The Things you Should Look for When Buying LED Technology

It is not news that LED is becoming the new standard in saving money on your lighting bill. But with every new technology, the options are endless and plentiful, and sometimes clever marketing hides what really is important. If you understand the technology, its easy. If your new to the technology, you have to try and determine what is or isn't important. Which makes the purchase decision even harder for those trying to navigate this maze of product availability and specifications. And to confuse the consumer even more, there is a lot of data being presented that is not created based on any agreed to standard.

Read 10 different product brochures on what the marketers believe is the proper solution to replace 1000W Metal Halide and you will read everything from a low as 26,000 lumens to 70,000 lumens. Or what one manufacturer calls day white is total different than what another manufacturer thinks day white is. The best advice we can give the consumer is walk through the same process we do when we select our products to sell. We look for quality, performance, efficiency and great engineering. Let's break that down to what that means. 

The LED Litmus Test

Are the LED Lights UL or ETL Listed. This is the safety test. No one wants an unsafe product. The product must be able to perform without any chance of hazard. Are the lights DLC or Energy Star Rated? DLC (DesignLights Consortium) is a performance standard that makes sure the lights are efficient and perform at a high standard. It typically applies only to LED lights, but lately the standard has been broadened to include lighting controls. Energy Star is a consumer standard that applies to many products including small LED screw in bulbs. Up until recently, DLC did not have a provision for screw in bulbs, but has recently changed to allow some screw in LED bulbs. Are the factories ISO Qualified? A lot aren't, a lot say they are but aren't. Some will say they abide by the ISO standards. What does that mean? Some will come up with their own marketing buzz words that sound great on paper and are very clever, but aren't ISO certified.  To us, ISO certification gives us the peace of mind that the products we supply our customers are built and tested in an exacting and consistent manner with the least amount of risk of failure.

The LED Efficiency Standard

So what is this? Well it really is a discussion of LED Efficacy, or efficiency, and the measurement is called lumens/watt. Or how many lumens can you produce from 1 watt of power. A lumen is a measurement of light that is standard across all light sources. With LED, efficiency is all over the charts. The technology has been around for a long time, and if you look at the availability of product, you can find efficiencies ranging from under 100 lumens per watt to upwards of 180 lumens per watt. The lower efficiency product tends to be more value priced. However, when you do the math on the cost of operation over the life of the LED fixture, the savings at purchase time is quickly overshadowed by the savings in reduced energy spend. The difference in LED efficiency is becoming so drastic that it is reasonable to do payback analysis between LED products.

Case in point, our new ultra efficient Retrofits are now available up to 165 lumens/watt. Two of our main competitors are selling product at around 97 lumens/watt and 110 lumens/watt. The amount of money you will save in reduced energy consumption over the life of the product is staggering. And we are of the belief that you are converting over from Metal Halide to save money. So why not save all the money you can by getting the most efficient product? So how can you start to identify the most efficient product?

Two ways.

1. DLC Qualified Product. But just seeing DLC is not enough. DLC is a standard of performance and efficiency. But there are 2 levels, DLC Standard and DLC Premium. The DLC Premium Standard is the more efficient of the 2 standards. Products in DLC Premium are 20+% more efficient than DLC Standard. In the example above, our retrofit kits at 165 lumens per watt are 40%+ more efficient. So look for both of these symbols and more importantly, look for the DLC Premium Symbol. All our Retrofit Products (Kits) are DLC Premium Qualified.

2. Calculating lumens per watt. Its easy, and yet some vendors won't supply this information. So if you want to calculate lumens/watt, take the amount of lumens they list and divide it by the amount of watts it consumes. So if a LED Light produces 10,000 lumens and consumes 100 watts, that works out to 100 lumens/watt. Remember, anything in the 80-110 lumens per watt range is typically old technology.

Color Temperature

One of the other problems we see is customers don't understand color temperature. Its not untypical for a homeowner to go to a Home Depot store and purchase a LED bulb only to bring it home and discover it it too yellow or too blue. And if you look at the packaging, it's all confusing. Rather than speak in the universal language of color temperature, you hear terms like Day White, or Natural White or Cool White. What does this all mean? So here is a simple guide on what you should pick for what application.

  1. 2700-3500K is a good choice for a home application.
  2. 4000-4500K is a good choice for an office environment
  3. 5000-5500K is a good choice for a warehouse, factory, gym or airport hangar
  4. 6000K-7000K is a good choice for a jewelry store or in some laboratory environments.

The Warranty - Read the small print

Another piece of marketing wizardry is the concept of product warranty. Once again, you can use DLC as your guideline. Being a DLC Qualified Product, they are required to come with a 5 year warranty. Of course, it would be great of the warranty fine print was all no-nonsense, because they aren't always the case. We have heard the real stories of 5 and 10 year warranties that never get executed because somehow there is always a claim that the fault was due to installation error. Or the warranties that claim that you need to send the product in and then it will be determined if the problem is actually a warranty issue. We call that the "10 year hope warranty" because you have to hope they will process the warranty claim. With our retrofit kits, follow the instructions, keep them dry, and that's about it. You are covered.

Questions or need more help?

Feel free to contact us at 888 423 3191 or email us at We would be more than happy to answer any question that you may have.

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