In the last 5 years and particularly in the last two, LED lighting has really taken off as the main pluspoints become more widely known and understood:
- Extremely low energy use
- Long lifespan
- High-quality light
- None of the maintenance (re-lamping, re-ballasting) associated with traditional incandescent and fluorescent sources
- Inherent controllability (instant on/off, full-range dimming), creating additional energy savings opportunities
If you have not yet converted to LED, perhaps it is because of some common misconceptions and false information that I commonly run across out there:
LEDs are too expensive
All too often, the only thing people see with lighting projects are initial costs. Upfront cost is a very small piece of the puzzle and invisible costs, such as years of electricity, demand charges and maintenance costs must be considered. Plain LEDs offer one-time wattage savings of 40-50%. Intelligent LEDs (bulbs and fixtures that can be programmed and controlled very precisely) save more than 90% on lighting energy use over alternatives by combining aggressive controls with the added benefits of flexibility, analysis, and insight.
LED prices will go down so it pays to wait
The major LED price drops have already happened; the rest will be incremental. However, the energy savings from upgrading to LEDs far exceed any modest price declines in LED-based fixtures. So waiting for a price drop will cost more in energy savings than savings from LED price declines. Here’s why: A quick look at a typical facility’s operating budget shows that lighting is one of the largest non-process energy loads. The major factors associated with industrial and commercial lighting are up-front costs and energy use. By reducing energy usage 50% to 90%, LEDs pay back in energy savings much more than could ever be accrued through incremental LED price declines. If anything, energy’s upward price trend makes waiting even more costly.
The Math: Using a $0.10/kWh rate, for example, a single 6-lamp fixture typically consumes $174 in lighting-related energy costs per year. An intelligent LED fixture consumes just $27, resulting in a net savings of $147 per year. This means that the cost of an LED fixture would have to drop much, much faster than the current prices are dropping in a single year to make waiting worthwhile.
LEDs don’t work well in high-temperature environments
Well-designed LEDs work well in a broad range of environments. During temperature tests conducted by independent labs, LEDs performed equally as well as fluorescents and HID fixtures. Quality matters, and a well-designed lighting system that carefully manages heat dissipation is a prerequisite for lighting operating at any temperature — hot, cold, or anywhere in between.
At the same time, it is important to note that LEDs perform extraordinarily well in cold environments, an area that has been particularly challenging for other types of lighting, such as fluorescent and HID.
LEDs are too bright or not bright enough
Well-designed LED fixtures provide the right light output to manage glare and light placement while eliminating the yellowish colors of high-pressure sodium and HID lights. LED fixtures vary dramatically by fixture, with different options for lumen1 output, optics, directionality, and color temperature. Fixture layout and mounting height also play key roles in successful lighting plans.
Important to note:
• High lumen output does not necessarily correlate to adequate light levels at the target surface(s). In fact, many fixtures that advertise high lumen output do not manage light effectively. These fixtures are often sub-par performers, even if premium priced.
• Well-designed optics are used to direct the lumen output from LED chips to the target surface. Look for fixtures with optics options to match your environment’s needs. Narrow, wide, aisle, or diffuse lenses should all be available.
• Directionality is important. Look for fixtures with flexible light bars that can deliver light in the direction needed, including to the ceiling if necessary.
• Color temperature choices are important, and vary from environment to environment.
• High-quality fixtures with options for lumen output and optics packages can provide flexibility to reduce fixture count in certain applications. Variables include mounting height, Lighing requirements and space layout. With the ability to position light bars for optimal light distribution, sometimes a smaller number of higher output fixtures can be the better solution.
1lumen: a lumen is a measurement of just how much light, in total, the bulb gives out. To give you an idea of what this means, a 60-watt incandescent bulb shines at an average of 800 lumens. A 10-watt LED light uses 50 less watts but still shines at an average of 800 lumens, giving off the same amount of light.