In developing LED replacement lamps of all varieties, manufacturers have primarily focused on performance, efficiency, and cost. They invest lots of money and resources to hunt for the optimum LED package, the most efficient optical performance, and best thermal management approach. It's a technology race that requires getting the right balance of those elements to have a winning product. But what about the industrial design? How big of a factor is it, really?
Last week, I decided to take a quick look at the light bulb aisle in my local Home Depot, just to see if there was anything new. I met a master electrician that was working that department, and had just finished setting up a display of decorative fixtures using a variety of LED lamps now sold in the store. I told him that I was in the industry, and asked him what he thought of them. “Some are really ugly,” he said bluntly. That answer surprised me as I was expecting to hear some kind of technical feedback from an electrician. “They're ugly,” he said again, and pointed out some LED replacement lamps that I have to agree did not look very attractive within the fixtures, especially when the bulb was partially or completely visible. Referring to one that he said looked like a “bug light,” he continued with “people do not want to buy that bulb and put it into any kind of light where you can see it. . ” He was referring to the noticeable spots from the LED chips showing through the diffuser. “It's just ugly.”
You can not really say that the traditional Edison bulb is some exceptional thing of beauty, but at least it is neutral from an aesthetic standpoint. Certainly, CFL's have not only been held back due to their light quality and mercury content, but also the look. In the current flood of LED replacement lamps hitting the market, some of these products will perform well in terms of light output, but some of them may fail to sell due to their industrial design. Smart companies will not only meet the needs of the user regarding performance, cost, and efficiency, but also make an attractive product. And it's not just the Martha Stewart wannabee's that are concerned about the look of the bulbs within the decorative fixtures in their home, it's a master electrician as well.