceramic metal-halide sector, but it entered the market with an exceptional product – the CMH lamp – that’s been a big hit with retailers.

Lately, it’s unveiled a competitor to the Cosmopolis in the white street-lighting category. The StreetWise – see its benchtest – has a range of features the Philips doesn’t.

Now GE has used the Euroshop exhibition to unveil its long-awaited LED module. The Infusion LED engine – based on an array – is designed to compete at the top end with the likes of the Philips Fortimo, the Osram PrevaLED, the Xicato Artist and the Bridgelux Helieon.

Consistent batches

With LED modules, small differences in the thermal management can lead to big differences in output, colour and life, so GE scientists have put great emphasis on making the module and its connection ‘repeatable’ so its performance is consistent across all batches and when it is spot-replaced.

Three versions of the module are available, ranging in input power from 15 to 46W with outputs from 1,100 to 3,000 lumens. As GE is keen to point out, these are ‘hot lumens’, measured at a performance temperature of 65oC.

The modules continue the labelling system developed for fluorescent lamps: the standard 830 version, for example, has a minimum colour rendering of 80 Ra and a colour temperature of 3000K. The 840 has a cooler colour temperature of 4000K, but this is compensated for by an output 10 per cent higher than the 830. The 827, in contrast, has colour temperature comparable to tungsten at 2700K but has 10 per cent less output than the standard 830.

But designers’ eyes will be on the top of the range version, the Infusion Ultra 930, with a colour rendering of over 90 Ra. This makes it a retail-class product and a competitor to Xicato’s acclaimed Artist series. The 30W Infusion, GE points out, is a perfect replacement for a 39W CMH lamp.

Respectable efficacy

The Infusion range delivers a very respectable efficacy of about 70 lumens per watt. The Infusion Ultra is slightly lower at 63 lumens per watt.

Also, GE guarantees to maintain the lumen values in future versions of the Infusion, regardless of how LED efficiencies may improve.

The Infusion is based on a two-step MacAdam ellipse rather than the standard four-step. This means its colour consistency from module to module is the best in class – if you swap modules, they’ll all look the same.

‘We’re not the first to market,’ says GE’s Mike Barrett, commercial director, UK and Nordic Region, ‘so we’re using quality as a differentiator.’

Colour rendering makes the module a retail-class product

Colour rendering makes the module a retail-class product

The Infusion is the result of 12 months of research and development, including much testing of LED chips. Unlike Philips and Osram, GE doesn’t make its own LED chips, but chooses suppliers on the open market. ‘We describe ourselves as LED chip agnostics,’ says Andrew Davies, product general manager, LED solutions Europe Middle east and Africa. ‘We don’t make our own so we choose the best on the market that we have tested and put through the mill.’

 

Infusion is also designed to appeal to OEMs that want to create high quality LED luminaires. The Infusion features lots of clever features in the circuitry, including thermal cut-outs and polarity, overcurrent and ‘hot swap’ protection.

Approved ballasts

The Infusion runs off drivers using standard constant currents from 700mA to 1.4A; GE will publish a list of approved ballasts every three months. Also, there’s a range of approved thermal providers, depending on the spec, but it’s set to include Sunon, AVC and Nuventix.

Although GE isn’t first to market, it has attempted to turn this tardiness to its advantage with a module that aims to tick every box. To say this product is the result of painstaking research and testing is a bit of an understatement. For the future, GE says 8,000 lumen packages are on the horizon, along with tuneable white. We can’t wait.

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