The Evolution of Lighting

Lighting Evolution: Incandescent lightbulbs to Connected PoE

November 21, 2016

For many, the story of Thomas Edison and the invention of the lightbulb has become a symbol of American innovation, grit, and competition. Yet today, the same country where Edison created the incandescent lightbulb is now phasing it out. How did we get here?

How Has the Lighting Industry Changed?

The first lightbulbs proved promising, but they were quick to burn out, hot, and expensive. Edison’s work with filaments allowed for lamps with up to 1,200 hours of life – giving way to the first commercially viable lightbulbs. As people adopted the lightbulb, new needs arose. People needed lightbulbs that lasted longer and were safer. Nearly the entire first century of lightbulb innovation could be characterized around improving what existed – the incandescent bulb.

The Fluorescent Light and CFL

By the 1970s, the incandescent lightbulb did its job quite well – until the energy crisis. This forced everything that consumed energy to undergo transformations, including the lighting industry. People turned to the promises of fluorescent lighting which saw rapid commercial advancements during this time. However, fluorescent lighting’s harsh, huge, and expensive bulbs slowed its market growth until the compact fluorescent light (CFL) developed to address those concerns.

Today we have new needs. Population growth, climate change, and increasing energy demands continue to require advances in lighting technology. Overall, CFLs moved the lighting industry forward, but not perfectly. CFLs contain dangerous chemicals and are still not efficient enough for a growing world. This has driven the innovation behind the Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulb. At first, LEDs were the most expensive bulb on the market, and barely as efficient as CFLs. However, a decade of public-private sector investments and innovation has led to the development of highly efficient LEDs at a lower cost.

The Lighting Industry's Move to LEDs

ccording to the U.S. Energy Department's website, “Today’s LED bulbs are also six to seven times more energy efficient than conventional incandescent lights, cut energy by more than 80 percent, and can last more than 25 times longer. Taken together, these advancements have led to rapid deployment in the past of couple years in both commercial and residential applications. In 2012 alone, more than 49 million LEDs were installed in the U.S. -- saving about $675 million in annual energy costs -- and as prices continue to drop, LEDs are expected to become a common feature in homes across the country.”

Within the past 5-10 years, inventors have noticed the potential of LEDs. With significantly lower wattage requirements than traditional or CFL lightbulbs, LEDs can be powered using the Cat 5 cable found in Ethernet cords. Multiple lights can be strung together and be powered and controlled by the Ethernet cord – giving way to today’s Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) lighting innovations.

LEDs are a critical component of the next phase of lighting innovation. PoE technology uses the efficiencies of LEDs, and LEDs become more efficient with PoE technology. Together, the combination allows each to achieve more savings and efficiencies than they could alone. Companies such as Igor are harnessing the best of both worlds to bring tremendous lighting savings and control to the market.

Read more about Igor’s Rev. 5 technology to see how you can harness the power of PoE and LEDs today.