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20 Tips on LED Lights
We compiled a list of helpful LED Tips for your benefit and hopefully, you might learn some useful things about LED lighting. Our tips include everything from helpful hints when it comes to retrofitting an existing fixture or what to look for when replacing a fixture with LED.
Tip 1: How to Choose the Right Color Temperature
Choosing the right color temperature when you choose LED lights is important, and the color temperature will be different depending on the application.
Here is a quick list to help you make your decision.
- Color temperatures you should consider are in the range of 2700K to 6500K.
- Color temperatures on the lower end (2700K) tend to be warmer (yellow in color).
- Color temperatures on the higher end (6500K) tend to be cooler (blue in color).
- A good color temperature to replace Metal Halide and HID is 5000K.
- A good color temperature to replace High Pressure Sodium is 4000K. You could also choose 2700 or 3000K if you like the appearance of yellow light.
- 4000K is a great color temperature indoors for offices, schools, hospitals, and other areas of work.
- 3000K is a great color temperature for the home. It contains very little blue light and is soft and warm.
In addition to these tips, there is no difference between the LEDs inside a complete fixture and an LED designed to replace the bulb and ballast inside an existing fixture.
The first-generation LED chips had trouble maintaining color temperature with age. These issues should not be a problem with today’s high-quality LEDs. Nichia, CREE, and Samsung are reputable LED chip manufacturers.
What is binning?
If you have an application that requires a precise color temperature, then pay attention to binning. At LED Lighting Supply, we can accommodate tight color temperature requirements by specifying the color temperature you need to our manufacturing engineers to ensure that your color temperature is exactly what you need with the appropriate tolerances.
LED Lighting Supply is a leader in Industrial Lighting and Commercial Lighting Solutions providing education sales, support, guidance, and after-sales support for businesses looking to convert from HID and fluorescent to LED.
Tip 2: 5 Reasons you should retrofit your existing fixtures to LED
When it comes to purchasing LED, you have two real options. Purchase a brand-new fixture or replace the bulb and ballast on your existing fixture with LED. This is a simple must-read list of 5 things you should consider to determine if retrofitting is a good option for you.
1. You have a significant investment in your existing fixtures.
You may be sitting on a large investment of indoor or outdoor fixtures. It’s all integrated. Heads match poles. With a new fixture, you would have to throw away your investment in something that looks great and has absolutely nothing wrong with it.
Enter LED Conversions! This process involves removing the bulb, ballast, socket, and reflector (there is no light to reflect, LED is directional lighting) and replacing the bulb with a LED Head and the ballast with an LED driver. The head uses a supplied mounting bracket that bolts directly into the same holes that held the socket, and the driver mounts in the same location as the ballast. You don’t need to drill new holes. Typical installation time is around 15 minutes once you figure out the proper configuration for your fixture.
2. There is nothing wrong with your existing fixtures.
Your fixtures are in perfect condition. They are watertight and work perfectly well. But you want to convert to LED and realize all the savings associated with that. LED Lighting Supply Retrofit Solutions will install easily within 99% of all fixtures that currently contain an HID bulb, like Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium.
3. City or county code requires permits to install new fixtures.
Your city or county may require you to apply and get approval to replace an existing fixture with a new one. Maybe the fixtures are historic in nature. Maybe they are concerned about loads generated by the new fixtures. These permits may cost you both time and money.
With a retrofit solution, you can typically bypass all this red tape. You are doing nothing more than exchanging an old bulb for a highly efficient LED solution. In most cases, converting to LED by retrofitting can save you money and headaches.
4. You get all the same benefits of a new LED Fixture at a lower cost.
Fixtures aren’t cheap. Recycling perfectly good fixtures isn’t cheap either. When you carry out a bulb and ballast replacement, you get all the benefits of converting to LED without a lot of the extra costs associated with the conversion. And despite what others may say:
- Metal Halide to LED Conversion Kits are ETL Listed and will not affect the UL status of your existing fixture if you follow instructions.
- LED Lighting Supply Retrofit Solutions are DLC Premium Qualified and eligible for rebates.
- Retrofit Solutions DO last a long time. Ours have a 10-year warranty.
- We use extremely high-end components – Nichia Chips and Meanwell Drivers.
5. Installation is simplified by using a retrofit solution.
Installation of a Retrofit Solution can be accomplished by one electrician. It sometimes takes two electricians to install a new fixture. The time to install a retrofit solution can be as little as 15 minutes per fixture once the electrician has figured out the optimal mounting bracket and installation procedures.
For the most part, 70+ CRI is just fine. There are exceptions, so if you are not clear about what you should have for your location, ask us.
Tip 3: Avoid Retrofit Solutions That Use Socket Adapters
We’ve all seen them. Retrofit units that come complete with a socket adapter, typically E39, that allows you to screw them into the fixture’s socket. Good idea, right? Wrong. Read this so you don’t get caught in a costly mistake.
Some kits include an adapter that allows you to screw into the existing socket of a fixture. While this sounds like a good idea, and you might even think it will save you installation time, there are two serious problems with this type of installation method.
LED Conversion Units weigh more than HID / Metal Halide Bulbs
This cannot be argued. The socket in the fixture was designed to hold an HID bulb, not an LED Conversion unit. LED Conversion units are 5X+ heavier than a bulb. Now, add to this the socket may be old and brittle. Or it may be pole mounted and vibrates and sways with the wind. It will cause the socket to fail, and your investment in a retrofit unit may come crashing down on the fixture’s glass and get damaged. All that time you saved (minimal at best) on initial installation is now lost by a costly repair. You may even have to buy a new retrofit head. This type of failure is NOT COVERED by the warranty.
With LED Lighting Supply retrofit kits, you must remove the socket and install our configurable mounting arms using the same holes that are attached to the socket. You’ve now eliminated the weak link. And in terms of installation time, this extra step takes a few minutes more.
LED Kits with Mogul Adapters can only be DLC Standard Qualified
DesignLights Consortium has two ratings, DLC (Standard) and DLC Premium. DLC Premium is the more efficient of the two ratings. You cannot get a DLC Premium Qualification if your kit uses a mogul base adapter.
Why is this important?
Utility companies give larger rebates for DLC Premium Qualified products. Larger rebates mean less cost at the time of purchase. This will help more than offset the extra few minutes it takes to use the proper mounting brackets instead of a failure-prone mogul socket adapter.
Some utilities are only offering Rebates on DLC Premium Qualified Products
Each utility runs its own rebate program, and it varies. There is no standard. Recently, one of the largest utilities in the nation stopped offering rebates on DLC (Standard) Qualified products. And that includes all LED Conversion Kits with a screw-in adapter for a mogul socket. So yet another reason why a screw-in adapter is a bad idea.
Tip 4: Understanding Power Factor
The Power Factor (PF) of a LED light or driver indicates the ratio of real power used. This is the number of watts used by the light compared to the apparent power drawn into the lamp’s circuit. So why does this matter?
PF provides a measurement of how close your load is to that of an incandescent bulb, which has a PF of 1. Incandescent bulbs have a near-perfect power factor. All LEDs and drivers are measured against this standard.
A low power factor is also a sign of an inefficient product or light as it draws more current into the circuit than is utilized by the load. In other words, while you think you may be only consuming 100 Watts of energy, you may be consuming significantly more because of the fixture’s bad PF ratio.
When you choose Commercial Lighting or Industrial Lighting fixtures with higher power factors, it minimizes the current capacity of components in your lighting circuit. This includes dimmers and cables as the product is not drawing an excessive amount of current compared to what is required.
- The lower the current draws (higher power factor) of an LED product, the more LED lamps that can be supplied by one circuit.
- A poor PF score means you are using more energy than you may realize.
A Practical Example
100-Watt LED fixture with a PF of 0.5: 100W ÷ 0.5 = 200W (actual) consumption
100-Watt LED fixture with a PF of 0.8: 100W ÷ 0.8 = 125W (actual) consumption
Are there other problems associated with a low Power Factor Score?
- Power is recycled from the LED Fixture to the power source, creating a disturbance.
- Harmonics from the LED fixture degrade the line and affect the performance of other equipment on the same circuit.
So, ideally, what is the target PF you should look for?
Realistically, .85 is a good target. Many of the products we offer at LEDLightingSupply.com are in the .90 to .95 range.
Tip 5: Never Buy LED based on Watts
This is by far one of the most important tips and advice we can ever provide to our customers. Here are the 4 steps you need to go through to determine the correct LED Light for your application and therefore, the watts it consumes.
Step 1: How many foot candles do you need to light up your area?
An area can be indoors or outdoors. Do you currently have lights installed? Do you like the light levels? If so, then get yourself a light meter, or install a light meter app on your cell phone (not as accurate but it will give you a good indication of the light level).
Take the reading and remember it. If it is in LUX, that is ok, it’s just another way to measure light. If you think it’s too bright, tell us. If you think it’s too dim, tell us. We can always adjust it.
Step 2: Let’s do a photometric study!
What is a photometric study? It’s special lighting software that allows us to model your indoor or outdoor area, locate the light sources, and then place our lights into the software and simulate the foot candle readings within that space. With this software, you can change out lights, change out optics, change light placement, and change lighting angles or mounting heights. When it’s finished, you will have an exact printed guide that tells you how the new LED Lights will perform in your area. This is the light you need! This can also be modified. After you see your printout, we can make adjustments. What do we charge for this? Most of the time, it’s free. When is it not? When you have an extremely complicated area or ask us to do large projects and many areas. Just call us and we can discuss it.
Step 3: Understanding the lumens the LED Fixture / Lamp produces
Choosing the right fixture is not done by guessing. As a company, LED Lighting Supply works with some of the best-engineered LED lights available today. What makes our lights stand out is the quality and the testing the lights go through during the manufacturing process, including the proper burn-in time. Our lights have some of the best warranties available. And they are some of the most efficient on the market as well. That means they produce lumens efficiently, consuming the least number of watts to do so. So, choosing the right light also means choosing an efficient solution. When we do a lighting plan, we choose efficient products that meet your lighting requirements.
Step 4: Now you know the watts of the LED Fixture
Once you determine the correct fixture to meet your light requirements, you will also know the watts of the LED fixture that will replace your current lighting. Without all these steps, you are just guessing. And guessing will result in mistakes. If you take the time to do Steps 1-3 first, this process will never be a guess.
Tip 6: Make Sure You Understand What Ballast-Compatible Means
In the world of LED, there are products that are direct connect and those that are ballast-compatible? What does that mean? In this tip, we explain the pros and cons of ballast-compatible LED products.
1. What are Direct Connect LED Products?
Direct connect LED products require native AC current. The LED Driver takes AC power as input and then converts it to DC power to light up the LEDs. So, if you are replacing or retrofitting an existing HID fixture over to LED, you will have to remove the fixture’s ballast and bulb and replace it with the native LED Driver and Head. The best way to think of this is a bulb and ballast replacement. Because the LED Driver requires AC Power, there is no value or use in the HID ballast.
2. What are Ballast-Compatible LED Products?
Ballast-compatible products are designed for use with the existing ballast that is already installed in the fixture. There are some pros and cons to this solution, the biggest benefit is it reduces installation time. There are, however, several drawbacks to this type of installation.
Pros and Cons
- LED Drivers that connect directly to native AC sources are extremely efficient, and the total package is typically, if not always, more efficient than ballast compatible solutions.
- Direct Connect Installation times are slightly longer because there are extra steps to remove the ballast.
- Ballast compatibility is not universal. There is a better-than-average chance that you may have a driver that is not compatible with the LED product. The engineers who design the ballast-compatible product try to ensure their product is compatible with most mainstream ballasts. However, you may have one that they have not tested against.
- Ballasts fail. Drivers do too. But if your ballast is old, then you may have a future maintenance issue.
We like direct connect solutions better. It’s more efficient and less problematic. While there is a slight increase in installation time,
it’s a lot cheaper in the long term than having to maintain the old ballast a short time later.
Tip 7: Understanding the Lifespan of LED
So how long does LED last? Well, that’s a bit of a loaded question. Theoretically, a long time. But wait, there’s more to this than just the life of the LEDs.
1. The Life of LED
LED, and specifically the diodes, are rated in terms of L70, or L50. But generally speaking, L70 is the standard that most manufacturers test for and display. What does it mean? It is the number of hours it takes for the LED diode to degrade to 70% of its initial lumens. Is a LED dead at L70? Absolutely not. What are the typical life hours for L70? 50,000 to 100,000 hours.
What affects this life? A lot, depending on how hard the manufacturer decides to drive the LED. Full Power? Half Power? Generally speaking, a diode will last longer if you don’t drive it at full capacity. Similar to this is heat. The harder you drive it, the more heat is generated, and heat is generally the ‘killer’ of all thing electronics.
So why don’t all manufacturers step things back to 50% output? Because it would require more LEDs to make up for the reduced output per diode, and this adds cost. So, do you build an LED fixture to last, or sell it at a cheap price? That is the trade-off. If you were ever wondering why some LED fixtures are cheaper than others, this is part of the story.
So ‘cheaper’ solutions use less LEDs, but have a shorter life, as they are driven harder to produce lumens out of fewer LEDs.
2. The Life of Drivers
What is a driver? A driver accepts native AC power and converts it to DC power, at the proper voltage, to power the LED diode. It also has a lifespan. And most name-brand drivers, such as Meanwell or Philips, claim their drivers will last for 50,000 hours.
So, what does this mean? If you have an LED product with an L70 of 100,000 hours but a driver with a lifespan of 50,000 hours, there is a good chance you will be replacing drivers over the lifespan of the LED product.
But here is where marketing trickery comes in. Some will claim an L70 of 200,000 hours, but never talk about the lifespan of their driver. Even worse, their drivers are hard to replace, therefore, at 50,000 hours, you may have a dead LED product with a failed driver and good LEDs.
3. Putting it all together – What should you believe?
These numbers conflict, and so you must always consider the lifespan of the weakest link. However, replacing drivers is relatively
simple if you can easily get at them. But there is no reason to believe you can’t get 10 years plus of life out of an LED product and even longer if you are prepared to change the driver.
Tip 8: Understanding LED Dimming
In the world of LED, it’s the driver that determines whether the LED bulb or fixture is dimmable or not. Here are some brief tips on LED Dimming and what to look for when you buy an LED product.
Being able to dim an LED is essential for two main reasons.
- You want to control the light levels to the proper settings. Full-on is not needed all the time. For example, if you are in a restaurant, you want to set the mood.
- If you are in a warehouse, why light up every row when nobody is around? Turning off or dimming down is essential. It saves you money, and isn’t converting to LED to save money the reason you’re here? (Well ok, maybe you are interested in reducing your costs of maintenance too!)
So, there are essentially two types of dimmers: Triac and O-10V. Here is an explanation of both and how they work.
1. LED Triac Dimming
Triac dimming is typically found on smaller LED bulbs and tubes, except tubes with external drivers. They work in a way that we are typically used to in a dimming solution. A wall switch that allows for dimming is used and limits the current sent to the bulb. The dimmers in the LED bulbs are capable of working with the Triac dimmer and dim accordingly. Some bulbs that are not Triac compatible will work, but only for a very short period of time before the driver inside the bulb fails. It is important to make sure the dimmer used is compatible with the dimming LED bulb, or else the LED driver will fail prematurely. In this case, the warranty will be void.
2. 0-10V Dimming
This type of dimming is common on larger commercial and industrial fixtures. High Bays, Wall Packs, Area Lights and Parking Lot Lights can all be equipped with a 0-10V dimming driver to control the light source. These drivers work with external controls to dim the light, which is slightly different from the way you would use a Triac dimmer. Picture a warehouse with many rows, and each row has a series of linear high bays. Each high bay could be equipped with a motion sensor. When no one is around, the motion sensor would send a signal to the driver to dim down or turn off. All of this can be programmed into the sensor. When it detects motion, it goes to full output. In this way, each fixture can provide all the light that is needed when someone is working in the row or dim / turn off when the row is vacant.
Typically, a 0-10V driver has 2 extra wires that you connect to, a grey and a purple wire. This is what controls the dimming. Sending a 1V signal down these wires dims the light to 10%, a 5V signal dims the light to 50%, and so on.
Dimming is important. It can save you more money by using less electricity and extending the life of the LED fixture. If you think you can use dimming in your application, tell one of the sales experts at LED Lighting Supply and we can configure your lights with the correct drivers.
Tip 9: Understanding Voltages
In the world of Industrial and Commercial Lighting, it is imperative you understand the voltages in the room or outdoor area and then choose the appropriate option. There are so many options available, and ways to solve voltage requirements. This post walks you through those options.
What are the common Voltages found in industrial and commercial areas?
The typical range in North America is between 100-480 Volts at 60Hz. And typically, within this large range, you see the following steps:
- 100-120V (typical household or small business, like a dentist’s office, or small retail)
- 208V – not very common, but it’s out there
- 240V – light industrial or commercial
- 277V – common light industrial and commercial, more common than 240V
- 347V – typically found in Canada
- 480V – found in heavy industrial environments
Common LED Driver Configurations
For this discussion, let’s limit ourselves to larger fixtures and retrofits. I will not include A19s, PARs, BRs and
Candelabra bulbs in this conversation.
The standard driver we include with almost all our LED products is a 100-277V Constant Current Driver. What this driver does is it allows it to be hooked up to any source between 100 and 277V and adapt and self-switch to the input voltage. Other drivers on the market include Constant Voltage models, but with those, you must perfectly match the input voltage. We do not carry those.
A step up from this driver is the high voltage driver that can handle between 277V and 480V. It is also a Constant Current Driver and self-switches. These drivers are a bit more expensive than the 100-277V models, so there is typically a small fee to upgrade to this driver. This is also the driver you would consider to using if you are in Canada and need 347V. These drivers are CSA (cUL or cETL equivalent), so they are qualified for safe operation in Canada.
So, what happens if you have an LED fixture that you really like, but it has a 100-277V driver and a 277V-480V option is not available? Maybe you like the style of a particular High Bay Fixture but it does not have a high-voltage driver option? Well, you can always use a step-down transformer. These relatively small and safe add-ons are installed before the driver, so input wires accept the incoming power and voltage and step it down to the voltage of the driver.
Putting it all together
Understanding your current voltages is important to selecting the proper solution for your application. Ordering the proper driver will save you time and money and ensure a fast and successful conversion and installation of LED.
Tip 10: Choosing the Right Optics
So, what is an optic? It’s the way you can manipulate light to distribute it in a way different than the native output.
- Maybe you want to narrow the beam because of high ceilings.
- Maybe you want a wider distribution because the light layout you have is not optimal.
- Maybe certain parts of your facility require narrower beams, and some require wider.
So, what should you choose?
It all starts with a lighting layout. If you have a scaled drawing of your area, this can be imported into LED Lighting Supply lighting design software. We set the scale, we determine the optimal foot candle measurement we are trying to achieve, and then we start the design process.
Two things will tell us when we hit the mark.
- We’ve achieved the average foot candle reading you were looking for.
- The Average Min/Max ratio between the darkest areas and the brightest areas is within industry standards. This is important. You do not want ‘the cave effect’ where you have very bright spots and very dark spots. You want uniform light distribution.
Buy an off-the-shelf LED Lighting Fixture from any other large online retailer without understanding what that light will do in your area might spell disaster.
Tip 11: What is CRI?
CRI, or Color Rendering Index, is a standard for the measurement of the quality of light. More specifically, how accurately do colors appear under an artificial light source? So, what do you need? Here are some tips to help you make the proper decision in picking the right CRI for your application.
First of all, rest assured, LED is a high-quality source of light. Compared to some of the lights we were used to in the past, Metal Halide, High Pressure Sodium, Low Pressure Sodium, LED produces high-quality light. And we are an advocate of the saying, High Quality Lumens = Less Quantity of Lumens. In other words, you need less light when it is more accurate.
However, let’s talk about numbers. CRI is on a scale between 0 and 100. 100 is daylight, the standard for sunlight. Artificial light is always trying to mimic the quality of sunlight.
CRI affects how colors are represented under a light. More specifically, it really affects the color red. For example, when we look at a bowl of gumballs under CRI 70 and the same bowl under CRI 90. For the most part, it’s hard to tell the difference until you focus on the red gumballs. Under CRI 70, the red looks dull and greyer compared to the sharpness of red under CRI 90.
And typically speaking, CRI 90 diodes cost more than CRI 70 diodes.
So, what do you really need?
1. Retail Sales
If you are a clothing store, or a car dealership, then you definitely want high CRI lighting. Colors that pop mean the product moves off the floor. So, investing in high-quality high CRI lighting makes sense. Think 90+ CRI.
2. Factories and Warehouses
Bright areas are probably more important than the proper representation of the color red unless your production area requires quality assurance stations where color checking is important. For the most part (99% of the time), you can get away with the standard 70+ CRI. The standard CRI for the majority of the high bays we sell is 70-75.
Most schools can use the standard 70 CRI. Classrooms, hallways, and gymnasiums are all candidates, except if the gymnasium is a location for video production. If you have an arts and craft room, you may also want to consider a higher CRI.
For the most part, 70+ CRI is just fine. There are exceptions, so if you are not clear about what you should have for your location, ask us.
Tip 12: What You Need to Know about Rebates
Rebates can lower the cost of a purchase if you are in the market for LED. Here are 5 tips you need to remember when it comes to LED and rebates.
1. Rebates are awarded by utility companies.
Whether you are eligible for a rebate has everything to do with your utility company – the same company you buy power from. They set the rebate programs, the amount of the rebate, and how much they are prepared each year to pay out as a rebate. So, it’s best to do the research (Tip #5 will help).
2. Rebates apply to DesignLights Consortium Qualified Products.
Most utility companies will only look at rebates on products that are qualified under the DLC Program. Look for the DLC Logo on
LEDLightingSupply’s website to find out which products have been qualified. All DLC Products have a warranty of at least 5 years.
3. DLC has 2 programs: Standard and Premium.
DesignLights Consortium sets the standard, and lights are submitted to be approved under one of those standards. Typically, Premium Qualified Lights are more efficient and will use less energy – saving you more money.
4. DLC Premium Rebates are Typically Larger than Standard Rebates.
This is an incentive for you to buy the most efficient product. It may cost a little more (not necessarily though), but you will save more money over the life of the product.
5. Our Real-Time Rebate Calculator will give you an estimate of how big your rebate can be.
Use LEDLightingSupply’s real time rebate calculator. Look for the blue buttons beside each product, and with a few keystrokes, you can get your real time estimate.
LED Lighting Supply has MANY products that qualify for DLC Rebates, including shoebox lights, high bays, and wall packs, among others. Reach out to us, we can help you get a rebate if one is available.
Tip 13: Understanding Outdoor Light Patterns
You have a parking lot. You are thinking about converting over to LED. You are told that you should go with a Type 3 distribution. What does that mean? How do you know this will work best in your parking lot?
Understanding Type 1 to Type 5 Distribution Patterns
The easiest way to think about this is:
Type 5 is a perfectly round circle of light, your source of light is at the bottom of the circle.
Then think of something pressing down at the top of the circle, this is Type 4. The sides push out as the height decreases.
Push harder – Type 3.
Push even harder. Type 2.
Push as hard as you can. Type 1.
So, what do you typically see in most parking lots? Type 3 and 5.
How can you ultimately tell what is the perfect light distribution?
Run a photometric study. Today’s lighting software allows us to import the layout of your parking lot, along with pole locations where the shoe box lights are mounted. At these locations we can plot our LED Fixtures or Retrofits, and then calculate the foot candle measurements and distribution of light. We can swap out lights with different optics and different lumen outputs and ultimately come to the proper light pattern and light levels for you.
Tip 14: Calculating Cost Savings for Outdoor Lighting
You’ve heard and probably even believe you can save money by switching over to LED. But how much? This quick tip will
walk you through the calculations.
What do you currently have for lighting?
Understanding what your current lights are is key. Are the 400 Watts or 1000 Watts? Do they have ballasts? Keep in mind most HID / Metal Halide Lighting has a ballast. A ballast will consume 15% more energy over and above what the bulb consumes. So, if you have 400-Watt lights, then chances are you are consuming 455 – 460 Watts per fixture.
What will your new LED Solution Be?
As discussed in many of the previous tips, converting to LED is easy if you walk back from foot candles to watts. Figuring out the proper light levels, and then figure out the best solution to meet your requirement. That’s how you get to your new fixture and the watts it consumes.
Putting it all Together
So, if you go through the first two steps (hint – we can make this easy for you), then how do you calculate your savings? Say, for example, you decide to retrofit your existing 400-Watt shoebox fixture with a 150-Watt parking lot fixture. That’s a good start. How many hours do you run each night? What’s your cost of electricity? Knowing this helps us do the math.
But wait, there’s an easy button. We built an online savings calculator that takes all the pain of doing this calculation. Try it, or call us, and we can run the numbers for you.
Tip 15: Fans are Good
Some LED solutions use fans to help cool. Some use a larger heat sink. What is better? Should you be concerned about fans? LED Lighting Supply has been in the business of selling LED solutions since 2008. Many of our solutions use fans, and many of our solutions have large heat sinks. Is one better than the other?
Understanding Active Cooling
A fan is nothing more than active cooling. It circulates air over the heat sink, removing the hot air and in the case of an enclosed fixture like a shoebox light, distributes the heat to the fixtures shell. This technique allows the utilization of a smaller heat sink. In some cases, the LED solution would not fit inside the existing fixture if a passive no-fan solution was used. Think of laptops, computers, gaming systems, and most electronics today. Most if not all use fans, so this idea of using fans to remove heat is not new. In all the years of selling LED solutions, we have seen only one fan failure, so the idea that fans fail is not reasonable.
Understanding Passive Cooling
Passive cooling is a fan-less heat sink, so to compensate, the heat sink must be larger. The best way these solutions work is when the LED board is using the fixture’s casing as a heat sink. Think of UFO high bay or parking fixture. Using a board that is not integrated with the fixture is not a good design (unless of course, you use a fan to help move the heat).
Do not be concerned about the use of fans. Fan technology is very robust and typically will outlast the life of the LED product. If you have an open fixture in a dusty environment, then a passive solution might be a better option.
Tip 16: Understanding L70
How long will an LED Product Last? Well, a good indication is a specification called L70. In this simple test, we explain what it is and how it is derived.
What is Lumen Maintenance?
Lumen Maintenance is a measurement used to evaluate the decrease in light output of a bulb that occurs over time. LED life (L70) is defined as the number of hours it takes for a light product to produce 70% of the lumens it produced when it was new. This measurement lets you know how long you can depend on an LED to provide an acceptable level of intensity as the day you installed it. Comparing L70s across products will allow you to compare two products and determine which one should last longer. For example, some of our high mast fixtures have an L70 rating of over 200,000 hours.
What is an L90 Rating?
LEDs must maintain 90% of their initial lumens during their rated life. This value is tested by third-party labs and after running the product for a specific amount of time, the lab will calculate the L90 value. This report is typically called a TM21 report.
What is an L70 Rating?
Based on the L90 value determined in the L70, manufacturers ‘calculate’ the L70 value which in essence is the maintenance of 70% of their initial lumens during their rated life. Please note, this is a calculated value because it is impractical for a product to run 10s of thousands of hours to determine the actual numbers.
Tip 17: The Cost Savings of Replacing 400-Watt HID with LED
We all know LED saves you money by using less electricity. But how much? What can you expect if you convert a 400-Watt HID Fixture to LED? This simple discussion shows you what you can expect, depending on your cost of electricity.
The Savings when you convert from 400-Watt HID to LED
Many fixtures use a 400-Watt HID bulb. From high bays, flood lights, parking lot lights, shoe box lights and wall packs. We know that a 400-Watt HID bulb uses 455 Watts when you also include the ballast draw. But what does that mean when you convert to LED? How much money can you expect to save, per fixture, per year when you convert to LED? Well, that depends on the wattage of the LED solution. Here are two examples. Always remember to do a photometric first to determine the best option, and then use this guide to determine your savings.
In both cases, we assume a run time of 12 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Case 1: 100 Watt LED Saving
100 LED Watts replacing 400 Watts for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 1577 kw/year *
|Cost per kw/h||Savings per year|
* includes ballast draw
Case 2: 150 Watt LED Solution
150 LED Watts replacing 400 Watts for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 1358 kw/year *
|Cost per kw/h||Savings per year|
* includes ballast draw
As you can see, the savings are significant. Multiply this by the number of fixtures you have, and if you want, multiply by 10 to calculate 10 years’ worth of savings.
Tip 18: Cost Savings when Replacing 1000-Watt HID with LED
This is the second tip we dedicated to cost savings. The first was associated with the savings in replacing 400-watt HID with an energy efficient LED Solution. In this tip we talk about the cost savings associated with converting a 1000-watt HID fixture over to LED, and the savings are even more stunning.
The Savings when you convert from 1000 Watt HID to LED
Many fixtures in commercial and industrial applications use a 1000-watt HID bulb, including interior high bays as well as outdoor flood lights, parking lot fixtures, high mast lights, stadium lights, and shoe box lights, to name a few.
We know that a 1000-watt HID bulb used 1150 watts when you also include ballast draw (the energy the ballast consumes).
But what does that mean when you convert to LED? How much money can you expect to save, per fixture, per year when you convert? Well, that depends on the wattage of the LED solution. Here are two examples:
Always remember to do a photometric first to determine the best option, and then use this guide to determine your savings. In both cases, we assume a run time of 12 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Case 1: 300 Watt LED Savings
280 LED Watts replacing 1000 Watts for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 3811 kw/year *
|Cost per kw/h||Savings per year|
* includes ballast draw
Case 2: 350 Watt LED Savings
350 LED Watts replacing 1500 Watts for 12 hrs/day 365 days/yr saving 6023 kw/year *
|Cost per kw/h||Savings per year|
* includes ballast draw
Tip 19: Why LED Makes Better Security Lights than HID
One of the best reasons to add lighting to the outside of your building is a good measure to increase security and reduce crime. But HID, as the prevalent option before the widespread acceptance of LED, is actually more costly and less effective than if you switched to LED. Here’s a quick tip on why LED makes perfect sense over HID.
1. Instant On, Instant Off with LED
With HID, like Metal Halide, HPS, and the like, they have long strike times, so turning on the light to full output can take 15-30 minutes. This lends itself as a terrible option for sensor controls such as motion sensors. With a motion sensor attached to a LED Flood Fixture, for example, lights can go from off, or dimmed, to full power in less than 1 second. When no further motion is detected, the lights can dim, or go off.
There are two significant benefits from this: first, saving energy, lights are only on when they need to be. Second, nothing would be more startling to would-be offenders than going into an environment where it appears dark and then goes to very bright in less than a second.
2. Higher CRI = Higher Quality of Light to work with security cameras
If you incorporate security cameras around your commercial or industrial area, then you also know that having high-quality light will help police identify persons better than having to look at people or objects under a low-quality source of light. HPS is a notoriously bad light source, Metal Halide is better, but LED is the best.
Tip 20: Make sure you Understand Light Distribution
So, you are looking to purchase an LED Fixture, and are comparing two fixtures that both say they have the same beam angle of light distribution. Read this post and avoid the pitfalls of buying the wrong light.
Light distribution should be consistent. A 120-degree distribution should be consistent across all lights, and yet it’s not. Running the lights IES file through photometric software, and comparing the two, reveals that there are vast differences.
So how can you be safe before you buy? Read on.
Case Study: Comparing Two Fixtures with the “Same” Beam Angle
Recently a large customer asked us to propose a light for them. The test area was 120 ft long, 8 ft wide, and 12 ft high. They wanted 4 foot candles uniformly distributed across the entire area with no hot spots.
This is not a common requirement, so we started to test different canopy fixtures in our lighting design software. And as we learned what each light would do, we came across 1 light that nailed it. It distributed 4 foot candles pretty well evenly across the entire area. It was associated with a light that had a reported beam angle of 150 degrees.
So now that we understand what we should be looking for, we swapped out the fixture with other 150- and 160-degree optic fixtures, with the approximately same number of lumens, expecting to get similar results. The results were interesting. See our test below with a second light that has 160-degree optics.
This light, while appearing to have been a good candidate, failed the customer’s requirements by not uniformly distributing the light over the entire area.
So how do you protect yourself before you buy?
It’s simple, have a lighting expert at LED Lighting Supply run a photometric for you. Seeing is believing, and photometric software allows you to see the results before you purchase. And avoid a costly mistake.
About the Author
Dwayne Kula is President of LED Lighting Supply. On any given day, Dwayne is writing content for the site and helps manage the marketing initiatives that are on-going. He has a Software Engineering degree and still dabbles in writing software for the company as needed. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, working out, playing the occasional game of golf and exploring New England.