LED Energy Efficiency

The basic question with any light source becomes…how much light can I get to the work surface for the watts I am paying for and what is my total owning and operating cost? Until the last year or two the answer in most cases has been metal halide or fluorescent. The efficacy, or lumens per watt of these sources are in the 80-100 lumen per watt range, very efficacious when compared to the 15 lumens per watt for tungsten halogen sources. High pressure sodium is on the high end of that range but the yellow color does not suit a lot of applications. Rated life of fluorescent and metal halide lamps range from 10,000 to 20,000 hours, very high as compared to tungsten halogen at around 2,000 hours. These figures then, the lumen output per watt and rated life, have been the major factors in the application of these sources by lighting designers across the lighting spectrum.

But, as we say, a new day is dawning. The advent of light emitting diodes…LED’s… has been rapid indeed. Several aspects of these new light sources have been fine tuned to the point of providing excellent options in their application. There are, however, key pitfalls to be avoided in design and application so that the promise of lumen output, color control, and life are fully realized and translated into actual owning and operating costs for the lighting task performed. A well designed LED system of LED selection, mounting for thermal control, and optical distribution can deliver 100 lumens pre watt in good color rendering, light distribution that allows for using half that of fluorescent, and having an extended practical life of 50,000-70,000 hours. LED’s are extremely stable in providing the same light output from minus 30 degrees to over 120 degrees. Since fluorescent lamps put out light all around the cylindrical tube and LED’s put out light in only 180 degrees, the LED sources can direct light toward the work surface much more efficiently. In a typical application of general lighting, case lighting, or signage, the energy can be reduced to half that of the fluorescent sources. This coupled with at life of at least 4-5 times that of fluorescent allows LED sources by CERTIFIED LED to deliver on the promise…same lighting performance with half the energy and one-fifth the maintenance costs.

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