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About LED Lighting and LED LightSmart
Despite 50 years of development, LED lighting technology for commercial use is still in its infancy. However, it is widely accepted that LED light bulbs will replace every down light, flood light, strip light and light bulb across the world in the next decade as the technology is so good. This is primarily due to the fantastic energy efficiency of LED lights, the huge savings in running costs and the fact that LED light bulbs have such a long life that they will hardly ever need replacing.
LED LightSmart was established as the leading LED lighting specialist by focusing purely on LED lights. With a wide range of carefully selected LED products, free advice and friendly customer service, we believe we provide the very best in LED lighting solutions and support.
LED Light Bulbs and LED Lighting Technology
If you already have 'Energy Efficient' lighting and you are disappointed with the brightness and speed to light up, you may well have an earlier attempt at energy saving lighting. If it’s curly then these are compact fluorescent lights (CFL) and they are extremely poor lights when compared to what can be achieved with an LED light fitting.
Save Money with LED Lighting
LED light bulbs are a complete revolution in lighting, they are instant on, provide very bright and clear light, last for decades, can also be dimmable if required and most importantly they can slash your lighting bills by over 85%. Let’s do some calculations: -
A conventional 50 Watt Down Light is on for an average 5 hours a day, over a 10 year period it, (and it’s numerous likely replacements) will consume almost 1,000,000 watts of energy (50 x 5 x 365 x 10).
At current electricity rates (12p/kw), that costs around £110 per bulb
Plus its regular replacement costs.
An equivalent LED Down Light will output the same light level for only 6 Watts of power. The equivalent LED light will therefore only cost £13 per bulb
Therefore energy saving using LED lights = 88%. Saving £97 per bulb
This calculation is just for using one LED light bulb. Most installations for bathroom lighting, kitchen lighting, shop lighting, restaurant lighting etc. have multiples of down lights or spotlights, so replacing all these ceiling lights with LED down lights or spotlights will save literally thousands of pounds.
Benefits of LED lighting
Cost saving is the obvious benefit when switching to LED lighting, but there are many other great benefits to adopting LED technology for all lighting needs.
Energy Efficient LED Lighting
LED light bulbs are significantly more efficient than conventional lighting. With energy savings of 75% or more versus the conventional 60 Watt light bulb and savings of approaching 90% when LED down lighting is installed, it is therefore understandable why governments across the world are legislating on the phasing out of energy inefficient light bulbs and why you can no longer buy an old style 60 Watt bulb. Expect the same to happen to Halogen down lights in the next couple of years.
Environmental LED Lighting – Fewer power stations and lower CO2 emissions
Whatever your view on wind farms versus nuclear power versus coal or gas power stations, we will all concur that we’d like to have fewer of them. If we can cut our energy requirements for lighting by adopting LED light sources, we reduce the power needs of the country by 75% or more. This saves our natural resources and reduces imports, producing a lot less pollution and CO2 emissions in the process.
LED Lighting is safer – No Mercury
LED strip lighting is now more efficient than conventional fluorescent tubes, but it will be some time yet before all tubes are replaced by LED tube lighting. However, all fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury and that includes all the curly (CFL) light bulbs that are still available. Eventually these will fail and contribute to mercury in landfills or represent a hazard in the home or school if the bulb is broken and the mercury released into the atmosphere. LED lighting designs do not need to fluoresce to produce light, therefore don’t need to contain mercury and are therefore better for long term environmental safety.
Long Lasting LED Lighting
The LED chip used in the manufacture of an LED light can be engineered to operate for over 100,000 hours or 10 years of continuous use. However, it is widely accepted that other components used could tend to fail in an LED light bulb before the LED itself which is why lifetimes of LED light bulbs are generally more reasonably quoted as having a maximum of 50,000 hours. In comparison to traditional lights in normal use, that still means 30 times the life of an old style 60 Watt light bulb (~1,500 hours) or 5 times that of a fluorescent tube (~10,000 hours).
Environmental LED Lighting – less recycling and landfill
Picture this: If an LED light bulb lasts 30 times as long as a conventional 60 watt light bulb then over the lifetime of an LED bulb there would be 29 fewer glass and electrical products that would be needed to be captured and recycled or fall into landfill sites. Multiply that by the billions of light bulbs currently in use and that’s a light bulb mountain we will no longer have to contend with.
LED lighting – instant on
Whereas Compact Fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) make you wait a few seconds for any light and sometimes minutes for full brightness and useable light. Fluorescent strip lights can have flicker on start-up and even LED street lights or LED flood lights will turn on much faster than their contemporary alternatives.
When you flick a light switch you naturally want the lights to come straight on. With LED lighting you get this with all LED light bulbs, LED down lights, LED strip lights and LED spotlights.
Replace LED Lighting once
It is highly likely that when you replace your conventional down lights or light bulbs with LED down lights or LED light bulbs, you will never need to replace them again, as because they last so long, you will probably change the room design before the LED bulb. At home that is highly convenient as you won’t need to buy so many bulbs or be spending so many of your week ends on a wobbly chair or step ladder, having to replace them!
Consequently, if you manage sports hall lighting, theatre lighting, school assembly hall lighting or church lighting, this means much more than just simple convenience. For example, if the installation was Church lighting, it likely that either scaffold needs to be erected or the use of some very long ladders. However, usually, when this is done it is common practice to replace every bulb to increase the interval until the next change, meaning 80% of the bulbs changed were still perfectly useable – what a waste! Hence the installation of LED church lighting or LED school lighting will mean that its many years before the lights need to be replaced again, saving hugely on inconvenience as well as significant cost savings in parts and labour charges.
Conventional dimmers turn the light on and off 100 times every second, so quickly that the eye can’t see it. As the light is dimmed the time the light is turned on is decreased in each one of the 100 cycles so less light is emitted, but the cycle is still so fast it cannot be seen as a flicker. LEDs diming is performed in pretty much the same way, although there are some technical differences we won’t explore further here. Converse to most technologies, LEDs become more efficient with dimming with a typical LED requiring 43% of the power to generate 50% of the light, versus a 67% of the power required to drive a Halogen lamp at 50%. In theory LED can be dimmed to 1% but commercially available solutions are currently limited to around 10%. Your key question however, is will my conventional dimmer work with our LED light and the answer is not a simple yes or no.
Try some samples - return those you don't want for 100% credit
Firstly, if this is a new building, buy the dimmer we recommend to be sure of trouble free results. For applications where an LED light is being used to replace conventional dimmed light, some manufacturers will insist that a new LED dimmer is purchased, whereas others will state that in most situations there won’t be problems and ‘give it a try’. It is hard to give good advice here as the recommendations will not be full proof, but here are some statements you can use to make a decision:
- Make sure the LED you buy is dimmable otherwise it won’t work and may well fail early. Non dimming LEDs used on a dimming circuit can also damage the dimmer and cause it to burn out.
- Experience says that most times an LED lamp can be used with a conventional dimmer and the technology is always improving, so this statement will increasingly become the rule of thumb.
- LEDs tend to work with cheaper traditional dimmers, the more complex they become the more likely that the LED won’t work. This is because they are sensitive to the electrical load and are looking at the current being drawn before they activate, but LEDs, being so energy efficient, don’t draw much power and sometimes don't activate the dimmer.
- LEDs using traditional dimmers are more likely to be seen to flicker than traditional light as the LED technology turns on and off quickly, whereas a glowing filament never stops radiating light
- Give it a try. If the LED dims to your satisfaction then money has been saved.
- If you want to dim to really low levels of around 10% then you may need to buy a new dimmer as this is where most of the problems will occur with an LED lamp and a traditional dimmer.
- Be aware that LEDs don’t change colour when they dim unlike traditional lighting technologies that tend to get warmer at lower levels, LED still emit a clear bright white. This doesn’t suit all environments.
- In the worse cases the LED will fail early in its life, but with our extended warranty you are covered and we will replace the lamp though we would recommend the dimmer were upgraded as well. If in doubt, talk to a qualified electrician
Note – because LEDs require less power to operate, they still require a dimmer suitable for the traditional load. E.g. 6 x 50 Watt Halgoen lamps pull a load of 300 Watts. Typically a dimmer rated to 400 Watts would be used. Even though 6 x 5 Watt LED replacements only pull 30 Watts the dimmer should not be changed to a lower rating.
Advances in dimming are continuing and a number of clever options are likely to become more widespread.
Coloured LEDs are readily available and are often used for outdoor illumination. The quality of white light in these LED’s is likely to increase to a level of acceptance in the mid term to allow full colour changing lighting in the home
Philips are the first company to launch a technology they patented as Dim-Tone which changes the colour of white light as it dims from a hard blue to a warm red to emulate the characteristics of traditional technologies.