Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are quickly becoming the light source of choice for an increasing number of applications. As the technology matures, LEDs are improving and prices are decreasing. Currently LED costs are dropping by about 20 percent per year and the efficiency is gaining by 10 to 20 percent per year. When designed well, LED lighting can be more efficient, durable, versatile, and longer lasting than compact fluorescent and incandescent lighting.
The advantages of LED lighting include:
• Longevity (25,000–50,000 hours) approx. 10 to 50 times longer-rated lamp-life than incandescent. Especially valuable for those difficult-to-change light fixtures.
• Frequent or rapid on/off cycles will not negatively affect LED performance and life expectancy. This is great for use with occupancy sensors.
• Cold start-up: bulbs illuminate at full output instantly, and performance even improves in colder temperatures.
• Dimming capacity (some even adjust Kelvin spectrum to match that of a incandescent lamp, allowing for efficient mood lighting).
• Dimming and cycling off of LEDs prolong the life expectancy of the bulb or fixture.
• LED bulbs contain no mercury.
• Save 75 to 80 percent on energy costs when substituting LEDs for incandescent or halogen bulbs.
• LED lightbulbs produce minimal ultraviolet and infrared radiation.
• Excellent color spectrum selection.
• LEDs are more resistant than incandescent or halogen bulbs to mechanical failure due to shock and vibration.
• Wireless remote control available for on/off, color spectrum, and dimming control.
• Day lighting light level sensing and dimming capacity with proper control.
The disadvantages of LED lighting include:
• Mining of gold and aluminum have a harmful environmental impact and are commonly used in LEDs.
• The initial price per lumen is higher than fluorescent, halogen, and incandescent.
• The market is young and filled with poor quality LEDs and false claims of energy consumption reductions.
• LEDs diffuse heat differently and need adequate heat dissipation in the fixture.
• There can be dimming compatibility issues. See LED lightbulb manufacturers’ published lists of compatible dimmers for their products.
You Get What You Pay For
Buy your LED bulbs from reputable manufacturers qualified by Energy Star or DLC (Design Light Consortium). Energy Star bulbs adhere to strict energy efficient guidelines, which are set by the EPA. Energy Star requires LED lights to use ¼ the energy of traditional lighting, offer a lifetime is at least 10,000 hours, and provide even light distribution. DLC also set guidelines and checks lighting products to help make sure that measured performance matches manufacturers’ claims.
Things to Consider
CRI (color rendering index)—The standard is 80 CRI, 85 to 90 is good, and 90 or higher is excellent at color rendering.
Lumens per watt from bulb—CFL run 46–75 lm/W, screw type LED run 69–93 lm/W, T8 fluorescent with electronic ballast run 80–100 lm/W.
Make sure there is adequate heat dissipation in fixtures.
Color spectrum—commercial and residential tend to use different color spectrums.
Submitted by Zeus Stark, owner of Next Step Energy, LLC. Next Step Energy is an HVAC and electrical contractor offering renewable energy systems, high efficiency radiant heating, and efficient lighting upgrades. The company has provided service for over thirty years to the greater Chippewa Valley, specializing in the design and installation of solar electric, solar thermal, and solar hot air systems. If you want more information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.