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Making the Best Use of LED Lighting in Your Facility
Light-emitting diode (LED) lamps are often touted as the most important new technology in energy-efficient lighting. While LEDs have many advantages, it does not necessarily make them the best choice for every lighting application. Financial considerations—such as purchase price and operating costs—always figure in the selection of lighting products, but other factors come into play as well. LEDs have a number of unique traits and it is important to understand how they can be used to their best advantage. Some of the favorable characteristics of LED lamps compared to conventional light sources include the following: 
  • Long life
  • Resistance to vibration and breakage
  • Directional light output
  • Instant startup and restrike
  • Good cold-temperature performance
  • Wide range of color options 
LEDs are solid semiconductor devices which emit light when charged with electricity. This is the foundation of many of their advantages over conventional light sources, which use a glass bulb to contain gases or coatings. The following article details some of the benefits of LED lighting and how you can take advantage of them in your facility.

Long life

Many LED products have a rated life of 50,000 hours or more; much longer than other lighting technologies such as incandescent, fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID). While a long life span is beneficial in any lighting application (reducing replacement and maintenance), it is especially important when access is difficult or maintenance costs are high. Examples include high-bay lighting, outdoor lighting or cold-temperature environments.


LEDs are mostly resistant to vibration because they do not have filaments or glass enclosures. Vibration can reduce the life of standard incandescent and HID lamps. The inherent vibration resistance of LEDs can be useful for lighting at or near industrial equipment, or for outdoor area lighting.

Because they are made of solid-state materials, LED lamps do not break easily. This can be beneficial in applications where lamp breakage can be a problem, such as sports arenas, or outdoor lighting in vandalism-prone areas. LED durability is also a benefit in areas where broken glass would present a particular hazard, such as child care centers, assisted living facilities and commercial kitchens.

Directional light output

Most light sources emit light in all directions; a fixture is needed to reflect light and direct it to where it is needed. Because of their physical characteristics and because they are mounted on a flat surface, LEDs emit light in a single direction. For applications such as task and display lighting, this can help deliver more light where it is needed for a smaller amount of power.

Instant startup

Most fluorescent lamps have a short delay before coming to full brightness after being turned on, and HID lamps have an even longer warm-up time, ranging up to 10 minutes or more. HID lamps also have a restrike time delay; they must be allowed to cool before being turned on again. LED lamps by contrast, start almost instantaneously and have no restrike time delay. This can be beneficial for security purposes or for use with occupancy sensors or other lighting controls.

Cold temperature operation

LED light output and efficacy (lumens per watt) increases as the surrounding temperature falls. In one U.S. Department of Energy study of refrigerated case lighting, LED efficacy increased by 5 percent at 23°F, compared to operation at 77°F. The improved performance of LEDs in cold temperature environments make them well-suited for refrigerated and freezer cases, cold storage facilities and many outdoor applications.

Color options

LEDs emit light in a wide range of colors of the visible spectrum. This attribute allows for options in fashioning color combinations and in creating color effects for signage, display lighting and other applications. 

The LED market continues to grow rapidly and LED products are an excellent retrofit option in many lighting applications. As a newer technology, however, LEDs typically cost more to purchase than conventional light sources and performance can vary widely among LED products. Before beginning any lighting retrofit, carefully evaluate your application, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of different technology options.
(Reprinted from article on