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LEDs: retrofit lamps VS. integrated fixtures

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by irrig8r, Jan 21, 2010.

  1. irrig8r

    irrig8r LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,535

    Responding to two posts from the AOLP thread....

    Posted by Tanek Hood
    I am pumped for someone to show me the benefit of an LED fixture vs. LED lamp.

    Posted by James Solecki
    I am 'pumped' to hear such a case too, but so far nobody has been able to convince me or prove to me that there is a benefit to an LED fixture over an LED Lamp!

    If someone out there can make a case, please start a new thread here, I for one would welcome the discourse.


    The best arguments for LED fixtures, IMHO, are those that I heard from Sherman Gingerella at DG Lights a couple of years ago, and they both had to do with dispersing heat for extended life:

    1. Isolating the driver from the heat of the lamp by using an external driver.
    2. Using fixture materials that act as natural heat sinks (machined billet aluminum, copper and brass), not insulators (composites).

    Somehow, Kichler, Vista and FX Luminaire seem to have missed these points in their 2nd (or is it 3rd?) generation designs.

    And I can't imagine a way to isolate the driver in a retrofit situation.
  2. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 751

    So far I have used 2 mr16 retrofits. And James's bi pin retrofit.

    And I would much rather use Kichlers LEDs any day of the week.

    1. Kichlers led spots are compact and not that bad looking. (I know most think they are ugly)
    2. Kichler honors their 15 year warrantee, and for me makes It an easy choice. My local distributor has a field destroy warrantee. No waiting no paperwork.
    3. Kichlers LEDs are readily available locally for me.
    4. Its also nice having a 50watt comparable fixture compared to all the retrofits out there.
    5. James the bipin retrofit you have is DIM. I mean like at night it is almost invisible. (Did I get a bad batch)
    6. Cost wise Kichlers integrated cost me about 15 percent more then retrofitting does.
    7. Pathlights from Kichler on the other hand are expensive. But put out a very nice light spread. Almost a little to white.
    8.Imho Retrofit lamps have their purpose. I use them on problem fixtures. Where its just easier to throw in a retrofit then it is to rewire a system that I didn’t install. Not having to worry about 11.5 volts is very nice.

    Alright rip me apart
  3. Mataman

    Mataman LawnSite Member
    Posts: 83

    Kichler is giving me fits about #2
  4. trailboss

    trailboss LawnSite Member
    Posts: 204

    Whats the problem? Is it Kichler or the distributor?:confused:
  5. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 751

    Trailboss makes a good point. Have you Talked to Kichler regarding your issues?
  6. The Lighting Geek

    The Lighting Geek LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 875

    I like the Kichler LED and is the only solution for 35 watt and 50 watt applications so far. 15 year warranty makes it an easy choice. If you can't pay for the lamp in savings before the warranty runs out, you probably won't sell it to the masses, especially in this economy. Being GREEN isn't enough, it must pay for itself in energy savings. In CA where an average custom home pays .38 a kilowatt hour, it is a no brainer.

    I don't understand the people who are hung up on the appearance. If we as lighting designers do our job, what the fixture looks like doesn't matter, you probably won't see it.

    I do see however some applications for LED retrofits in tree down lighting, where you might realize savings in other ways.

    I have over 1000 Kichler LED units in the field and have had no real issues.
  7. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 751

    Tommy Did I see you on another show?

    House crashers maybe, same concept as landscape just indoors?
  8. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    If I may:

    1. This was an issue up until we figured out how to beat the heat. Acceptable junction temperature ratings of the new generation HB LED Chips has increased dramatically. Also, I have built a proprietary driver that is a stepped, fully solid state IC design. This lowered junction temperatures even further... to the point that I can make a 240Lm MR16 lamp operate at only 31 Degrees Celsius!

    2: Again, shedding the heat was / is a huge issue, depending on the design of the LED lamp/fixture. I still receive samples that are operating at or very near the upper recommended junction temperatures. If you can't stand to touch it or if it is uncomfortable to hold in you hand with a tight grasp, it is generally operating too hot. The effect of high junction temperatures (over time) is that the Lumens will depreciate at an accelerated rate and there is a risk of colour shift/fade as the phosphors on the chips deteriorate.

    3: The drivers in the lamps that I make are fully isolated from the chips. - The chips are adhered to a finned aluminum heat sink that has nearly 300% the surface area of cast style heat sinks. The base of this heat sink is solid aluminum. The driver does not come into contact with the heat sink and is fully potted in epoxy in the base of the lamp.

    LED fixtures continue to be developed and improved upon. Some companies are making great strides with them and they certainly serve a purpose, especially in new installations. Watch for features such as accessory optics/lenses, replaceable drivers and components. Also I would insist on IP65 or better ratings on all LED fixtures. If they haven't been IP rated then I wouldn't put my money there. Moisture is a huge issue with LED. As for completely sealed LED fixtures... well don't get me started!!! What a dumb idea, from start to finish.

    Two of the strongest benefits of using LED lamps are: You can easily update your existing systems and you can continue to use the tested and proven fixtures that you have relied upon for years. No need to re-invent the wheel.
  9. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    The G4 BiPin LED Lamp that I manufacture produces just under 150 Lumens at 2700K. This makes it equivalent to what would be a 13 Watt Xenon Bi-Pin Lamp. A lot of people buy these expecting them to be as bright as a 20W Halogen (230Lm).

    I am working on an omni-directional version of this lamp that would use a very new and innovative heat sink concept. The big issue with creating high brightness, miniature LED lamps is of course the heat.

    I use the G4 BiPin LED Lamp for small flood applications, fill in lighting (removing shadows) and for some pathlighting applications where there is some ambient light from moonlighting. They are also excellent for detail work in and around water features, stone outcroppings, and garden structures/sculptures.

    As LED chip manufacturers achieve greater output and efficiency, and as acceptable junction temperatures increase, you will see brighter miniature LED lamps available. I have a T5 Wedge, SCB, and G5.3 Bi-Pin in development now.
  10. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Not so fast my friend! There are new 340-400 Lumen, 3000K, LED MR16 lamps on the market right now. I have a very wild new 340+ Lumen LED MR16 lamp just going into production. This will be equivalent to a 35W Halogen MR16 and just like my last lamp will be the coolest operating in the market.

    I have several 340+ Lumen LED Lamps here and although they do meet the heat specifications of the Chips when installed in an open environment, the tend to get too hot for my tastes when installed in an enclosed fixture. This is why I have had a couple of wizzards come up with something that has not been seen in the market yet.

    As for 50W halogen equivalent LED Lamps, yes they exist now too, but you have to sacrifice colour temperature a bit, moving to 4000K to get the output. This will change rapidly as the newest generation of chips become available in warmer colours.

    Exciting times.

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