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TheLightingCenter: Top 25 Frequently Asked Questions about LED Technology and Fixtures

1. What are LED Lights and do they save energy?

All our LED lights and bulbs are energy saving that are designed to replace incandescent, fluorescent, CFL, metal halide, high pressure sodium and halogen lights in your office, facility or business. They will reduce your energy consumption by at least 40%, and as much as 80%, depending on the light you choose and the light we are replacing. With LEDs lasting up to 100,000 hours, we can also reduce your maintenance on your lighting. 

2. How do LEDs Work?

LEDs are comprised of 3 main components: the LED’s (the chip set that produces light), the driver (converts AC to DC) and the heat sink (to keep everything cool). LEDs take DC power from the driver and create light. The heat sink captures heat from the LEDs and the drivers. Although LEDs produce significantly less heat than the light bulbs we have been used to over the past century, the heat they produce must be managed. The better this is done, the longer the life of the product. 

LED’s also performs the job of converting electricity to light more efficiently than other light sources, that is why we can replace a 400W metal halide bulb with a LED 100W retrofit. 

3. What are the benefits of replacing your ordinary bulbs with the LED?

There are many benefits. Here is a list of a few:

a. An immediate reduction in your electricity bill. 
b. Less heat. LED fixtures are extremely efficient converting electricity into light. 
c. LED Bulbs last a very long time, typically 50,000 to 100,000 hours. 
d. They are virtually indestructible.
e. They do not contain mercury or other hazardous materials
f. Highly recyclable – with no hazardous parts, you can easily reclaim most of the parts in an environmentally safe way.

4. How much money can you save when converting to LED?

It all depends what you are converting. Incandescent to LED, fluorescent to LED, Metal Halide to LED. Fortunately, we built a very simple and information Energy savings calculator. Enter in a few fields or select one of our existing energy savings scenario, and let it calculate your energy savings. We tried to make it simple and easy to use. But it is not uncommon to see at least a 70%+ savings on your energy consumption.

5. Can LED bulbs be used with dimmer controls?

Yes and No. First, not all LEDs are dimmable. The driver must be designed to allow dimming. Secondly, you must purchase the right type of dimmer. Most retail stores now carry dimmers specifically designed for LED bulbs. Please note, if you purchase a non-dimmable LED bulb and try to dim it, it will cause the bulb to fail and also void the warranty. 

Some of our industrial and commercial LED fixtures (high bays, floods, area lighting, retrofits) work with a 0-10V dimming system. 0-10V dimming requires special wiring and a special type of dimmer. 

The two most common types of dimming is: 0-10V low voltage and Triac dimming.

6. Do they contain any hazardous or heavy metals like Mercury?

They shouldn’t. LED bulbs should not contain mercury or any other hazardous metals or chemicals. CFL’s and fluorescent do contain a very small amount of mercury that needs to be disposed of correctly. So when your LED bulb eventually stops to work, you don’t have to worry about costly or special disposal procedures. 

7. What color temperatures are available with LED bulbs?

Color temperature for light bulbs is measured on the Kelvin scale. LED Bulbs come in a variety of colors, but the most common are in a range from 2700 Kelvin to 7500 Kelvin. The unfortunate thing is that the only consistent measurement is the Kelvin scale, Many manufacturers like to use terms like Day White, Natural White, Warm White and Cool White, but there is not a standard that defines a Kelvin temperature to associate a color temperature with those terms. The warmer the light, the more yellow tones, the cooler the light, there are more blue tones.

  • 2700-3200 – WW – Warm White
  • 4000-4500 – NW – Natural White
  • 5000-5500 – DW – Day White
  • 6500-7500 – CW – Cool White 

8. What type of bases are available?

LED Bulbs are the perfect retrofit for your existing light fixtures. We have standard bases, candelabra, standard or Edison (E26) , mogul (E39), MR16 and other typical bases that are common with incandescent and halogen installations. For fluorescent tubes, we have bi-pin, single pin and HO Ends. Also available are PL based bulbs in G23, GX23, G24 and GX24 bases. 

9. What are the sizes of the bulbs? How do they operate in comparison to the original light bulbs?

In most cases, are bulbs are the same size if not slightly smaller than the bulbs they replace. That is because LED technology packs a lot of light in a small package. 

10. What’s the difference between LED and CFL?

Both lights are energy efficient light sources that are much more efficient than the bulbs they replace. Here is a small list of the differences between CFLs and LEDs:

a. CFLs are the spiral tube like bulbs. They are really mini fluorescent bulbs with self contained ballasts. They contain a small amount of mercury. LED bulbs are the new style looking bulbs with heat sinks and round mini globes. They do not contain mercury.
b. You can replace a 22W CFL bulb with a 11W LED bulb.
c. LED bulbs are instant on, instant off. CFLs take 30 seconds to 1 minute to warm up after they are turned on
d. LED bulbs are not affected by turning them off and on. CFL bulbs are, as this will reduce their life.

11. Can LEDs be used in outside lights?

Yes. Some bulbs are designed with water-proof fittings. Others need to be kept in a water-tight fixture. Read all instructions and manuals before using a LED bulb outdoors. 

The specification you need to check for is IP Rating. A bulb or fixture IP65 or greater is considered acceptable to work in a wet environment.

12. Will the light levels decrease over the life of the bulb?

Yes. They will fade as the bulb gets near the end of its normal operating life. But it is very gradual and hardly noticeable. This is called Lumen Degradation and is denoted on the website as L70. L70 is the amount of time the light takes to get to 70% of the initial lumen output. 

13. How long do the bulbs last and what sort of warranty is associated with your LED bulbs?

Most of our bulbs come with either a 5 or 10 year manufacturer warranty. Warranties only apply for normal use of bulbs and do not include misuse or usage for which the bulb was not intended to perform. All our warranties are parts-only warranty. We do not cover the cost of labor or shipping. All manufacturer installation instructions must be followed and the bulbs/fixtures cannot be modified in any fashion.

14. How many lumens do I need to replace 400W Metal Halide fixture?

There is a lot that goes into answering this question. DesignLights Consortium has indicated in their specifications that you need at least 10,000 lumens to replace a 400W Metal Halide. Some other factors come into play, like surface reflectivity, obstructions and other source of light, such as natural light sources coming into the building. 

TheLightingCenter designs light solutions. We are product agnostic, we will select the best product that meets your needs. So we have the ability to replace 400W Metal Halide with 10,000 lumens up to 30,000 lumens. We do find that you need more lumens indoors to do a proper replacement than you do outdoors. A lighting photometric analysis will determine how much you need to create the proper foot candles.

15. How many lumens do I need to replace 400W Metal Halide High Bay?

We find that the typical range is as low as 17,000 lumens and as high as 23,000 lumens. Photo-metrics plays a major part in determining how much you need, spacing, and reflectivity of the environment. As we said above, we have found that you need more lumens indoors than you need outdoors to replace 400W Metal Halide. 

16. What are the steps required to replace a fluorescent tube in an existing fixture?

There are several steps, but essentially this is no more difficult than a bulb and ballast replacement.

1. Remove the fluorescent tubes, and then remove the ballast.
2. Replace the existing tombstones (only if necessary). This step may be required with single ended powered tubes if you have shunted tombstones.
3. Rewire the fixture to accommodate the LED replacement tubes. Note: there are also ballast compatible tubes that allow you to convert to LED by simply removing the old fluorescent tube and replacing it with the LED replacement tube.

Our LED internal driver Tubes use AC current, and then converts the power to DC within the internal LED driver to light the LED’s. There are some tubes that can be driven from the fluorescent ballast, but we do not supply those tubes as we see fluorescent ballasts as a maintenance item. Ballasts consume about 4+ watts per fluorescent tube installed, so leaving the ballast in place reduces the energy savings as well.

We also can supply LED externally driven tubes. With these tubes, the driver is externally housed outside the tube, and is usually installed where the fluorescent ballast was located. External drivers act the same way as internal drivers; they accept AC power, convert it to DC which is supplied to the LEDs in the tube.

In the case where you have a native DC system (such as solar systems) you are best to look for externally driven tubes and forgo the installation of the driver. You will have to make sure the DC power that is supplied to the fixture is compatible with the DC power requirement of the tubes. 

17. What is single ended power and double ended power mean in terms of fluorescent tubes?

In single ended powered tubes, you power only one end. This type of installation is referred to as un-shunted. Since the tube has two pins on that end, you would send line to one pin and neutral to the other. (think of line and neutral as the black and white wires of electrical wire)

In double ended powered tubes, you power both ends, one with line source, the other with neutral. This type of installation is referred to as shunted.

In most cases, our tubes our single ended powered tubes. It conforms with the latest UL standards for safety. Proper installation of our tubes in existing UL fixtures maintains the UL certification of the existing fixture.

We can also provide new fluorescent ends (tombstones) so that you can convert over to single ended powered tubes. 

18. What are LED ballast compatible Tubes?

A ballast compatible tube is one where you can pull out the existing tube, leave the ballast installed, and install the LED replacement tube. 

19. Do Ballast Compatible Tubes work with all ballasts?

No, but they work with most electronic ballasts. 

20. What is L70?

L70 is the amount of time it takes for a light to degrade to 70% of initial lumen output 

21. When I buy LED, should I buy based on watts or lumens?

Always buy based on lumens, watts is a number that is used to determine how much energy it takes to produce those lumens. It is important to pay attention to lumens per watt, or lm/w. The higher the number, the less energy you will need to produce the light. You will notice that some lights take less energy to produce the same amount of light, and this is something you should watch for. Typically, the higher the ratio, the better. 

22. What component of the LED system is typically the first to fail?

Almost always, it is the driver. That is why it is important to know who makes the driver in the LED fixture or retrofit you purchase. Brand names like Meanwell and Philips are good. A LED product with a 1 or 2 year warranty is an indication of how good the driver is in that product. Typically a good driver should last more than 50,000 hours. 

23. What is the most common reason LEDs fail?

Heat. Heat is the enemy of electronics, the hotter it is, the shorter the light. However, with good design, you can create a light or fixture that can withstand some high heat environments. Typically a fixture or bulb with an external driver will last longer than an integrated fixture that has the LEDs and driver as one unit. 

24. What is CRI?

CRI is Color Rendering Index. It is a measurement of the quality of light. Where as lumens is a measurement of the quantity of light, CRI is the measurement of quality. It is a scale between 0 and 100. 0 is bad, 100 is great. LED’s typically are in the 70-95 range. The higher the CRI, the more expensive the LED chip, and therefore the more expensive the product itself. 

25. What is DesignLights Consortium (DLC)?

DLC is DesignLights Consortium, the governing body that certifies the quality and efficiency of LED Lights. It is a standard similar to Energy Star. Where as Energy Star is for home owner type products, DLC is for commercial grade LED products. A DLC Qualified product may be eligible for rebates. Your local utility designates whether you are eligible for rebates or not, and it varies between utility companies. Currently there are two standard, DLC Standard and DLC Premium. DLC Premium is more efficient and will save you more money in terms of operating costs. 

Have Any More Unanswered Questions?

If you still have questions left unanswered after reading this page, please contact us. We will answer literally any question you have related to saving energy and LED technology / products. No question is too stupid to ask, so ask away!

LED FAQ: You need to read our Top 25 Frequently Asked Questions about LED Technology and Fixtures. Simple questions, simple answers. A must read...
Last Updated: 07/17/2019

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