LED's Magazine

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by JoeyD, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    James- what I am stating is not wild or inaccurate- go ahead, and head out to Sam's wholesale, walmart, Target, or the internet. buy your self 100 of the first bulbs you find using LED's. using this simple pattern of purchase that normal folks use for everything from toothpaste to dog food, you will find what you already know- that the houshold bulbs sold in the stores right now give off poor illumination at a poor color rendering at best. Ok, fine, use the power of the internet- buy some off ebay, and buy some from bulb distibutors and see what anyone with half a brain can come up with. you'll find dozens if not hundreds of mr-16 type bulbs. 97% of them will look poor in a landscape setting or will fail in the first year or both. Did they design any of these Led's to work outside? I don't know, but then, I never ask that question when I buy halogen bulbs. you assume a bulb should work, period. the same is true of most of the LED products out there for Christmas Lights. I've tested, retested and am still testing just to find a bulb that looks good and lasts. You'd think they would design Christmas LED's to work outside, but they don't. I'd love to "give you a break" on this, but I'm not the only one with this experience. LED's fail like crazy.

    compare this to "old fashioned" mr-16 halogen bulbs. I would say that 97% of those you can buy locally and on the internet may not be the best, but they are perfectly usable and may very well last a year.

    Wild and inaccurate? Just because red led's work in commercial exit signs does not a landscape light make.

    I'm sure there is good and bad in every industry. I just think that a measure of the maturity of the product is how hard do you have to look to find something good? not great mind you, just good. good should be average. and the average LED products that are in houshold bulbs, christmas lights, and yes landscape lights and landscape bulbs, that most folks can find now, are bad. The fact you have tested over 100 and you have found only 2 to reccomend speaks volumes.
  2. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Messages: 4,102

    Oh my, forget it David. I have no time or interest to argue with you while you compare retail level, no-name crap with professional grade, well engineered, industry standard products. Your ealier assertation was that the only successful LED based products on the market are flashlights! You and I both know this is wildly inaccurate.

    Following the same logic as you present in your argument above, one would draw the conclusion that outdoor LV lighting is a miserable failure. After all, the stuff you buy at Walmart and Costco etc is pure junk... never works as ilustrated etc etc.
  3. David Gretzmier

    David Gretzmier LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,646

    You don't have to agree with me James, Although I would think an intelligent, learning person like yourself and others would at least admit-

    -If most folks buy LED products, It'll be landscape lights, light bulbs and Christmas lights at Wal-mart, and at most home improvement stores- along with flashlights- which proves my point- all that stuff, except for the LED flashlights, will be worthless for doing what it is supposed to do.

    buy an MR-16 bulb at walmart or Lowes however, different story. same online-most Mr-16 bulbs out there work fine if wired properly.

    also, If you go out randomly and buy a landscape mr-16 fixture from anywhere, odds are it'll work longer than a year, maybe 5 years. This shows the maturity of the halogen bulb and fixture. a decent light for a homeowner is readily available.

    and yeah, our stuff lasts longer than that. But it is not that hard to find the good to great stuff.

    So if you are the learning, intelligent person I think you are, then like most of those folks you'll get

    MY POINT- If you will at least listen, is that it is probably 10 times harder to find a workable LED landscape light or bulb than to find good landscape lights or fixtures. I'd say it is even harder than that, because I have not found one yet, but I have been taking your word that you have found 1 or 2.

    The harsh reality is we don't know how long these fixtures you so heartily reccomend because James, you only started using them in the last 16 months. If I am going to look a customer in the eye and tell them this bulb and fixture is going to last 5,10 years, I need to know that somewhere, somehow, it HAS. Not on some instrument panel on a plane, or in an exit sign, but that bulb in that fixture in the ground OUTSIDE . period.

    and as an aside, isn't it great that heat is the issue with these things, and James lives in Canada? I am wondering if what works in Canada will truly work in Phoenix , The land of 100 degree nights. if truly heat management is the key to these working long term, then hopefully the heat sinks are made large enough to handle the heat of the lower 48.

    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    I called you pal, I thought that nullified the need to add the smiley face :).

    Here's my answer to your debate request. I just pulled this photo quick. I'm too tired from installing halogens all day to search for a better one but I think this proves my point.
    Attach a photo of yours showing trees of this size illuminated with LED's
    Each one of these trees has a single 12V halogen fixture no greater than 35 watts. Try doing this with 12V LEd's at any wattage. Let's see what you've got.


    MAGLIGHTING LawnSite Member
    Messages: 248

    Still waiting for your response.........................................
  6. NiteTymeIlluminations

    NiteTymeIlluminations LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 367

  7. JoeyD

    JoeyD LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,933


    I have been waitng to see some really impressive LED landscape lighting photos and have yet to see them...........Not just good, but impressive!!!!!
  8. dglights

    dglights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    Let's see if I attached this correctly. Phoenix-2007.jpg

  9. dglights

    dglights LawnSite Member
    Messages: 44

    I know what you're saying Mike, installing halogen is a lot of work! Time is money.
  10. Tomwilllight

    Tomwilllight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 284

    First: A WATT is a measurement of heat and describes an amount of increase. A watt of steam is the same increase as a watt in solid-state electronics. The higher the watts, the greater the heat produced.

    Second: The problem for higher wattage LEDs is heat management. IC boards don't like heat. LEDs are mounted on IC boards.

    Third: The heat generated by an LED is located in the IC board and must be removed to avoid damaging the circuitry. This damage, if allowed to continue, leads to rapid deterioration in the LED performance.

    The Problem: How to wick the heat away from the IC board? Obviously, water works well as do fans, particularly if you have the amount of room an automobile engine has to work out it's heat production problem. (In ’67 my trip to Orlando Beach was ruined when my radiator failed on I-95. That's when I learned about heat exchange)

    I sat in on a meeting last week where a LED engineer briefly considered cooling LEDs with water in Industrial and Theatrical lighting applications. He admitted that water and solid-state circuitry do not mix very well and that the amount of plumbing necessary to cool LEDs in those applications didn't make much sense either.

    Clearly, the solution lies in a mix of more efficient LED's that produce fewer Watts to produce more lumens. The heat will be wicked away with more efficient heat sinks. The way to make heat sinks more efficient is to make them BIGGER and to assist them with MOVING AIR. The air takes away the heat from the larger service and cools the heat sink which can then take up more heat and so on. In this case, air is certainly better than water.

    Most of our discussion, to this point, has been about the use of RETROFITTED MR16 sized LED lamps in existing MR16 landscape fixtures.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but I don't recall ever seeing a MR16 fixture designed for the landscape that was not sealed against the elements. The goal is: NO exchange of hot air inside with moist air from the outside.

    Landscape lighting fixtures are designed to handle very high heat. Why? Halogen lamps love heat. They are designed to run hot, because the heat makes the Halogen Cycle work. If you want to use a LED Retrofit MR16 lamp in a landscape fixture you must deal with the heat build up inside the sealed fixture.

    The fixture you are retrofitting is designed to withstand high heat. Most of design consideration for heat was based on concern for the early failure of the fixture components themselves or the possibility of starting a fire in the landscape, not the life of the MR16 lamps.

    I've been involved with two manufactures who decided to reduce in the maximum wattages recommend for stainless vs brass vs aluminum. The problem in both case was premature failure of the fixture… not the lamp. My involvment was part of a learning process that came from our reporting and evaluating early failures in new lines.

    How do you manage the heat generated by a LED in a fixture designed to withstand high heat? Remember, this fixture is not designed to cool quickly, but to NOT fail when it gets hot. That difference is important.

    In a sealed landscape lighting fixture, there is no cooling air flow over the heat sinks which makes the built in heat sinks virtually useless. Slowly the air inside gets hot, there is no exchange of cool air for hot air and the inside gets hotter. Add a hot day followed by a hot night and you have a hot fixture which will eventually exceed the design limits of the LED MR16 IC board.

    How to fix the problem?

    Could we modify the irrigation system to cool the fixtures - a drip on each fixture? - some sort of built in car-like radiator - a separate fan cooling each fixture? Or perhaps a single fan with ducts running to a group of fixtures. The AC guys will love that new market.

    Retrofitting for a radically new technology is always difficult and usually unsuccessful.

    And we have a market share problem too. We just don’t buy enough lamps to interest major lamp manufacturers

    As I understand it, by far the greatest use of MR16's is for commercial Retail and Display applications. Landscape Lighting is a relatively minor segment of the MR16 lamp industry. We are a sideshow in the lamp manufacturing world.

    The designer/engineers of the LED MR16 retrofit lamps have a number of serious problems to deal with. The LED manufacturers' want a piece of the giant MR16 market. The retail managers want to save money and labor. The LED manus need to produce lumen and life numbers that suggest that it makes economic sense to spend 10 to 15 times more than the cost of a generic MR16 that will last a year.

    In addition, everybody likes the small size of the MR16. We certainly do.

    All of the recently released MR16 LED retrofits I’ve seen have integral heat sinks. The heat sinks can’t be too big because the retrofits could quickly become too large to replace the MR16. If they are too small, the LEDs fail prematurely.

    The engineers have anticipated that the units will be used in "open" fixtures that allow air to flow continuously over the units. They are designed for track light retrofits in retail and display use and are expected to live with air conditioning.

    Even in those applications, we are hearing a lot about very early failures. Why are they predictions for long life and increased output so far off the reality?

    The LED designer/engineer test their designs in a lab and use meters to prove what their bosses want to hear. It works in the air-conditioned lab… it should work in the real world… Right? Wrong!!!

    The Manufacturer, certain they will make a sell a gazillion, advertise the best possible lumen, life and cost numbers. They need the inflated results to compete with a very mature technology that works very well - the MR16 Halogen lamp.

    Solution - from what I hear and read - the manus and their engineers haven't come up with a solution that is proven to hold up in the real world of retail/display applications or in the landscape.

    James, a courageous innovator by any measure, is reporting his success with a particular line of retrofit LEDs. He is the only user of retrofit LEDs in North America I know of who gets such good results. He lives and works in Canada, in a resort community that has a relatively short season (compared to Florida or North Carolina or even NY's Hamptons). I believe it’s because his short season and relatively low ambient temps at night, even in the summer, reduce the stress on his LED products and significantly delays their failure.

    I believe the challenge for our industry is to create fixtures that work with LEDs. I believe the answer to LEDs in the landscape is in very well designed and dedicated LED fixtures. We need to make them to match our environmental and economic challenges, not the retail market’s.

    Several manufacturers have made strides in producing working LED fixtures for the landscape. I believe the changing market will continue to push their development.

    Of course, this will change the design/install industry. The MR16 is difficult to give up for many reasons: their small size and low unit cost. The good profit from replacing the dead, the quality of their light, and the incredible number of ways we've learned to modify their output to match our design goals. I will miss the MR16.


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