Convert to LED Troffers Without Breaking the Budget
Are you looking for an affordable way to cut back on energy costs with LED lighting but don't have a huge budget? Upgrading your traditional fluorescent in-grid ceiling LED troffers may be easier than you think. Thanks to manufacturers like 3BL LED, replacing your current light fixtures is easy. Installation will often take less than 5 minutes per fixture.
What will I need to know?
First you will need to verify that your current lighting system is ready to accept your new LED-ready fixtures. For this post, we are talking about replacing recessed fluorescent troffer lighting that is often used in grid ceilings, as can be seen in this picture to the right. This image shows a 2x2 fluorescent troffer.
It will be important to make sure you are purchasing the correct size troffer for your space. Troffers are well labeled by their dimensions(1x4, 2x2, 2x4), which is a measue of their length and width in feet.
Should I simply switch to LED tube lamps?
You certainly can and ShineRetrofits.com offers a full selection of LED tube lamps here. While this is the easiest way to convert to LED, the bulbs are expensive and will not be as efficient as converting to an LED luminaire. The fluorescent bulbs run on a ballast that T8 LED tube lamps can use, but to be most efficient, LEDs should be powered by drivers, which are built into an LED retrofit kit.
What do I need to convert to an LED fixture?
ShineRetrofits.com offers a plethora of LED troffer options, but we have found that the 2x2 and 2x4 troffers from 3BL are our favorites. Not only do they out-perform competitors at a lower price, the company embraces a triple bottom line philosophy. That means that the company places equal value on the people that work for them, the planet, and monetary profits. You can learn more about 3BL here.
|MSRP: $99.99 Shine Price: $74.99||MSRP: 119.99 Shine Price: $99.99|
What should I consider when buying LED troffers?
Color Rendering Index(CRI)
Color Rendering Index is a measure from 1 to 100 of how effectively light reflects color to your eyes. If you think about traditional high-pressure sodium lamp streetlights(seen to the right), they typically have a very low CRI and it is difficult to see colors accurately when walking home at night. When a fixture has a high CRI like the ones used in an office space, all of the colors are easily visible. A CRI of 80 or above should be sufficient for most applications and most LED luminaires are available at 80 above. Just beware that some products are selling with low CRI ratings at lower costs, and you should avoid them.
Lumens Per Watt
Since the reason that you are transitioning to LED is probably to save on energy costs, this is an important statistic. The higher the lumens-per-watt, the more efficient the fixture will be. Lumens are a measure of light output while a watt is a unit of power.
The Design Lights Consortium(DLC) is a non-profit agency that rates the efficiency of lighting fixtures, offering their certification label to the top products. This puts pressure on the manufacturers to continue innovating and makes it easier for consumers to decide which product they want. DLC continually updates their standards, so make sure your fixture carries the latest DLC certification
Other certifications to consider would be UL(Underwriters Laboratories), CE(Conformité Européenne), FCC(Federal Communications Commission), & RoHS(Restriction of Hazardous Substances).
Lumen Output & Watts
The lumen output is a measure of how bright the light emitted from a fixture. While brighter is often better, keep in mind that there is an apporpriate amount of light for different spaces. Using a light that is too bright will be obnoxious to inhabitants and will unnecessarily run up the electric bill. Be sure to check your local building codes to make sure your fixture provides enough light.
What are the benefits of switching to LED?
Many LED fixtures allow for dimming, which is not easily done with fluorescent bulbs. Not only does dimming provide ambiance, it allows for increased energy-efficiency by not using the full amount of power every time the lamp is on.
With your fluorescent lamps, the bulbs would dim over time and would eventually have to be replaced. Many LED troffers are estimated to last 50,000 hours. Depending on the usage of your lights, that translates into a 25-50 year investment.
It is difficult to say exactly how much energy you will save with your retrofit, since it depends on your existing system and your future lighting needs. With that in mind, many retrofits result in a 30%-70% reduction in energy usage. Then when you consider the cost and labor involved in replacing the bulbs every few years(where LED troffers can last up to 25 years), LED is the clear choice.
We are all familiar with the buzz of fluroescent lighting, and LED troffers will avoid that problem. That buzz is a result of the ballast that powers the fluorescent bulbs. The driver that powers you LED lights will be much quieter, almost silent.
Performance at Low Temperatures
Possibly the most significant breakthrough for LED troffers is the ability to perform at higher and lower temperatures. If the temperature in your building will have fluctuating temperatures, then LED is an obvious choice.
Fluorescent Bulbs Contain Mercury
The disposal of fluorescent bulbs has always been a challenge of this lighting technology. Say goodbye to the challenge of disposing your used bulbs every time you replace the lamps. Your LED troffers should last for over 20 years.