Light emitting diodes, commonly referred to as LEDs, have swept the conventional lighting marketplace for a variety of reasons, most notably for their extended life spans, reduced energy consumption, and low maintenance requirements. By 2030, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that LED technology could save 190 terawatt hours of electricity per year, which equates to a whopping $15 billion.
As LED purchase and operation costs continue to decrease, more and more homeowners, business owners and facility managers are looking to make upgrades to their lighting systems.
Therefore, contractors are now seeking lighting companion pieces, such as pendant-hung fixtures and backlighting pixels, to accompany their acoustical grid and tile systems.
When dealing with LED upgrades and communicating product benefits, here are five areas that every GC should be prepared to discuss.
LEDs use up to 75% less electricity than incandescent bulbs, resulting in substantial energy cost savings, especially for any business with lights that are on for extended periods. LEDs also emit light in a specific direction unlike incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs, which emit light—and heat—in all directions. This directional lighting capability reduces wasted light and energy. See this DOE fact sheet for more on comparing LED energy efficiencies.
Unlike incandescent lighting, LEDs don’t “burn out” or fail, they merely dim over time. Quality LEDs have a life of 30,000 – 50,000 hours or even longer, depending on the quality of the light fixture. A typical incandescent lamp lasts only about 1,000 hours; a comparable compact fluorescent lasts 8,000 to 10,000 hours. With a longer operational life, LEDs can reduce labor costs of replacing bulbs in commercial situations, achieving a low maintenance lighting system.
Without filaments or glass enclosures, LEDs are breakage resistant and largely immune to vibrations and other impacts. Traditional lighting is usually contained in a glass or quartz exterior which can be susceptible to damage depending on the application.
Rapid Cycling Capacity
A high on-off frequency can cause traditional lighting to burn out faster, whereas LEDs are unaffected by rapid cycling. For this reason, LEDs are an effective option for occupancy or daylight sensor lighting.
No IR or UV Emissions
Less than 10% of the power used by incandescent lamps is actually converted to visible light; the majority of the power is converted into infrared (IR) or radiated heat. Excessive heat and ultraviolet radiation (UV) presents a burn hazard to people and materials. LEDs emit virtually no IR or UV.
Rapid advancements in LED lighting technologies, with more improvements on the horizon, have resulted in lowered costs and increased reliability of LEDs. While it may be tempting to assume LEDs are the right choice for all applications, lighting selection should be based on a number of factors: energy efficiency, color quality, light distribution, dimmability, and expected lifetime. The DOE offers various resources to help guide your decision.
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