Today’s LED marketplace can be confusing and difficult to navigate. To help you break through the flashy terminology and strange acronyms we’ve assembled a list of eight questions that will help you address four key areas of consideration that will ensure your LED purchase process yields the best solution for your unique needs.
The four areas you need to consider are:
- Sufficient illumination
- Color inconsistencies between light fixtures
- Correct color temperature of light
- Product quality and LED life
Questions to ask when purchasing LEDs
Question 1: What is the lumen output when LEDs are in the fixture with the lens installed?
Lumen is a measurement of the light output. Some manufacturers will publish lumen output numbers for the “raw” LED chips rather than the lumen output when the LED chip is in the fixture with a lens in place. The raw lumen data will NOT give a true representation of the actual lumens or light produced by the fixture – raw data measurements will be higher.
The reported lumen numbers for the ITC Marine products are a result of our in-house Light Sphere testing of the whole fixture with the optimized lens in place.
Question 2: What binning control process is used and what is the tolerance?
Binning refers to the process of sorting LED chips into specific color temperatures by the chip manufacturer. The tighter the binning process the closer in color the chips will be to each other and the standard. This is important for two reasons:
1) Most fixtures use more than one LED chip so with tighter binning the better the colors will blend and present as a uniform color.
2) If multiple fixtures are used within the same space they will all produce the same color of light.
ITC Marine uses the Macadam Ellipse process of binning which is ±100 Kelvin on most of our products. This level of binning provides an undetectable color difference to the human eye.
Question 3: What is the Color Temperature (Kelvin) of the LEDs?
Color temperature of light is measured in Kelvins. Kelvin is a unit of measure to grade the appearance of color. Kelvin rating numbers start lower for colors at low end of the spectrum; light that has more red tones. These are associated as being warm light colors. As the Kelvin number increases the color moves toward the cooler whites then to blue tones.
ITC Marine products come in several different Kelvin options with most typically ranging from 3000K which is on the “Warm White” side to 6300K which is a “Bright White”.
Question 4: What is the CRI of the LEDS?
The Color Rendering Index (CRI) is used to measure the crispness and clarity of how an item’s color will look in a given light condition. The higher the CRI the closer the color will appear as the natural color. For example a strawberry will be a bright and vibrant red under a higher CRI light. Conversely, the same strawberry will appear drab and washed out under a low CRI light.
ITC Marine products come in different levels of CRI to provide the right clarity to enhance the application.
Question 5: How many Watts will the LED and fixture use?
Watts are often misunderstood as the amount of light output rather than the amount of energy used to create the light; watts are the measurement of energy burned. LEDs use a much smaller amount of energy as compared to incandescent or fluorescent bulbs, to produce higher outputs of light. The total wattage used should be reported, and include the LEDs, driver, and power supply, not just the LED chips. Sometimes this is referred to as lumens per watt or amount of light per energy used.
ITC Marine products are designed to maximize light output and minimize the energy used. Using high rated LED chips, optimized lensing and qualifying power supplies, helps achieve a high user return-on-investment.
Question 6: What testing is performed on the fixture and LEDs?
To gage the light degrading or depreciation the LEDs are tested for reliability, lumen output, color temperature, and amp draw over a specified time period. Other testing is specific for a fixture such as water-tightness, on/off switching, or hinge reliability.
ITC Marine products successfully complete a two stage Lumen depreciation test cycle consisting of over 1100 hours of testing and achieve a low level of depreciation. Other ITC product testing includes the IP66 and IP67 tests. The IP66 is a rain test where the light is subjected to 20 minute cycles of on/off while being sprayed with water. The IP67 is similar except the light is submerged in a tank of water at a depth of 1 meter for the test duration.
Question 7: Is the product FCC compliant?
FCC Part 18 is a noise and interference test that electronic products need to comply with. Because LEDs are part of a circuit board and may have Switch Mode LED drivers they have the ability to emit Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) or Radio Frequency (RF) Interference (RF is a subset of EMI), which may manifest itself as static noise or interference through susceptible devices nearby, such as radios.
ITC Marine products ensure FCC compliance through the implementation of noise mitigation technologies such as; EMI filters and drive configurations which are tuned to operate at frequencies that are less likely to induce EMI or RF noise.
Question 8: What is the rated Life of the LEDs?
LEDs will not “burn out” in the traditional sense as incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen light sources do. When a LED reaches the point where it is producing 70% of its original light output – or is 30% dimmer, it is considered to have lost its usefulness. The LED will still produce light but will continue to gradually dim over time. The life rating of an LED is usually given in a measurement of hours which indicates the point in time that the light output will have decreased by 30%.
ITC Marine products use high quality LEDs that are rated at 50,000 hours of use. If used 24/7/365 that translates to about 5 years and 7 months of continued use before the light output reaches 70% of its original measurement.