LED vs Fluorescent Lights

LED vs Fluorescent Lights

A Comparison of LED Lights to Fluorescent Lights Across Common Lighting Applications

Many existing lighting fixtures still utilize fluorescent lamps, but in recent years, LED lighting has been found to be superior to fluorescent lighting in every way. This applies to fluorescent high bay lighting, vapor tight lighting and troffer lights. Here is how the comparison of LED to Fluorescent breaks down across several lighting applications:

High Bay Lighting Applications

What Are Fluorescent High Bay Lights?

In order to properly illuminate large indoor spaces with high ceilings (typically 20 to 40 feet from the floor), high bay lighting fixtures are required. Examples of such spaces are warehouses, factories, gymnasiums, department stores, and manufacturing facilities. Due to the distance between floor and ceiling, a high lumen output is required, and the light needs to be concentrated down and out from the fixture. These fixtures can be mounted directly to the ceiling or hung with chains, cables or hooks.

Fluorescent high bays would typically utilize linear lamps which were easy to replace when old ones would reach the end of their lifespan. Their benefits included cheaper cost, long life, and high efficiency. Their drawbacks included decreased lifetime if frequently turned on and off and they contained hazardous material in the form of mercury which made for waste disposal concerns at the end of its life. They also required a ballast in order to stabilize the light. LED lighting technology has developed to the point that it can overcome most or all of these drawbacks.

Why Are LEDs Better than Fluorescents for High Bay Lighting?

LED Provides Superior Color Rendering
Lighting quality is superior in terms of color rendering, color temperature and lumen output (compared to wattage used).

LED Have Longer Life Span
They have a much longer lifespan which means that the lights need to be replaced less frequently than other types. This is particularly important when it comes to high bay lighting which requires lifts or scaffolding to reach the fixtures.

LED Consume Less Energy
Although LED lighting is more expensive initially upon point of purchase, costs are more than made up in the long term due to the fact that they consume much less energy than conventional lights. This saves on utility costs over time. They also don’t waste energy emitted as heat.

LED Lights Are Omni Directional
Finally, the other types of lights listed above are omni-directional, which means that they produce a 360-degree output. With high bay light fixtures, the light needs to be directed down and out towards the floor. Much of this is wasted or needs to be directed using a reflector. LED high bays have a more concentrated light beam which means that nothing is wasted.

Vapor Tight Lighting Applications

What Are Fluorescent Vapor Tight Lights?

Designed to withstand areas where exposure to water, humidity or dust is an issue, vapor tight lights are made for indoor and outdoor applications. They are sealed and gasketed to protect internal components from harsh environments as well as rust and corrosion. These fixtures can come in 3 forms; high bay, linear and jar. High bay vapor tight fixtures are intended for use in applications where the fixture is mounted to ceilings at least 18 feet high and can provide more illumination over a larger area. Linear vapor tight fixtures typically come in 2, 4 and 8 foot lengths and can be mounted to ceilings, soffits or walls to provide a wide spread of illumination. Jar vapor tight fixtures are used to illuminate smaller spaces and can be mounted to walls, ceilings or hung as a pendant.

When shopping for a vapor tight fixture, it’s best to check what industry related certifications it has been rated at. Ingress Protection Ratings (IP) will tell you what the fixture is protected against such as water, vapor or dust. An NSF-rated fixture means it is approved for such areas as food service and restaurant supply facilities. Many of these fixtures utilize fluorescent lamps but in recent years, LED lighting has been found to be superior to fluorescent lighting in every way. The same applies to vapor tight lights. Here is how it breaks down.

Why Are LEDs Better than Fluorescents for Vapor Tight Lighting?

LED provides much better energy cost savings than Fluorescent
Typically, vapor tight fixtures utilize 1 to 4 fluorescent lamps per fixture. High bay and linear type fixtures require up to and above 160 watts for 4 foot fixtures (almost double that for 8 foot fixtures). For vapor tight fixtures with integrated LED, it is 12-55 watts for the entire fixture. This significantly reduces per fixture energy costs.

LED provides much better maintenance cost savings than Fluorescent
Within vapor tight settings, LED lights have a significantly longer lifespan than fluorescent. This means that there is less time spent maintaining the fixtures due to replacing the lamps. Unlike LED lights, fluorescent lights are affected by cold temperatures and constant on/off operations which can decrease lifespan. Less time required to maintain the fixtures means less maintenance costs.

LED provides much better lighting performance than Fluorescent
Fluorescent vapor tight fixtures have variable performance depending on the lamps used. T12, T8 and T5 lamps can perform wildly different depending on their manufacturer. Another issue is as individual lamps fail within a given fixture, its performance is compromised. Additionally, unlike LED, most fluorescent applications are not dimmable.

LED Provides Better Light Distribution
By contrast, LED vapor tight fixtures offer better light distribution, are available in a wider range of color temperatures and have higher color rendering.

Troffer Lighting Applications

What Are Fluorescent Troffer Lights?

Troffer lights (also known as recessed troffer lights or drop ceiling lights) are rectangular or square light fixtures that fit into a modular dropped ceiling grid. Some types can also be surface or suspension mounted to a ceiling. They are used in a wide variety of applications such as offices, retail spaces, warehouses, and classrooms. Standard sizes are 1’x4’, 2’x2’ and 2’x4’. Linear fluorescent lamps are commonly used in these types of fixtures such as T12, T8, and T5 lamps. These types of lamps are relatively inexpensive but since troffers typically use more than one lamp in each fixture, there can be issues with individual lamps which can lead to overall performance issues.

In recent years, LED lighting has been found to be superior to fluorescent lighting in every way. The same applies to troffer lights. Troffer fixtures are now available for use with LED T8 and T5 lamps as well as fully integrated LED arrays.

Here are the benefits of using LED lights within troffers.

Why Are LEDs Better than Fluorescents for Troffer & Drop Ceiling Lighting?

LED provides much better energy cost savings than fluorescent.
Common wattages used for each lamp for 4-foot troffer lighting are in the 28 to 40-watt range. Many 2’x4’ troffers use 4 lamps per fixture which equals up to 160 watts. For troffers with integrated LED, this range is 22-50 watts for the entire fixture. This results in a savings of up to $81 per 2’x4’ fixture, per year.

LED provides much better maintenance cost savings than fluorescent.
LED lights have a significantly longer lifespan than fluorescent. This means that there is less time spent maintaining the fixtures due to replacing the lamps. Unlike LED lights, fluorescent lights are affected by cold temperatures and constant on/off operations which can decrease lifespan. Less time required to maintain the fixtures means less maintenance costs.

LED provides much better lighting performance than fluorescent.
Fluorescent troffers have variable performance depending on the lamps used. T12, T8, and T5 lamps can perform wildly differently depending on their manufacturer. Another issue is as individual lamps fail within a given fixture, its performance is compromised. Additionally, unlike LED, most fluorescent applications are not dimmable. By contrast, LED troffer fixtures offer better light distribution, are available in a wider range of color temperatures and have higher color rendering.

Conclusion

In summary, LED is a superior choice for all of your lighting applications when compared to fluorescent lighting.

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