Your LED Questions Answered

Your LED Questions Answered

When it comes to changing out incandescent bulbs at commercial and multi-family properties, it’s usually the maintenance team holding the broken glass!  Let us show you the way by answering some of our customer’s most frequently asked questions.

How does the dimness of LED bulbs compare to fluorescents?

LED bulbs dim over the course of their lives, the same as fluorescents.  However, LED bulbs will dim slower than fluorescents simply due to their longer lifespan.

Speaking of the lifespan of LED bulbs, another important cost-saving consideration is  LED bulbs are substantially more durable than fluorescents, making them ideal for common areas.

How do LED bulbs function in the heat?

LED bulbs are extremely sensitive to heat.  When used in enclosed fixtures (like shown below), the bulbs will not last for their rated life, and therefore not make up your investment cost.  Heat build-up can shorten the life of an LED bulb by as much as 50%, which given the cost of an LED vs. alternative bulbs, it becomes quite an expensive mistake.

LED bulbs pull the heat out of themselves with a heat sink in the bottom of the bulb.  So, if the heat drawn out can’t go anywhere, the bulb will experience difficulties and overheat.  If you have a question regarding the viability of an LED in fixtures you already have, simply e-mail us for a professional consult.

Do LED bulbs work on dimmers?

Most of the LED dimple products sold by RealLighting work on a standard dimmer.  However, you must replace ALL the bulbs on the circut with LED bulbs.  You cannot mix and match.

When put with the proper dimmer, LED bulbs will actually dim much smoother than fluorescent bulbs – from 100% brightness all the way to .5% brightness.

How do LEDs project light compared to incandescents?

Incandescent bulbs spread light non-directionally.  LED bulbs are a directional light source, light a spotlight.  You won’t get the expansion of light particles around your lit area.  Based on your illumination needs, the experts at RealLighting can recommend the proper bulbs to fully illuminate your coverage area.

For example, if there is a described beam angle (like 38 degrees), you will see NO light past the 38 degree mark.  See the illustration below.

How do lumens relate to LED bulbs?

Lumens are the numerical way of stating the amount of visible light that a bulb produces.  The higher the lumen number, the brighter the light the bulb will produce.  The higher the wattage, the higher the lumens.

LEDs are lumen based.  It is critical to match the lumens of the LED to the lumens of the bulb you are replacing.

What do I need to consider for the sockets and fixture rating when switching to LED?

This is another primary area where money can be lost on LED bulb usage.

The sockets and fixture rating (based on the UL sticker in the fixture) are based on the actual wattage used.  Therefore, if you are using a 60w bulb and the fixture is rated for 60w, and you switch to a 15w LED that is equivalent to 100W, you CAN use it in the fixture since the bulb burns 15 actual watts.  Read our guide to Deciphering Wattage Conversions for LED and Energy Efficient Bulbs for additional information.

Why do LED bulbs keep burning the fixtures?

LED bulbs run cooler than incandescents  you may be using not.  But, that doesn’t mean they’re not still outputting a significant amount of heat.  With the placement of LED bulbs, you need to consider that they typically have the chip on the top and the heat sink on the back.  Therefore, you must be aware of the hot spots of different bulbs, depending upon what fixture you are putting the bulb into.

The heat in LED bulbs gets pulled away by this heat sink that’s located in the back.  The heat sink enables the heat to dissipate and the air within the fixture to stay cool, which contributes to the longer life.  However, if you place an LED bulb in a fixture that has enclosed housing, not enabling the air to circulate out, the LED bulb will overheat and potentially cause the fixture to burn, or worse, catch fire.

Can I put an LED bulb in a standard exterior fixture?

LED bulbs can be placed into standard exterior fixtures.  Most LED bulbs are water resistant, and some are even waterproof, making them a perfect alternative for exterior lighting.  In addition, utilizing LED you can generally achieve the same luminosity with less electrical output than with HID.  The U.S. Department of Energy publishes a great series on LED Application uses for additional insight on this.

If you are going to use an existing fixture, please consider the following when calculating your ROI on the LED investment:

  • You will be required to bypass the ballast, so plan the labor time/cost as a factor.
  • Bypassing the ballast invalidates the UL standard on the fixture.
  • LED is a great outdoor solution because of the longevity of the bulb.
  • LED products usually save 50-80% of the wattage consumption versus the existing bulb.

If you have a question about using LED in an existing fixture, feel free to e-mail us a photo of the fixture and we can provide additional guidance.  Or call RealLighting at 888-554-4485.


How do LED bulbs stack up to Metal Halide/High Pressure Sodium Products?

When replacing outdoor metal halide / high pressure sodium products with LED, it is important to gauge if you already have enough light, need more light or would like less light.  LED manufacturers have suggested ratings on all of their specifications.  For example, we use a brand that has a 20w LED that is equivalent to 70w Metal Halide.  Unlike comparing LED to incandescent, the lumen rating on the LED products are not concurrent with HID products.

So, even though a 175w metal halide replacement burns at 2,250 lumens, when a regular MH175 burns at 11,000 lumens, the replacement has the same light output and distribution.  The reason is there are PHOTOPIC and SCOTOPIC lumens.  Photopic is the actual light output and Scotopic is what the human eye perceives as the output.  What results is a visual impact that is judged by the beholder versus and actual lumen comparison.

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