FAQ

  1. What Are Factors That Affect The Lifespan Of LED Lights?
    • While LED lights are a long-lasting solution, many people wonder what are factors affecting LED lifespans, and there are several factors. A LED lifespan can be affected by one or all of these factors during its lifetime. The degree to which a fixture will experience these factors will be determined by several outside influences such as fixture placement, fixture type, exposure to non-rated for elements, and other factors that shorten the lifespan of any light source.
    • The thermal management of a LED can greatly affect the lifespan of the light source. A failure to properly manage the heat an LED experiences will certainly shorten the lifespan by not only burning up the driver, but also the diodes. It is essential to the longevity of the fixture that if the unit operates on a standalone chip, heat sinks have to be considered to prevent premature failure of the LED.
    • The electrical stress is also a factor that affects the lifespan of LEDs. You should never run LED fixtures at higher currents than what the manufacturer specifies. An example of this would be using the wrong driver for the fixture such as a driver that produces 700mA when the LED only needs 350mA. Using higher currents than necessary will not only shorten the life of the driver, but also shorten the life of the LED itself.
    • Another factor that affects the lifespan of LED lights is using higher ambient temperatures than the rating of the light. This will regularly reduce the expected life span by adding stress to the LED.
    • Exposure to the elements outside of the rating in general will pose problems that lead to a shorter lifespan. For instance, if a LED is not rated for submersion and is improperly used for that purpose, it will have a much shorter life.
  2. Can LED Drivers And Chips Be Checked In The Field If They Are Failing?

    Lighting is made up of several different components working as a whole to create illumination. When it comes to LED lighting, one of the most important parts is the driver. This electrical device is essential for controlling the amount of power being supplied to a LED light source. This self-contained power source is responsible for adjusting the power levels as the light changes, as well as the dimmable properties. If a LED is operating without a driver, it will eventually start to operate at a hotter temperature and reduce efficiency. Another important element is the chip. The chip is a small part with a negative and passive end that helps transform electricity into illumination. The driver and the chip work together to achieve an efficient and powerful LED lighting product. For those using LED lights that seem to be experiencing performance issues, there are questions about how to check these two essential components.

    How do you know if you have an issue with the driver and/or chip?

    For the most part, your LED light will show signs of concerns in some pretty generic ways such as appearing dimmer than usual, taking longer to turn on, or a complete loss of power. While this could be a few things such as burned out bulbs or a wiring issue, another way to know it might be the driver or chip is if the light turns on dimly and then suddenly shuts itself off.

    Can LED drivers and chips be checked in the field if they are failing?

    Wiring connections and environmental conditions can be checked in the field in most cases. The driver input and output powers could also be checked for any issues as well. A fixture failing to start up or stay lit once on can be easily diagnosed to rule out the LED strip/chip as the source of failure. Simply swap out the suspected faulty driver for a good driver from another fixture. This will tell you indefinitely if the problem is the driver. You can do the same thing with the chip to determine if that is the issue.

    While it is very unlikely to have issues with the drivers, chips, and boards in most LED fixtures, it’s always good to know as much as possible about your lighting. The more you know, the easier it is to make repairs instead of replacing the whole lighting system.

  3. Why Is There Such A Discrepancy Between Manufacturers Expected Life?

    When it comes to lighting, you want the option that will last the longest. This factor is communicated on the package from the manufacturer as the Average Rated Life (ARL) and varies from light to light. Many consumers will purchase lighting based on this important factor of ARL because the longer a light lasts, the better the value in their minds. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about this aspect of lighting.

    The Discrepancy Between Lights

    One of the most important things to keep in mind is the expected life will vary based on the light type. For example, a HID bulb might have an ARL of 10,000-24,000 hours while a fluorescent bulb has a life expectancy of 24,000-36,000. There are other lights such as halogens and compact fluorescent with varying ratings ranging from 2,000 hours to 20,000 hours. LED’s carry the highest ARL with an average of 40,000-50,000 hours. It is important to remember that when considering this factor of lighting, while the ARL is relevant, it is not the only factor to consider. For example, you may think the longer the life expectancy, the better, but you should also keep in mind how often you intend to turn the light off/on, lumen output, location, and more.

    Why Don’t Lights Live up to ARL?

    While the ARL listed by manufacturers is how long the light should last before at least half the bulbs expire, many consumers notice the lights may not last as long as listed. This is not necessarily the fault of the manufacturer. These listings are not set in stone since many factors affect the longevity of a light solution. To further explain this, think about the environment in which ARL’s are determined. It is most likely in a relatively controlled environment in a lab. In real life situations, lighting undergoes varying pressures and outside influences such as heat, cold, moisture, wind, and vibrations. This doesn’t only apply to exterior lights. Interior lights experience these same outside influences. While a lab setting will take these factors into consideration during the testing phase to determine ARL, your location and lighting might be experiencing higher levels of outside disturbances than what was originally expected by the manufacturer.

    In Conclusion

    When it comes to lighting and life expectancy, the key to meeting the suggested expectancy will depend on the environment and conditions your lights experience. If you find lights aren’t living up to their expectancy, consider the influences around your light and ways to reduce them for a longer lasting light.

  4. Why Do The Lumen Outputs/Wattage Vary So Much Between Manufacturers?
    • Lumen output and fixture wattage are influenced by the efficiency of an LED chip, driver, and fixture. Fixture efficiency is a carryover from existing lighting pertaining to the design of the fixture and how efficiently it transmits light from a given lamp. Driver efficiency is how efficiently the power supply converts line voltage in to usable power for the lamp. LED chip efficiency varies according to the specific model LED, how hard the chip is being driven compared to its nominal drive current, and how hot the chip operates once the fixture has heated up to a steady state. Generally speaking, the higher the drive current on a LED the less efficient it will be however there is no standard drive current common to all LED's and they vary greatly on their decrease in efficacy with increasing current.
    • Lumens will also vary depending on the light source. All bulbs do not operate in the same way so each bulb will have its own watts and lumen figures. For example, a LED and a HID will most likely offer differing lumens and wattage outputs. It should also be noted that lumen and watts are two different measurements. A LED can offer up to 22W with a lumen output of approximately 1600 whereas a halogen light could be up to 72W and put out the same 1600 lumens. Watts and lumens are related, but when deciding between the two factors, you are better off focusing on lumens since this figure represents the actual light output the space will receive in terms of illumination. Don’t compare one manufacturer’s lumens with another brand’s wattages since these are two very different factors.
    • Remember, wattage is the measurement of the energy consumed by the bulb. Lumens is the measurement of the illumination output or brightness of the bulb.
  5. How Are LEDs Tested To Determine Reliability And Durability?
    • The LEDs go through a rigorous binning process prior to being delivered to the board manufacturer. Color space on the black body curve (intricacies of CCT), CRI, luminous intensity, and forward voltage are measured for each batch of LED die on the semiconductor wafer and sorted to create a batch of uniform product within a reel of components. This process ensures that the board manufacturer has a reliable set of parts to populate a circuit with yielding uniform color, intensity, and a predictable performance. The boards undergo x-ray scanning to ensure good solder connections and are tested for operation and correct CCT/CRI. LED's themselves are an inherently durable part being solid state electronics. In addition to the inherent durability of the design, the lighting systems are required to undergo rigorous testing with standards set forth to ensure optimal performance to meet the standards of LED lighting solutions.
    • Testing standards are in place to ensure an industry wide level of acceptable standards for matters like lumen maintenance. This matter is related to the number of hours expected to operate before the levels of output drop to lower than 70% of their initial capability. The 70% rule is a great example of the standards set for LED testing measures. It ensures that every manufacturer is calculating their ratings the same to arrive at a recognized industry standard.
    • The testing is done with certain codes and may be communicated on the packaging. Here is a brief explanation of these codes you may encounter and what they measure:
      • LM-79 photometric measurements apply to lumens generated, Correlated Color Temp, and Color Rendering Index.
      • LM-79 electrical measurements refer to input AC power, input voltage frequency, and power factor.
      • L-70 refers to the prediction of lumen maintenance before reaching a decreased luminosity level.
      • LM-80 refers to the test conditions that determine life expectancy.
  6. Why Use LED Over Induction?

    The biggest advantage LED has over Induction is its fixture efficiency. LEDs are a 100% efficient in terms of delivering light output. Induction typically has significant light loss due to the size of the lamp and its inability to redirect much of the light being spread above it. LED light can be engineered to provide specific light patterns through the use of optics, board/chip design, and reflectors increasing its overall efficiency. In addition to fixture efficiency, LED chips continue to increase their overall lumens/watt efficiency, surpassing Inductions 80-90 lumens/watt. The other advantage LED is starting to gain over Induction is price, and in some select markets, discounts in the form of rebates. The only advantage Induction currently has over LED is the fact that it’s been around for over 100 years and is a proven technology. However, LEDs are rapidly gaining acceptance in the market as an extremely efficient and reliable product as chips and drivers continue to improve.

    Another reason to choose LED over Induction is the smaller differences. For example, LED has dimmable capability and induction doesn’t have this feature. The color rendering is also slightly different with most inductions reaching an average of 80 CRI while LED has an average of 70 to 90 CRI.

    Another factor to consider would be depreciation since LED is essentially becoming the front runner in terms of lighting. As LED continues to become the top choice, the value of Induction lighting will cincture to drop as time goes on. Another way of looking at it is that Induction lights lose their value when they reach the level of 65% of initial lumen output whereas LEDs are a level of 70% lumen output.

    Finally, induction lighting contains mercury. This can be a deal breaker for many consumers since it can be tricky to dispose of and LED lights are the more environmentally friendly choice.

  7. Are There Any Temp/Environmental Limitations On LED Lights?
    • Concerning temperature, an LED with adequate heat dissipation would have no temperature limitation in an environment humans tolerate (-40F to 150F) or beyond. Temperature concerns with a fixture are generally 99% concerning the driver. The driver is an essential element that controls your LED fixture so you should take care not to exceed any suggested guidelines in terms of temperature to help extend the life of the driver. LED's are sensitive to a variety of chemicals. These are generally corrosive in nature and affect the phosphor coating over the LED die (the yellow to orange plastic looking part that controls the CCT of the LED) either changing the CCT or destroying it completely over time. The most common application conflict I run across is indoor swimming pools where chlorine would be present in above normal concentrations in the air. The specific fixture/LED should be addressed when going in to an environment where there is a presence of specific chemicals or oils in the air. It should also be noted that there is a relationship between the total output and the heat environment in which the LED operates. The cooler the temperature, the higher the light output the LED can produce. Also, continuous exposure to high levels of heat can lower the average life rating and performance of your LED lighting solutions.
  8. Why Are LEDs Better Than Other Light Sources?
    • Lower Environmental Impacts. LED lighting solutions are more efficient which means they use less power to achieve the same, if not better, results than comparative lighting solutions. They are also free of harmful elements, such as mercury found in other lights, so they are safe to dispose of without environmental impact. Another way they benefit the environment is that they last for an exceptionally long time so they need to be replaced less frequently. In addition, LED bulbs are recyclable for a lower impact on the planet.
    • Improved Efficiency LEDs are known to be an efficient option in terms of energy consumed for lumens put out. In fact, they offer some of the highest lumen outputs to wattage and energy consumption on the market. LED lights consume upwards of 90% less energy than incandescent options.
    • Lower Utility Costs The fact that LEDs use less power to get the same or better results than fluorescent or metal halide lights also means lower utility costs. They also burn at a cooler temperature so they won’t affect your cooling unit, as well as making them safer to handle than bulbs that may burn you.
    • Longevity LED lights are known to last for years with some options offering upwards of 100,000 hours of illumination. They are also incredibly durable with no filament. Lights with filaments as part of their illumination process tend to be more fragile and need to be replaced more often. This impressive longevity also makes them very low maintenance in comparison to other lighting options on the market.
    • Solid Return on Investment LEDs may be the costlier option when choosing lighting, but the upfront costs will almost always be offset in the long run. Between the lowered utility costs and the fact that they last for years, you will see a return on the money spent in most cases. This fact isn’t true of other lighting options.
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