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The 2012 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey showed that commercial buildings used 17% of electricity on lighting only. The commercial sector is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the country. Commercial LED ceiling lights give building owners and managers an opportunity to cut down energy use.

LED lights use 75% less electricity than traditional panel light fixtures. At the time of the survey, the commercial lighting fixtures covered 83,569 million sq ft. At least 93% used standard fluorescent tubes. Commercial LED ceiling lights were used in less than 10%. The trend, however, is changing. LED light adoption is increasing as the price and efficacy rates improve.

A 2015 Department of Energy (DOE) Energy Savings Forecast predicts that by 2025, 90% of light installations will be LED. This figure will rise to 100% by 2035. If this prediction is true, energy used for lighting will reduce by 75%, an estimated 5.1 quads by 2035.

The DOE says this is the amount of electricity expended by 45 million homes in the US. The cumulative cost savings by LED lights from 2015 to 2035 will equal $630 billion in saved energy costs.

How to Choose Ceiling Panel Lights

Position and Size

Your existing ceiling grid will dictate the LED panel size you are going to choose. There needs to be enough depth to fit the new LED panel. If you are retrofitting older lighting, a LED retrofit kit will give you an easy plug and play solution.

If the ceiling is narrow, then you might need to go for hanging panel lights. But, LED panel-lights can surface mount onto a recessed fitter into a plaster ceiling.

Power Consumption

Commercial fluorescent lights lose over 40% of the light to the environment. They are multi directional lights. Which means they direct some of the light to the surroundings. LED panel-lights have a wide beam angle that ensures light is uniform in wide spaces.

You can choose two ways. Either retrofit your older panels with LED lights or optimize the existing LED fittings. With optimization, you can cut down the number of panels in your commercial space. For instance, use 3 fittings where there were 4, because LED lights have higher light levels.

Comparison of 24" X 24" Panel Lights

TypeT8 Fluorescent - 4 TubesLED panel
Average life span10,00050,000-100,000
Color optionsCool whiteCool white, daylight quality, warm white
Lumens Per Watt37140
Beam Angle325°120°


It is worth noting that conventional fluorescent lights have ballasts that draw energy. A fitting with four T8 tubes will have ballasts drawing 88 watts. Replace the fluorescents with LED ceiling lights and use 75% less electricity and with better light.


Ceiling Light with Emergency Backup 

Buy LED emergency panels that will keep the building functional in the event of a power failure. These LED panels are usually placed near escape routes. They provide lighting for at least three hours in the event of light disruption. Since LED lights use very little electricity, they make the best emergency lights.

Advantages of LED over Traditional Ceiling Lights

1. Instant On and Excellent Coverage


Commercial buildings should have enough light to cut shadows. People can perform their activities safe and efficient. High-quality LED ceiling lights can help cut eye fatigue that goes with many of the tasks in these spaces.

Light from using fluorescent tubes is intense, can flicker and cause glare. This can tire the eyes, causing migraines and increasing levels of stress.

LED lights have a high color rendering index. This is a critical lighting feature for spaces that need accurate color discrimination. The lights render colors almost as well as the sun's light at midday. They're perfect for retailers and businesses that use product displays, like jewelry stores.

LED lights do not have warm up or restrike times, unlike their HID counterparts. They have no ballasts and can turn on in an instant. This is a critical aspect not only for convenience but for the security of the commercial spaces as well.

2. Design Flexibility


The design of LEDs maximizes light output. Some have a lightweight aluminum frame that not only assists in dissipating heat but ensures small light leakage. Some light fixtures have diffusers placed at the front.

Diffusers ensure uniform light distribution. They soften light by decreasing harsh shadows and glare. Reflector plates are also placed at the back of LED fixtures to enhance the lighting effect.

Commercial LED ceiling lights can retrofit older fluorescent lights. They can suspend from hooks or installed in ceiling grids. They come in a variety of color temperatures and you can choose from different sizes.


3. A Slim and Sleek Profile


Unlike fluorescent tubes or HID bulbs weighed down by the protruding fragile bulbs, LED lights are tiny and compact. They have small profiles that give off an effortless stylish look. Their aluminum frames also enhance their durability and function.

Office Lighting Image

4. Long Useful Life


Commercial LED ceiling lights give 50,000-100,000 hours of use. Unlike fluorescent bulbs that have a max lifespan of 15,000 hours. This means your LED ceiling lights will be in use for at least a decade. These lights not only have long lives, but are high performing.

They are shock-resistant since the LED chips are hard resin. Its toughness is incomparable to that of tungsten filaments or fluorescent tubes. In areas where the LED ceiling lights are subject to vibration or impact, they won't get damaged. This unique feature could drop a building's light maintenance budget to zero.

5. Light Control


LED lights integrate with smart light control systems to help increase energy efficiency. Lighting controls such as wireless occupancy sensors, ensure rooms are lit only when occupied.

The lights can also couple with daylight sensors. These analyze natural light and adjust the brightness based on the natural light. This conserves energy as much as possible. Since these systems are wireless, they are easy to install and use. Smart lighting controls make energy conservation almost effortless.

Last Updated: 08/13/2020

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