LED Outdoor Lighting
LED (Light Emitting Diode) – typically use 75% less energy with a minimum of 25 times the longevity. LED is still a rapidly advancing technology and will bring a substantial savings to the US energy demand as well as your personal home energy savings.
LED bulbs have the following components:
1. LED – a Light Emitting Diode (chip) is a flake of metal that has a specific amount of energy delivered to it by a small computer board (driver) that is designed specifically for it. A higher quality chip will eliminate fracturing which gives a rainbow effect. Something you don’t want in your light fixtures! Great LED fixtures will give you a clean output with no hot spots, color separation or sharp edges.
2. Driver – drive systems manage the energy flow to the LED. A great driver will be housed away from the LED board in order to not share its heat. A driver should have the capacity to correct fluctuating power for a smooth, consistent flow which will save your LED board from surges.
3. Housing – it’s important that the housing allows a majority of the heat to escape, is durable and weather resistant to last the life of the LED.
4. Optics – LED’s need optics to deliver the concentrated amount of light in a specific direction. Optics are very important and can give you a variety of beam widths.
5. Color tone or Kelvins (K) – The range of Kelvin lets you know the light the LED will produce. We use an almost exclusively warm white. Warm white is between 2700 and 3000 Kelvins. This light color produces the look of the lighting in your living room versus the light in your workshop. Great LED color fixtures are not white light through colored plastic disks. True color LED fixtures use a RGB (red, green, blue) chip. This gives you the best and strongest colored light.
How LEDs are Different (sourced from www.energy.gov)
LED lighting is very different from other lighting sources such as incandescent bulbs and CFLs. Key differences include the following:
- Light Source: LEDs are the size of a fleck of pepper, and a mix of red, green, and blue LEDs is typically used to make white light.
- Direction: LEDs emit light in a specific direction, reducing the need for reflectors and diffusers that can trap light. This feature makes LEDs more efficient for many uses such as uplights and reflective lighting. With other types of lighting, the light must be reflected to the desired direction and more than half of the light may never leave the fixture.
- Heat: LEDs emit very little heat. In comparison, incandescent bulbs release 90% of their energy as heat and CFLs release about 80% of their energy as heat.
- Savings: LED’s lighting will provide a savings of 75% compared to incandescent lighting energy costs.
LED integrated fixtures vs. replacement bulbs
Replacement LED bulbs may sound like a great idea until you understand the engineering of LED’s. The heat created by the bulb will start to deteriorate the LED board and your investment in “20 year” bulbs is no longer a fact. They will fail faster and also delaminate and provide a variety of colors that you may not want.
Unfortunately, with LED bulbs the highest wattage available is only 20 watts. Most tall trees and dense shrubbery need at least 35 watts to illuminate properly.
LED outdoor lighting fixtures replace the halogen systems of the past with superior reliability, reduced servicing and maintenance and provide color tone correctness. Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) can effect operation of LED bulbs. Thus placing bulbs in the vicinity of electric garage openers or gates is not recommended.
The better option is to replace the whole halogen fixture with an LED fixture designed for landscape lighting. LED fixtures are engineered for outdoor use and operate equally as efficient in wet or dry locations. They are also designed for a wide range of heat & cold climates. Color tone remains consistent for the life of the product. A high quality product will have less than 15% reduction in light output over its lifetime, something which cannot be detected by the human eye.
Some bulbs or fixtures say they last 20 years, but is that a true illumination or just a glow? There is no UV damage that occurs in a quality fixture and a large heat sync reduces operating temperature resulting in longer life. These fixtures are specifically designed to eliminate failure by placing the driver away from the heat source. EMI protection is built into the LED fixture to protect against electrical interference. LED fixtures produce far less heat to the touch. A typical halogen fixture produces 300 degrees, whereas, an LED can top out somewhere in the 90 degree range.
LED lights are more durable, safer- cooler to the touch and somewhat easier to install.
Durable – LED outdoor fixtures should be integrated fixtures. This means that LED’s are manufactured in a way that disperses heat correctly from the diode. As little as it may be it is significant to the board that operates the LED and its components.
Safer - LED’s produce far less heat to the touch. A typical halogen fixture produces 300 degrees, whereas, and LED can top out somewhere in the 90 degree range.
Easier to Install – They are easier in that the components are integral to the fixture. All the parts are joined together. The bulb is integrated, not loose, the optics are integrated and the wiring. So, all in all, a better fixture for the wear and tear of the outdoors.
Lastly, because we are all human we must account for some failure in our products. Should an LED fixture fail, it should have replacement parts readily available or be under warranty in which the whole fixture is replaced with a new one.