Spotlight on energy-saving light sources

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong International Hardware & Home Improvement Fair and Hong Kong International Lighting Fair

The recent Nobel Peace Prize for former United States vice-president Al Gore has been a victory for the environmental cause, but many within the lighting industry have been promoting energy-saving products for several years.

Energy saving means a lower electricity bill for the consumer and as long as the lighting fixture also has a long life, hopefully a lower impact on the environment generally.

Participants at the Hong Kong International Lighting Fair said the emphasis would be on energy saving this year, with lighting companies highlighting their latest environmental products.

Timon Rupp, marketing, head of Visible LED, Asia of Osram Opto Semiconductors, will be giving a seminar on 'Innovative Lighting Applications - Now and in the Future' and the environmental and cost benefits of light-emitting diode, or LED, technology.

'At first glance the purchasing cost for the light source appears to be higher compared to conventional light sources,' he said. 'But significant cost benefits accumulate during the operation and maintenance.'

He said consumers would break even within two to three years of operation. 'With LED efficiencies quickly increasing and LED prices dropping, while energy prices are further increasing, the trend is clearly pointing towards LED technology.'

This is the reason why energy-sensitive regions were starting to invest massively in LED technology, he added.

Neo-Neon International is a publicly listed company and has been in business for the past 30 years.

'It's one of the major LED lighting manufacturers in the world,' said Keith Lam, vice-president of sales and marketing for Neo-Neon. 'We want to convey the importance to the public and our customers of the environmental benefits of LED.'

He said European companies were already stating that within two years they would no longer be using incandescent lighting. Australia has already undertaken to ban it, and the US is trying to limit its usage by 2010.

Mr Lam said Neo-Neon would be demonstrating some of its newest products at the fair, including the LED street light and IPanel - a rectangular fixture which can be used for internal illumination.

'LED has a lifespan five times longer than that of incandescent lighting,' said Mr Lam. 'It saves 60 to 70 per cent of the energy used by regular lighting.'

He said there were many companies making LED products, but these were largely in the decorative sphere and not for large scale illuminations, which his firm specialised in. 'Hong Kong already has extensive LED lighting. Every night at 8pm you can see the light show. All the lights are LED,' he said.

With a manufacturing base in Heshan, Neo-Neon distributes worldwide.

Another exhibitor, Neonlite Electronic & Lighting (HK), produces energy saving lamps and fixtures among other products. These compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) have an operating life of up to 15,000 hours, according to the company.

Blanca Ho of the brand team for Megaman Energy Saving Lamps said: 'Energy savings will be a minimum of 75 per cent of the energy burned with an old-fashioned bulb. CFL emits much less heat than incandescent bulbs, which is a major contribution in reducing energy consumption from air-conditioners, thus reducing carbon dioxide emissions.'

The use of CFL technology in the past has been largely limited to outside or industrial use - for example, fluorescents for street lighting, car parks, factories and loading bays. But the fact that technology has moved on to allow for dimmable CFLs means that they can now be used for domestic purposes.

For example, Megaman - which is the brand name under Neonlite - has produced the 'Dimmerable' range, which means that the user can switch between full lighting or atmospheric lighting at a dimmable range between 10 and 100 per cent.

The added benefit, of course, is that when the lamp is dimmed, it uses less energy.

Among other products on show at this year's international lighting fair, Visualgram would be showing its Pushpin lamp, said sales manager Sybil Tsoi.

The on/off function is carried out with a big 'pushpin', which makes it a suitable bedside lamp, and its easy functionality is scoring high marks with elderly consumers. Aspects that appeal to younger consumers include the base of the lamp which is made of veneered cork, so that people can pin up memos or photographs on it.

'We have our own designers, all our products are entirely our own creation,' said Ms Tsoi. She said the company, established in 2004, was a group of young designers who created innovative lighting and household products.

The firm has taken part in the 'Design Incubation Programme', a scheme which was organised by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks, and supported by the government, to enhance the design industry in Hong Kong.