The electrical lighting industry has changed and now LED light sources are king. To be successful many electrical contractors need to further their lighting education. This LED Lighting Guide will be an excellent first step.
The electrician's skills and lighting toolbox have both grown steadily in the past century, and with advancing technology and government pressures to be more “green,” the 21st century promises that electricians and electrical contractors will continue to offer newer, even more efficient lighting options. Yesterday's technology lit up homes and offices for the first time, but today we're able to offer our customers the biggest improvement in lighting since Edison's bulb—the light-emitting diode, or LED. This guide to LED lighting will provide you with the basics of LED lighting and will benefit any electrical contractors furthering their level of lighting education or seeking to buy LED products.
A light-emitting diode, or LED for short, is a semiconductor device that produces visible light when the appropriate voltage is applied to the leads. They have low resistance to current in one direction but very high resistance in the other (current may only go in one direction). Unlike typical diodes, LED’s release energy in the form of photons (light) when the voltage is applied to their pn-junction. They are a form of solid-state lighting (SSL) that functions without using electrical filaments, plasma, or gas. This allows the fixture to require much less energy input while also losing less energy as heat compared to traditional lighting methods. LED Lighting fixtures also need less frequent maintenance and replacement due to the lack of breakable glass bulbs and their inherent long life.
LED Lighting Today
Electrical contractors who are not aware of current LED lighting performance are losing business every day. The reasons are simple – this light source has excellent color quality, CRI (color rendering index) control, and superior efficiency. LED Lighting fixtures today regularly produce over 100 Lumens Per Watt (LPW) and may soon produce up to triple this amount. Compare this to your old 100W incandescent bulb, rated at less than 15 LPW—LED fixtures already produce the same amount of light at 1/8th its energy consumption, will soon do so for only 1/2 as much. With these numbers, it’s not surprising so many specifiers and end-users are demanding LED lighting. The superior efficiency isn't the only advantage to using LED lighting. It is typically a smaller, more compact light source, meaning electrical contractors can quickly and easily install smaller fixtures. The life is outstanding, with many companies quoting 50,000-100,000+ hours of usable life - up to 100 times the life of an incandescent light bulb. The technology produces very little forward through heat (IR), making it an ideal choice in heat sensitive applications. If you want to buy LED fixtures, the cost has come down enough to become a competitive option compared to older technologies and the Return On Investment (ROI) is often measured in months or days—not years.
LED Lighting Education for Electrical Contractors
As a guide to LED Lighting for electrical contractors we intend to make you well aware that not all LED lighting is created equal! It is not necessarily true that the most expensive product is the best (smart contractors can almost always find economical alternatives to what is specified when they buy LED lamps or fixtures). The key to this is knowing the terminology—understanding what all the LED Lighting specifications actually mean. Does it make a difference if the LED Lighting is 4,000 degrees Kelvin or is 3,000 degrees Kelvin? Is the different between LED Wattage and System Wattage really important?
As you learn LED technology your will find the answer is YES! It is important. Please see the next section on LED Lighting terms and expressions. After that you will know all the LED basics to confidently buy LED lighting.