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LED Lighting – A Double-edged Sword…If done improperly

LED lighting is the most efficient and fastest growing segments in the lighting market today. LEDs provide a variety of benefits, however, they also have key disadvantages, particularly if you invest in a lower quality system. Below is a list of the distinct pros and cons that LEDs offer:

The Benefits

More Efficient

Unlike older lighting solutions, do not waste heat in the process of producing light. CFL and incandescent bulbs waste 50-90% of the electricity they consume. LEDs, on the other hand, are more than 99% efficient. This has benefits for HVAC management in your building.

Longer Lasting

They light produced relies on a series of individual diodes working together, rather than a single gas burning bulb, therefore LEDs have a far longer lifespan than other lighting solutions. Incandescent bulbs have a lifespan of only 1,200 hours, and while compact fluorescents are a marked improvement at 8,000 hours, this pales in comparison to LEDs. The average LED lamp can provide light for up to 50,000 hours.

Connection to IoT

Many LED lighting systems are beginning to integrate more complicated control chips, which allows greater control over the light they produce. This allows them to be integrated into the Internet of Things (IoT), creating the opportunity for analytic lighting design, and leading to greater facility-wide integration of sustainable technologies.

Potential Issues

Despite the benefits they create, investing in the wrong LED system can actually have negative effects on your project.

Negative Health Effects

Cheaply produced LEDs often carry with them two major issues.

The first is an overproduction of high-blue spectrum light. Overexposure to this spectrum of light curbs the body’s production of melatonin, the neurotransmitter which controls our sleep cycle. This can contribute to the development of both insomnia and seasonal affective disorder.

The other major issue is flickering, which is caused by issues with the lighting ballast. While in most cases this is imperceptible, this flickering can be extremely damaging to the human eye. Studies have found that the flickering from artificial lighting can contribute to stress induced migraines, repetitive eye strain, and even macular degeneration.

Loss of Intensity

While LED lighting does not burn out in the same way as other bulbs, they do experience loss of output over time. Despite their 50,000 hour average lifespan, this loss of output can cause them to produce only 80% of their initial output after just 8,000 hours, for poorly designed and manufactured LEDs. Often times this means that an LED lighting system becomes significantly less efficient than advertised before even reaching half of its total life span.

It is possible to capture the benefits and avoid the disadvantages, by using LEDs that have been designed and manufactured with quality as a primary component. The cost of poor quality goes beyond the cost of a fixture, you must consider productivity and health in order to conceive of the total cost and downsides.

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