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.
The 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.
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.
LED Waves is pleased to announce some exciting new upgrades to our brightest flexible light strip. The Rio Grande Waterproof is now available in longer 5 meter spools (approx. 16.4 feet) with bare wire ends. This is welcome news to our many lighting design customers who use the Rio Grande in bigger and brighter projects!
Previously available in only 3 meter spools, the 5 meter Rio Grande Waterproof Flexible LED Light Strip features the same powerful LEDs, spacing, and overall technical specs. You can cut, connect, and control these strips the same way you would with the original.
There are a couple of slight changes, however, that only add to the quality of this popular LED strip. First, we improved the waterproof sleeve on the Rio Grande, using a new silicon blend for better light transmission from all sides – while maintaining its IP65 protection.
We also improved the Rio Grande price! By ordering longer lengths and larger quantities of these strips in 2700K and 4000K (the most commonly used CCTs for our LED strip lights), we got great rates on our stock, which we’re passing onto our customers.
We learned of suppliers and manufacturers who refused to honor (what we assumed were) very basic instances requiring warranty service:
if some, but not all, LEDs did not light up (“Hey, you’re still getting SOME light out of it.”)
if the luminaire’s light output deteriorates up to 50% within their stated hours (Same as above. Note: the industry standard says that a lamp is spent after 30% deterioration of initial lumens.)
if a luminaire’s bundled electronics – the LED driver, for instance – stops working. (“We didn’t make that part, so it’s not OUR problem.”)
if the product wasn’t registered at every point along the supply chain (“Yeah, we made this, but you didn’t buy it directly from us; take it up with that guy.”)
… and so on. We were surprised to hear these horror stories, probably because (a) since so many of our clients are lighting designers and facility managers, they cannot accept this level of non-service in a warranty – and we must abide by that; and (b) as both an LED lighting OEMand a direct supplier, we have to take responsibility for our products at every point from design, assembly, to burn-in testing before they reach your door. We can’t pass the responsibility of basic warranty service off on anyone else.
In light of this, we decided to update our warranty. Read our amended standard warranty statement, as well as the extended 5 year warranty applicable to our LED lights made in the USA. Note that since we’re an Original Equipment Manufacturer that also sells directly, any LED Waves purchase is automatically covered by our warranty without having to register your purchase.
TL:DR: The terms of our warranty are the same on our end. In the extremely rare case of product failure, we will provide the same level of service our high end lighting professional customers have come to expect. But with our new explicit wording, we’re hoping that all our customers (old and new) will understand the protection they’re getting from the LED Waves warranty – the protection you deserve.
This is a big week in environmental news, as we await today’s White House climate change report, and as we learn that LED lights will outnumber the fluorescent tubes to be installed this year. A survey of professional lighting installers shows that SSL technology will make up 49% of their planned projects in 2014 – edging out fluorescent at 46% and almost doubling the projections from 2013.
This is the first year LED tube installations will outnumber fluorescent linear lighting, and it means buildings will now be more efficiently illuminated, and fewer mercury-tainted tubes will enter the waste stream as fluorescent T8s reach the end of useful service – typically after only a few thousand hours.
We’re celebrating the good news with a sale on our own 4-foot LED tubes made in the USA. Today through Monday, May 12th 2014; save 20% on all Genesys 3.0 LED T8 tubes with coupon code WAVES.
To ensure years of superior quality lighting covered by our 5 year warranty, the Genesys 3.0 is built with Philips LUXEON LEDs and bundled with your choice of 20W or 38W driver – each powered under capacity to ensure upwards of 50,000 hours of service life.
In more LED T8 news, we’re adding a clear lens option alongside the traditional frosted covered Genesys. The clear lens transmits 10% more light and is currently only available by special order, so call us at 1(800)986-0169 to claim yours today!
Recently, 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.
By 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.
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:
Until 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.