As expected, Cree is continuing to upgrade it’s workhorse lineup of LEDs with their new silicon carbide technology by announcing the XP-E2 white LEDs. Much like the XP-G2 before it, the updated LED is showing improvements in overall efficiency and output, while lowering costs.
For now, the update is focusing on the white lineup of the XP-E series. Granted, it’s not used as much as the XP-G in aquarium related applications, but the implications that the color LEDs will be updated are there, so this is a stepping stone to something that we can get more excited about.
Most of the changes are fairly subtle. Things like thermal resistance, maximum junction temperature, and overall footprint haven’t changed. The viewing angle is now slightly reduced to 110 degrees, over the 115 degrees of the original XP-E. That may be due to the difference in substrate thickness going to SiC. It won’t affect things much, and will still be 100% compatible with XP secondary optics.
The bigger change here is again in the forward voltage, much like the XP-G2, but to a slightly greater degree. At 350mA, the forward voltage drops to 2.9v (same as the XP-G2) over the 3.05v of the XP-E. The improvements in forward voltage get better as the current increases, where the voltage drops by 0.35v to 3.15v at the LEDs limit of 1000mA. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really helps push efficiency numbers higher at higher currents. These changes in forward voltage are really what is attributing to the 20% increase in output for the same energy used.
So, once again another incremental update to an already excellent LED. Hopefully the color XP-Es will get the same treatment soon, and the cost and efficiency benefits can be passed down to consumers.