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The Applelec Green Guide to LEDs

The Applelec Green Guide to LEDs

At the heart of our award winning Applelec ECO pledge is the passion to champion sustainability within the signage and lighting industry and provide our customers with the tools to enable them to continue on their sustainable journeys too. Our LED green guide aims to provide valuable information on choosing energy efficient LEDs, with a useful jargon buster and our guide to the new energy label rating system and what these changes mean to our customers.

Key features

Key features to look for in LED technology

Although many are marketed as eco-friendly, most standard LEDs are generally no more energy efficient than the fluorescent tubes of the past when you compare them on lumens per watt. To truly meet expectations on efficiency and the high light output expected by many in the signage industry, LED technology needs to embrace certain key features, these include...

Quality Components

Lower cost modules have long been coveted by the signage community due to brightness and price points, however, these can come with their own hindrances. Low priced, low powered LEDs tend to be driven at maximum power in order to achieve the desired brightness. This over drives the LEDs, turning electrical energy into heat rather than brightness. This dramatically increases the sign's running costs and carbon footprint but also its chances of failing and fading, much sooner than quality LEDs that drive the heat in the correct way.

LEDs with cheaper components also tend to require more modules to create the brightness needed, resulting in increased energy consumption, costing the end user more over the LED's lifespan.  

Quality LEDs from SloanLED use up to 30% less energy than competing products, employing the highest calibre components, offering high output with reliability, longevity and energy efficiency.

LED Lifetime rating

You may have seen spec sheets that reference the number of hours your LEDs are expected to last. This can seem very appealing and makes consumers believe the product is reliable, however, you may see a rating next to it, which looks like this:

Life rating.......>54,000 hours to L₈₀ at <50°C ambient

This L80 figure indicates that a minimum of 80% of the LEDs brightness will be maintained for the defined running period and is a good indicator to the quality of the LED, with L70 seen as excellent. For example, 54,000 hours to L50 would mean that you would get optimum brightness for at least 50% of the life rating hours, which is valuable information to ensure you meet your customer’s needs. 

Where the LED lifetime ratings is not available, long warranties (5 years plus) are a good indication of the confidence the manufacturer has in the quality and dependability of the LED.

Advanced Lens Technology

In order to drive heat in the correct way to ensure maximum junction temperature is not exceeded, advanced LED and chip technology is needed. This dramatically improves LED performance, long-term reliability and maximises efficiency. 

 

Elliptical optic technology also maximises light output, providing luminous and uniformed illumination, even at exceptionally shallow depths.

The advantages of these are two-fold, a decrease in overall running costs across the life of the LED, as well as the number of LED modules required to produce the same brightness, saving on manufacturing costs and materials.

Extended Warranties

The longevity of LEDs is crucial in the signage industry, where LED failure can cause costly repairs, which become particularly troublesome if installations are in high, or difficult to access locations.

 

Industry standards for most commercial LED light manufacturers around the world is to offer a 5 year LED warranty. SloanLED have doubled this for their range of LEDs, offering an industry leading 10 year warranty and added labour assistance, giving customers unparalleled piece of mind. 

“After hours of accelerated lifetime testing, SloanLED is confident that it has proven the long-term reliability of its signage products,” said Tom Beyer, SloanLED President & CEO. “SloanLED stands alone in its commitment to supporting its customers with a 10-year product/labor limited warranty with online claim forms and no registration required. That’s how much we believe in our products—it’s the warranty you’ll never have to use.”

Lumens Per Watt

Lumens per watts (lm/W) is a useful indicator of energy efficiency. Calculated by measuring the amount of light emitted against the amount of electricity consumed, the higher the lm/W, ideally above 100, the more energy efficient the LED is. This is achieved through advanced lens and chip technology and the use of quality components.

 

Second and third tier, or non-branded, standard LEDs tend to be around 70-100 lumens per watts, which indicates a higher energy consumption and in turn higher running costs. However, in the current cost of living crisis many businesses are concerned over the rising cost of energy and are looking for ways to reduce these costs. Choosing LED systems with higher lumens per watts, reduces energy consumption, positively impacting running costs, as well as reducing greenhouse emissions, which is also important on the counties road to Net Zero by 2050. 

Did you know that the energy rating system for LED's has changed? Read our below guide. 

New energy label

New energy rating system guide

The criterion for LEDs in the new lighting energy rating system focuses on lumens per watts (lm/W). To achieve an ‘A’ rating in the new system the module must have nearly double the lm/W as previous demanded. This means that what used to be ‘A’ rated in the old system is now a ‘D’ rating in the new and the A+ and A++ categories have been eliminated completely. This gives product designers room to improve efficiency, but without a full understanding of what the new rating system means, consumers maybe left thinking a product has poor efficiency based on the labelling they are used to. 

A and B rated modules, in the new system, are not available on the market yet and so a C rated module is the best and most highly energy efficient module you can currently buy.  However, manufacturers, are already progressing designs to reach the new higher standards and ultimately this will benefit both the environment and the consumer with improved running costs. In the interim a benchmark of a ‘C’ or ‘D’ rating is a good sign of an energy efficient module.

Historically the signage market has opted for the cheap and cheerful LED option, that provides instant gratification and affordable price points. What is less advertised is the compromise and potential difficulties this cheaper quality product entails, which will now be more accurately reflected in the new energy rating system. On average these modules were historically around 100 lm/W or less which drops them from an A+ rating down to and E or even and F, giving users a more realistic overview of their energy efficiency. 

This also makes it difficult for manufacturers to greenwash their products as highly energy efficient with complicated statistics that are easy to mistake for efficiency. 

New vs Old LED Energy rating system
Applelec have a stocked range of energy efficient LEDs
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