By Ken Hendry
LED lighting is revolutionizing the landscape lighting industry. But there are many options on the market, and, as a result, many differences. Some questions to ask when specifying LED are as follows:
1) What voltage does the LED operate at? While some fixtures must have 12 volts and can tolerate no more, the better LED fixtures will operate between 9 and 15 volts while having no change to the output of light. In other words it will put out the same wattage at 9 volts as it will at 15 volts.
2) How long will the LED chip last? The better chips will have a lifetime of 40,000 hours. Look for an LED fixture that has a warranty for that same period of time about 15 years.
3) Is the fixture fitted with an LED chip or is it a replacement LED bulb? LED bulbs don’t have the same lifespan as LED chips. For a more reliable fixture, make sure it is one with the LED built into the fixture.
4) What energy savings are possible? LED fixtures will save up to 75 percent on energy consumption. Although the fixtures are more expensive, the energy savings, combined with the need for smaller transformers and wire size, will pay for the system in a few years.
5) Does the fixture require a driver? LED drivers convert the 12-volt AC current to a DC current that the LED needs to provide optimal performance. Most fixtures will have this driver built in and no other requirements are needed. Some, however, do not have this driver on board and a separate driver needs to be wired in between the transformer and the fixture.
So although LED has definite advantages over incandescent, you have to be aware of the differences that are out there. LED chips react to the elements much different than incandescent. So choose a manufacturer that has made the commitment to transition from incandescent to LED, has a warranty to back it up, and puts out a fixture with that same soft white light we are used to seeing.
Ken Hendry is a principal of Hendry & Associates, a Manufacturer Rep company in the Green Industry. Hendry has more than 25 years experience in the landscape lighting industry and often gives seminars on landscape lighting. For dates of these seminars, contact Hendry at 770-924-1630.