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Should I Be Using LEDs?


Should I be using LEDs? What exactly is an LED?

An LED, or light emitting diode, is a light source that is rapidly growing in popularity, especially in commercial use. An LED is a semiconductor diode that emits light when a voltage is applied to it. Unlike traditional light sources, LEDs have no moving parts, and create minimal heat. Recent improvements in design and cost are driving new and viable LED general lighting applications.

There are several benefits to LED lighting.

LEDs use small semiconductor diodes that illuminate when energized, as opposed to filaments or cathodes that heat up and/or move to create light. As such, LEDs are dramatically more efficient, produce very little heat relative to traditional products, and have no moving parts, allowing for far longer lifetimes.

However, there are some downsides to LED Lighting.

As the technology improves, we expect nearly all of the downsides of LED lighting as being rendered irrelevant Today, because individual LEDs are relatively small and only emit light 180 degrees (as opposed to 360 degrees from a filament or cathode), LED fixtures and bulbs must be carefully designed with many LEDs positioned to appear as one single light source that illuminates in all directions. LED products are also more costly than traditional lighting products. However, this is rapidly improving, with most projections suggesting an average annual decrease in LED fixture/bulb costs of around 25 percent annually.

LEDs last and last!

LED lifetimes are calculated differently than traditional lighting products. For incandescent, fluorescent, CFL and other technologies, the lifetime is the point in time at which 50 percent of the units fail. For LEDs, the lifetime is typically given as the L70 value, or the point in time at which the fixture or bulb will produce 70 percent of the light it produced when new.

The chart below illustrates what typical L70 lifetimes of LED products would equate to in years of operation while running at various hours/day, 365 days/year.

L70 Lifetime,25000 Hours,35000 Hours,50000 Hours, 75000 Hours, 100000 Hours
3 Hrs/Day*,22.8 years,32.0 years,45.7 years,68.5 years,91.3 years

6 hrs/day*,11.4 years,16.0 years,22.8 years,34.2 years,45.7 years
9 hrs/day*, 7.6 years,10.7 years,15.2 years,22.8 years,30.4 years
12 hrs/day*,5.7 years,8.0 years,11.4 years,17.1 years, 22.8 years
24 hrs/day*,2.9 years,4.0 years,5.7 years,8.6 years,11.4 years

*365 days/year (Chart courtesy of MaxLite®

Today, you have many choices of different lighting technologies. Due to rising energy prices, government-mandated efficiency levels, and many6 other factors, the lighting industry is striving to provide more efficient technologies. LED is at the forefront of this shift in technology, because it offers the potential for greater efficiency, more than a decade of life in 12 hours per day operation, appearance on par with incandescent products, and improving performance and pricing.

Given the recent improvements in LED technology, many industry projections suggest that over the next 10 years LEDs will grow to comprise more than 70 percent of the North American lighting market.

Here is a side by side comparison: a 150w LED floodlight versus a 400w Floodlight:

  • No sacrifice in light output (based on 30’ mounting height, aimed 45 degrees below horizon)
  • However, the LED calculated savings is 66% or $3500 over the life of the fixture
  • Like floodlights, LEDs are also dimmable
  • LED’s are insensitive to low temperatures, and gwen3erate very little heat
  • LED’s are insensitive to humidity
  • On/off cycling has no effect on LED lifespan
  • LED’s turn on instantly
  • LED’s are more environmentally friendly (no mercury and far less Carbon Dioxide emissions)
  • Assuming 10 hours of daily use, a quality LED floodlight will last 27 years, compared with 5 years for a HID, and only 3 years for a CFL.

What Types of LED are there?

Diffused bulbs – In this style LED bulb, clusters of LEDs are covered by a dimpled lens which spreads the light out over a wider area. Available in standard Edison bases, these bulbs have many uses, such as area lighting for rooms, porches, reading lamps, accent lamps, hallways and low-light applications where lights remain on for extended periods.

Dimmable Globe LED bulbs – Designed for bathroom vanities or anywhere a globe bulb is required, these bulbs produce light equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent bulb, yet only consume 10 watts of power. Dimmable from 100% to 10%, these bulbs have a 200 degree beam angle to cast light in a wide area.

Track Lighting – Available in pin base or standard (Edison) base, LEDs are ideal for track lighting. LEDs do not contribute to heat buildup in a room because no matter how long they remain on, they do not get hot to the touch. Also, because they are 90% more efficient than incandescents, and last 10 times longer than CFLs, the frequency of changing bulbs is greatly reduced.

Flood Reflector LEDs for Recessed Cans and Track lights, screw-in base – LEDs are now available for standard recessed lighting pots and housings. They range from 7.5 to 17watts, with beam widths from PAR20 to PAR38. Several models are dimmable. Also, because they are 90% more efficient than incandescents. and last 10 times longer than CFLs, the frequency of changing bulbs is greatly reduced.

Flame Tip, Candelabra Base LEDs – Designed to replace incandescent candelabra bulbs, these flame tip LEDs deliver the equivalent light of 25 – 35 watt incandescents while only drawing 3.5 watts of electricity. Because of the heat sink in the base, light doesn’t disperse downwards as much as a typical incandescent candelabra bulb.

LED Tube Lights – Designed to replace fluorescent tube bulbs, these LED tubes are available in 8 and 16 watts, which replace traditional 25-watt and 40-watt T8/T10/T12 fluorescent tubes. Because fluorescent lights are often installed in high ceilings in commercial sites, there are additional savings because the frequency of changing bulbs is greatly reduced.

Should I use LEDs? The bottom line…

A&K Electrical Contractors believes that LED light bulbs will eventually be what everyone will be using and will replace incandescent bulbs. Recent developments in LED technology have been addressing the issues of cost and broader light beam. And LEDs provide lifetime operating costs that are much less than conventional bulbs.

If you would like to receive a cost-benefit analysis of converting you commercial project to LEDs please contact us.



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A&K Electrical Contractors
Post Office Box 54
Glen Gardner, NJ 08826

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