LED (Light Emitting Diode) lighting is increasingly popular both for commercial and domestic use. It can be retro-fitted as well as built in from the development stage, and provides long-term reduction of energy use and expenditure.
LED lights have been around since the 1960s. They have been used in digital clocks and TV remote controls for a long time, and now are used in lighting. They’re a little different to halogen and incandescent lighting, so here’s what you need to know about them…
• LED lighting works by the passing of electrons through a semiconductor, which creates electroluminescence. These light bulbs, or luminaires to give them their correct name, don’t need filaments or rely on gas. They don’t burn out or need to warm up like incandescent bulbs do.
• It costs around 20% of the cost of standard lighting to run.
• It has a color temperature which is really an indicator of how much light is emitted. For traditional domestic homes, a color temperature of 2700k is advised. For modern offices and houses, 3000k is good. A 6000k bulb is good for small environments but not recommended for large spaces as it can make somewhere feel and look very cold. The k (Kelvin) rating basically indicates how white the light is which is emitted.
• It’s good for showing off colors in a room, and if you need to create a certain ambiance for your client, you can use the different color temperatures to find the perfect light level.
• Wattage, unlike incandescent bulbs, is not an indicator of brightness. Instead, brightness is indicated by the lumen (lm) with a higher lumen indicating a brighter bulb. As a guide, 230lm is about equivalent to a traditional 25w bulb.
• It requires extra components such as transformers and drivers. This is because the lights require a lot less power than traditional lighting which needs to be regulated, and also because it runs on DC while houses and commercial premises are AC. Some bulbs contain the required transformers and drivers within the housing, and some don’t, so please check when purchasing.
• You can run LED lighting on dimmers but you do need to buy a special dimmable bulb rather than a standard one, and maybe a special dimmer switch. You can use existing dimmer switches but you will need to be aware of their minimum load level. Dimmer switches can cause the lights to flash, in which case you will need to change the transformer.
• It is designed to last longer than traditional or halogen lighting. Because of this, it tends to be more expensive to buy, however, the money saved on energy bills and replacement bulbs means that it is cheaper overall. You should invest in trusted brand names such as Cree, Samsung, or Bridgelux for extra longevity. Beware of cheap versions which are made entirely of plastic and without the recommended heat vents. You should look for lights which are made of aluminum and have vents for the removal of heat. These will last longer again and prevent premature replacement of bulbs.
• LED lighting does depreciate over time and is considered to be no longer useful when the lumen output falls below 70% of the original level. The expected lumen depreciation rate – which is the expected number of operating hours before this level is reached – will be shown on the bulb packaging.
• Because LED light bulbs do not emit heat like incandescent bulbs, they provide a lower fire risk. They also contain less mercury and lead than CFL bulbs, so they are less harmful to the environment, and they’re recyclable!
As a supplier of lighting systems, the basics you need to know are very simple: LED lighting can seem more expensive, to begin with, but the lower running costs will mean that it is cheaper in the longer term. Luminaires made from aluminum and with heat vents will extend the life of the product and mean lower replacement expense (and effort) for you and your client. If your client is looking to reduce their energy costs and to minimize their environmental impact, then this type of lighting is a great option, it’s just down to you to convince them that investing in LED is the way forward!
If your client is looking to reduce their energy costs and to minimize their environmental impact, then this type of lighting is a great option, it’s just down to you to convince them that investing in LED is the way forward!