LEDs are not all created equal, though many will try to convince you that they’re all versions of the same thing. That’s true in one regard — the majority of today’s LED manufacturers use the same companies for the LED chips that go inside a fixture. But it’s the other components that play a significant role in overall LED quality. If you’re comparing options, look for these telltale signs of quality LEDs.
The Presence of Proper Heat Sinks
LEDs may be cool to the touch, but heat is nevertheless generated within the device itself. That heat needs to be absorbed and dispersed away from the diode, as too much heat will damage an LED, leading to color changes, decreased life expectancy, and reduced light output. The solution is an adequate heat sink, which is what you’ll find in high-quality LED fixtures. It’s designed as a pathway for heat to travel away from the light source to outside elements.
High Quality Drivers
To function, LEDs use specialized devices known as drivers. These power supplies are similar to the ballasts in fluorescent lighting or the transformers in low-voltage bulbs. Essentially, they supply power so that LEDs can function properly. There are many drivers on the market, and quality varies. While it depends on the fixtures, there are a few reputable brands worth investigating. Advance, Sylvania, GE, and Meanwell Driver all provide quality drivers. There are other options out there, but you can be sure you’re getting a warrantied driver if one of these companies is the manufacturer.
100 Lumens Per Watt — Or More
One of the most significant considerations in an LED is the amount of lumens it can generate from consuming a single watt. If the lumens per watt, or LPW, is greater than 100, odds are good you’re getting a good product.
Made in America?
When it comes to LEDs, nothing is 100% manufactured on US soil. If you dig deep enough, you’ll discover something that originated overseas — that’s just the way it is. If an LED claims to be manufactured in America, make a point of checking which elements come from overseas, and then use your judgment to determine quality based on its country of origin. Don’t assume that a “Made in America” label applies to every element in the LED. While assembly may have taken place in the US, at least one component was manufactured elsewhere.
A company’s longevity can help you determine whether it’s truly manufacturing or simply importing fixtures. Ease of entry to the industry for importers is fairly simple — if you have cash and you want to buy LED lighting products, it’s easy enough to find someone overseas to ship them to you. That means a three-year old company touting ten-year warranties should be taken with a grain of salt.
You can manage this kind of research yourself, or you can turn to an experienced electrical contractor like Have Lights Will Travel. We can recommend high quality LEDs for your business, and offer suggestions if the goal is a retrofit. Contact us today for more information.