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Theoretical efficacy limit for LED

Discussion in 'Lighting' started by Frank Knappe, Jun 20, 2010.

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  1. Frank Knappe

    Frank Knappe Guest


    In several presentations I have seen graphs from the DOE where they
    publiched the evolution of the efficacy of LED vs. time. In this graphs
    were also two line which should represent the theoretical efficacy limit
    for warm (~160lm/W) and cool white LED (~230lm/W). Can anybody give me a
    reference where I can find the calculations of these limits?

    Are these wall-plug efficacies (including all electrical losses) or just
    the limits caused by the conversion of optical Watt to Lumen?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Frank Knappe

    Frank Knappe Guest

    Thanks. If it is for the LED alone with the electrical W as input or the
    optical W? The latter one should IMHO only based on the spectral
    distribution (find the right phosphors) whereas the electrical version
    should also take into account the power converted into heat. I'm just
    trying to get a clear picture into my head.
  3. The human photopic vision is most sensitive at 555 nm and by
    definition that corresponds to 683 lm at 1 W of radiation.

    For other wavelengths, look for instance at
    The photopic vision efficacy remains above 100 lm/W between
    approximately 383 .. 645 nm, so clearly for multicolor "white" light,
    the average sensitivity must be far less.

    Then there is of course the problem what "white" light actually is.
    One accepted definition is 6000 K black body radiation (the Sun).
    "Warm white" is usually a black body radiator at 2700 K, with lots of
    radiations below 555 nm. With the eye sensitivity dropping fast in the
    red end, the efficacy numbers are worse than for higher color

    Unfortunately, the CFL and white LED spectral distribution differs
    significantly from a black body radiator, so it is questionable, if
    those quoted values 160/230 lm/W make any sense in the real world.

    Those sensitivity figures quoted in the link would correspond to the
    ideal 100 % electric/light conversion efficiency.

    I am very sceptic about LED manufacturers claiming over 100 lm/W,
    which typically are obtained with spectral distribution very different
    from what most people would consider "white".
  4. So far, I agree!
    So far, I agree!
    I would like to beg to differ a bit - I sense that includes some
    factor for conversion efficiency / "wallplug efficiency" for electrical
    energy to light energy.

    In large part, I see how even "cool white" LEDs and other
    "artificial white light sources" achieve over 250 lumens per radiated
    watt, and "warm white" ones achieve over 300:

    For one thing:

    Heck, I cited a 5450 K laboratory prototype at 331 lumens per
    radiated watt! This was an actual working model!


    How about a few more figures that I have from actual takes from a
    "reasonably properly calibrated" spectrometer and my post-analysys:

    (Disclaimer - +/- whatever including small sample sizes)

    A Nichia NSPWR70CSS-K1 LED, an especially efficient one with
    below-average color rendering index (I estimate low to mid 60's) and
    CCT around 5000 K: 334 lumens per watt radiated in the 380-780 nm range

    "Old Tech Cool White" fluorescent: (around 4100 K with CRI probably
    around 62) - 352 lumens per watt that is radiated into the 380-780 nm

    A high-color-rendering-index nominally-5000 K LED with CRI 90-plus
    (Ra8) achieved 272 lumens per watt radiated into the 380-780 nm range.

    A nominally 2700 K CFL achieved 360 lumens per watt radiated into
    the 380-780 nm range. That one supposedly achieves "Ra8" CRI of 82.
    If the overall color of the emitted light appears to be "white" and the
    color rendering properties are no worse than or improve upon those of
    "old tech cool white" fluorescent lamps, then I think the lamp-in-question
    produces what most people would consider to be white light.
  5. boxman

    boxman Guest

    There is no straight forward way to calculate this number as it is
    highly dependent on several parameters. The following article does a
    reasonably thorough job of calculating some numbers for LEDs and
    outlines their assumptions clearly. The calculation for LEDs is at the
    end of the article.
  6. During evolution, the human visual system spectral sensitivity has
    been matched with the only natural light source at 6000 K black body
    radiation (the Sun), both having a spectral peak around 500 nm.

    One purpose of artificial lighting is to expand the human activity to
    the dark hours of the day.

    In order to measure how effective the artificial lighting is, one
    should compare the human ability to perform various tasks (such as
    reading texts in different colors with different backgrounds) compared
    to strongly attenuated solar spectrum (e.g. a small window).

    I am not so sure that the color temperature, CRI and Ra figures would
    produce a repeatable way to describe how humans would handle these
  7. Well, we also spent lots of time living during dawn and twilight,
    not to mention moonlight...
  8. I correct myself here:

    100 or more lumens per radiated watt means "photopic function" of
    wavelength being at least 100/683, or at least .1464.

    I have the version that CIE adopted in 1988 in:

    383 nm has photopic function of .000299, and when multiplied by 683 this
    means about .2 lumen per radiated watt.

    The shortest wavelength achieving 100 lumens per radiated watt is 481

    The longest wavelength achieving 100 lumens per radiated watt is 644 nm.
    (That one was hardly "off" at all.)

    Meanwhile, wavelengths somewhat shorter than 481 nm are important for
    stimulating "blue receptors" in human vision in order to efficaceously
    form "white light". In fact, use of wavelengths around 445-450 nm
    minimizes "waste into lower luminous efficacy wavelengths" to make the
    best use of a smaller amount of "blue light". The
    greatest-overall-luminous-efficacy white LEDs have their "blue peak" at
    such shorter blue wavelengths - for example, Nichia NSPWR70CSS-K1.
  9. I have a minor petty quibble with 6000K as "average daylight". Direct
    sunlight has a color temp. of 5785 K before it hits Earth's atmosphere.

    It appears to me that the atmosphere often reflects disproportionately
    shorter wavelengths back out to space, resulting in "average daylight"
    having an even lower color temperature.

    Daylight color slide film is nominally tuned for 5500 K. Peak
    wavelength of that is 527 nm. Spectral power distribution is at 90% of
    peak around 431 and 654 nm and higher in-between - most of the visible
    spectrum. The 80% points of a 5500 K blackbody are around 396 and 726 nm.

    (According to MWPL.EXE, which I publish in - free software with source
    codes published for free.)
  10. Sorry for the typo, it should read 483 .. 645 nm.
  11. The Rayleigh scattering is strongly frequency dependent and after
    several scatterings, some blue light will be radiated back to space.
    However, at least half will reach the ground through the blue sky.

    The color temperature depends of the angle of view of the
    spectrometer. An angle of view of just 0.5 degrees aimed towards the
    sun will fill the angle of view, resulting in the lowest color

    Using a wider angle of view will allow more and more scattered blue
    light into the instrument, increasing the effective color temperature
    closer to original solar color temperature.
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