LED (that’s light emitting diode) technology has been with us for some time now and if you know nothing else about it you probably do know its key selling point to date has been its low energy consumption.
Traditionally LEDs have been measured against the incandescent filament bulb (the sort of bulb we’ve all been using for decades). 98% of the energy produced by the traditional light bulb is released in the form of heat. That’s a lot of wasted energy when all you really need it for is light. LED’s run cool – and use up to 80% less energy in the process.
Even measured against halogen bulbs LEDs win out handsomely.
A 20w halogen still uses around 5 times the power of an equivalent LED. The LED burns around 4 times cooler and its lifespan is a hefty 25 – 50 times longer.
Aside from the cost of the initial units – often still more for LEDs – there’s really been only one drawback for the LED bulb - but it’s been a pretty fundamental one. Until recently LED lights weren’t actually that great at, well… lighting.
Let There Be Light
The first generation of LED lights have been SI (Super Intense) LEDs. They’ve been perfect for decorative and marker lighting but try and use them to light your room and you’d need to stud your entire suspended ceiling with them to be able to see well enough to avoid bumping into things.
The new generation of MI (Mega Intense) LEDs raises the stakes. Now a few downlights can be used to achieve the equivalent of 25w-100w illumination which means, for the first time, LEDs are worthy of real consideration for general lighting.
Suspending LEDs in Your Suspended Ceiling
Traditional, modular suspended ceiling lighting fits neatly into the grid system. Indeed, current suspended ceiling lights effectively replace a ceiling tile. They’re effective over large areas and, with their ever-improving range of halogens, their energy efficiency is also constantly improving.
LED suspended ceiling lighting is not currently available in modular form meaning modular halogens remain the lighting of choice for the larger suspended ceiling. They provide more effective lighting over a larger area. Each individual unit costs no more (and frequently somewhat less) than LED counterparts – and, of course, you need fewer of them.
But LED lighting is making advances. Individual unit prices have dropped significantly and continue to do so. And although they remain available only in spot form they are a serious option for any area currently lit by halogen spots.
So whilst the shop floor, school classroom or hospital ward may yet find modular suspended ceiling lighting the more effective (and more economical) system to adopt, the board room, staff room, reception area, small office, bathroom or similar may suddenly find LEDs as effective at lighting as halogen spots. They may be more expensive to install but they’ll be markedly cheaper to run, more eco-friendly, need to be replaced far fewer times (if ever) – and less likely to make your head 5° warmer than your feet.
So the LED light comes of age. It has more to do – but if you believed LEDs to be good for nothing but effect lighting, it’s time to think again.