Today the market is flooded with LED lighting products for commercial applications?branded as well as non-branded. These LED lights range from tube lights, strip lights, retrofitted bulbs, to a number of spotlights and downlights. It is therefore, not easy for a buyer to choose the right product for a specific commercial application; they can also get highly confused. It is, therefore, recommended that the consumer first assess his requirements, do a market research, and then take the buying decision. Consumers also need some basic awareness about LED technology and about the manufacturers.
Customisation is the need of the hour
Today, the manufacturers support the customers with design and development, as well as provide customised solutions for various commercial applications. They not only customise by optimising lighting levels and colour temperatures, but also provide optimum light distribution with the help of specialised optical lenses.
Technological advancements have increased the scope of customising LED lighting products?from manufacturing to designing the casings, housings or the enclosures. The luminaires can also be designed as per the specifications of the customers. Even the drivers and fixtures and can be customised. However, industry experts say that while customising the products, the manufacturer should never compromise on the quality by using low quality components that not only affect the efficiency of the product but also lower the lifespan of the product.
Technological advancements in commercial lights
Fast technological advancements are taking place in LED technology as well as in the LED designing and manufacturing processes. The three most important improvements that have happened in the past few years are in the availability, applicability and affordability of LED lights. They are being used in our day to day lighting needs; are available in different shapes and sizes; and are becoming affordable as the price is coming down year on year.
An LED lighting product design includes electrical design (LED drivers), electronics design (LEDs), mechanical design (cooling devices), optical design (lamp holders), and all these have gone through immense technological advancements. Over the past few years, the performance, efficacy and lifespan of high and mid-power LEDs have improved drastically; their light output (flux), efficacy that is lumens per watt, colour quality and stability have all improved significantly.
Some of the improvements that have taken place in the last few years is the ceramic packages for more efficient thermal management; increase in efficiency due to advanced chip technology; longer lifespan; higher brightness in white LEDs; moreover, total cost of ownership has improved significantly.
The diffusers, secondary lens and reflector technology have also seen significant improvements. Now, it is, therefore, possible to achieve better quality lighting, better spread of light, with no wastage of energy, and without any shadows. Earlier, even though LEDs could have been driven up to 1 Ampere that 3 watts), the lumen output was not efficient enough. But now, with the advanced LEDs, the lumen output is much more efficient. For example, even at 1 watt (350 mA), one can get 130 lumen; or at 3 watts that is 1 Amp, one can get 300 lumen. This helps to use fewer number of LEDs.
The two most important parts in an LED light are optics and driver. Optics which depend mainly on constant current (quality of driver) and heat dissipation (design of the light) are the key factors in the life expectancy of the light. Hence, these are becoming more and more advanced.
One of the major concerns about LED lights is the heat output that needs to be dissipated properly. Keeping this in mind, all major players are using good quality heat sinks with a large number of cut slots on the metal. More emphasis is also being given to the optics for maximum utilisation of the light output. There are companies that offer very good quality silicon and epoxy, which enables LED lamp usage under water as well.
Today, LED lights are made using an array of LEDs encased in diffuser lenses which spread the light in wider beams. With advanced technology, LED light sources are now smaller in size, have the latest electronic LED drivers, and this translates to more compact and sleeker light fixtures. As the lumens/watt increases, the number of LEDs to be used comes down, thereby reducing the cost and wattage of replacing conventional light.
Diode technology, too, has improved significantly over the last two years and as a result, high power LEDs with higher lumen output are making it possible to be innovative when designing LED lamps.
While the lumen pack has been consistently increasing, the cost per unit of useful light emitted has been decreasing. This trend can be explained with the help of Haitz?s Law, which states that in every decade, the cost per lumen falls by a factor of 10 while the lumen pack increases by a factor of 20 for a given wavelength (or colour) of light. This has led to a wider application of LEDs. The past few years have also seen a remarkable improvement in the efficacy of LED chips, packages and lamps, measured in terms of the number of lumens per watt of electrical power consumed.
How a consumer will choose a commercial LED light
There are many players?big and small?in the market offering different LED lighting products for commercial applications, with different specifications, technologies and features. So many options are enough to confuse a consumer if he is not knowledgeable about the basics of LED lights.
Consumers should ask some key questions before buying LED commercial lights. Quality is the foremost concern, which is determined by the design of the fixture, illumination, long life, thermal management and cost. The next concern is the cost of the fixture and its efficiency, which determines how energy efficient the fixture is. The next factor to consider is the reliability of the product, which can be determined by usage in hours.
Buyers should also see that the fixture is easy to install and has the capability to retrofit. Finally, the return on investment should also be considered. Here?s what a consumer should consider before buying LED lights for commercial applications.
Product should match requirements
Buyers should analyse his requirements before buying LED lights. If he is not aware of his right requirements, he can buy a wrong lighting product.
It is very important to check the credibility of the manufacturer as he should follow all stipulated guidelines while manufacturing an LED product for commercial application. Hence, a good LED product should be manufactured with quality components. It is also important to see the reputation of the manufacturer. The period of warranty is also important to check.
Power LEDs are advisable
Consumers should check that LED product used for commercial purposes should power LEDs and not small chip packaged LEDs. Small chip LEDs are not advisable for continuous lighting applications. They lack thermal management properties which are there in power LEDs.