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LED Lighting is at a Tipping Point

05 January 2017

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Light-emitting diode (LED) lighting has improved greatly in just the past few years. The quality of light produced by LED lamps has evolved from what many considered either too harsh or not bright enough, to a full range of brightness cross-matrixed with a full range of colour temperatures ranging from warm and soft to cool and bright. Package styles, performance and sizes now match traditional halogen and fluorescent technology lamps.

Advancements in LED lighting give these lamps some solid advantages over legacy lamp technologies:

1. LEDs are much more efficient and use much less energy than competing fluorescent and halogen lighting technologies.

2. Although Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) have taken a foothold in energy-efficient lighting in recent years, LEDs have the advantages of instantaneous light with no “warm up” time, a more compact size, and longer life.

3. LEDs have a lifespan of many times that of competing technologies.

4. Safety. Did you know that in traditional lamps 90% of the energy is heat, but in LEDs it is significantly less? Also, unlike fluorescent lamps, LEDs do not contain mercury.

5. Brightness. LED technology allows for a broad range of light brightness, colour and temperature. Dimmers can be used to allow users to control brightness. However we recommend checking the compatibility first.

6. Form factor. LEDs are available in flexible strips, allowing neater solutions for cove lighting and other types of lighting, as they can be bent around corners—unlike fluorescent tubes.

7. LEDs are better suited to lighting-control partnerships—compared to CFL and HID solutions—due to their dimming abilities, instant start and so forth. They also allow the control system to dim or switch off lights in areas that are not being used.

8. LEDs can now perform like traditional lamps. As you dim the lights, the colour temperature warms, allowing the user to save energy and still retain the aesthetic appeal of traditional technologies.

9. LEDs are also now available with high CRI (Colour Rendering Index) values of +90, resulting in a good reproduction of colour. This is similar to halogen, which was seen as a weakness in the early-generation LEDs.

The manufacturers of LED lamps now enjoy economies of scale for both components and raw materials. Competition has increased as demand has risen, and three or four generations of development have made tremendous strides in quality and producibility. The argument for swapping out your current lighting for LED technology is stronger than ever.

The case can be made that the tipping point for LED retrofitting has truly been reached. Comparing a 9-watt LED and a 43-watt halogen (both are considered equivalents of the now banned 60-watt incandescent lamps) used three hours a day and an electricity cost of .125 euro per kilowatt hour yields the following:

With these costs, the total savings over the life of the LED lamp is nearly €124/ £104.50. The greatest evidence of a tipping point for changing out halogen lamps for LEDs is that the payback period (or break-even point) for realised savings to equal initial cost is less than four months.

The example above is for a common 43-watt E27 light lamp, but other popular lamps used commercially and in the consumer market have similar savings. The LED replacements are typically available in a T8 connector with 2-foot, 4-foot, 5-foot and 6-foot solutions. Amazingly the electronics required to run the LED lamp are contained within the traditional tube dimensional confines, making it especially easy to swap out a fluorescent lamp with a new LED. (However it is prudent to check for suitability on magnetic and electronic ballasts.)

Besides the energy and economic incentives of LED lighting, another important aspect of this technology is that LED lamps can produce bright task illumination within a much smaller volume and footprint. Task lighting in machinery and equipment will not be as design-critical when you can implement a smaller lighting unit that uses less power to illuminate your work piece or work space. Check the variety of RS Pro LED lamps and lighting fixtures at RS Components for a broad range of ideas and options that are available.

RS Components offers a very good LED Lamp Selection Guide that provides help with questions about lamp shape, type of base, decorative style, retrofitting, savings and applications. You can download a copy here: Always expanding its product line, RS Components’ company brand, RS Pro, has recently added new LED lamps that can be seen here:

One can argue, from the evidence presented here and also available ubiquitously online, that the tipping point for retrofitting old lighting units with LEDs has indeed been reached. The economics of energy costs, replacement costs and maintenance labour are very favourable for providing very quick returns on investment. Government authorities, as well as energy companies, are offering incentives to retrofit old technology lamps with efficient LEDs. Businesses and individuals should take the time to evaluate the effects of a site-wide retrofit; the economics, safety and soft impacts of such an undertaking will likely be beneficial to all stakeholders.

RS Components' unrivalled range of electronic components features thousands of lighting products, including emergency lighting and safety lighting, fluorescent lamps and tubes, and GLS LED lamp components. RS Components offers the best GLS LED lamp products and stock availability in the business, and offers thousands of other industry-approved LED lamps parts for businesses and engineers worldwide.

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