Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

To help provide information on Zhaga and its activities, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs). If you have further questions, please feel free to contact us.

The Zhaga organization

Who or what is Zhaga?

Zhaga is a global consortium of companies from the lighting industry and beyond, founded in February 2010.

What does the word Zhaga stand for?

The word Zhaga is not an acronym and has no intended meaning. It is a waterfall in Sichuan province, China. The Zhaga logo stands for interchangeable LED light sources.

Who initiated the Zhaga consortium?

Zhaga started with broad support from the lighting industry. Twenty-two companies participated in the first meeting of the Zhaga consortium in March 2010. Since then, several hundred companies have joined Zhaga.

View the full ist of Zhaga members

What is an LED light engine?

What is the definition of "LED light engine"?

Zhaga defines an "LED light engine" or LLE as the combination of one or more LED modules, together with an LED driver (also known as electronic control gear, or ECG). 

Some LLEs contain an integrated driver, while some LLEs consist of one or more LED modules together with a separate driver. 

Currently, the Zhaga specifications only define the interfaces between an LED light engine and an LED luminaire. The interface specifications do not depend on the type of LED technology used inside the light engine.

By focusing just on the interfaces, the specifications do not unnecessarily restrict the design of the light engine, or the design of the luminaire.

How do you define "modules" and "drivers"?

An "LED module" is a unit containing one or more LEDs that is supplied as a light source. It may contain additional components, e.g. lenses or resistors or ESD protection devices, but it does not include the LED driver.

An "electronic control gear (ECG)", also commonly known as an "LED driver", is a unit that is located between the power supply and one or more LED modules to provide the LED module(s) with an appropriate voltage or current. It may consist of one or more separate components, and may include additional functionalities, such as means for dimming, power-factor correction, or radio interference suppression.

 

Full interchangeability

In March 2014, Zhaga announced that it will aim to enable independent interchangeability of LED modules and drivers (read the press release). 

What change is Zhaga announcing?

Zhaga will aim to enable LED modules and drivers that are independently interchangeable. This is in addition to Zhaga’s stated aim to enable interchangeability of LED light engines.

How will this change be achieved?

Future editions of Zhaga interface specifications (Books) will – where appropriate – include references to specifications that define the electrical and mechanical interfaces between LED modules and drivers.

Why is the change necessary?

Currently, Zhaga specifications define interchangeable LED light engines (LLEs). For LLEs having a separate driver, it may not be possible to interchange LED modules from different suppliers without also needing to change the driver, or vice versa.

What issues does this cause?

If the module and driver have to be replaced together, this limits the options of luminaire makers and end users, and may lead to unnecessary replacement of viable components. There is also confusion in the market, because all Zhaga light sources (LLEs and LED modules) are not fully interchangeable.

The change that Zhaga is announcing will offer flexibility by ensuring that drivers and modules are independently interchangeable.

Why hasn’t Zhaga solved this issue before now?

Until now, Zhaga has excluded the electrical interface between the module and the driver from the Zhaga Books. This is because of concerns that defining the interface would limit innovation in both LED modules and drivers.

Why is Zhaga making the change now?

There is strong market demand to resolve the issues described above and ensure that modules and drivers are fully interchangeable.
In the four years since Zhaga was formed, technical solutions have emerged that make it possible to define module-driver interfaces for specific application segments without limiting the innovation in LED module and driver technology.

How long will it take to implement the changes?

Zhaga’s desire is for these specifications to be developed quickly and without unnecessary duplication of efforts in the lighting industry.

Zhaga Specifications

How does Zhaga enable interchangeability?

Zhaga develops interface specifications for different LED light engines. These define the interfaces - mechanical, thermal, optical electical and control - between an LED luminaire and an LED light engine. When applied correctly, these specifications ensure interchangeability. For example, Zhaga focuses on the mechanical and thermal fit of the heat sink, the size and height of the light- emitting surface, and the photometric properties regarding different application areas.

Does Zhaga define the performance of LED light engines?

Zhaga does not specify the performance, quality, design or safety aspects of LED light sources. These characteristics are for each LED light source manufacturer to decide for themselves, based on their choice of technology and market approach.

Do the Zhaga specifications restrict design freedom?

The Zhaga interface specifications define only the interaction between the luminaire and the light engine. They do not unnecessarily restrict the design of the light engine, or the design of the luminaire. The specifications allow innovation inside the light engine while keeping the interaction with the luminaire stable.

Will manufacturers have to use the Zhaga specifications in the future?

No, the use of Zhaga specifications is voluntary, and is not mandated by any government or regulator.

Does Zhaga specify the interface between LED modules and drivers?

No, the current Zhaga Books do not specify the interface between the driver and the LED module(s). This decision was made in order to avoid restricting manufacturers' design freedom in this area. 

However, Zhaga recently anncounced that it will investigate the module-driver interface, with a view to enabling independent interchangeability of modules and drivers. See the FAQs below on "Independent interchangeability" or view our news story

Interchangeability

What does "interchangeable" mean?

Zhaga considers that two light engines are "interchangeable" when one light source can replace the other light source without any change in the design of the luminaire.

If two different light-engine suppliers offer interchangeable (Zhaga-certified) products, then a luminaire manufacturer can switch from one supplier to another without modifying the manufacturing process of the luminaire.

This can provide many benefits, such as reduced R&D costs for the luminaire maker, and more choice of suppliers. Also, new light engines can be built using the latest LED technology, and these can be incorporated without changing the luminaire design.

Is "interchangeable" the same as "replaceable"?

No.

A "replaceable" light engine can be removed from the luminaire and replaced with another. Replaceability depends on the design of the light engine and the luminaire. Some luminaires that contain Zhaga-based (interchangeable) LED light engines are designed so that there is no possibility of replacing the light engine.

Some Zhaga-based light engines and modules fit into sockets, and can be replaced by the end user (assuming the luminaire design allows for this). 

In other cases, Zhaga-based LED modules that are affixed with screws rather than fitting into a socket can be replaced by professionals, either in the field or in the factory. Again, this is only possible where allowed by the luminaire design.

Is "interchangeable" the same as "identical"?

No.

Zhaga-compliant LED light engines can have different performance characteristics provided that they meet the interface specifications.

This allows suppliers to use innovative LED technology inside their LED light engines, and enables them to offer differentiated products and to target applications with special requirements.

Of course, this implies that each time a luminaire is fitted with a different interchangeable LED light engine, the luminaire is likely to have different performance characteristics.