ge led a21 lamp

There is an opportunity for electrical contractors to be educators about LED technology and good lighting practice. With “double-digit” increases in electricity costs, you will be the shining star with your customers by offering the savings gained with LED lighting.

At Granite City Electric Supply, we have invested countless hours of educating our team on the benefits of LED lighting and aligned with the “top lighting manufacturers” to offer the most leading edge solutions available today!

In this series I’d like to explore a few important metrics used to evaluate the right LED lamps for an application. We will review the following:

  • LED Efficiency
  • LED Light Distribution
  • LED Dimming
  • LED Life expectancy

Using this information, Electrical Contractors can identify LED lamps that will provide performance that is equivalent to existing lamps and otherwise will best serve the application need.

LED Efficiency

  • It is useful to evaluate reflector lamps as input/output devices.
  • The input is wattage.
  • The output is light, measured in lumens.
  • The resulting efficacy is expressed as lumens per watt.

The table below proves the point that LED lamps provide considerably more light output for wattage used!

Attribute LED BR30 Halogen BR30
Input Wattage 10 Watts 65 Watts
Output (lumens) 650 650
Lumens per Watt 65 10

LED Light Distribution

LEDs are inherently directional sources and offer better optical control than traditional energy-efficient sources like fluorescent and metal halide lamps. With fewer total lumens, LED luminaires can produce high light levels on nearby surfaces (e.g., task lighting) or low light levels on more distant surfaces (e.g., pole-mounted parking lot luminaires). To maximize energy efficiency and lighting quality, it is important to evaluate each luminaire against the specific light level and uniformity requirements of each application.

You will notice some LED lamps like a PAR30 come with different light beam spreads (i.e. 300, 450) to direct the light to a specific point if accent. You need to consider:

Does the light go where we want it?

To determine whether a product will put light only where we want it, several metrics become important:

The first is center-beam candlepower (CBCP), measured in candela, which expresses the amount of light intensity at the center of the beam.

Next is beam angle, measured in degrees, which indicates the beam pattern.

The beam angle may be a very narrow, narrow spot, medium or wide-flood distribution, providing a choice of patterns and enabling users to light anything from a small object to a large display.

How much light do you want to strike the object? How large is the object or area being illuminated, and how far away is it from the lamp?
If we want to highlight a display and end up throwing lumens all around it where we don’t need them, that’s a waste of energy.

LED Dimming

LEDs are in theory fully dimmable, but they are not compatible with all dimmer controls designed for incandescent lamps. As LED lighting becomes more common for household applications, fully integrated LED dimming controls may become a reality in new construction. In the meantime, LED products will need to be designed to use dimmers that were made for incandescent products. Some LED light fixture manufacturers publish lists of specific dimmer products tested and approved for use with their fixtures.

At Granite City Electric we offer Lutron as our primary brand for LED dimming. Lutron engineers spend countless hours testing most of the LED lamps from major manufacturers to validate compatibility.

LED Life Expectancy

It is impossible to directly measure the lifetime of a “solid state” product that’s expected to last for 50,000 hours or more, which works out to nearly six years of continuous, 24/7 use. Solid state technology is changing so rapidly that any product is sure to be superseded by several generations of newer models before that much time has passed. This means that product lifetime has to be extrapolated rather than directly tested. Furthermore, an LED luminaire is a complex system in which many other components also come into play, such as the driver, electrical connections, fixture housing, and optics. Problems with these other elements may sometimes lead to catastrophic failure, or may instead accelerate lumen depreciation, and should be taken into consideration by manufacturers when describing product life. Researchers are working to gain a better understanding of all failure mechanisms that come into play with an LED luminaire.

Here are a few important notes related to LED Life:

  • Non-LED lamp life is expressed as an average, the point at which half of a large sample of lamps is expected to fail.
  • LED lamp life is typically rated based on lumen depreciation over time, the point at which the average lamp is expected to produce a designated fraction of its initial light output, such as 70 percent (L70).
  • Long service life affects maintenance costs, which can help justify investment in long-life lamps, such as LED lamps.

Lastly and most importantly, as you migrate your customers from incandescent and halogen lamps to more-efficient LED they should be advised to look beyond watts and cost, and instead focus on products that will perform the best, put the right amount of light exactly where it is needed, and render their space in its best light. Because seeing is believing, it’s often recommended to show customers a sample installation before commitment.

Remember, you are not alone in this. Once you get your customer interested in mirgrating to LED, call you lighting expert from Granite City Electric to help define the best solution!