Posted by Doug Root on 16th Aug 2015

What to know before buying LED bulbs

We are going to be exploring the realm of LED's in the coming months.

Our goal is to easily spell out the differences in LED vs everything else with short informative blogs. 

Ok, so many folks believe that LED's will last forever, the answer is no. They will not, they have a system set up that is very similar to a fluorescent system. Basically they have a ballast(LED driver) that is the weakest link in the system, the LED chips/diodes may be emitting light however if the ballast fails, the LED chip fails. LED drivers can last anywhere from 3-10 years depending on usage, the heat management in the fixture and the brand.

Another interesting fact is that LED's lumen output(light output) diminishes over time. When you are engineering a LED lighting system it is imperative to think about delivered lumens over the period of the fixture or lamps life.

Most other technologies lose much less light at the end of their rated life, LED and Induction are the light losing leaders.

  • –20% for metal halide
  • –8-10% for fluorescent
  • –0-5% for incandescent and halogen
  • –30-35% for Induction
  • –30% for LED

So what do you look for when purchasing an LED product from or any other lighting supplier?

LED Bulbs

We believe that looking at these important ratings and thinking about the Manufacturers background before buying can help save you some grief in the future!

  • Needs to have LM79 testing by a DOE or NVLAP approved or CALiPER recognized lab
  1. This is initial lumens per watt out of fixture at steady-state operating temperature
  2. Compare each product’s results with other LED product’s results
  3. Also compare with other technology products’ performance
  • LM80 information
  1. At least 6000 hour so lumen maintenance data for the LED package
  2. ENERGY STAR requires 6000 hour lumen maintenance of 94.1% for 35,000 hour life or 91.8% for 25,000 hour life
  3. Verify in site temperature of the LED package in the fixture
  4. Lumen maintenance is just one aspect of luminaire life and reliability
  • Lean toward Energy Star and/or DesignLights Consortium (DLC) Approved SSL products
  1. Energy Star is ‘residential’, which also includes PAR lamps, which are used so much in commercial stores, etc.
  2. DLC is for commercial products
  3. Many organizations will only rebate LED products, which are either Energy Star or DLC approved
  4. Some organizations will not rebate certain products, like LED T8s, LED compact plug in replacement lamps , even if they are DLC approved. Check with your Energy provider before purchasing!

Credibility is so important! 

Our advice, buy from a trusted Lighting Supplier.  Many LED companies understand simple LED technology but do not understand lighting and how to properly light your facility or retail environment. 

We have seen LED start up companies offer a warranty that is longer than the period their Corporate existence!

We do not want to repeat what so many upstart electronic ballast companies in the late 80s and early 90s did to their customer base. They could not handle the warranty problems and went out of business, hanging customers to fend on their own.

More to come!