Are LED Fluorescent Tubes Ready for Prime Time?

by

Director of Marketing,

Light emitting diode (LED) fluorescent tubes are all the rage in the lighting market. The technology promises to be more energy efficient, less environmentally harmful and more economical than traditional fluorescent tube lighting. Regardless, there is a lot of debate over whether they are ready for widespread commercial use.

We recently came across this very debate being held in a LinkedIn electrical construction group. It was aheated thread with two electrical contractors hashing out the pros and cons of using LED fluorescent tubes. To continue our series of articles on "green" construction, we thought we'd tackle the issue ourselves. So here we present our findings on LED fluorescent tubes.

Survey Results
We recently asked our blog readers and other industry professionals to participate in a short survey on LED vs fluorescent tubes. We received great feedback from participants, so be sure to check out our survey results.

What is a LED Fluorescent Tube?
"LED fluorescent tube" is a misnomer. LED lights and fluorescent lights are completely different technologies. LEDs are very small bulbs illuminated by movement of electrons in a diode. Fluorescent bulbs use electrodes and a gas combination of argon and mercury to produce light. So the name "LED fluorescent tube" really refers to an LED tube that reminds us of traditional fluorescent tubes (likely above your head as you read this).

LED lights should also not be confused with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs. CFLs use the same tecnology as fluorescent tubes to produce light, but on a smaller scale. They are a replacement for the incandescent bulbs commonly found in most home light fixtures. CFLs have garnered a lot of press because of their energy efficiency and environmental benefits (i.e. they use less power).

An LED tube is made up of hundreds of individual LEDs. They come in a variety of sizes (2, 4 or 6 feet), different temperatures (i.e. different colors of light) and varying arrays of LEDs. They can be purchased with new fixtures, or used for retrofitting existing fixtures. But keep in mind, they don't require ballasts, so those will need to be removed when replacing fluorescent bulbs.

When comparing LEDs to fluorescent tubes, here are four key specifications you should review:

  • Lumens – This is the unit of measurement for strength of light. Look for tubes with 1500 lumens or more.
  • Watts – This is a unit of measurement for power consumption. Four foot LED tubes typically use 15 to 25 watts, while fluorescent tubes use more than 30 watts.
  • Lifespan – This is how long the bulb will last. It's measured in hours. 50,000 hours is common for LED tubes.
  • Color temperature – The temperature of the light is the color of the light. It is measured in units of absolute temperature, or Kelvin (K). 3000K is considered warm (redder), 4100K is considered neutral, and 5800 K is cool (bluer).

Pros and Cons of LED and Fluorescent Tubes
To give recognition where it's due, fluorescent tubes are a great invention. They have been lighting most of America ever since GE brought them to market back in 1938. They are four to six times more energy efficient than incandescent bulbs and are said to last 10 to 20 times longer. Of course there are disadvantages too.

Fluorescent tubes contain mercury and phosphor which present health and environmental risks. Lights require a ballast which adds to the cost of the lamp and can cause a buzzing noise. Finally, they flicker and the light is often drab.

Meanwhile, LED bulbs last longer than fluorescents, they don't contain harmful ingredients like mercury and they use much less power than fluorescent lamps. And this is just for starters. LEDs aren't perfect though. The tubes are generally not as bright and cost more up front. And unfortunately, cost will likely be the number one driver of greater adoption. So let's compare the costs of each.

LED Tubes
Fluorescent Tubes
LifespanTubes last twice as long as the average fluorescent tubeLast 10 to 20 times longer than incandescent bulbs, but not as long as LED bulbs.
CostVery expensive. Tubes can range from $50 to $100.Inexpensive. Tubes cost $2 to $10.
Heat outputThese bulbs do not cause heat build-up.Temperature can be up to 2 degrees warmer under fluorescent tubes.
EfficiencyMore efficient than both fluorescent and incandescent tubes.Four to six times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, but less efficient than LED tubes. They also require a ballast to power.
ComfortMore ergonomic than fluorescent tubes.Not ergonomic: light is drab and all bulbs flicker (though not always visible to the human eye).
MaterialDoes not contain hazardous metals like mercury.Does contain mercury and phosphor.
OtherLight is not as strong as fluorescent or incandescent bulbs.Bulb life is reduced in situations where light is switched on and off frequently.

Costs of LED Tubes vs Fluorescent Tubes
The debate over LED vs fluorescent tubes always teeters at the cost argument. When comparing the upfront cost of one LED tube to one fluorescent tube, fluorescent wins. However, when you consider volume discounts and the lifespan of LEDs, the scale leans the opposite direction. Let's compare the costs of each.

This table compares the first-year cost of a single commercial-grade (i.e. UL and CE compliant), four foot T8 LED tube to a four foot T8 fluorescent tube. To measure kilowatts per year, we assumed the lights would be on for 12 hours a day and 255 days a year. We used an average energy rating of 20 watts per hour for LEDs and 32 for fluorescents. To calculate energy cost, we used an average cost per kilowatt of $0.11.

4’ LED T8 tube4’ T8 fluorescent tube
Average cost of one tube$70.00$6.00
Kilowatts (KW) per year61.2097.92
Energy cost per year$6.73$10.77
Total Cost$76.73$16.77

Clearly fluorescents are less expensive in the first year. However, when you account for product longevity, LED tubes are the winner. LED tubes last an average of 50,000 hours (roughly 16 years) while fluorescent T8 tubes last an average of 25,000 (roughly 8 years). To determine this, we looked at every fluorescent T8 tube that Sylvania offers (nearly 150) and calculated average lifespan. To be precise, it was 24,787.67 hours.

In this next table, we compare the 16-year cost (the lifespan of an LED tube) of 40 LED tubes compared to 40 fluorescent tubes. In this example, the number 40 is somewhat arbitrary. We have twenty, 2' x 4' fixtures in our office, so we chose 40 bulbs as our comparison. Keep in mind, fluorescent fixtures require ballasts, so we'll need to tack on an additional $400 to fluorescent tubes (20 ballasts at $20).

Using prices from our previous table, in the first year it will cost $3,069 for the energy and initial purchase of 40 LED tubes. The fluorescent tubes would cost $1,071. Every year thereafter, the energy costs of LED tubes will be $269, and $431 for the fluorescents. In the eighth year, the fluorescent bulbs will need to be replaced at a cost of $240.

You'll notice the numbers in our table look a little different. That's because we've included an annual energy inflation rate of 5%. We also used a 2.5% inflation rate to calculate the cost of the replacement fluorescent bulbs in the eighth year. Finally, we used a 6% discount rate to determine the net present value (NPV).

4’ LED T8 tube
4’ T8 fluorescent tube
Year 1$3,069$1,071
Year 2$283$452
Year 3$297$475
Year 4$312$499
Year 5$327$524
Year 6$344$550
Year 7$361$577
Year 8$379$891
Year 9$398$637
Year 10$418$668
Year 11$439$702
Year 12$461$737
Year 13$484$774
Year 14$508$812
Year 15$533$853
Year 16$560$896
Net Present Value (NPV)$6,432$6,846

As our table reveals, the 16-year cost for 40 LED tubes is $6,431 while the cost for fluorescent tubes is $6,846. This is 6% in savings over the life of the tubes. Keep in mind, this is only 40 tubes. Building owners with more light fixtures will realize more savings as the volume discount will be greater and energy costs will be lower. So, over the lifespan of the product, LED tubes are more cost effective than fluorescent tubes.

A Bright Future for LED Tubes
The cost of manufacturing LEDs is dropping. Researchers at Purdue University have developed a way to create LEDs using inexpensive, metal-coated silicon wafers instead of expensive sapphire-based bulbs. This has the potential to bring the cost down to levels competitive with fluorescent tubes. You can stay up to date on news of this development over at the Eartheasy blog.

In the meantime, there's no reason electrical contractors shouldn't promote LED tubes. LED tubes can help building owners become eligible for government and utility company incentives. They help companies reach the desirable – and highly marketable – green cachet. They provide greater energy cost savings than fluorescents. And finally, they are simply better for the Earth. They are the future of commercial lighting.

 
  • http://www.smartstartlighting.com Trond Flagstad

    Here are a few other factors which needs to be understood and used when calculating LEDs vs.Fluorescent tubes:

    1. kWH cost. Looks like you used $.11 per kWh, which is probably a good US average, but for states like California, w/$.13-.15 (more in the Bay area and during peak times of the day),some North East regions w/.15 or Hawaii with $.25+ kWh.

    2. Maintenance savings is for many companies a significant cost factor. When you have retail stores or commercial buildings w/ 15 – 20 feet ceilings, sometimes the only way to make changes is to use a scissor lift, often operated by an outside electrical service firms. Now a $4.00 FT light becomes a $104 light. Although the packaging on the Fluorescent lights may say 25,000 hours life, there is also a small disclaimer on some, stating that this could be reduced as much as 75% when the lights are turned off and on, as is very often the case. To achieve the stated life of 25,000 hours, the lights need to stay on, which in turn increases or doubles the kWh used. LEDs can be cycled off and on, w/out any impact on the life expectancy of the light.

    3. The 50,000 hours for LED tube lights is not where the light stops working, it is when it’s expected to reach 70% of initial lumenous output, i.e. it can keep on working, but not as bright as it did at the start.

    4. Only a few LED Tube lights on the market, such as Smart Start Lighting, have the required UL Classification approval, allowing these lights to be used as retrofit lights in the current fixtures. Some manufacturers will claim to have UL Classification, but a printed label marking such approval must be displayed on the tube light and can be verified by contacting UL. Simply having a UL listed or classified “diode” does not make the light a UL approved light.

    5. Like mentioned in your story, Federal Tax deductions can also be available to commercial clients, up to $.60 per/sqf.(If leasing a building or renting, make sure you can qualify per US Tax code) So depending on the size of the building being retrofitted w/LEDs, this could make the purchase/capital investment more affordable. Although Energy Star have not yet included LED tube lights in their rebate program, most electrical utility companies offer a “calculated rebate” of approx. $.05 per kWh saved.

  • Scott – Electrician

    The NPV calculation over a 16 year period to justify the 6% in savings of the 4’ LED T8 tube is overly optimistic. The 4’ T8 fluorescent tubes will be replaced approximately every 3 years assuming regular use.

  • http://www.kingsunpcb.com Jane

    LED lighting is green energy.

  • bob

    good analysis, however what is not mentioned is the light levels using LED’s.

    will the LED replacements meet the light levels intended for the sapce?

    Light levels are the number one reason for using any electric light source.

    one minor complaint, a T8 lamp the mosut used lamp in fluorescent lighting costs less the 3.00 at home centers.

  • http://harabara.com Doc Wheat

    @Bob–Many building owners might want to use “low mercury” tubes in new installations, and these cost more than standard tubes.

    Do LED tubes run directly off 120v AC, or do they require transformers? That would be an additional cost, similar to ballasts in fluorescents.

  • Alejandro

    Also remember that LEDs don’t produce heat, so you’ll also save money on AC.

  • http://www.night-scenes.com Paul R Gosselin, CLVLT

    I’m curious about dimability? Since dimming flourescents requires very expensive ballasts and or dimmers, How would the cost break out for this purpose since most LED lights are dimable.

  • Michael Seaman

    So many things are wrong about the notion of improving office lighting by replacing fluorescent tubes with LED “tube” lamps:
    * These are different kinds of light sources. Fluorescent tubes give omnidirectional light whereas LEDs emit directionally. So what is the point of replacing a uniform array of overhead lights with a set of long narrow downlights?
    * Task lighting does not belong in the ceiling. Because of the inverse square law, energy is wasted bringing light from the ceiling to the work plane. There are good LED and fluorescent task-ambient office lighting solutions commercially available that can deliver around .65-.5 watts per square foot vs. standard ceiling lighting designs that deliver between 3-1.1 watts per square foot.
    * There is no need to rush into LED tube replacement projects. There are good low ballast/high performance fluorescent tube products on the market which, when combined with daylight harvesting solutions, deliver very long lamp life performance in actual installations, factors not accounted for in the life cycle cost table above.
    * Low ballast factor/high performance T8 ambient lighting is actually very efficacious vs. unproven LED tube designs. In general, LED tube products have been rushed to market without adequate attention to quality aspects. US Department of Energy has a testing/evaluation program that has looked at LED tubes and hasn’t found anything that lives up to the hype.
    * Fluorescent tubes use ballasts, whereas LED systems use drivers. While ballasts and drivers served essentially the same function, they are different pieces of equipment. People who think they can simply remove a fluorescent tube lamp and replace it with an LED tube will confront lamp/ballast vs LED/driver issues. And there can be luminaire conflicts (optics, heat, color rendering, etc.) as well—just because a fluorescent tube works well in a specific luminaire does not mean a linear LED tube will work in that same luminaire.
    * Uniform lighting solutions (i.e. traditional fluorescent ceiling troffers or linear pendants that saturate spaces with light) tend to overlight spaces and can conflict with use of computer screens and result in shadows in unwanted places. Task-ambient (layered instead of uniform) designs can satisfy end users while also saving energy and reducing carbon emissions.

  • http://www.GreenEnergyAdvocates.com Stan Mayer

    I have been installing UL listed LED retrofit tubes for over a year now. Even at 1,240 lumens (using my 15 Watt tube with a CRI of 73), the perceived brightness (Photopic Lumens) is almost identical to 34 Watt, 4200K T8 fluorescent tubes. While most people seem to prefer the cooler 5000K (daylight) color temperature, the sweet spot seems to be at around 4400K.

    Most of the higher quality manufacturers have shifted from the older 5mm LEDs to SMD technology, as it provides a much higher Lumen/Watt ratio and a more consistent color quality. Many of my general service LED tubes are now less than $65 and I have some that can be controlled with a “Dimmable” external driver.

  • LED Fact Checker

    Stan, if my math is correct you claim a 82.6 efficacy for your product. Do you have real LM-79 test data to prove that statement. How do you dissipate the heat in that application. What warranty do you provide and what is the rated lifetime for the product.

    $65 seems awful cheap, are you paying the patent royalty fees?

    You say the sweet spot is 4400K. How are your chips binned? Are you telling us that every bulb you sell will have the same CCT?

    Please explain to all of us why the USDOE has issued guidance against this application for LEDs.

    If you can answer these questions, I would love to sell your product.

  • http://www.altslap.com Ralph Jacobo

    I am working with a company with manufactures a high quality T8 4ft tube at 8Watts which compares to the 32Watt fluorescent tube. However, even with this technology and lowered cost $55 per tube, it is difficult to convert many businesses/office to LED. The fact is that most companies can not offer the initial cost.

    Our ROI at .12 is about a 12 month ROI, which is pretty considering the rise in energy cost. (I am in California).

    I believe the LED will be the norm in a few years. I think having Tax incentives for most states will start changing the minds.

    Today started energy saving rebates for appliances. It is not a surprise that having state rebates has created a buzz, people are buying appliances that will save them less than 1 hundred a year but people follow what other people do. I think eventually the same will be with LED lighting.

    contact me if you are interested in our products.

  • http://www.solunagreen.com Allen

    Houston. Thanks for the article. It goes directly to the heart of what I wanted to accomplish on LinkedIn and explains perfectly why LED’s are ready for mainstream use. Maybe that’s why your the writer and I’m just a lighting guy!! Although I feel some of your numbers were a little high, they still show the numerous benefits of making the switch from fluorescent to LED lighting.
    As we conclude the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, it’s good to see so many large organizations taking the initiative to make their work environments greener and ultimately safer for their employees. Of course it is going to take actually showing companies that it is not only better for people and the environment to get rid of fluorescent lamps, but it will also improve their bottom line by increasing employee productivity as well as reducing utility costs. I feel showing the financial benefits of going green will be the catalyst that jump starts the overall transformation of consumer mindsets toward the green revolution. If you can save money, why not save the planet as well!!!
    With energy conservation on the forefront of all our minds this month, you couldn’t have chosen a better time to tackle this subject Houston. As you’ve previously read on my LinkedIn discussion, I have tried to state my case for making the switch to LED’s, so I will let others do a better job of making that case for me in this arena. It seems everyone is already on board and believes in the technology, now it is just a matter of taking the next step toward implementation.
    Thanks again Houston. If anyone here has questions regarding LED’s or how much they cost, I would like to suggest going to my website and doing some research. Its fun, informative and can answer most questions you may have. In the meantime, keep fighting the good fight.

  • Henri

    Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden recently changed all of the fluorescent lightning in the parking garage to ED Fluorescent Tubes. Read a good article on it here, which also goes into the technical details:

    http://t360.idg.se/2.8229/1.307693/kampen-ar-over–lysdioderna-vann

    Use Google translate if you can’t read Swedish.

    They estimate an 65% cost saving, and the goal is to have the whole airport lit solely by LEDs.

  • Your innerself

    The con for led are they are dimmer! Led tube are mainly great where directional light is prefer. they also proven to be more vibration resistant and work under extreme climate. Fluorescent tube had trouble into cold condition (-30°) or reduce life span in sealed enclosure exposed to sun/heat. Led can be switch on/off or strobe without life shortening. Led can come in a array of color. That make it great for some signboard or emergency light!

  • http://www.GreenEnergyAdvocates.com Stan Mayer

    If anyone is interested, please send me an email (info@LUX-Star.com) and I would be glad to provide you with the manufacturer’s LM-79 test results for the LED tubes I represent. Actually, the test results for the product I mentioned above were verified at 85.3 lm/W with a rating of 14.7 Watts. The 4400K tubes are a color blend of SMDs, but I do not have the specifics as to the binning criteria or process at the factory.

    Most manufactures offer from a 2 to 4 year warranty on their products and a luminary maintenance expectation (of 70%) to last for 50,000 hours. I know of no factory warranty given to fluorescent tubes.

    I also offer even better performing LED tubes that utilize an aluminum back (heat sink) that cost less than $85. These high-output tubes feature 140 SMDs and are available in either 110V or 277V with several color options. Additionally, both tube types run about 20 degrees cooler than their fluorescent counterpart.

    As for the USDOE being hesitant towards embracing LED technology, it may be as much from the influence directed by the legacy lighting industry lobbyists in D.C. as it is from science. The report I link to here from the DOE does not paint a very flattering picture of LED T8 replacement tubes. However, I am always quite skeptical of any report (Government or otherwise) that “averages” test data from undisclosed manufactures. Furthermore, none of the tubes they tested in this report were stated as having UL certification, and I would welcome them to test mine. http://apps1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/publications/pdfs/ssl/t8_replacement-lamps.pdf

    There is a lot of questionable product out there, but that should not diminish the few quality LED tubes that are available. In my opinion, the DOE should concentrate more on safety and let Consumer Reports determine levels of quality and performance. So far I have received no complaints.

  • Tammy Ellis

    Overall, the florescent light is obselete.
    I would pay more for an led light. I feel they are much safer and everything seems more clearer. I think the florescent light is more
    artifical which is bad for humans especially at night. It is like a radiation that wakes up
    the cancer cells in your body, it is bad.

  • Wayne

    Great feedback, another con and overlooked, unfactored cost of using Fluorescent tubes is fees for proper disposal. Our company pays $ 75.00 (safety clean)for 24 tubes. These blubs should never make it to our landfills. Hopefully no one is throwing Fluorescent Tubes into the dumpsters.

    Wayne

  • RA

    Imagine how many FL tubes will be disposed if we all start switching to LED tubes. That will be a nightmare amount of hazardrous material. Many companies, including my own, are disconnecting half of the FL tubes and installing special reflectors from a company like R-E-A-L-S.com. These are cheap and you probably never have to buy another FL tubes by utilizing disconnected tubes for future replacement.

  • Ron Davison

    5% inflation and 6 persent cost of money is not really realistic, and favors the floresent bulb over the LED (6-5=1%) If inflation jumps to 5% then interest rates will jump to 8%.

    So can you re-crunch your #’s with a delta of 2 or 3% 3% inflation and 6 cost of $.
    this will show T8′s the winner until real LED costs are included below.

    Also factor in the cost reduction presented by Stan. Quoting unrealistic list prices that no-one pays is also.

    also add the real replacement time fro T8′s of 3 years (OK will give you a free year make it 4 = 1/2 your original 8 yrs.)

    Now payback is under 10 years.

    Have government give zero interest loans for energy efficiency retrofits and it is under 5 years.
    This would be better for our national debt because at least the principle gets paid back vs rebates/tax incentives.

    another issue is how do you keep people from stealing these LED tubes if they are worth 50-100$.

    IBGreen

  • Ron Davison

    also add in the disposal cost mentioned…

    also the fact that you are making a difference in reducing resource use needs to be given a value.

    How much will it cost to resettle a few billion people around the planet if sea levels rise?

  • Ron Davison

    Actually the large scale of T8-T12 tube replacements will actually make recycling these tubes easer and better because it can be done in mass over a short period compared to the same # being disposed of, thrown away, recycled piece meal. a PR campain could be used effectively in a short period of time to maximize recycling.
    To get your zero interest-interest reduction coupon from the government you need to show receits for your recycled T8,T12 tubes.

    (Yes T12′s are still ou there!)

  • http://greenbagpromos.com Green Bags

    although there are cons to many good solutions, you have to weigh the options. In this case, LED’s have a far greater list of pros than cons.

    I think people just need to take a step back and look at positives, and when there are no products with a better ratio, choose that product.

  • http://www.sunmeg.com Milo Li

    This topic is very hot.
    I’m a sales engineer of LED light manufacturer In China.United States is one of our main market.I’m here is for survey market.
    but more willing to share my viewpoint.

    1.the LED lights do produce heat.
    and the heat(cumulating up to 50 centidegree)can reduce the life span of the LED,
    less than 50 centidegree will no effecting to the life span of LED.
    That why the LED light have aluminum shall for cooling.
    This will hard to explain,some time will make misunderstand.so lots of sales do not mention it.

    2.The LED light are directionally.
    As mentioned above,for cooling LED need to have a part of aluminum shall that make the LED light directionally.
    for mainstream use is good.but for advertising lightbox,big factory,..that need large angle of lights. seems not good.
    So now we are developing for two said lighting tube.and corn lights lamps.if everything is OK,it will be finished in July 2010.

    3.compare with Fluorescent Tube
    LED light is health.no toxic lead,mercury or phosphor. all the material are recyclable.
    LED light save energy.if you just use less than 8 hour/day.coz 1W LED Tube can compare 3W Fluorescent Tube.( have test report in hand our 15W 120 cm tube 3528 SMD LED the Lumens is 1209lm.Luminous efficiency is 80.6lm/W).so count the Fluorescent Tube starter and ballast will cost 15% energy.you save at lest 85% energy
    LED light save money, lots of people count out 8 hour/day is the watershed of saving money.that why out clients are only use LED lights in long time using place.like airport.underground car park.super mart…
    But now days as big order placed very often our EXW price is lower much than last year, so the date of LED light in very family is very near.

    4.LED life span.
    for the LED lights life span.we hear lots of manufacturer claim of 100000 hour or more.it is not right.
    50000 hours is reliable for the LED Tube or lamp no dimmeable.
    our life span of LED tube and lamp can make at least 3500 hours(4 year)
    our Warranty is 2~3 year,at least 18 month.we do not produce Tube the warranty less than that.

    this is the truth of my world,The LED lights is a very bright future business,Only to be honest to the client can goes farther.
    If you are want to make import business with us.
    connect me by sales1@sunmeg.com

  • http://www.greenmillinium.blogspot.com/ Nceba Phike

    I thought selling an ultra efficient light bulbs in South Africa would be a walk in the park.

    I was dismally wrong!

    I am confronted by “multi million sales” manufacturers of obsolete light bulbs, HID, indecandescents and all other light bulbs.

    Its unbelievable what human can do, or say to protect their greed! Eskom wants electricity load reduction, but at a some time, expand coal-fired electricity generation plants to kill the very environment we want to preserve.

    Our politicians here are different!! Feed them and tell them anything afterwards, they will do it!! Anything!!

    When will LED price be acceptable? It took compact/linear fluorescent long time!

    Our electricity is very cheap! It does not justify buying a $50 LED tube to save a 5 – 7 cents kWatt per hour. It does not compute!!

  • Michael Mora

    Good article. However, I take exception to your statement that: “light is drab and all bulbs flicker” was true with the first generations of magnetic ballasts. Ballasts are now electronic and the on/off rate is far above the eye/brain ability to detect it. The range of ‘white’ fluorescent sources is much more pleasing than the earlier ‘cool white’ which is found in older offices. I’m amazed you did not check with manufacturers for more current facts.

  • http://www.synergylightingusa.com matt

    Great Article, most informative i’ve read yet.

  • http://www.synergylightingusa.com matt

    Consumers should be aware for the EPACT tax deuction of $.60 psf that you have to have bi-level switching or there is no deduction.

  • http://www.greenrenovation.us Joe

    Excellent article, Houston. Of course, while LED tubes may not be ready for prime time, some LED recessed lights are. Just reviewed the CSL eco-downlight (and a few others) at http://www.greenrenovation.us.

    Keep up the good articles!

    Joe

  • http://www.optosun.com Annie Zhang

    It’s really very wonderful article. LED Lights are very hot products, it’s energy-saving, no any pollution, we are also a factory doing LED Lights product in China.

  • http://ledlightenergy.com Nada

    if you want to replace fluorescent tubes you are much better going for full fixture replacement rather than tube replacements. LED “panels” (mostly 2ft x 2ft) are a much better option and deliver a lot more light plus the product is designed as an LED product from the ground up which usually means you are getting a much much better product. Of course cost is an issue, but it is the better product for now. The Department of Energy through one of its reports has the same advice.

  • http://www.ledbyteu.com/ Walter McBroom

    I enjoyed your April article on LED tube lighting. It was forwarded to me today as something I needed to read. We have sold this type of lighting on the internet for over a year now and have looked at over 50 manufacturers as suppliers. The problem with most of this type of lighting is in the heat dissipation between the drivers and the diodes with most failures occuring in the drivers due to overdriving the LEDs. While we still offer and sell this type of LED lighting from a very good Chinese manufacturer, it is no longer our main line.

    True cutting edge technology for LED lighting requires a different mindset at the manufacturing level. We have become Authorized Resellers for Ringdale, Inc. located in Georgetown, Tx. They have over 30 years experience in the pc board industry and have been involved with blue laser lights since they were invented. Ringdale holds multiple patents on the technology used to produce our lights. Their knowledge on how to work with the technology instead of forcing it allows Ringdale to offer a 10 written warranty that the LEDs will still be producing 90% of its 110 Lumen per watt output at the end of 10 years. I have yet to find any other company willing to put this type of warranty in writing. Definitely not one that is Made in America where you can actually get to the manufacturer to get your warranty work done.

    Our typical 2×4 troffer fixture comes in 24 & 48 watt versions. Add motion sensors and dimmers to the equation and be able to cut the electrical usage even more. Energy savings and light longevity without maintenance are the goal most of our customers are after.

    Please visit our site and let me know if I can send you any other information. If you are truly interested in LED lighting, it would be worth investigating.

  • http://www.haichanglight.com Collin Wu

    I think it depends on which supplier you buy from. We make quality LED tubes T8 or T10 which can replace traditional fluorescent tubes T8 or T10 directly, good color rendering,low light decay,long lifespan.

  • http://www.lemnislighting.com Warner

    To Milo Li,

    Could you send me a price list to warnerphilips@aol.com?

    Warner Philips
    USA
    Lemnis Lighting Inc.
    555 De Haro Street, Suite 340
    San Francisco, CA 94107
    P +1 415 979 0280
    F + 1 415 992 5252
    http://www.lemnislighting.com
    warnerphilips@aol.com

  • http://www.lionledlighting.com/ lionledlighting

    very good topic, I really enjoy it!

  • http://www.gloplus.com Rick Smith

    Don’t forget the fact that you no longer require a Ballast when converting to LED Bulbs, plus you are not required to change out as many bulbs during their lifetime, especially in hard to access locations and these are added savings that need to be considered as well.

  • greg angier

    As LED are increasing in popularity and functionality there are still some draw backs to most LED fluorescent replacements. Mainly they are using old technology with the LED. As you see in the pictures in the article the LED lamps have 5mm LED. This type of LED does not have an L70 rating of 50,000. The L70 rating is how long the lamp will burn till it diminishes to 70% lumen out put from the time of installation. Heat is the number one killer of an LED. The 5mm LED is encased in plastic and does not disipate heat well. It also causes friction at the PN junction which will kill your LED. The entire lamp may not go out but individual LED on the tube will burn out.

    There are ones out there that are SMD- surface mounted devices- which do not create as much heat and do have an L70 rating of 50,000, but they are not yet as common as they are more expensive to manufacture.
    I would also like to see if the PCB just have resistors on it or if they have a more active energy management system using transistors with resistors as well as the heat sinks being used in the fluorescent tubes.

    As for light output Milo is correct that LED is directional and not radial so there is no light loss in being reflected around the fixture then down to the floor. What you are truely looking to measure is not Lumens or watts rather foot candles. This tells you how bright the light is at the surface you are lighting. We can go into HID but that is another topic all together. LED are much farther along in replacing HID.

    SMD LED radiate light at a 120 degree light angle so you do need an optical lens to direct the light. But you can create what ever light pattern you would like- less light loss. The company Light Engines has optical abilities being used to direct the light from LED that can be seen at 3km in the railroad industry. So LED will be able to light a store floor or a gas pump.

    I digress…

    Most consumers have already paid to switch out their old T12′s to T8 or T5 lamps and have learned the differnce between daylight and coolwhite light color (measured in Kelvin). So why re-invest in LED technology, today, that will have to be replaced in a year or two with an LED illuminating system that will be brighter, more energy effecient, and longer lasting?

  • P Moffatt

    a question: can the individual bulbs in a tube style LED be replaced when they do burn out? If so this would be a big cost savings over replacing the entire unit when a few tiny bulbs are out…..

    • Martinkuantan

      If you can solder, the bad SMD chip can be replaced with a new chip.  In addition, the driver can be replaced if it fails.  This allows you to repair vs. throw away when anything goes wrong with Fluorescent.

  • Angus

    This is excellent additional input. In the caribbean for example, some it can costupwards of 0.25cents per KWH.

  • http://www.litalighting.com Marcelina

    For commercial, industrial and retail applications. Our Tube Light Series are the most efficient luminaires we manufacture with luminaire efficacies of up to 120lm/W. Our tube lights utilise 0.06W high luminous flux SMD LEDs. The LED PCB has integrated thermal vias to increase heat dissipation from the LEDs to the Aluminium housing. Also the PCB interfaces with the AL housing via thermal transfer tape which provides greater heat dissipation and thermal management. Our tube lights come with moveable end caps to ensure correct directionality of light. The integrated LED driver can be fixed, removable or alternatively the tube may be supplied with an external LED driver/power source. Our LED tube lights have been designed to replace standard and high power fluorescent tube lights with up to 70% cost savings not including maintenance and replacement costs due to the extended lifetime of our LED luminaires (up to 50,000 hour lifetime).

  • Stephen

    This report is misleading. First of all, LEDs do produce heat as do all light sources. This is a major issue affecting longevity, especially if they are in an enclosed strip where the heat can build up. Also, the light output of the LED reftrofit lamp is about half that of a T8 or T5 fluorescent, which means that unless you are comparing it to a fluorescent fixture with extremely bad optics, you would have about half the light level with LEDs unless you used 2x the number of lamps (at 2x the cost and 2x the power consumption). There are several other things that are incorrect or misleading in this article. Note that LEDs are great for special applications such as display cases, color changing and certain exterior lighting applications. In answer to the question above, no, it is usually not possible to replace individual LEDs in these type of fixtures if they fail. You would have to replace the entire strip.

  • Barbara Ivers

    I would like to know if there is any harm to eyes from to much fluorescent tubes- we just had some installed in the hall way where I work, when I enter the hall my eyes water (contacts) and I have to leave the hall. Is there a way to measure if is is to much? Please help!

  • http://www.kwhreduction.com Christopher

    I believe that LED bulbs have become an excellent replacement for fluorescent. My company recently did a retrofit of t12 and t8 bulbs with LED. We also replaced 8 foot fluorescent tubes. The customer is extremely satisfied. They love that the lights no longer hum or flicker. They have been installed for about 3 months with no issues.

  • ELS R&D

    LED’s are exciting & every company is looking for the next great product to drive there business into the future but be careful. I’m a little taken back by some of the quote “facts” posted on Leds vs T8 Flourescents in this blog! Led 4′ tubes are claimed to be rated @ 1500 lumens per lamp (average of 1000 lumens less then most F32T8 800series flourescents)& a lamp life of 50,000hours yet are not L70 rated(our company has been field testing Led tubes for a while know & here is our findings: at just shy of 16,000 hrs on our hourmeter, we’ve had 2 of 6 led lamps being tested fail within day of each other. It was likely do to a heat issue but that’s just our take, we have also recorded a lumen loss over 30 percent!) Maintained lumens is huge & Leds @ this time can’t hold a candle to modern day long life T8 lamp by any manufacturer….lumen loss of 6 to 10% over 30,000+ hours on virtually every brand of 800 series T8 lamp we have tested & flourescents my friends are here to stay for a very long time! On Sept 21, 2006 we stumbled accross a gentleman looking for investors to back his “LED Flourescent tube retro lamp” & we still have his sample lit in our shop. It’s been operating 8760hours a year, never cycled on/off, after 4.5 years the lamp went from 1040 lumens to 601 lumens….approx. 40% lumen loss! LED technology has come leaps & bounds with regards to color temp & lumens however lumen loss, heat issues & cost are the 3 strikes that are keeping our company away for now anyway! With modern day premium electronic ballast(5 yr warranty) & XL long life reduced wattage 800 series T8′s(3yr warranty by most manufacturer’s), lamplife in excess of 36,000hours, ECO friendly low mercury content & maintained lumens in excess of 90% over the life of the lamp…the winner is flourescent over LED for now! Please refer to the DOE(Department Of Energy) fact specs. for tested LED Tube Lights & there findings or visit the DOE seminars held at LightFair 2011 in Philly,PA May 15th thru 19th.

  • http://bytesland.com Bytes Land

    Interesting article and comments. I think the most important issue was left out. Reduced air pollution, green house gases and for new projects the avoided cost of electrical distribution equipment and HVAC loads. When the whole system is considered, I think the LED technology is clearly the winner. So add about 20% for avoided first cost of air conditioning and about 15% for reduced HVAC electrical consumption and we will be in the ballpark.

  • http://www.furniturerefurbished.com/ Ergonomic consultation & service bay area

    I have read your whole article I like this post thanks you are sharing a great article information

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