By Clarissa Allison | September 2nd, 2016
Light Emitting Diodes, commonly known as LEDs, are semiconductor devices that produce visible light when an electrical current passed through them. LEDs are a type of Solid State Lighting (SSL) and are used in general lighting applications all over the world, from remote control light indicators, to cars as well as household and commercial lighting fixtures. Although the technology has been available for a while, there are still many misconceptions about its benefits, cost and value. Read on for our short list of common LED lighting myths as well as facts that will help you to select the right LED lighting application for your next project.
MYTH 1. THERE’S REALLY NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEDS. IF YOU’VE SEEN ONE, YOU’VE SEEN THEM ALL!
There is a vast difference in the quality of LEDs that is wholly dependent on the manufacturing process. Poor construction will effect the fixture’s lifespan, light output, and even light distribution. We’ve all heard about the longevity of LEDs, but LED chip lifetimes can vary dramatically due to the quality of chip construction, as well as by the surrounding driver.
What is an LED driver? The driver is the part of an LED that has the job of converting the 230 Volt Alternating Current into Direct Current, flowing at a constant number of Amps through the chip. To put it simply, the goal is to smooth these pulses into a steady current flow that maintains a steady light output intensity – and this is where quality of the driver really matters. A good quality driver will have the lowest Ripple Current possible, which causes the light to flicker or ripple. Poor quality drivers can have a much higher ripple current. Though the flickering may not be visible to the naked eye, the effect can be felt. This may cause people to suffer headaches, eye strain, or migraines. A similar problem existed with fluorescent lighting, the bane of the office work-place for many years.
LED chips are manufactured by Japanese, Chinese and U.S. based suppliers, primarily. The quality is derived from the materials used in making the LED chip. In addition, a larger chip provides more light, stability against current variations, and costs more. Cheaper and smaller led chips are therefore less reliable. Low quality components and low life capacitors have the same poor effect. If you’ve ever been seduced into purchasing a cheap, non-branded LED, you’ll find the lifespan at full capacity can be as low as 1,000 hours of use as opposed to the standard 50,000 hours or more.
MYTH 2. LEDS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE. WHO NEEDS A LIGHT BULB THAT LASTS 30 YEARS, ANYWAY?
When most people think of any home or commercial project, up-front cost is the only thing they pay attention to, but this is a mistake. As with any endeavor that will cost you money, it will also cost you time, and that often amounts to the same thing when you’re talking about long-term goals. You see, the initial cost is only the tip. It is best to think in terms of invisible costs like years years of electricity, demand charges, maintenance costs, and employee time.
If you are a business owner considering LEDs, one of the main benefits is the opportunity to eliminate maintenance and re-lamping costs, which will total thousands of dollars when done in the recommended 4-8 year increments. If you’ve already got your building upgraded to LEDs, additional savings from lighting controls such as motion sensors, must also be considered. These “intelligent LEDs” save more than 90% on lighting energy use over alternatives by combining controls with the added benefits of flexibility. In other words, systems that are cheaper up-front, typically have a much higher lifetime Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than intelligent systems. The great news is that LEDs have no ongoing maintenance requirements (re-lamping or re-ballasting).
MYTH 3. LEDS MAY BE GREAT FOR BUSINESSES, BUT THEY AREN’T WORTH BUYING FOR THE AVERAGE HOMEOWNER.
Many homeowners and renters want a real world example that proves purchasing LED bulbs is actually worth doing. People are often surprised to learn how much energy (and money) incandescent bulbs are eating up!
Conventional bulbs are old news. Incandescent bulbs only use 10 percent of the power fed into them to create light. The rest gets turned into heat, not to mention a waste of money.
Let’s use one A-19 (standard Edison) light bulb as an example. Imagine you run a bulb on average 3 hours a day in a home and 10 hours a day in an office setting. Using the typical rate of 15 cents per kWh as a cost of running this light bulb:
3 hours x 60 watts x 365 days = 65700 watt-hours, or 65.7 kWh = $9.86 per year to run an incandescent light bulb in the home.
10 hours x 60 watts x 365 days = 219,000 watt-hours or 219 kWh = $32.85 per year to run an incandescent light bulb in the office.
Using a 10-watt LED bulb in the same environments would cost you 1/6 the energy. Incandescent bulbs generate a lot of heat and therefore use a lot more energy. That’s $1.64/year at home ($8.22 in annual savings) and $5.48 at the office ($27.37 in annual savings). So if the bulb cost you $8, it would more than pay for itself in a year at home and in a couple months at the office.
These numbers don’t even account for the ongoing cost of purchasing incandescent light bulbs because of their short life spans. Meanwhile, a quality LED bulb will last you about 23 years at home and 7 years in the office. Data from LightingSupply.com
MYTH 4. LEDS JUST AREN’T BRIGHT ENOUGH.
While this may have been true in the past, it isn’t now. LED’s technology has come far enough that they are used for applications that require intense illumination, like for security lighting in commercial buildings, roadways and the like. Traffic engineers also use LED lights for traffic signals which must be visible even in the brightest sunlight. Traffic and auto engineers also use LEDs on vehicle headlight and tail lights, to illuminate tunnels and other public roadways.
LEDs have color temperatures ranging from 2,500K (warm white) to 6,500K (daylight), and Color Rendering Indexes between 75 and 85, with some high-end LEDs topping 90. (Incandescent bulbs have a CRI of 100 by definition, the highest possible value. For comparison, low-pressure sodium lights have a CRI of -44; Coated mercury vapor’s CRI is 49, Tri-phosphor warm-white fluorescents have a CRI of 73,; and quartz metal halide lamps rate an 85 CRI.)
SOME FINAL TIPS
Many people view LED lighting as a new trend for their interior, but they really don’t consider what kind of lights they need for their particular application. Consider where you’ll be using your new lighting fixtures prior to purchase and its purpose. A spot light can’t illuminate your entire drawing room, and white or blue color temperatures won’t be ideal if you’re trying to create a relaxing atmosphere in a living room. Whether at home or in a business, the best advice is to develop an understanding of your required light level, its distribution, and ensure that the products you are purchasing come from well-respected brands in the business of LED lighting, such as Philips Lighting, Bulbrite, Westgate Mfg, and Hinkley Lighting – all of which are available on our website HERE.
- Very warm white (around 2300K) — Homes, restaurants, hotel lobbies, boutiques
- Warm white (around 3000K) — Libraries, retail stores, office areas
- Neutral white (around 4000K) — Showrooms, bookstores, office areas
- Cool white (around 5000k) — Museums, jewelry stores, retail display windows, hospitals
Thank you for reading this week’s blog! Please let us know if you need help selecting the right LED bulbs for your new lighting application, we’ll be happy to help. Call us at 1877 385 2104 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Louie Lighting Team wishes you and yours a happy and healthy Labor Day weekend.