The lighting industry is used to working with standardized light sources – for example, the familiar screw-base Edison incandescents or tube-shaped T8 linear fluorescents.
But unlike other lighting types, LED technology doesn’t yet have an industry standard. Each manufacturer is left to create its own separate proprietary system, resulting in a market full of significantly different luminaires that you can’t easily swap out when an upgrade or replacement is necessary.
However, the Zhaga Consortium, a global specifications development organization including over 200 manufacturers and lighting professionals, has set out to change that.
The Push for Interchangeability
Zhaga aims to fill the gap in the marketplace by developing voluntary interface standards for LED light source developers. Founded in 2010, the organization targets only the light engine – the LED module itself plus the driver that controls it – and its mating surfaces on the luminaire.
Luminaires bearing the Zhaga mark are certified to meet the organization’s requirements, indicating that end users can use replacement light engines from any manufacturer bearing the same mark.
“LED technology continues to evolve, and Zhaga doesn’t want to discourage manufacturers from doing better things inside the light engine,” explains Ben Swedberg, business unit manager for engineered solutions for Ideal Industries, a Zhaga member. “The interfaces need to be fixed and can’t change, but we don’t want to tell manufacturers what they can do inside the light engine because we want the technology to continue to grow.”
The organization develops specifications for each application, from downlighting to streetlights and ambient lighting. Each set provides standardized requirements for five common interfaces:
- Mechanical: Dimensions, fit,
- Photometrical: Light distribution, color, lumen output, beam shape
- Thermal: Thermal resistance, heat dissipation, and other thermal behavior factors
- Electrical: Power, electrical connection points, insulation
- Control: Behavior when coupled with common existing controls, such as dimmers