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What factors you should think about before purchasing an LED high bay?

You might be unsure of where to begin if you decide to upgrade your high bay lighting. How do you choose from all the possibilities? Before purchasing an LED high bay, keep in mind these six points.

Make sure it’s the “Mr. Right”, marriage is not a date

In the past, the quality of a light fixture’s construction was less important because you would probably be relamping in a few years, restoring the fixture to its original performance after each lamp change. The lifespan and efficiency of the light source were largely unaffected by the fixture’s design. Today’s majority of LED High Bay fixtures have a PCB that is snugly integrated into the housing and hundreds of small light emitting diodes (LEDs) that are soldered to it. In other words, the performance and lifespan of the light source are determined by the caliber of the fixture design and cannot be changed. Spending time looking for the ideal product that can withstand the test of time is essential when purchasing an LED High Bay fixture. You wouldn’t choose your spouse based simply on how well a first date went, would you?

Steer clear of items made with these cost-cutting techniques

The quality grade of the LEDs that many fixture manufacturers acquire from them is not mentioned, despite the fact that they often claim to solely utilize name-brand LEDs. A mixture of goods with high performance, medium performance, and low performance are produced during the manufacture of LEDs. Manufacturers of LEDs organize them into groups based on performance and quality (a process known as LED binning) and then assign prices to each category. 

A mid-power LED can be purchased from a top-tier manufacturer for as little as 7 cents for the highest quality model to as little as 50 cents for the lowest! A typical strategy employed by well-known fixture makers to save money on the LEDs without being too evident is to purchase the lowest quality LEDs from top-tier brands. Even while the fixture performance appears to be excellent in the spec sheet, keep in mind that this is only a representation of performance on day one. Even in top-tier companies, poor quality LEDs quickly lose their performance, leaving the fixture owner dissatisfied after a short period of time.

Driving the LEDs to their maximum current allows certain makers of LED fixtures to lower the number of LEDs while still producing the same amount of light. This not only severely shortens the life of the LEDs but also produces glare and harshness for customers who might be turned off by the light’s glare as well as for people who frequently operate underneath the light fixture.

One of the newest practices cheap high bay manufacturers use is the use of thermoplastic packed LEDs that are smaller and of lower quality. The efficacy of these LEDs, which were originally intended for inside offices and other benign situations, has gotten close to that of their more expensive equivalents, therefore they are appearing in high bay fixtures more frequently. These thermoplastic LEDs degrade quite quickly because they are only made to function well for the requisite 6,000 hours of testing. They are severely influenced by the high temperatures of high bay applications because of their subpar construction materials and weak thermal characteristics, fast deviating from data sheet values, and fading earlier than anticipated.

Recognize how light quality can alter over time

CRI and CCT are two important metrics used to assess the light’s quality. CCT is the color appearance of the white light utilized, while CRI is the capacity of the light source to reproduce colors accurately (greater is better with a maximum of 100). High CCTs (5700K to 6500K) and low CRIs (70) are more effective in producing lumens, hence many fixture manufacturers rate their fixtures with such specifications, showcasing excellent efficacy numbers (LPW=lumens per watt). Efficacy can decrease by more than 10% when an LED fixture is set up with the specifications that the majority of industrial and commercial spaces demand (4000K – 5000K CCT, and 80 CRI). Be cautious to compare like with like. 

Also, keep in mind that the CCT in a product with poor engineering might change substantially over time; hopefully, the lighting fixture will be around for the long haul. On day one, inexpensive 5000K CCT LED lighting may range from 4700K to 5300K, and they may drift another 1000K CCT or more over the course of just a few years, producing uncomfortable, bright blue light. Keep in mind that DLC is not notified of or keeping an eye on these extended time CCT shifts.

Be alert! L70 doesn’t give the complete picture

The method of using TM21 to determine an LED fixture’s quality and life does not always provide the complete picture. As previously stated, factors like color shift are not related to a period of time that extends past the actual test hours. The TM21 calculator has some issues even though it was made to figure out lumen depreciation. For starters, it is based on test data from only 6,000 hours, during which many of the factors that contribute to the degradation of the LED output have not yet materialized. A few significant depreciation phases that will take place later are absent from the extrapolation of light output. In addition, unless specifically stated, TM21 does not account for environmental conditions such as reflector degradation, lens oxidation, or increasing ambient temperature exceeding 25°C.

Recognize the crucial role LED drivers play

For an LED fixture to last and perform well, the temperature of the LED die must be kept under control, and optical extraction efficiency must be maximized. That, however, does not tell the whole tale. The driver is sometimes overlooked while analyzing the lifespan of LED fixtures. Many inexpensive LED High Bay fixtures include drivers that, at 25°C ambient temperature, will only operate for between 25,000 and 50,000 hours, and in many cases MUCH LESS at realistic increased temps. Even DLC Premium doesn’t take into consideration this reduction in the driver’s expected life at high temperatures. Make sure the LED driver’s lifespan has been taken into account while designing the light fixture.

What factors you should think about before purchasing an LED high bay?
Your LED High Bay may need a surge protector

Compared to conventional sources, the components in an LED fixture are far more vulnerable to surge situations. Many LED high bays have replaced metal halide lamps, which were virtually impervious to electrical surges. The installation’s past lack of electrical quality issues does not guarantee future grid performance. Along with this inherent weakness, LED technology requires a substantially larger initial investment, which makes the little incremental cost of surge suppression more reasonable. Unlike older sources, which require routine maintenance over the course of ten or more years, an LED High Bay will likely be placed and left alone for that length of time. Make sure no electrical issues not covered by any manufacturer’s warranty reduce the long life of your LED High Bay investment.

Many folks that switch to LED also add LIGHTING CONTROLS, something they didn’t have before. Before the driver, these controls (on/off occupancy sensors, dimming occupancy sensors, and even more sophisticated Internet of Things or smart sensors) are frequently linked to the main line. This indicates that the driver’s built-in surge protection does not protect them. Additionally, these components are extremely vulnerable to surge occurrences.

Large industrial motors and electrical storms can produce electrical transient spikes that harm the electronic parts of LED lighting. Even without industrial motors inside your building, you are still in danger because motors outside your structure might still harm your installation! For high voltage (480V) LED lighting, we usually advise purchasing additional surge protection devices. It is much more possible that other devices are connected to the same circuits, which could result in extremely large electrical transients that harm the LED drivers’ built-in protection.

Surge protectors, both built-in and add-on, do deteriorate over time and lose their ability to protect. Many others won’t, but some will warn you. Use a removable external surge protector even if the installation is straightforward and the LED driver has a built-in surge protection system. This extra surge protector can often take 10,000 kV or more and several incidents. It costs typically less than 20% of the price of the LED driver itself to replace the surge suppression device if it malfunctions.

When does your LED high bay NOT need a surge protector? Only when the lighting circuits are isolated and have panel level surge control is it advised to pass on extra surge suppression. For all other situations, only one modest surge occurrence is necessary to make the small additional investment in surge suppression a wise decision.

Facts about sheet metal LED high bays

Lighting manufacturers have been creating HID and fluorescent light fixtures out of sheet metal for more than 30 years. Through the years, these businesses have honed their skills in selling and importing sheet metal from abroad at very low prices by piling it up thinly. Due to their use of economies of scale to reduce costs, these manufacturers preserved sheet metal as a significant element of the bill of materials in their LED designs as they embraced LED technology.

Time has shown that sheet metal is a poor material option for the majority of parts of an LED fixture for the following two reasons as LED lighting becomes a more established technology:

The thermal performance of sheet metal is subpar

Heat sinks ought to have a sizable surface area that is open to unrestricted airflow. The enormous flat surface of sheet metal that is facing upward and only has air moving around the edges is the final result. To enhance airflow, some manufacturers drill holes between the rows of LEDs, however, the air still only enters the gaps. The only way sheet metal could be made better is if all of the fixtures were installed perpendicular to how they currently are, which is illogical. Vendors are forced to lower LED current, raise the working temperature of the LED, or employ a very thick and heavy sheet of metal as a result of this thermal inefficiency. In the end, none of them are favorable in terms of the cost, simplicity of installation, and lifespan of the product.

Sheet metal is very pliable

Although it might not seem vital for a light fixture to be rigid if it survives transportation (after all, it is just hanging out in the ceiling! ), The comparatively sensitive LED PCBA is subjected to the same strain, stress, and vibrations because of its flexibility. Resonance can happen when there is vibration, amplifying the damage. Due to their extreme rigidity, LED chips are susceptible to internal cracking when they are vibrated. Even though the damage may not be apparent for several months, it worsens over time. Even if the manufacturer of the fixture upholds its warranty, you will still be responsible for the work and inconvenience.

Ensure that any LED High Bays you purchase have aluminum heatsinks

Due to their excellent heat dissipation, they are the most dependable, give higher performance, and enable a longer LED life. Higher rigidity and greater longevity are also advantages for LED High Bays with aluminum heatsinks and wireways, such as the Nova series high bay light, while maintaining a lightweight design for simpler installation.

Invest in fixtures with a forward-looking design

Light fixtures are no different from other goods in our lives that are becoming smarter or more intelligent. Even if you don’t see the benefit of spending money on a control solution right now, keep in mind that a high-quality LED High Bay fixture will last you at least 10 years. Instead of selecting a product that is bound to a closed ecosystem, it is crucial to find one that is controls agnostic. Instead of being compelled to utilize a potentially out-of-date or incompatible system in a few years, look for an LED fixture that can accommodate the installation of the control solution you may wish or require in the future. Just ten years ago, we were still learning how to operate our iPhones; today, most of us use our mobile devices more frequently than our desktops. Just think about what the next ten years hold!

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