Industrial LED Lights - How to Choose...

Converting over from Metal Halide or High Pressure Sodium to LED seems to launch all the marketing catch phrases like "No Brainer". But what should you be looking for? Are all LED Products the same? New fixtures versus retrofitting? Are overseas products scary? What are Industrial LED Lights? Maybe we can help clear the air.

So what should you look at when you look at a LED Product?

First and foremost, those specs. What do they mean, which ones are really important? Which ones should you look for?

LED Efficiency

Most importantly, lets talk about efficiency. Efficiency in the LED world is all about lumens/watt. Or, how much light can a LED fixture or bulb produce with 1 watt of electricity. And this number is all over the place and it varies from product to product. LED is technology, like computers. Computers have CPU's, and there are 1000's of models available, all with different processing speeds. So when you buy a computer, you pay attention to the CPU speed if you want a fast computer. With LED, its the same. Think of the LED as the CPU, and the 'faster' LEDs are the more efficient. Some companies still sell LED products that are rated under 100 lumens/watt. They don't actually advertise this, they probably will show you the watts consumed and the lumens produced. Take the total number of lumens and divide it by the watts consumed. This gives you the efficiency.

Today, we are seeing numbers in the 180 lumens/watt range. While still uncommon, these are the 'real fast' CPU's of the LED world. Anything above 130 lumens per watt is great, anything below and maybe you are looking at yesterday's technology. This does not apply to all Industrial LED Lights. Some of the smaller bulbs still use the less efficient chips. But do your homework, and do your math. If the product is DLC Qualified, look for DLC Premium. These lights are the higher efficiency rated products, and are more efficient than LED Standard Qualified.

LED Quality of Light

This is known as CRI, or Color Rendering Index. It's a scale between 0 and 100. 100 is great, 0, well, not so good as you can imagine. So what is a good number to shoot for? Well, that depends. Are you a car dealership or retail store? If yes, then high CRI is good, 80+, maybe 90 is good. You want the colors to pop Are you a warehouse, a factory, a workshop? Maybe supreme color rendering isn't important, so 70+ CRI would do just fine. LEDs typically start at 70+, anything lower than that, you may have a cheaper LED chip. 

New LED Fixtures of Retrofit your existing with LED Light Engines?

We are familiar with both, and understand the pros and cons of each solution. Let me say first, we have also heard some of the un-truths that have been told. Claims about retrofits includes:

  • They are not as good/bright/efficient as new fixtures
  • They will not last as long as a new fixture
  • They are more expensive than new fixtures

So let's debunk some old myths. There is absolutely no reason a Retrofit Unit can't perform as well as the LEDs in a new fixture. There is no reason it can't last as long. The 'trick' is to but a high quality retrofit, but the same could be said for the new fixture. If the quality isn't good, then it won't last. Retrofit products are typically less expensive than new fixtures, but there are cases where they are not. Retrofits are eligible for rebates, like new fixtures. And DLC does qualify both new fixtures and retrofit kits. So what should you choose? Well, here's a few questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are your fixtures old, rusted, leaking or have yellowed lenses? Consider a new fixture.
  • Do you have a large investment in your fixtures but would like to go LED? Consider retrofit.
  • Does your utility off rebates for both types? For new fixtures only? For retrofits only? This could reduce the cost of each type significantly.
  • Is your staff or electrical contractor able to replace a fixture or retrofit a fixture?

Not one solution fits all companies, but more likely, there is an option that makes perfect sense for you. 

Are Overseas Products Scary?

They don't have to be. There are some who use that scare tactic and would like you to believe that if you buy overseas, you are buying a cheap poorly made product. First and foremost, we have worked with both USA Made and Overseas factories. We work with a few select manufacturers who we feel are top-notch. We have visited every single factory on numerous occasions. So over the years, we got to know good from bad, and what was good quality and what was pure marketing magic. And we have seen our share of marketing magic, and it happens everywhere. The true test for any manufacturer is finding out the standards to how they make their product.

Being ISO Certified is a good start.
Will they honor their warranties?
Will they be around if their product has issues?

These are the standards that we look for. And fortunately, our relationships with our manufacturing partners are in the years. We do not chase emails with a cheap product offering. It's just not worth it.

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