|Myth busting as it relates to LED tubes (MAGAZINE)|
|Charlie Szoradi, CEO of Independence LED, states that it's only a question of when the time is right to install LED tubes in place of fluorescents and not if it's the right retrofit path.|
This article was published in the July/August 2013 issue of LEDs Magazine.
View the Table of Contents and download the PDF file of the complete July/August 2013 issue, or view the E-zine version in your browser.
Fluorescent tubes have dominated commercial illumination in American ceilings for more than 50 years — more than 2.3 billion tubes are installed, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE). That huge potential retrofit market has drawn the interest of many in the solid-state lighting (SSL) space and resulted in a lot of myths related to LED tube technology. Let's bust some of those myths, considering that LED tubes save 50% or more energy over fluorescent tubes.
To date, the hurdles for adoption of LED tube technology fall into three categories: trust, technology, and cost. Let's explore them, in that order.
Many believe that the LED tube industry has not matured to a trustworthy level, but manufacturers have improved thermal management, and installations now range from Fortune 100 companies to leading health care institutions to leading higher-education institutions. Organizations such as the DesignLights Consortium have qualified LED tubes, and warranties have increased to as long as 10 years on some LED tubes.
Meanwhile, some worry that imported LED tubes lack UL or CE marks or other trusted output testing. Simply ask for source documentation and third-party testing data, and look into LED tubes that are made domestically or that meet the International Class A-10 LED Tube Standards.
And then there are those concerned that new LED manufacturers won't be around to support the warranty. An easy way to protect your business is to look for performance-based programs such as savings shares, lighting service contracts, or LED rental center opportunities. This way you don't fully pay for the technology and aren't chasing the seller if failure occurs.
Let's turn to technology, and the worry that a typical LED tube doesn't give off as much light as its fluorescent counterparts. Fluorescent tubes may have more lumens, but 35% percent of the output is often wasted going up into the fixture. Make sure to look at fixture output side-by-side in foot-candles after a sample LED tube retrofit.
Others worry that an LED tube does not have the same color consistency as a fluorescent tube. Yet the thermal management of many LED tubes has improved to protect the phosphor coating that dictates color temperature. Still others question the quality assurance for LED tubes. The answer is to look for LED tube manufacturers that are ISO 9001:2008 certified.
Then there are those who say LED tubes with external drivers are more difficult to install than internal driver LED tubes. Not so: Installers need to open the cover to the fluorescent ballast in order to install either type of driver system, so the time is roughly identical.
Finally, some contend that the diodes get so hot that they burn out the LED tubes. To combat this, seek out LED tubes with deep-fin, aircraft-grade thermal management and external drivers.
Now let's turn to cost where some argue that specifiers wait to invest in LEDs because of dramatically falling prices. But the cost of waiting, in terms of energy and maintenance, is most likely higher than the price drop, particularly for 24/7 illumination areas. At the least, consider a rolling retrofit where you replace fluorescent tubes and ballasts as they fail with new LED tube technology.
There are other cost-related issues that are top of mind for some specifiers. Those who replaced T12 fluorescent tubes with the better T8 tubes and don't want to upgrade again should still calculate ROI, especially for 24/7 areas. Payback is three to five years, and some worry about warranties in that same range; however, as we mentioned, longer warranties are becoming commonplace.
American-made products are more expensive than imports. Property owners and managers should not focus on the race to the bottom of pricing but instead consider the race to the top of performance. All tubes are not created equal, so look at the equipment and operating cost of a total fixture versus a tube.
It can't be stressed enough that specifiers should find a qualified LED manufacturer and start changing out old fluorescent tube technology in 24/7 areas as soon as possible. Switch to LEDs as fluorescent tubes fail and make a three-year plan to purge your outdated "glass and gas" tubes for toxic-free SSL.
|About the Author |
|Charlie Szoradi is CEO of Independence LED.|
|Name: meteorlighting Posted: Wed, 31 Jul 2013 14:07|
|Nice article. Thanks.
We can see a very steady increase in adoption happening here is South Africa as the quality, lumen output and guarantee periods keep increasing. What worries me though is that many other companies are still selling inferior tubes with 3528 SMDs, weak bodies and poor heat dissipation characteristics. Sure, these products still have a good market thanks to cost but when many of these tubes fail, warp or don't give the light output expected, it creates a very bad reputation for LED tubes in general. I suppose its down to educating your clients and making sure that they understand what sets some LED tubes apart from others...
I would also like to see an article discussing the different kinds of chip-sets used in tubes as well as the various heat dissipating methods used in the design.|
|Name: dennis m Posted: Thu, 01 Aug 2013 01:08|
|To me and many other SSL pro's, it's disappointing to see
advocacy and promotion of the genre's most groan inducing
products - the tube LED light-
Two aspects that could have been brought up are - and this goes for
anyone making tubes - what about those high BoM manifest lists of
subcomponents used in them- they almost all have unacceptably high
numbers for SSL wares at this point-
Also - with regards to the new RoHS 2 restrictions-
How do the LED tube makers intend to deal with those realities as we go forward ? Who's kidding whom with their promotion ?
For a more overarching question why is LED magazine
giving the genre an air of credibility when we could be discussing the ascent of OLEDs and OLETs and their important roll in solid state
lighting ? It almost like having to watch summertime reruns on TV - LED tubes - to call the entire lot a disappointment is to
go easy on 'em !|
Without question there are a number of exciting developments in the SSL pipeline and we intend to cover them all. But LEDs Magazine would not be doing right by our readers were we to dismiss and ignore LED tubes. Yes they have had growing pains. But installation numbers are on the rise. Readers need to stay apprised of the LED tube space.
|Name: don mcdougall - solid state capital services Posted: Thu, 01 Aug 2013 06:08|
|I am the General Manager of SSCS, we provide ROI calculation for LED retrofits, EPAct, 1245 and Abandonment studies...etc
In general we find that LED Fixtures outperform LED Tube replacements. The LED Tube is the Zune, or 8-track player of our day. An excellent technology that was obsolete by the time it hit the market. In many cases quality fixtures are available at lower costs and without some of the issue and concerns that have plagued the LED Tube industry and slowed their implementation.
SSCS runs independent ROI calculation and in most cases the LED fixtures simply are a better economic solution. Not every time of course but better than 80% of the time.
I'll include my e-mail and you are free to forward any questions you may have. firstname.lastname@example.org |
|Name: james h Posted: Sat, 03 Aug 2013 18:08|
In my opinion, the T8 LED tube is more of a "Next Step" for LED adoption. It isn't intended to be a panacea for all lighting, just a forward movement. If there were OLED fixtures at a reasonable cost and appropriate life available, I am sure that too would be the latest flavor. Unfortunately, their arrival isn't even on the horizon. Have LED T8 replacement tubes had their share of bumps in the road, YES. Have most "A grade" companies like Philips, Sylvania, ETi, Aleddra, etc. worked out the bugs, YES. I don't know of Charlie (above) or his tubes, but he makes several valid points on the evolution of LEDs as a whole. Whether they are self-serving or not, the conversation needs to happen.
|Name: led field expert Posted: Sun, 04 Aug 2013 10:08|
|It is a shame that many remain uninformed here in North America of the real success that is going on worldwide with LED linear tubes. Today, they are one of the most reliable solid state products that can be purchased. We commend LED Magazine for giving space and time to Mr. Szoradi who is qualified to address this important topic. With billions of sockets that can be made to be 50% more energy efficient, this subject is not to be passed over lightly!
In Hawaii, for example, where kilowatt rates are the highest in the nation, one name brand hotel has now had LED linear lamps installed for over six years, and with 90-95% lumen retention. Thousands upon thousands of LED linear tubes have been sold there, and quality tubes are exceeding their warranties and maintaining lumen levels far better than fluorescent lamps ever have or ever will.
As noted in this article, there are a lot of factors to be educated on and considered, such as whether a buyer should use tubes with internal or external drivers. We agree that external drivers for these tubes make a lot of sense, just as we have proven for decades that external ballasts which drive fluorescent lamps make sense.
Here's the kicker: 4 foot 32 watt lamps are being successfully replaced with 12-15 watt LED linear lamps, and getting as much or more footcandles where needed. So can LED linear lamps save 50% or more than fluorescent lamp systems? They most certainly can and are!
Here's the double kicker: Worldwide, many millions of LED linear lamps are already in service with great success. If our government and other leaders here truly want to see our country "go green" and use green technologies, the time for converting to LED linear lamps, with their mercury free tubes, has come.|
|Name: wmumart Posted: Sun, 04 Aug 2013 11:08|
|Why would anyone invest in 10 year warranty??
Haitz law proved that most LED will be obsolete inefficient within 3-5 years.
I buy LED t 8 6 cm (2 ft)800-900 lm for less than 5$ so at 24/7 they pay off within 6 months.
This cheaper t8 is only 850 lm according to our test and it is 300% brighter than traditional 18 w Philips, yes it is astonishing difference visual with naked eye.
So far I have them on for 90 days and it look same as first day.
When I calculate cost of new fixture with ballast and starter and new led fixture with 2 tubes the cost is pretty much the same , but I save 50-70% because the LED are much brighter. sop I need less fixtures to get same lux per sq meter.
|Name: sam Posted: Tue, 06 Aug 2013 12:08|
|The "2013 International Class A-10 LED Tube Standards" Szoradi wrote himself. The ridiculously titled "standards" are simply arbitrary specs he wrote on a different website he owns
His Independence website sources the "standards" from Green and Save, another website he himself owns.
LEDs Magazines has had some truly insightful articles that bring new information to the table - this simply is not one of them. It's a CEO promoting his product without telling us anything we didn't already know.|
|Name: john t Posted: Fri, 09 Aug 2013 05:08|
|While the article left much to be desired and contained very little information, it is not with merit to discredit LED tubes. Yes a few years back they had no place, but with efficiencies >110 lumens/watt, better color spectra than fluorescent, and low heat leading to L80/60K hours, there is good potential and they are just getting better.
ROHS2 will apply to all LED and tubes are no different. There are a lot of components in them, but they are diodes ... simple, reliable if treated well and some tubes run the LEDs very cool.
There are real issues --- visible emitters, tube to tube color consistency and lack of optical control. Buy from a professional and this can be addressed.|
|Name: bss led limited Posted: Sat, 17 Aug 2013 09:08|
|This topic will continue on various forums globally but there is certainly a place for LED tubes for retrofit installations. Of course there is a quality issue and the idea of built in drivers will limited the component size and potentially limited life times but it is difficult to propose a retrofit operation using external drivers and remaining competitive.EN, CE and UL approval will always be difficult to police but this is all about awareness and perhaps creating a portal where would be buyers can make an informed decision.
What really concerns me is the lack of understanding of thermal management when installing LED tubes in IP65 [external] fittings. Even so called reputable manufacturers are recommending installing LED tubes in IP fittings without any comment on ambient temperatures and the effect of sealing one or two LED tubes in a closed environment. Having carried out some thermal testing on a number of LED tubes in sealed IP65 tubes at relatively low ambient temperatures, the results are certainly not conducive to long life! How is the potential purchaser of LED products able to make an informed decision when there are so many varying opinions and so much lack of knowledge by so called specialists?|