FAQ

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What Are O-LEDs?

  • A newer variation of traditional LED lights, O-LEDS are organic light emitting diodes that have a different internal makeup than regular LED lights.
  • They are usually much thinner than non-organic light emitting diodes which makes them preferable for certain types of applications. While they are ideal for certain applications because of the thinness and the fact that they don’t need a backlight mechanism, they are more vulnerable to breakage and do not last as long as traditional LED because of the organic nature of the elements.
  • OLEDs work in a similar way to regular LEDs, but they use organic molecules to produce the electrons and holes that help power a regular LED. An O-LED is comprised of six different layers with each one working to create the overall light produced. On the top and bottom of a typical O-LED there are layers of either glass or plastic which serve as a protective element. The top layer is the seal and the bottom layer is called the substrate. Nestled safely between those two protective layers are the negative terminal, also called a cathode, and a positive terminal called the anode. These two layers house the inner workings of the O-LED which are organic molecules. These molecules create the emissive layer and the conductive layer. The emissive layer is where the light is produced by the cathode.
  • There are two different types of OLED that are mostly the same, but different in the type of material used. Traditional OLEDs use small organic molecules deposited on glass to produce light. Called LEPs for light emitting polymers, the non-traditional OLED uses large plastic molecules called polymers.

What Are Factors That Affect The Lifespan of LED Lights?

  • While LED lights are a long-lasting solution, many people wonder what are factors affecting LED lifespans, and there are several factors. A LED lifespan can be affected by one or all of these factors during its lifetime. The degree to which a fixture will experience these factors will be determined by several outside influences such as fixture placement, fixture type, exposure to non-rated for elements, and other factors that shorten the lifespan of any light source.
  • The thermal management of a LED can greatly affect the lifespan of the light source. A failure to properly manage the heat an LED experiences will certainly shorten the lifespan by not only burning up the driver, but also the diodes. It is essential to the longevity of the fixture that if the unit operates on a standalone chip, heat sinks have to be considered to prevent premature failure of the LED.
  • The electrical stress is also a factor that affects the lifespan of LEDs. You should never run LED fixtures at higher currents than what the manufacturer specifies. An example of this would be using the wrong driver for the fixture such as a driver that produces 700mA when the LED only needs 350mA. Using higher currents than necessary will not only shorten the life of the driver, but also shorten the life of the LED itself.
  • Another factor that affects the lifespan of LED lights is using higher ambient temperatures than the rating of the light. This will regularly reduce the expected life span by adding stress to the LED.
  • Exposure to the elements outside of the rating in general will pose problems that lead to a shorter lifespan. For instance, if a LED is not rated for submersion and is improperly used for that purpose, it will have a much shorter life.

Are T12 lamps Banned by the US Department of Energy?

The US Department of Energy has long been a regulating body with control over consumer products. As a governing body focused on ensuring the welfare of the environment and the safety of consumers, they have had their hand in regulating consumer products and have even impacted certain products availability on the market. For example, when it comes to certain older lighting solutions, there are many models that have been deemed unfit for the environment making them nonexistent in the world of consumers. While there are clear reasons why a product would receive this mark from the DOE, one item consumers are still concerned about are T12 lamps. These lamps were once a common option used in nearly every commercial, residential, and industrial setting so it is understandable for there to be a concern about this product being banned.

Legislatively speaking, the US DOE has officially banned the manufacturing of T12 lamps. This means they are no longer being manufactured and will eventually become completely phased out. The legislator was passed that by 2012, all T12 lamps should be no longer in use. If you were operating a T12 lamp in your business or location, you would be subject to fines and required to replace the lighting solution with an updated version.

Why?

Part of the job of the DOE is to determine if a product is the best option available on the market or whether there may be a more suitable option already available or in the works. With T12 lamps, the DOE determined they were a high-energy consumer with more minimal output than comparative options on the market.

Alternative Solutions

What if you already have a fixture in place designed for use with this lamp? The good news is that there are many alternatives available. For example, switching to the use of T5 lamps which are similar to T12 in design can have a great impact for several reasons. They offer higher levels of illumination and are longer lasting than T12 while also pulling in lower watts to accomplish the same job. Another option is LED lamps which are known for an even better consumption to output ratio, as well as an incredibly long-lasting lifespan.

Differences Between Program Start and Instant Start Ballasts

When figuring out the best lighting solution for your needs, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. One such element to be aware of when making a lighting choice is the type of ballast in the lighting option. While start ballasts are a solid choice for various lighting solutions due to their increased efficiency and power, there are a few differences between program start and instant start ballasts that may be of interest to you.

What is the difference between program start and instant start ballasts?

For starters, we should look at the way these two ballast types operate to gain a better understanding of their differences. An instant start ballast supplies a high initial voltage to generate the power of the lamp without the need to preheat the cathodes. In contrast, a program start ballast produces a lower voltage to heat the lamp by way of cathodes. It then applies a higher starting voltage to continue the heating of the cathodes during operation.

Program Start Basics

  • They are longer lasting than instant start in most situations thanks to the continuous heating of the cathodes and the lower voltage.
  • Thanks to the stress of lighting no longer being placed on the lamp electrodes, program start ballasts are a long-lasting option guaranteed to have a lengthy life.
  • With their powerful output and consistency, program start ballasts offer a long life span perfect for a range of settings.
  • This type of ballast is ideal for use in offices, retail spaces, and other locations. A good tip is to use occupancy sensors for an improved life span.

Instant Start Basics

  • Due to their design and operational features, they are ideal for lighting that requires long periods of being turned on. The less this type of ballast has to start up again after being in an off position, the longer the ballast will endure.
  • Without the need to heat the cathodes, instant start ballasts are one of the most energy efficient options available on the market.
  • They consume less energy which will help cut down on utility costs.
  • If they are in a location with repeated and continuous on/off cycles throughout the day, they will have a shorter lifespan than expected in comparison to program start ballasts.
  • This type of ballast can be used in settings such as retail, commercial, restrooms, and other spaces. They are also ideal for use with decoration lighting applications.

Can LED Drivers and Chips be Checked in the Field if They are Failing?

Lighting is made up of several different components working as a whole to create illumination. When it comes to LED lighting, one of the most important parts is the driver. This electrical device is essential for controlling the amount of power being supplied to a LED light source. This self-contained power source is responsible for adjusting the power levels as the light changes, as well as the dimmable properties. If a LED is operating without a driver, it will eventually start to operate at a hotter temperature and reduce efficiency. Another important element is the chip. The chip is a small part with a negative and passive end that helps transform electricity into illumination. The driver and the chip work together to achieve an efficient and powerful LED lighting product. For those using LED lights that seem to be experiencing performance issues, there are questions about how to check these two essential components.

How do you know if you have an issue with the driver and/or chip?

For the most part, your LED light will show signs of concerns in some pretty generic ways such as appearing dimmer than usual, taking longer to turn on, or a complete loss of power. While this could be a few things such as burned out bulbs or a wiring issue, another way to know it might be the driver or chip is if the light turns on dimly and then suddenly shuts itself off.

Can LED drivers and chips be checked in the field if they are failing?

Wiring connections and environmental conditions can be checked in the field in most cases. The driver input and output powers could also be checked for any issues as well. A fixture failing to start up or stay lit once on can be easily diagnosed to rule out the LED strip/chip as the source of failure. Simply swap out the suspected faulty driver for a good driver from another fixture. This will tell you indefinitely if the problem is the driver. You can do the same thing with the chip to determine if that is the issue.

While it is very unlikely to have issues with the drivers, chips, and boards in most LED fixtures, it’s always good to know as much as possible about your lighting. The more you know, the easier it is to make repairs instead of replacing the whole lighting system.

Why is There Such a Discrepancy Between Manufacturers Expected Life?

When it comes to lighting, you want the option that will last the longest. This factor is communicated on the package from the manufacturer as the Average Rated Life (ARL) and varies from light to light. Many consumers will purchase lighting based on this important factor of ARL because the longer a light lasts, the better the value in their minds. However, there are a few things to keep in mind about this aspect of lighting.

The Discrepancy Between Lights

One of the most important things to keep in mind is the expected life will vary based on the light type. For example, a HID bulb might have an ARL of 10,000-24,000 hours while a fluorescent bulb has a life expectancy of 24,000-36,000. There are other lights such as halogens and compact fluorescent with varying ratings ranging from 2,000 hours to 20,000 hours. LED’s carry the highest ARL with an average of 40,000-50,000 hours. It is important to remember that when considering this factor of lighting, while the ARL is relevant, it is not the only factor to consider. For example, you may think the longer the life expectancy, the better, but you should also keep in mind how often you intend to turn the light off/on, lumen output, location, and more.

Why Don’t Lights Live up to ARL?

While the ARL listed by manufacturers is how long the light should last before at least half the bulbs expire, many consumers notice the lights may not last as long as listed. This is not necessarily the fault of the manufacturer. These listings are not set in stone since many factors affect the longevity of a light solution. To further explain this, think about the environment in which ARL’s are determined. It is most likely in a relatively controlled environment in a lab. In real life situations, lighting undergoes varying pressures and outside influences such as heat, cold, moisture, wind, and vibrations. This doesn’t only apply to exterior lights. Interior lights experience these same outside influences. While a lab setting will take these factors into consideration during the testing phase to determine ARL, your location and lighting might be experiencing higher levels of outside disturbances than what was originally expected by the manufacturer.

In Conclusion

When it comes to lighting and life expectancy, the key to meeting the suggested expectancy will depend on the environment and conditions your lights experience. If you find lights aren’t living up to their expectancy, consider the influences around your light and ways to reduce them for a longer lasting light.

Why Do The Lumen Outputs/Wattage Vary So Much Between Manufacturers?

  • Lumen output and fixture wattage are influenced by the efficiency of an LED chip, driver, and fixture. Fixture efficiency is a carryover from existing lighting pertaining to the design of the fixture and how efficiently it transmits light from a given lamp. Driver efficiency is how efficiently the power supply converts line voltage in to usable power for the "lamp". LED chip efficiency varies according to the specific model LED, how "hard" the chip is being driven compared to its nominal drive current, and how hot the chip operates once the fixture has heated up to a steady state. Generally speaking, the higher the drive current on a LED the less efficient it will be however there is no standard drive current common to all LED's and they vary greatly on their decrease in efficacy with increasing current.
  • Lumens will also vary depending on the light source. All bulbs do not operate in the same way so each bulb will have its own watts and lumen figures. For example, a LED and a HID will most likely offer differing lumens and wattage outputs. It should also be noted that lumen and watts are two different measurements. A LED can offer up to 22W with a lumen output of approximately 1600 whereas a halogen light could be up to 72W and put out the same 1600 lumens. Watts and lumens are related, but when deciding between the two factors, you are better off focusing on lumens since this figure represents the actual light output the space will receive in terms of illumination. Don’t compare one manufacturer’s lumens with another brand’s wattages since these are two very different factors.
  • Remember, wattage is the measurement of the energy consumed by the bulb. Lumens is the measurement of the illumination output or brightness of the bulb.

How Are LEDs Tested To Determine Reliability And Durability

  • The LEDs go through a rigorous binning process prior to being delivered to the board manufacturer. Color space on the black body curve (intricacies of CCT), CRI, luminous intensity, and forward voltage are measured for each batch of LED die on the semiconductor wafer and sorted to create a batch of uniform product within a reel of components. This process ensures that the board manufacturer has a reliable set of parts to populate a circuit with yielding uniform color, intensity, and a predictable performance. The boards undergo x-ray scanning to ensure good solder connections and are tested for operation and correct CCT/CRI. LED's themselves are an inherently durable part being solid state electronics. In addition to the inherent durability of the design, the lighting systems are required to undergo rigorous testing with standards set forth to ensure optimal performance to meet the standards of LED lighting solutions.
  • Testing standards are in place to ensure an industry wide level of acceptable standards for matters like lumen maintenance. This matter is related to the number of hours expected to operate before the levels of output drop to lower than 70% of their initial capability. The 70% rule is a great example of the standards set for LED testing measures. It ensures that every manufacturer is calculating their ratings the same to arrive at a recognized industry standard.
  • The testing is done with certain codes and may be communicated on the packaging. Here is a brief explanation of these codes you may encounter and what they measure:

LM-79 photometric measurements apply to lumens generated, Correlated Color Temp, and Color Rendering Index.
LM-79 electrical measurements refer to input AC power, input voltage frequency, and power factor.
L-70 refers to the prediction of lumen maintenance before reaching a decreased luminosity level.
LM-80 refers to the test conditions that determine life expectancy.

Why Use LED Over Induction

The biggest advantage LED has over Induction is its fixture efficiency. LEDs are a 100% efficient in terms of delivering light output. Induction typically has significant light loss due to the size of the lamp and its inability to redirect much of the light being spread above it. LED light can be engineered to provide specific light patterns through the use of optics, board/chip design, and reflectors increasing its overall efficiency. In addition to fixture efficiency, LED chips continue to increase their overall lumens/watt efficiency, surpassing Inductions 80-90 lumens/watt. The other advantage LED is starting to gain over Induction is price, and in some select markets, discounts in the form of rebates. The only advantage Induction currently has over LED is the fact that it’s been around for over 100 years and is a proven technology. However, LEDs are rapidly gaining acceptance in the market as an extremely efficient and reliable product as chips and drivers continue to improve.

Another reason to choose LED over Induction is the smaller differences. For example, LED has dimmable capability and induction doesn’t have this feature. The color rendering is also slightly different with most inductions reaching an average of 80 CRI while LED has an average of 70 to 90 CRI.

Another factor to consider would be depreciation since LED is essentially becoming the front runner in terms of lighting. As LED continues to become the top choice, the value of Induction lighting will cincture to drop as time goes on. Another way of looking at it is that Induction lights lose their value when they reach the level of 65% of initial lumen output whereas LEDs are a level of 70% lumen output.

Finally, induction lighting contains mercury. This can be a deal breaker for many consumers since it can be tricky to dispose of and LED lights are the more environmentally friendly choice.

Does The Life Of The Driver Keep Up With The LEDS

  • The driver is a much more complicated electrical component and will generally not outlast the life of the LED. The variety of internal electrical components in a driver creates more possible points of failure with the capacitors typically being the limiting component. Transient input powers, heat, and other environmental conditions all play in to the life of the driver. When manufacturers offer a warranty of 5 years, it is generally safe to say that the 5-year warranty is based on very conservative assumptions (max rated ambient for 50,000 hours straight) while still meaning that a statistically significant amount of parts would continue to perform beyond this or at least up to this point.
  • It is important to note that there are different types of drivers and they play a role in how long the driver will last. For example, there are internal and external drivers for LED lights. Internal are typically found in residential lights while external drivers are commonly seen in LED’s requiring more output in terms of lumens.
  • The life of the driver is dependent on several factors but the most prevalent force is the temperature. The higher the operating temperature or any surrounding temps the driver is exposed to on a consistent basis will play a role in how long the driver lasts. Since they are working with LED lights, the temperatures from the light itself shouldn’t be an issue. If it is an external driver being used in an outdoor setting however, you will most likely need to replace the driver sooner than your indoor driver components. The type of driver you need will depend greatly on the unit itself and the intended applications.
  • There are three main types of drivers and your light will specify with one is meant for your unit. The three driver types are classified as constant current drivers, constant voltage drivers, and AC LED drivers.

Can Linear LEDs Be Used As a Substitute for T8 or T5 Fluorescent Lamps?

  • Many people think switching to LED is a matter of just changing the bulb in the fixture, but the internal workings of the fixture also need to be considered. Although most LED tubes, particularly T8’s and T5’s, are the same size as a fluorescents lamp, the lumen direction and light distribution should be considered.
  • Many light fixtures emit 20%-30% less light output with a much narrower beam spread than when fitted with LEDs. This is especially true of troffers with reflectors that offer batwing (wide-spread) light distribution with fluorescents. When choosing between the two solutions, this element needs to be considered because while you may be getting more light output, the directional output may make this solution less desirable. For example, the overall 30-50% less power usage by LEDs created by their inherent increased system efficiency will need to be balanced with the right directional support for optimal results.
  • The shape of the light will be affected, which will play a role in downward distribution. One way to combat this is with the use of specific lighting design options. For instance, a batwing distribution created by certain diffusers specified as capable of this ability can help with this issue. It allows for the center intensity of the fixture to be more evenly spread out to create a more uniform light source.
  • It is likely that the lighting solution will need some rewiring to accommodate the new bulbs and help with efficiency. Most systems are not plug and play meaning minimal wiring is needed to convert to LED. However, the task is not that difficult and can be completed using retrofit kits.
  • It is also important to make sure when converting to the newer option that the fixture is still in compliance with the local electrical installation standards.

Why Are LEDs Considered Green Technology?

  • There are several reasons why LEDs are considered green technology. Green technology is a product that aims to reverse or reduce the harmful impacts humans have made on the planet. As one of the most efficient options for lighting, LED lights are a great way to go green.
  • As a highly efficient lighting solution, LEDs consume less energy than older lighting solutions. This lower energy consumption is environmentally preferred since it lowers carbon emissions. While the energy consumed is lower, the lighting output is not affected which is also important in terms of efficiency.
  • Another benefit of LED lights that makes them green is that they don’t contain toxic materials within their designs. For instance, older and less efficient lighting solutions used mercury as part of their operation. Mercury is considered a hazardous material and needs to be handled with certain precautions. The lack of mercury means LED lights are eligible for recycling which helps with environmental impacts.
  • LED lights are also long lasting which means they need to be replaced less often. Not only does this make life easier, it also means fewer LED lights will need to be produced which can help cut down on the human effect on the planet overall.

How Does LED Lighting Reduce CO2 Emissions?

  • There are several reasons why LED lights are better for the environment. One of the biggest ways is that they help reduce CO2 emissions. These gasses are harmful to the planet and can lead to a depleted ozone layer, climate control issues, and other negative impacts on the planet.
  • Compared to halogen and fluorescent lighting solutions, LED lights use less power per watt output. The fact that these lights offer not just the same, but actually better, lumen outputs with every use means that less energy is consumed which reduces the emissions of CO2 gasses. When you consider that they use less power continuously throughout the year, their operation is truly eco-friendly.
  • In addition to the fact that LED lighting solutions use 90% less energy than other options, they also last longer than incandescent or fluorescent solutions. Since they last up to 20 times longer than other lighting options, they will need to be replaced less often.
  • Even a green technology option, such as LED lighting solutions, uses power in factories to be created. While many safe and green practices are put into place by certain companies to regulate this aspect, having to create new bulbs regularly in the form of less eco-friendly options such as fluorescents can create CO2 emissions through the process of production.

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How many lumens does a 4 foot T5HO lamp output?

  • 5000 lumens from our 54 Watt T5HO

How many lumens does a 4 foot 32 Watt T8 lamp output?

This answer will vary based on the ballast option you select with your lighting fixture

  • Low ballast factor is approximately 2,300 to 2,500 lumens
  • Standard or normal ballast factor is approximately 2,600 to 2,900 lumens
  • High ballast factor is approximately 3,000 to 3,200 lumens

What is the difference between Shunted, and Unshunted T8 Sockets?

  • Shunted sockets (2 wire holes) are the standard T8 sockets...
  • Unshunted sockets (4 wire holes) are used if a program start T8 ballast is installed or single ended LED lamps are installed.

Any temp/Environmental limitation on LED?

  • Concerning temperature, an LED with adequate heat dissipation would have no temperature limitation in an environment humans tolerate (-40F to 150F) or beyond. Temperature concerns with a fixture are generally 99% concerning the driver.LED's are sensitive to a variety of chemicals. These are generally corrosive in nature and affect the phosphor coating over the LED die (the yellow to orange plastic looking part that controls the CCT of the LED) either changing the CCT or destroying it completely over time. The most common application conflict I run across is indoor swimming pools where chlorine would be present in above normal concentrations in the air. The specific fixture/LED should be addressed when going in to an environment where there is a presence of specific chemicals or oils in the air.