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LED - Lamps Vs Integrated Fixtures

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting, Mar 12, 2009.

  1. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Here is a copy of a post from another thread. I think it is an excellent debate that deserves more attention and insight.

    Originally Posted by JoeyD
    ... See who's still were easily adjusted and see who's could adapt other lamps for a changing landscape and environment.

    See the problem with the challenge you laid out is it really says nothing about landscape lighting. So what if the LED looks like it has good intensity and color today. We all know that you guys are producing a solid LED with great initial performance. But its that LED system that will hinder the true designer and contractor in the long haul. If and when your LED's fail then a contractor is replacing entire fixtures.. A very wasteful process! and then what does "then manu" do with these? Toss them out or 're-manufacture' them?
    but it has a warranty..not a big deal unless that contractor has to make multiple trips to perform the work and is forced to make multiple splices in performing the replacement of the faulty fixture.

    What if the tree this contractor lights is only 10ft tall today but then grows to 20ft in 24months? Do you just tell him to replace the light with a more powerful LED fixture when the time comes or do you tell him to over power the tree with a higher wattage LED for 2 years? Joey makes an excellent point here. How does the contractor adjust for changes in the landscape over time with integrated LED fixtures? Toss out the whole fixture and pick something different? Then what? Sell that old fixture on another job as used goods? I really think that fixture manufactures should focus on building the best fixtures possible, leave the lamp manufacturers to build the lamps/light sources. Trying to do it all, and have it all, seldom works out.

    My last question is when will the technology catch up with the hype and will there be a better LED technology next year and the year after that? Something tells me there will be and those installing LED units today will soon find in 1-2 years all those units on all those homes are now obsolete. Another excellent point and another reason why using new lamp technology trumps using new fixture technology. As the technology advances and improves, you can always return to update the lamps! We already have near perfect fixtures that have been developed over decades at our disposal. Why try to re-invent all those wheels?.

    LED lamp technology is advancing and improving very quickly. New LEDs with outputs above 100 Lm/watt are being implemented, new heat sink technologies are being employed, and more and more beam spreads, intensities and formats are being made available. In another post I will show you what a MAJOR lamp manufacturer has recently released in Europe. The market for LED lamps is so much more massive than the market for integrated LED fixtures, just in retrofits alone is is a multi-billion dollar industry already. We are on the precipice of a major wholesale change in lamps, mark my words.
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    The market for LED lamps in OEM and Retrofit applications is astounding. For the past few years, the major players in LED technology: Nichia, Seoul Semiconductor, Cree, Lumileds (Philips), GE, Lamina have been focused squarely on the development of LED components and technologies but they have not put a lot of energy into developing LED Lamp products suitable for general illumination applications. (This gap has largely been filled by "no-name" SE Asian manufacturers who have used the components developed by the above companies and combined them into lamp packages - mostly with questionable results.)

    This trend is now starting to change. The "Big 5" are 'seeing the light' and developing lamp packages that are effective, efficient, properly engineered and worthy of their well respected brand names. See this very new product launch as evidence: http://www.lighting.philips.com/gl_...hp?main=gl_en_master_led&parent=0&id=&lang=en
    Although only available in Europe for 240V applications, Phillips plans to introduce these same lamps here in N. America in "early 2009".

    Cree has also recently introduced LED lamp packages to the market, and they are wildly successful! http://www.creelighting.com/LR4.htm (Not quite a traditional "light bulb" but do you have any idea how many 6" and 4" recessed pot lights are installed out there? These will slip right into the vast majority of A19 and BR incandescent housings! Simply Brilliant.)

    In the MR16 Category, Manufacturers like Kumho and CRS are leading the way, building well researched & engineered lamps that truly outperform all of the others.

    Even as I type this, there are engineers and factories working on a couple of different miniature 12V LED lamps that will replace G4 Bi-pin and soon T8 Wedge base lamps. These are feasible and effective with the newest technologies.

    To the "LED Lamp Detractors" out there, I ask you... do you really think that companies like Philips, Cree, GE and the like would go to all the trouble and expense of developing LED lamps, building the production lines, launching and marketing the product, etc. if it did not work, if it will not last and perform as specified? I think not.

    Integrated LED fixtures might have a place in the market, but the LED lamp is sure to trump them in almost every application. There is just so much more to be gained for a manufacturer to develop the Lamp business than there is for them to try to 'recreate the wheel' in the form of new light sources encapsulated inside of new fixtures. This doesn't only apply to landscape lighting, it applies to all categories. (To think that a commercial building owner would have to consider changing out all of their integrated LED fixtures after 15 years or so is not only wasteful, but borders on insane. Only in our 'throw away' society here in N. America would such an idea be conceived)

    I look forward to hearing(reading) your opinions and insights into this topic.

    Have a great day.
  3. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    You bring up some good points James and I am sure that eventually either the lamp or the fixtures will come together to work as a retrofit. In the mean time, I still think that companies like BK and Kichler have the right idea when it comes to LED.
  4. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,933

  5. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    I have to ask you Paul: When selling clients the integrated LED fixtures, how are you dealing with 'end of life' issues and questions? Do the clients know that when the light output eventually fades, shifts, or otherwise deteriorates (and it will) they will have to replace the entire fixture?

    This has come up recently in LD&A, the IESNA's periodical, in terms of LED fixtures for commercial applications. It is a big issue that is not being talked about much.

    Also: you say that the LED lamps are not specified for outdoor use in Landscape Lighting fixtures. I have to disagree with you there. There is no such 'disclaimer' on the lamps. There is a caution about using the lamps in moist or high humidity applications (due to the on board electronics which do not like getting moist) but if you are installing into quality, sealed fixtures, then this is not an issue. A sauna, steam room, shower, or bathroom application could be problematic.

  6. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    I have indeed explained to my clients that the entire fixture will have to be replaced. I also only use the Kichler brass fixture and it comes with a full 15 year warranty on the whole fixture including the LED, driver, and housing. I explain that they will go through enough lamps and energy to more than make up the difference in the cost of the fixture. They would also end up with a brand new fixture and another 15 year warranty should anything go wrong. It sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
  7. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    (Smiling as I type this...) Does that 15 year warranty also cover the plastic knuckle/ball and stem assembly?

    I have priced the Kichler Brass LED fixtures, and after you add in installation, labour, & profit margin (= the cost to the client) they are what I would call "insanely expensive" for what the client gets. To think what the per fixture cost is over 30 years on any given job... and I am talking more than 4 digits per installed location, I cannot imagine many people lining up to go with them.

    Besides that, they are just plain ugly (again smiling, nothing personal)
  8. NightScenes

    NightScenes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,209

    James, I don't know what kind of math you're using to come up with such silly and (smiling while I type this) stupid numbers.
  9. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,645

    The LED news is definetely out there, my time spent with customers for Landscape lighting in discussions about LED runs two paths- #1, I have to steer folks away from the blue solar LED's that are so prevalent today. when many customers hear LED, that is what they think, as it is impossible to drive down a street without seeing them.

    The second conversation that is common is are better LED's "ready". I am glad the "big 5" are looking into this in a big way, and hopefully the phosphors to achieve the warm white color will stand the test of time. I share with the customer that I have tested many mr-16's, including the cree and multi cree, the ones from SSC, mr-16's, even those with finned heatsinks, and they lose lumens and color, and eventually fail over a few months.

    I do mention exactly what I know- That a collegue in Canada has had good results with one or two brands out of over 100 tested. That he is the only one I know of that has hundreds,maybe over 1000 out there for over a year, and things seem to be going well. but I cannot guarantee a 5 year life based on a one year outdoor test. Not one customer has then, after hearing all that, wanted LED's in the landscape. Not even with a 1 year guarantee on the system. They would rather pay the 10% rebulb. The same conversation takes pace in LED Christmas lights. Again, no takers. My customers do not want to test new technology for the most part, at the price point I am at, they want things that have stood the test of time.

    The argument of what do you do when things grow has got to be answered by a replacable LED bulb or one that allows different lumens and throws at a similar color temperature. Or, perhaps, an adjustable driver brightness inside the light via a screwdriver or something. I know that the new multi die LED SSC P7's and cree MCE's have the ability to go from around 250 lumens to 7-800, based on voltage and amps to the LED.

    It is also fairly common in the flashlight world to be able to use different reflectors in custom made 200 buck flashlights, allowing heavy flood ( the P7 is pretty floody anyway) from 60 degress, down to fairly narrow 5 degree throwers with the MCE. I would think it would not be too hard for a Manu to come up with a set of reflectors to switch out a flood for a mid to a narrow. if guys in thier garage can mill these lights out on a lathe, and they are consistanty relaiablem, Manu's should be able to do the same for landscape lights. Start with a 60 degree 20 watt equivalent, or maybe a bit floodier if possible, and sell modification reflectors from there.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Okay, Paul has a bit of a point, I havent checked prices since these things first came out.

    I just checked online (Retail) and the 15752 BBR is selling for $199 to $235 each depending on the site. ( I assume & hope you are getting retail prices for your components... if not you should be) Now add in the cost of installation labour, connections, wire, proportion of transformer, and marginal fixed costs of operations, etc... and you have a $400 to $500 fixture there.

    So assuming the fixture lasts 15.1 years, and then another replaces it, you have a 30 year cost to the client of just under $1000. (assuming no increases in materials or labour costs.) So I was a only slightly off, and thus I offer you an apology for not being spot on accurate.

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