Category Archives: LED lifespan

Appreciating Lumen Depreciation

You might have heard the terms “lumen maintenance” or “lumen depreciation” or (if you’re more advanced) “L70” in reference to lighting – particularly LED lighting. These terms have to do with lifespan, which is particularly important for lighting for commercial, municipal, educational, healthcare, or industrial applications, where short operating lives come at a higher premium.

Like the metal halide (MH), high pressure sodium (HPS), and fluorescent/compact fluorescent (CFL) technology typically used in these settings, LEDs decrease in brightness over time. L70 is a calculation of when the output of a light source dips down to 70% of the initial lumens – after which point, the bulb or luminaire is considered no longer useful, and should be replaced.

L70 values for LED lighting are determined by testing samples at different temperatures for thousands of hours, then multiplying the damage exponentially. LED drivers/power supplies generate heat, and if not managed properly, they can dramatically accelerate lumen depreciation. This is why we place such heavy emphasis on the heat sinks and other thermal management systems on all products designed and assembled by LED Waves.

Lumen-Maintenance-Curves.allThe above chart maps the typical trajectory of lumen depreciation across many professional-grade lighting technologies compared to LEDs. L70 at 50,000 hours is the baseline for everything we carry; however, most of our newer industrial products such as LED high bays are rated to last two to ten times longer.

(Note that halogen/incandescent bulbs fail suddenly, or catastrophically, rather than slowly fade in brightness. This is because their light comes from filaments, which simply burn out, rather than from the gas-based chemical reactions of the ballasted lighting technologies, or from the electricity conducted through solid state Light Emitting Diodes.)

The slow lumen depreciation of LEDs is significant for several reasons. The most obvious one is that it supplements energy savings towards a return on investment. By saving on bulb replacements and on maintenance workers’ time – which is an especially important consideration for the workplace – LED lights pay for themselves. And the advertised lifespan of, say, a fluorescent T8 tube, is not as relevant if one third of it is spent transmitting dim, flickering light.

Photo by Marc A. Hermann / MTA New York City Transit

Secondly, lumen maintenance is worth noting when comparing the brightness of different lighting technologies. People are slowly disabusing themselves of the idea that Wattage measures brightness, and instead they are looking at lumen counts.

However, the advertised lumen output of a MH, HPS or fluorescent bulb is not an accurate indication of how bright it will be, since that value declines so drastically and so quickly. Occasionally, fluorescent lighting suppliers advertise a mean (average) value in addition to initial lumen output. When this is not available, one should determine their own value based on their needs and capabilities. For example, if you replace bulbs at the L70 mark, the lumen output at 85% initial lumens (or the halfway point between 100% and 70%) may provide a more accurate picture of how bright a fluorescent, MH or HPS light source will be.

Thus, exact matches in lumen output or advertised lifespans are somewhat irrelevant when comparing other light bulbs with LEDs.
Navigating this information may be a little confusing at first, but satisfyingly powerful with just a little bit of research. And our experts here at LED Waves are happy to help you make the proper lighting evaluations and choices along the way.

LEDs on Fleek? Shifting Trends in Lighting

Recently, Osram released the Socket Survey: an annual snapshot of consumer attitudes and buying patterns related to lighting. LED technology has been growing in popularity due to falling prices, increased awareness, and improvements in quality. Still, we were surprised to see such a significant jump this year, with more Americans recognizing LED bulbs (89%) over any other technology, and the majority of them (65%) reported having purchased at least one example of LED lighting for the home.

2015 Socket Survey findings
Click the image to download the report.

Since our specialty lies more in professional-grade, commercial and industrial LED lighting, you might think these findings are irrelevant to us. However, it is interesting and gratifying for us to read this report because these figures indirectly represent the fruits of our labor here at LED Waves.

Taking on these larger LED lighting projects has allowed us to effect the most change – and not just in mass savings on energy and replacements. By developing products on more ambitious scales, we are uncovering ways to improve the performance of LED lights – and playing a role in the overall advancement of LED technology. As with any technology, these advancements tend to start out in the commercial and industrial sectors before they make their way into consumer products. In this way, LED Waves helped shape the bulbs that so many American consumers now enjoy.

Look at these hipsters. Image via Wikipedia Commons.
Look at these hipsters. Image via Wikipedia Commons.

We can see this correlation when we compare Osram’s demographic data with our own from the past calendar year. 69% of this year’s Socket Survey respondents aged 18-34 had purchased LED light bulbs – indicating that millenials are largely on board with the LED revolution. The remaining 31% may include a certain brand of mustachioed hipsters clinging to their Edison-style exposed filament bulbs while riding their old timey bikes with the big front wheels.

Millenials represent a relatively small portion of our online customers (13% ages 18-34), which makes sense given the types of products we sell. Very few youngsters are in charge of buying decisions at facilities that need, for example, LED high bays.

However, while millenials may not buy a lot from us, the 18-34 age group does represent the largest segment of site visitorship at LEDWaves.com, at over 28% – presumably browsing the informational articles and guides about LED lighting in our Help section. (And we’re not the “Buy something or get out,” type; we’re glad that people are using us as a resource if it brings them closer to adopting green technology elsewhere in their lives.)

Statistics via Google Analytics

This jibes with the increased awareness about the benefits of LED lighting, which is manifested in the changing priorities of Americans shopping for light bulbs. LED technology reigns when it comes to what Americans consider the most important attributes, including lumen output at 97%, lifespan at 94%, and energy usage at 91%. Produced color is at an all-time high at 85%, which is significant as it is a factor that few lighting consumers could even control before the advent of LEDs.

There are also some weird outlier statistics and interesting social commentary to be made from the Socket Survey report, like 54% of women and 72% of men claiming to be the sole decision maker of lighting purchases in their homes (how…?) so it’s worth a download. And for other lighting-related information, you can always contact LED Waves – regardless of your demographic.

Genesys LED T8 Tubes On Sale

Clear and Frosted Genesys LED T8 Tube Light image
Now 50% off with free FedEx Ground shipping within the continental USA. Enter code WAVES at checkout to apply.

LED Waves is pleased to announce that the 20W and 38W Genesys 3.0 LED T8 Tubes are now 50% off!

We’re as proud of the performance of these tubes as we were when they were first added to our line of exclusive products made in-house in the USA. We’re phasing them out as more of our customers are specifying complete 1×4′ or 2×4′ LED panel lights for new constructions. However, the Genesys is still a high quality, money-saving lighting solution for those who want to retrofit existing fluorescent fixtures with LEDs.

Such a significant price drop is to be expected as advances in chip manufacturing continue to drive costs down, making LED lighting more competitive with traditional lighting technologies. COO Ayn couldn’t help but remark on the current day low price of the Genesys, compared to the Challenger: the first 4ft LED T8 we carried, which retailed at over four times the cost!

4ft LED T8 Tubes 2010-2015Whatever their prices may be, we stand by every product sold by LED Waves. In fact, we haven’t gotten a single return on the Challenger, in the 5 years since we sold that product. Those early adopters love their investment, and we think you will, too, when you shop today at LEDWaves.com!

How LED Tech News is Shaping Our New Industrial Lights

We’ve slowed down on updates recently, and that’s because all hands are on deck here at LED Waves HQ! We’ve got tons of American-made industrial LED lights coming down the pipeline – undergoing design tweaks, in situ testing, and even re-naming! (It’s hard nailing down impactful, relevant names for our unique products.)

While we can’t reveal too much about these new products, we did want to take a moment on this Social Media Day to let you know what’s going on in the greater LED world. Everything in this industry is related: All advancements, no matter where in the technology and in the supply chain, lead to better performance and lower prices on LED lighting everywhere.

Case in point: Taiwan is stepping up their bulb standards, with the Ministry of Economic Affairs requiring manufacturers to test all new bulbs coming to market starting July 1st. Taiwanese manufacturers will be fined a minimum of NT $0.2 million (US $6,669.33) if found in violation of this mandate. This measure protects consumers against the mislabeling and confusing labels that had gone unchecked in the LED industry.

This doesn’t relate to LED Waves directly, as we haven’t imported any new bulbs from the East since we launched our American-made LED bulbs in 2012, and our specialty lies in higher end, commercial and industrial lighting anyway. But if other manufacturers – particularly those with historic strongholds in the industry – are held to a higher standard, consumers will be better informed about lighting technology, have better user experiences, and are more likely to adopt earth-friendly LED lighting in other walks of life.

Pictured: the driver that comes with each dimmable Midtown LED Recessed Light
Pictured: the driver that comes with each dimmable Midtown LED Recessed Light

In related news, IHS Technologies reports that 25% of all driver revenues in 2013 went towards LED light sources.

A driver is an component that regulates the current from a power source to an electronic device. Since this can cover such a huge range of consumer products – especially those experiencing rapid growth (Do you know anyone who hasn’t bought a new phone, tablet, or computer in the past year?) – these LED driver sales paints a promising picture in the adoption of this advanced lighting technology.

This topic was on the minds of many at LIGHTFAIR International earlier this month.

LFI2014 Bigshots
We can only imagine what was on the minds of THESE trade show crashers.

With record-breaking numbers of attendees seeking out LED lights and exhibitors selling them year after year, it’s become clear there’s no question if LEDs will achieve worldwide adoption, but when. This year, some were even wondering why: Is this technology really the go-to solution? With some industries – particularly agricultural settings – traditionally reliant on incandescent lighting for inherently incandescent qualities, are LEDs really capable of penetrating all lighting applications? With our upcoming line of rugged, industrial LED lights, LED Waves is setting out to answer these questions with a resounding YES.

An Ounce of Prevention for Facility Managers

FM inspectionsRecently, LinkedIn’s Facility Managers Group swapped workplace horror stories in an illuminating  discussion titled, “Stories of Neglect: What have you seen as a Facilities Manager that has been a result of poor maintenance or complete lack(there)of?” We noticed that a recurring theme in the responses was mass shortages of lighting due to failing fixtures that went unreported. These shortages can pose a huge danger for litigation and human life in general.

In these cases, those responsible for facility-wide inspections were often contractors who were unfamiliar with lighting terminology and standards – cleaning professionals, for example. Since many of the LED lights supplied by LED Waves are designed specifically for commercial and industrial buildings, this was of particular interest to us. How can lighting be effectively monitored by untrained personnel?

With filament-based lighting technology – halogen/incandescent – failure is pretty straightforward; the bulb suddenly burns out after a few thousand hours and stays dark until a maintenance worker gets around to replacing it. With gas-based, ballasted lighting technologies, however, failure can be trickier to diagnose.

LED vs MH vs HPS L70By industry standards, a luminaire is considered failed once it produces less than 70% of its initial output (thus the “L70” references you may see on lighting literature). The ballasted lighting technologies most commonly seen in large buildings – fluorescent, HID, sodium, metal halide – decrease in lumen output exponentially shortly after being installed. (Fluorescent lights are especially bad, strobing and changing color noticeably as they near the end of their useful lives.)

Like the above lighting technologies, LED lights decrease their lumen output over time. Unlike the above, however, they don’t hit the dreaded 70% mark for 30,000 to 50,000 hours of operation – so inspections by qualified personnel, using proper equipment, can be scheduled fewer and farther between.

As LED lighting and controls get smarter, these inspections may fall out of human jurisdiction altogether in our lifetime – freeing up time for facility managers to prevent other stories of neglect.

Waves of Savings: ALL LED Recessed Lights on Sale

Waves of Savings.ALL LED recessed lights on saleWe’re running our biggest LED recessed lighting sale ever! Now through Tuesday, March 18th; coupon code WAVES will get you 15% off this entire category – including the PR15 UltraThin, making its Waves of Savings debut!

The PR15 is about half an inch tall – allowing it to rest snugly in almost any ceiling cavity.

Liked by builders and electricians for its versatility & its easy-to-install low profile, and LOVED by businesses and homeowners for its soft & diffuse glow, the PR15 UltraThin LED Recessed Light is one highly sought-after product. This limited time sale is an exciting opportunity for many specifiers of high-end residential and commercial lighting projects.

Joining the PR15 in this week’s Wave of Savings are the Midtown 2.0 and the Midtown 2.1 LED Recessed Lights. The Midtown is a highly advanced, highly efficient 9W unit comparable to a 50W halogen downlight.

The Midtown 2.0 lasts approximately 50,000 hours and the 2.1 version lasts about 5,000 hours longer due to its extended heat sink. (Pro tip: Get the 2.1 if you have a bit more clearance in your ceiling – you’ll save a dollar per unit!) Both versions are made in the USA with Cree XT-E LEDs and covered by our 5 year warranty.

Midtown LED recessed light profile comparisonThe PR15, Midtown 2.0 and Midtown 2.1 each come with your choice of dimmable or non-dimming LED driver that connects to your building’s line voltage. Our dimmable LED recessed lights are compatible with standard incandescent dimmers; check out our installation guides online or call 1-800-986-0169 for help from our friendly, knowledgeable team of LED specialists.

Waves of Savings: $5 Off the California LED MR16

While we’re getting pounded by this polar vortex, we’ve got plenty of California™ MR16 LED light bulbs to keep us warm at LED Waves headquarters in NYC! The sunny California™ is the latest 12v halogen replacement bulb from our exclusive in-house production team. And with this week’s Wave of Savings, it’s more affordable than ever!

CA LED MR16 bulb imageNow through Tuesday, February 4th 2014 take $5 off the California LED MR16 using coupon code WAVES. Nowhere else will you find an LED bulb of this value:

  • A Lighting Facts® Product
  • 7W equivalent to a 40W halogen
  • Uses 3 high-powered Cree XT-E LEDs
  • Lasts +30,000 hours
  • Made in the USA
  • 5 year warranty

With its remarkable Color Rendering Index (CRI 86), the CA is the go-to bulb for retailers, galleries, and countless other high end spot lighting applications. The California is made in 25 or 40 degree beam spreads, and 3000K (warm), 4000K (neutral) or 5000K (cool) white color temperatures – all lovely and impressively bright!

LED Wall Packs Ahead of Lighting Standards

Some individuals interested in the Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack family have asked us if any of the units are qualified by Energy Star or the DesignLights Consortium. (Energy Star applies to green products typically for the home and for retail and hospitality settings, while the DLC covers the remaining larger, more industrial lighting projects.) It is with heavy hearts that we answer no, simply because these programs currently do not offer a category for outdoor bracket-mounted wall packs.

Why is this the case? Traditional wall packs using metal halide, HID or sodium vapor were associated with lots of uplight – which is wasteful, creates light pollution, and can contribute to unsafe nighttime lighting conditions.

The directionality of solid state technology makes our own LED wall packs emit NO uplight. Check out all the zeroes across the board in the “U” (for Uplight) section of the B.U.G. reports for the 10, 30, 50, 70, 100 and 200 Watt Owl Packs. Each also meets the DLC’s high end specifications for related outdoor LED lighting categories – measuring brightness, efficiency, color rendering and more:

Owl Outdoor LED Wall Pack vs. DLCUntil Energy Star or the DLC recognize LED wall packs as viable nighttime floodlighting, it’s up to local utilities and building contracts with Buy American provisions to offer incentives for the high performance and energy savings of the USA-made Owl Pack. The technology is there already; we’re just waiting for the “green light” from the rest of the green lighting community.

How Running LED Street Lights Improves Safety for Runners

Before/After LED street lighting makeover. Image by Jorgen Gulliksen via Register

In Napa Valley, you’ll find a lot of wine – but few whines about LED street lighting! In a push to save energy, the region has been swapping out its outdated streetlights with solid state technology. Roads which were previously filled with dingy sodium vapor light in various states of decline (and oftentimes with no light at all) have been taken over with bright, clean white LED light.

This is a particularly welcome change for Napa Journal columnist Kevin Courtney. As a pre-dawn jogger, Courtney poetically describes his dependence on street illumination as, “the equivalent of a newborn baby’s for mother’s milk.”

Under the new outdoor LED lights, he can run to the break of dawn – no longer worried about injuring himself with a misstep down a darkened path.

With any transition to municipal LED lighting often come detractors. To traditionalists craving the yellow glow of yesteryear’s sodium vapor streetlights, Courtney points out that the lighting technology they replaced in the 1970s also featured white light. And the public was unsettled by the change at first, too, finding the yellow tint weird and “dirty.”

This is some interesting food for thought as we welcome the new year. Out with the old, in with the new outdoor LED lights!

Waves of Savings: Midtown 2.1 LED Recessed Light Edition

Waves of Savings has returned with a new twist on an old favorite! Today through Monday, December 16th 2013 take 20% off the Midtown 2.1 – an updated version of our most popular LED recessed light. Shop online with coupon code WAVES to take advantage of this limited time sale.

Waves of Savings.Midtown2.1.12-16-13
The
Midtown 2.1 has the same lighting performance and outward appearance of the original recessed light fixture that our customers have fallen in love with over the years. What sets version 2.1 apart is more than meets the eye, though. In fact, it’s hidden away in the ceiling!

The Midtown 2.1 features a slightly elongated heat sink, which almost doubles the surface area for cooling the electronics. This adds a projected 5,000 extra hours to an already long-lasting LED light (typical 30,000+ hours of operation). We highly recommend this for any ceiling with at least 4.5” of clearance space. (See out the Midtown 2.0 or the PR15 UltraThin for more low-profile LED recessed solutions.)

The Midtown 2.1 LED Recessed Light is made in the USA with Cree XT-E LEDs, and each fixture comes with a 5 year warranty. Options include:

  • Finish: White or Silver
  • Color Temperature: warm (3000K), neutral (4000K), or cool (5000K) white
  • Beam Spread: 8, 15, 30, or 45 degrees
  • Driver: dimmable or non-dimming LED driver (connects to line voltage)

…all of which are eligible for the Waves of Savings 20% discount this week! For help specifying your Midtown 2.1 options, or to get quantity pricing on any other LED light from LED Waves, call us at 1(800)986-0169.