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Thread: Have LED Lighting Been Accepted By Design Pro's Yet

  1. #1
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    Have LED Lighting Been Accepted By Design Pro's Yet

    Yeah maybe strange for a mod to ask a question but here goes.

    Last time I visited LED lighting for interior spaces a few years ago, they fell way short in terms of efficacy, color temperature, and price point especially in commercial application and area lighting. T5 and T8 were king. So has LED set the new standard and being used much other than PR to say We Are Green? Because last time I looked into it, they were anything but Green and fell short of the mark.

    Do not want to start a debate, just asking lighting pros if they are now using more LED's and why.

    THX
    Last edited by dereckbc; 09-12-13 at 06:26 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm starting to see a lot of LEDs in airport retail spaces--especially downlights and track heads. There are still a lot of fluorescents being used too, of course, although as LEDs get better they eat up more and more of that market. I haven't seen it myself, but I've heard that at least one terminal at LAX has replaced much of its concealed fluorescent soffit lighting with LED strips.

    A few years ago it was hard to find a listed LED luminaire, and when my boss asked the manufacturers at the lighting trade show in Vegas they told him, "it's low voltage; it doesn't need to be listed." Over the next couple of years they learned differently, as various Building Departments wouldn't allow the use of their products because they weren't listed. Now there's a pretty wide selection of listed LEDs from reputable manufacturers.

    One issue we still run into fairly often is the listing of remote power supplies, although this is more of an issue of inconsistency between different inspectors. When the power supply is not an integral part of the luminaire, some inspectors insist that the luminaire and power supply must be listed together as a complete lighting system. Other inspectors say that's not necessary, as long as the power supply and luminaire are both listed. Still other inspectors will accept a listed luminaire with a UL Recognized power supply (probably because they don't know the difference between Listed and Recognized). There are other variations out there too, like the inspector who doesn't care if the luminaire is listed as long as the power supply is. In this regard, the problem is with the Building Department not educating its inspectors and having a uniform policy outlining what's acceptable and what isn't.

    Regarding the technology itself, LEDs have gotten much better in terms of brightness. Color uniformity is pretty good as well, if you stick with a reputable brand and buy all your fixtures from the same lot. A 3500K LED from Tech Lighting and a 3500K LED from Lithonia may well put out noticeably different colors of light. Similarly, a 3500K Tech Lighting LED manufactured in June may give you light that is noticeably a different color than that same model of LED manufactured in August. But, as I understand it, the same issue exists with fluorescent lamps (although perhaps not as pronounced).

    I think there is a lot of "Look at us! We're green!" going on, especially when lighting designers play power factor games with their power supplies (since the Energy Code is based around Watts rather than Volt-Amps, it becomes preferable to use a 60 watt power supply with 60% power factor instead of a 75 watt power supply with 90% power factor, even though the 60 watt draws more amps). But that doesn't mean that LEDs aren't a good alternative in many cases. Personally, I don't think LEDs have quite "arrived" yet, but they're very close.

    As for price, a good LED fixture is still more expensive than a comparable fluorescent fixture, but not by such a huge margin as it would have been a couple of years ago. If you're looking for cheap, it's hard to beat a fluorescent strip light or a drop-in fluorescent 2x4. But if the customer wants a certain "look," LEDs can be a good option.

    (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any manufacturer/vendor of LEDs or any other lighting product. )

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by JDBrown View Post
    I'm starting to see a lot of LEDs in airport retail spaces--especially downlights and track heads. There are still a lot of fluorescents being used too, of course, although as LEDs get better they eat up more and more of that market. I haven't seen it myself, but I've heard that at least one terminal at LAX has replaced much of its concealed fluorescent soffit lighting with LED strips.

    A few years ago it was hard to find a listed LED luminaire, and when my boss asked the manufacturers at the lighting trade show in Vegas they told him, "it's low voltage; it doesn't need to be listed." Over the next couple of years they learned differently, as various Building Departments wouldn't allow the use of their products because they weren't listed. Now there's a pretty wide selection of listed LEDs from reputable manufacturers.

    One issue we still run into fairly often is the listing of remote power supplies, although this is more of an issue of inconsistency between different inspectors. When the power supply is not an integral part of the luminaire, some inspectors insist that the luminaire and power supply must be listed together as a complete lighting system. Other inspectors say that's not necessary, as long as the power supply and luminaire are both listed. Still other inspectors will accept a listed luminaire with a UL Recognized power supply (probably because they don't know the difference between Listed and Recognized). There are other variations out there too, like the inspector who doesn't care if the luminaire is listed as long as the power supply is. In this regard, the problem is with the Building Department not educating its inspectors and having a uniform policy outlining what's acceptable and what isn't.

    Regarding the technology itself, LEDs have gotten much better in terms of brightness. Color uniformity is pretty good as well, if you stick with a reputable brand and buy all your fixtures from the same lot. A 3500K LED from Tech Lighting and a 3500K LED from Lithonia may well put out noticeably different colors of light. Similarly, a 3500K Tech Lighting LED manufactured in June may give you light that is noticeably a different color than that same model of LED manufactured in August. But, as I understand it, the same issue exists with fluorescent lamps (although perhaps not as pronounced).

    I think there is a lot of "Look at us! We're green!" going on, especially when lighting designers play power factor games with their power supplies (since the Energy Code is based around Watts rather than Volt-Amps, it becomes preferable to use a 60 watt power supply with 60% power factor instead of a 75 watt power supply with 90% power factor, even though the 60 watt draws more amps). But that doesn't mean that LEDs aren't a good alternative in many cases. Personally, I don't think LEDs have quite "arrived" yet, but they're very close.

    As for price, a good LED fixture is still more expensive than a comparable fluorescent fixture, but not by such a huge margin as it would have been a couple of years ago. If you're looking for cheap, it's hard to beat a fluorescent strip light or a drop-in fluorescent 2x4. But if the customer wants a certain "look," LEDs can be a good option.

    (Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any manufacturer/vendor of LEDs or any other lighting product. )
    Yep they did drink the Kool-Aid.

  4. #4
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    So, as I rep I'll tell you I see nearly every project in my territory. Here's what I see:

    A) A lot of LED specification for general lighting (troffers, wraps) that almost always gets value engineered to T8 or T5 (usually the former).
    B) I get a lot of requests for LED highbay lighting but the sticker shock for product always puts people off.
    C) Recessed can lighting has been a huge market for LED and it's taken hold there quite well.
    D) Outdoor area lighting has done pretty well for the LED market as well.


    In short, if linear T8 or T5 can do the job, LED has hard a difficult time gaining a foothold. And usually when this proves to not be the case, it's not for a good reason. For instance, I have a distributor having some luck selling Lithonia's IBeam LED highbay. They're cheap and with LED being the sexy in thing at the moment, they sell. But efficacy-wise, T8 highbays are vastly superior.
    I know lots about lightbulbs!

  5. #5
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    I do lighting design myself (as a part of my overall building design), and I would agree with TNBaer.

    It REALLY depends on the application. On the whole, LED's are not quite where they need to be to take over a larger share of the market. They are getting closer by the minute. Some clients want LED simply because it is LED. I've had very similar experiences with T5's before. I have been asked to switch my specification from T8 to T5 to 'be more efficient' by several clients/architects. When you do the math and show that that's not always the case (in fact, it is usually NOT the case), then they back off.

    For high-bay applications, I generally end up using T5's. For troffers or other 'linear' general lighting, T8's are my go to. When you talk about recessed cans, especially those that need to be dimmable, LEDs are extremely competitive. Combine that with the typically short lamp-life from CFLs, and LED looks even better. For parking lot lighting, LED is getting really good at controlled distributions and uniformity, but the cost is still relatively high.

    For me, the application is key, and it's always worth it to run the numbers just to be sure. With the LED market being so crazy, you must be very careful to spec or install a reputable manufacturer because there is a lot of junk out there.

  6. #6
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    I like to use them in lieu of compact fluorescent downlights which are very inefficient. Outdoor wall packs and just about most site lighting applications these days are prime applications for LED. They haven't replaced the fluorescent troffer yet. Still going to be a while before LED's eat into that market. Great for cove lighting applications. I am seeing a lot of LED's in parking garages.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TNBaer View Post
    So, as I rep I'll tell you I see nearly every project in my territory. Here's what I see:

    A) A lot of LED specification for general lighting (troffers, wraps) that almost always gets value engineered to T8 or T5 (usually the former).
    B) I get a lot of requests for LED highbay lighting but the sticker shock for product always puts people off.
    C) Recessed can lighting has been a huge market for LED and it's taken hold there quite well.
    D) Outdoor area lighting has done pretty well for the LED market as well.


    In short, if linear T8 or T5 can do the job, LED has hard a difficult time gaining a foothold. And usually when this proves to not be the case, it's not for a good reason. For instance, I have a distributor having some luck selling Lithonia's IBeam LED highbay. They're cheap and with LED being the sexy in thing at the moment, they sell. But efficacy-wise, T8 highbays are vastly superior.
    Well that is where I was at 4 or 5 years ago with them. OK for a spot light or special task, but not up to speed for area lighting.

    I know LED manufactures tend to play games with the ratings, especially when specifying L/W. They measure the light in the focal point as LED are highly directional. Pulse the light at full drive current in controlled environment thus keeping it cool and efficiency high. Neither of which are real conditions. So it sounds like T8 and T5 are still King?

    I got in involved with a new Wally World in Plano TX a few years back. That store has a 500 Kw Solar System Tax Payers picked up most of the cost of. The store does use a lot of Skylights for area lighting in the store, but High Bay T5 is used. Now what is kind of neat is all their display coolers do use LED Strips with motion detectors. At first you think something is wrong if you walk down say the frozen food section when no one is in the aisles all the units are dark until you walk in front of them and they light up.

    It is a rather strange Wally World, a test store. They have Valet Parking, Curb Side Service like the ole days with real sackers, hard wood floors, and high-end products.

  8. #8
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    Minnesota
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    25

    IMHO

    It seems, with all our consultants, they ask what our (the customer) intent is and try to meet our needs. We want to save energy and hopefully maintenance cost later. We are putting LED in all our projects.
    We have changed out fixtures in 8 parking ramps to LED, installed LED fixtures in most of our flat lots. We are in the process of changing out 95% of the troffers in a very large building to LED. Most of our smaller projects are getting them too!

    Next is exterior lights to get changed out on 21 buildings.

    So far we are happy, if only the price would come down...

    Every thing we have done has had under a 15 year payback. Not considering maintenance savings. I could get a quicker payback if they would allow it in the calcs!
    Last edited by 72gs455; 09-11-13 at 09:58 PM.

  9. #9
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    I can suggest that LEDs are very efficient nowadays and we should not hesitate in using them as we have a variety of designs and with a good price tag to be used commercially as well.

  10. #10
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    LED's are over hyped. I don't see the lifetime/reliability in the field matching the glorious specs.

    T5 linear will be hard to beat for some time in overall actual cost.

    Several large "gas stations" in my area are using LED's under the canopy, they don't look too bad. But I have noticed failures. One station even used them for the drive/parking areas around the store. I will keep an eye out for early failures. Bet they paid big $$ to use them! Looking at them last night I thought the area was brighter than it needed to be? Hummm.

    LED's will bet there, but in my biased opining, they are not there yet. Between cost, questionable reliability/lifetime and driver issues mentioned previously, they have a way to go. Some of the performance claims still give LED's a bad name.

    As typical for any product, there is a lot of junk out there. Stick with solid brands. Too much CCC (cheap china c***) out there, but that's true for most things. Wait until the individual LED's start failing! You have to replace the whole thing!

    RC
    It's my name going on that drawing, not yours. If what you want ain't right, it ain't going on the drawings!

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