Category Archives: Lighting Facts

Owl Pack Outdoor LED Flood Outshines in Product Teardown

The Owl Pack Outdoor LED Flood Light collection‘s high quality construction and best in class components are a source of pride for us at LED Waves, so it is gratifying to know that these features do not go unnoticed by tech-savvy consumers.

This was the case in an in-depth product teardown performed by Bowfishing Country community member tjones96761. The Oklahoma-based reviewer purchased the 50 Watt Owl Pack along with several other LED lights for boats – and found that our flood performed head and shoulders above the rest.

With each step of the investigation, the reviewer was as impressed by the Owl Pack as we were by his evident passion and deep understanding of LED lighting. He details our assembly in words (edited for clarity) and pictures:

On Construction
Made of “…HDPE plastic to save weight. Weighing in at a scant 5.4lbs, it’s about 35% lighter than (the competitor) at 8.5lbs. 5.4lbs is considerably lighter than any of the Chinese lights I’ve come across… All the fasteners are secondary backup holders. All the pieces snap/hook together. The glass snaps into the plastic holder(s) in the housing, then the outside frame snaps to the housing… Everything is a very close fit and very tight. VERY nice setup.”

image by tjones96761 via Photobucket
image by tjones96761 via Photobucket

On the LED
“The emitter is a real live Bridgelux chip, not a B-Lux, or Bridgelux-like from China, but the real deal. Bridgelux has a quick connect terminals that doesn’t require solder, very cool. Also extremely small, US quarter… for size reference. FYI, all the Vero series chips have the square scan code thingy for ID on them. Don’t know if this was done on previous older chips or not, but anyone claiming to be using Vero chips will have this scan tag if they’re real.”

image by tjones96761 via Photobucket
image by tjones96761 via Photobucket

On Thermal Management
“You can see the copper heat transfer tubes… This is meant to pull heat to the far edges and utilize the whole heat sink. I think it’s working. The unit is running at 115°F after 1hr, the lowest of any light I’ve seen… (T)he heat sink is sealed to the plastic housing around the chip. In addition to the sink being snap/locked in place, it is also epoxy glued in place and sealed.”

image by tjones96761 via Photobucket
image by tjones96761 via Photobucket

On Value
“(T)he price is spot on. It’s smaller, lighter, and brighter, with the Bridgelux Vero chip – the chip that all others on the market strive to be… If you’re gonna go big, then BY GOD GO BIG. Don’t go shopping for a Porsche and come home with a Camaro. If you want a Camaro, that’s cool; just don’t pretend it’s a Porsche. This is a Porsche, gents, no doubt.”

We’ll take that.

Read the full post for more pictures and details on other components, plus a glimpse of the reviewer’s cheeky green pedicure – the result of a prank gone a bit too far.

While the Owl Pack’s 5 year warranty advises against disassembly, we are proud that it stood up to such scrutiny. And, of course, we are delighted that another LED Waves customer is pleased with his purchase!

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.

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.

Strategies in Light 2014 Recap + NFMT Baltimore Updates

LED Waves owner and head of R&D Joel is currently headed back from the west coast following last week’s Strategies in Light Conference in Santa Clara. Awaiting him on the east coast is the NFMT conference and trade show, where he and Taimur will be showcasing our newest LED lights specially designed for greener facilities management.

If you were planning to join us at the show in Baltimore, make sure to check in for schedule changes due to Winter Storm Titan. Weather permitting – or notwithstanding – we’ll be exhibiting at NFMT booth 2301.

SILIn the mean time, here’s a quick overview of this year’s Strategies in Light. Despite ongoing discussion of LED market penetration and widespread adoption, the forecast is looking healthy for the industry, with over 7% growth in the past few years and an estimated global value of 13.3 BILLION dollars. Visitors representing all corners of the lighting world attributed this to many different reasons including:

  1. Growing Concern for the Environment. Not to mention growing energy bills. One keynote speaker emphasized this issue for working class citizens, brought up the significant savings potential for chicken farmers as we covered a few months ago.
  2. Increased Awareness of Lighting Technology and Terminology. We can thank the Department of Energy’s Lighting Facts label, other energy-saving programs, and, heck, even our own in-house LED experts for this. Knowledge is power!
  3. Market Response & Quick Reaction from LED Lighting Manufacturers. We listen to your needs and follow the industry closely, applying the latest advancements in technology to improve our products. In her Luminaire Design & Manufacturing session Novella Smith asserted that we’re in, “the second level of the LED light bulb. We had our first round of light bulbs that came out and they were all pretty… terrifying. And then the guys making light bulbs decided, ‘Let’s make ’em better.'” So we thank you for your feedback!

Overall, it was a great event, and we were pleased to have our American-made LED lights on view alongside fellow manufacturers of high end luminaires and SSL components. Join us for Strategies in Light next year – in Vegas!


Season’s Greetings from LED Waves

Merry Christmas and Festivus from all of us at LED Waves! We hope you are enjoying some quality time with your loved ones this season.

Happy Holidays from LED Waves

Christmas came early here at LED Waves HQ, with last week’s arrival of the UL Photometric Outdoor Test Report, LM-79 Report with Integrating Sphere, and IES files for the industrial 70, 100 and 200 Watt Owl™ Outdoor LED Wall Packs. We’re still digesting all of this new information – and we keep getting blown away by figures such as ZERO uplight across the board, making the Owl Pack series Dark Sky Friendly.

We’ll be out of the office tomorrow and on Christmas Day, but we’ll return Thursday, December 26th. In our absence, our holiday sale continues at with 20% off LED lights in the following categories:

Enter coupon code YR1023 at checkout to take 20% off applicable sales items. Join in on these savings before the sale ends on January 3rd, 2014 – and may your days be merry and briiiiiiight!

Battle of the Bulbs: LED PAR20 Edition

After last month’s showdown between the Los Angeles 2.0 and an LED MR16 from Home Depot, we received requests for more comparisons with our other LED spot lights. Take a look at how the Dallas 2.0 Dimmable LED PAR20 – Currently 10% off + with Free Shipping – stacks up against this national big box store brand!

The Dallas 2.0 PAR20 LED light bulb is one of many American-made products with free shipping this month. (FedEx Ground, continental US only. No minimum required; see full terms here.) Keep checking in for more special offers!

10% Off Dallas 2.0 LED PAR20 + Free Shipping!

On behalf of everyone at LED Waves, we hope you had a great, relaxing Labor Day. Though summer is ending, we’re continuing with hot deals on our exclusive products. We’re extending our Free Shipping offer on select LED lights made in the USA. (FedEx Ground, continental US only. See site for full terms.) Coupon code MadeInUS expires September 30, 2012.

Was $35.95 NOW $31.95

We’re also continuing monthly discounts spotlighting our USA-made product line. Join us in celebrating American business and technology, and American cities! This month LED Waves is focusing on the Dallas 2.0 PAR-20 LED Light Bulb.

The Dallas is a <9 Watt LED PAR-20 comparable to a 75 Watt halogen spotlight. It bears a Lighting Facts® Label, certifying its performance results from the US Department of Energy.

In fact, at over 80 lumens per Watt (4000K) the Dallas ranks among the top 10 most efficient LED PAR-20s on the Lighting Facts® Product list.

The Dallas is available in warm white, neutral white, and cool white (even after Labor Day!); in beam angles of 20 or 40 degrees. For custom orders, call our LED Specialists at 1(800)986-0169. This 10% discount and our Free Shipping offer expire on September 30th, 2012, so don’t let these deals pass you by!

Our LED MR16 vs. Big Box Store Bulb

Our CEO got a little 12v-happy on a recent trip to Home Depot, and came back with an LED light bulb from our competition. Well, maybe competition isn’t the right word, after comparing it to our American-made Los Angeles 2.0 LED MR16 in this smackdown:

What other measurements matter to you in an LED MR16? Let us know in the comments!

Top 5 LED Lighting Stories of 2011

2011 was an eventful year for LED Waves – we launched an exclusive new line of LED lights made in the USA, raised over $1,400 for disaster relief in Japan, and started work on a new logo and improved browsing experience for our website.

Philips' LED lit New Years Ball in Times SquareAnd 2012 promises to be another big year – we’re planning to unveil exclusive new LED MR16 and PAR20 light bulbs, which will be manufactured here in the United States!

2011 was also a big year for the LED lighting industry at large. Here were the top 5 stories on our radar.

The BULB Act hysteria.
When President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 it had bipartisan support; Congress agreed that efficiency standards were a good thing. Under a different administration, now the far right thinks this crazy lefty law is banning incandescent bulbs (not true), forcing citizens to use ugly poison-filled CFLs and LEDs (only somewhat true of CFLs), and killing American jobs (never mind that the green tech industry is expanding faster than US-based incandescent bulb factories are shrinking). Representative Joe Barton (R-TX) introduced the BULB Act to repeal the upcoming lighting efficiency standards. The rightwing media jumped in, dragging the good name of LED technology through the mud and spinning the story to the point that enraged anyone who was actually familiar with this issue. The BULB Act failed to pass the House vote on July 12. However, the DOE was stripped of their funds to enforce the efficiency standards. Americans are fortunate enough to still have plenty of lighting options from law-abiding manufacturers of LED light bulbs, CFLs, and incandescents who had the forward thinking to adopt higher efficiency models before this whole BULB Act nonsense.

The nation of Japan embraces LED lighting. The tsunamis last March took out two nuclear reactors, rendering the Tokyo Electric Power Company with a 20% capacity shortfall. Japan introduced a policy of energy conservation which the citizens embraced with the enthusiasm that, frankly, one can only wish of our fellow Americans. (“My compostable bag of SunChips is too noisy, wah! Back to nonrenewables.”) They scaled back on public lighting where it wasn’t necessary – like unused portions of train stations – and it goes without saying that LED bulbs started popping up in every prefecture. They even edged out the likes of Lady Gaga in Dentsu’s 2011 Hit Products in Japan!

Everybody’s talking about intelligent LED lighting controls. If you’re involved in the lighting industry, you’ve probably been to LightFair or LEDucation or a number of other similarly-themed trade shows. And you’d know that the topic on everyone’s lips this year was lighting controls: whether it’s connected to occupancy sensors or to a wireless communication system, solid state lighting is emerging as the do-it-all technology since they’re inherently programmed – not based on chemical reactions between gases and filaments. When LED Waves launched in 2000, we figured that buying LED lights was smart; who knew that the lights themselves would turn out to be so intelligent?

The First L Prize awarded. The Department of Energy sponsored this contest among manufacturers to develop high-quality, high-efficiency solid-state lighting products to replace the common (60 Watt incandescent) light bulb. At stake? A cash award and federal purchasing agreements worth about $10 million. Unfortunately, the submission requirements made it difficult for LED startups and small businesses to enter (not that we’re bitter about it or anything). After the contest ran for 3 years with only one submission, Netherlands-based lighting giant Philips scooped up the award on August 3 this year for their 2009 EnduraLED bulb. (Still not bitter!) That same week, our partners at Cree unveiled a bulb that blew the EnduraLED out of the water with over 150 lumens per Watt which was sadly ineligible since it was a prototype. Next on the table is an prize for the best PAR38 replacement bulb – but only after the DOE “modif[ies] the L Prize competition requirements for the PAR38 category, to incorporate lessons learned from the 60-Watt competition process.” <- What? I dunno. Not bitter!

Lighting Facts – not to be confused with Lighting Facts – confusion. In 2010 we reported the FTC ruled that all light bulb manufacturers had to put a Nutrition Facts-style label on their products starting in 2011. This was to make it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about their lighting options, beyond just Wattage. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association successfully petitioned the FTC for an extension this summer. So, keep an eye out for the new labels hitting store shelves after January 1, 2012. Meanwhile, the DOE recently slapped “LED” onto their Lighting Facts program website to help clarify the difference between the two labels. Basically, the FTC label is mandatory for all screw-base bulbs, although those manufacturer claims aren’t necessarily tested. The DOE’s Lighting Facts label is voluntary, only applies to solid state lighting of all types, and reflects performance numbers from actual independent product testing. You can read more about the difference in this handy FAQ. Look for the DOE’s Lighting Facts Label on the American-made LED lights launched by LED Waves this year: the New York LED PAR38, the Chicago LED PAR30, the Genesys LED T8 tube, and the Midtown LED down light fixture.

Have a happy and safe New Year, folks! Please don’t drink and drive. We love you!

When Buying LED Lights, It’s Okay to Be a Brand Snob

We’re sure that when you’re shopping for LED lights or any other significant building/home improvement, you do so with a discerning eye. The biggest criticism of LED lighting is the upfront cost, so of course you don’t want to invest in something that will fail before you enjoy a return on that investment.

This is why some research is important before you pull out that credit card. Fortunately, it’s relatively painless. Look for the name of the chip inside any LED light bulb or fixture that you consider. At this point in the industry, there is only a handful of key players with which you should be familiar. Cree, Nichia, and Bridgelux are the foremost chip-makers. Those are the brand names you should try to find on that LED light that you’re eying.

This no-name brand, however, probably won't affect your performance too much. Image via via

Normally we try not to care too much about labels. But the truth is, the more established an LED company is, the more R&D that goes into their product, and the more dependable the results are. This is why LED Waves backs every Cree or Nichia-powered product in our selection with a 3 year warranty.

And for the handful of Cree LED lamps manufactured here in our Brooklyn facility under our watchful eyes – the Chicago LED PAR30, the New York LED PAR38, the Genesys LED T8 tubes, and the Midtown LED downlight – make that a 5 year warranty! Because, like the old adage about everything from chains, bridges, and even PR, an LED light is only as strong as its weakest link.