LED lighting has been the subject of many myths since the first installations of LED systems appeared several years ago. Many of those myths denigrated LED lighting on the basis of cost and performance. As LED technology has improved, early-stage problems have disappeared but the myths have remained. Rather than falling prey to those myths, organizations that are considering LED lighting for their own operations should base their decisions on objective facts about modern LED lighting systems.
Myth: LED lighting is expensive.
Fact: As with many new technologies, the first generations of LED lighting systems were costlier than traditional metal halide or high-pressure sodium alternatives. Upfront acquisition and installation costs have since fallen dramatically and LED retrofits or new installations can now be completed at competitive price points to those traditional systems. Moreover, LED lighting generates the same or better illumination with substantially lower power input. Upfront system costs are usually recovered very quickly from utility cost savings alone.
Myth: Light from LED bulbs is too harsh or bright.
Fact: New LED bulbs and control systems give operators much more flexibility to alter the color temperature and color coordinated index (“CCI”) of LED illumination to tone down the perceived harshness that might have plagued earlier LED systems. Modern fixtures and lenses also help to disperse lighting and to reduce glare from brighter bulbs.
Myth: All LED bulbs are identical.
Fact: LED bulbs include more complex technology than incandescent or fluorescent fixtures. Quality LED manufacturers push that technology to produce better and longer-lasting products that incorporate features such as advanced thermal control and more stable electronics. Some LED systems might cost less than others, but those lower-cost systems might not have the newest technology that creates improved lighting performance.
Myth: LED lamps never need to be replaced.
Fact: LED’s last substantially longer than traditional lighting fixtures, but the will need to be replaced at some point. On average, LED bulbs will perform above a minimum illumination level for 50,000 hours. Many continue to generate light beyond this average lifespan, but their total light output will be lower than when they were first brought into service. Facilities that install LED lighting systems will continue to need to plan for maintenance and replacement, but those needs will be substantially reduced in comparison to traditional lighting.
Myth: LED lighting is bad for your health.
Fact: Doctors’ groups did criticize early generations of LED light that had high concentrations of blue-wavelength lighting. Lighting in that wavelength tends to keep people alert and to interfere with circadian rhythms and sleep patterns. Newer LED systems have controls that allow operators to reduce blue wavelengths in favor of more calming orange or yellow lighting. Therefore the early criticisms are no longer as valid.