LED: Lamps vs. Fixtures - More food for thought.

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting, Dec 11, 2010.

  1. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    So a lot has been discussed regarding the technical and performance characteristics of both LED fixtures and LED lamps. I wanted to bring up another consideration that comes into play.


    As a Designer & Installer, I have always promoted the fact that INTEGRA is not beholden to any one manufacturer or supplier of fixtures and equipment. Instead, we use the best of the best from any of a large number of manufacturers and suppliers. Let's face it, there isn't one manufacturer out there that makes the best of everything.

    In so doing, you simply cannot make a switch over to integrated LED fixtures. Why? It comes down to consistency, colour and output consistency to be exact. One thing that I really dislike in outdoor lighting is a mish-mash of colour temperatures. Not much looks worse in my opinion than some coach lights at 2500K, some path lights at 2700K, some bullet uplights / wash floods at 3000K and some 4000K downlighting. It just comes across as a ill conceived mess.

    Now enter integrated LED fixtures. Manu. "A" has some nice new LED bullets that they sell as "warm white", but their path lights leave a lot to be desired. Manu "B" has some awesome looking LED Paths again sold as 'warm white', but nothing yet for Decks or Structures. Manu "C" has put all their development efforts into coming up with the 'perfect' new warm white LED downlight. Again, no one manufacturer has the category killer in every category. The problem is, that each manufacturers version of "warm white" is slightly different too.

    Manu. "A" considers warm white to be 3000K and they only tolerate a +/- 100K variance.

    Manu. "B" considers warm white to be 2700K, with the thinking that they want their products to closely emulate incandescent. (they haven't even considered CCT tolerances)

    Manu. "C" considers warm white to be 2700K to 3300K, tolerating a +/- 600K swing in order to meet their Lumen Output target. (this is actually pretty typical !)

    So what is a guy to do? In order to maintain colour and output consistency AND use LED fixtures, you basically have to align your business with one manufacturer and go with their offerings, taking the Good with the "just OK". I for one am not willing to make those types of product quality sacrifices on behalf of my clients.

    Now Enter LED Lamps:

    Using LED lamps allows you the freedom to pick and choose the best fixtures and components from all those different manufacturers you have come to know and rely upon. Paths from Auroralight, Bullets from Vision3 & Vista, Floods from HK, Arch. fixtures from Hunza, Niche fixtures from Nightscaping, Treelights from CAST, etc. AND you can keep strict colour and output consistency across the entire system because your lamps all come from the same vendor who maintains strict quality control and limited tolerances of only +/- 100K.

    I know that in my business, I prefer to provide my clients with the best fixtures and components for the application and would rather not have to compromise that quality in order to maintain a consistent look across the property.
  2. steveparrott

    steveparrott LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,276

    James, I have a lot of respect for what you've accomplished bringing these LED lamps to market. There is, and always will be, a market for socket-mounted LED's.

    You make a good point that you offer consistent color temperature over different fixture types. Keep in mind, however, that good manufacturers of integrated LED fixtures are moving in that same direction and color temperature will eventually become a non-issue.

    More important, is the issue of heat management - not so much with open fixtures, it's enclosed fixtures (especially in hot climates) that present the challenge. Manufacturers went with integrated LED's that thermally bond to the fixture body because they could not effectively remove heat from a socket-mounted lamp.

    Can you share test results that show lumen deprecation curves with your lamps in enclosed fixtures, in a hot humid environment? As you know, standard test procedures don't require such an aggresive test, but if you can demonstrate a good L70 under these conditions then you can make a much stronger case.
  3. jmiller@kichler.com

    jmiller@kichler.com LawnSite Member
    Messages: 10

    Hello Jim

    LEDS are constantly getting better and lighting manufacturers have the choice to tighten up the color stabilization, binning, CRI, etc. if they are willing to pay the price. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) along with all the Solid State Lighting manufactures have set ANSI standards to help regulate proper and consistent color. But they can't force a lighting manufacturer to buy them.

    That is incumbent upon the customer to inquire to the manufacturer about their binning and tolerances. Even incandescent lamps have variances. I have seen them my entire career on MR16s. And they have light and color degradation as well. And of course a halogen accent light has a different color than a regular incandescent path or deck light. Not to mention that some people then throw a metal halide into the mix.

    Look in any major lamp manufacturers catalog and I think you would be surprised to see the differences between manufacturers in Kelvin temperature and CRI. Maybe we were just more tolerant of it. Now that LEDS are in the picture and there are a lot of people making things without really knowing what they're doing, we are seeing big variances in light quality.

    There is a lot to know about LED as I am sure you know. Thermal management, electronics (keeping them dry), optics, color, etc. LED is here to stay and getting better day by day. We all need to embrace this change or be left behind.

  4. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,843

    Steve beat me to this one, but my biggest problem or dilema when considering integrated LED vs. LED replacement lamps is the heat dissipation. As most of us know, heat is one of LED's biggest enemies and here in Florida it seems that if anything is going to fail due to heat or humidity it's going to happen to us first. I can't tell you how many times I have jumped up and down in group meetings about a particular fixture's lack of longevity, only to be silenced because everyone else in the room had great success with the same materials somehow (different regions have different effects).
    Simply stated, for me it's almost paranoia when approaching something new and especially when we are talking something like LED, which is rapidly taking over the industry. Who wants to have several thousand fixtures in the ground only to find out soon after that their trust in the product was very wrong?
  5. Illumicare

    Illumicare Inactive
    Messages: 148

    Chris and others: Not only do our LED lamps have the best optics, optical quality and light output in the industry, but we also have the coolest operating high output LED lamps in the industry. I have yet to find any High Power LED MR16 lamp that comes close to our sustained operating temperatures. Our new miniature LED lamps also run cooler than any comparable product on the market (not that there are any!)

    This attention to low operating temperatures (both in open and fully sealed environments) ensures that our lamps will not exceed the rated operating temperatures of the LED chips themselves and thus will meet all of the L70 ratings applied to them. This is easily demonstrated with the use of a Infrared Thermometer (Reed ST-883 for instance) Simply find the hottest point on our LED Lamps and then compare to the competition. It is not a perfect measure of J-Temp, but it is a fair way to compare products. (We bring our IR Thermometers to trade shows and lend them out to those interested in conducting their own comparisons. See you at the CLCA and AOLP shows soon!)

    After we "beat the heat", we then focused on making the lamps moisture resistant. Fully potted drivers, moisture resistant coatings, and a couple of other features allow you to confidently install our LED lamps in almost any Landscape lighting fixture.

    Basically the difference between Illumicare's LED lamps and all of the rest is that we have taken the time and invested the money in developing our lamps for use in outdoor lighting applications.

    Take a close look at the specification sheets of our competitors and you will see disclaimers that tell you "not for use in moist or high humidity applications" and "not for use in enclosed or sealed fixtures" The differences become obvious very quickly.

    Bottom line is you can now design and install 100% LED lighting systems using Illumicare LED lamps and all of the tried, tested and relied upon fixtures you have grown to know and love. AND... you can confidently return to your existing clients and offer them 100% LED retrofit service providing them with reduced electrical costs, reduced maintenance expenses and more longevity from their existing investment. AND you can do this at a significantly lower cost/price than relying upon relatively expensive integrated LED fixtures.


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