The Potential Risks of Investing in Low-quality LEDs

By Torrin Greathouse | November 01, 2016

In the past decade, LED lighting has seen huge gains in popularity. With significant technological improvements each year, they have become the leading artificial lighting product on the market. Not all LEDs are equal though. Investing in cheap, low quality LED lights can do a facility more harm than good. Below are a few ways this investment could waste your money.

Visual Strain

LEDs are ballast driven lights, meaning that they rely on a ballast to control the current that the diodes receive. Lamps with poor quality ballasts have a tendency to flicker intermittently. While this flickering can be near imperceptible, its effects can be severe. Because our eyes naturally adjust to changes in light, this rapid change can cause repetitive eye strain. Prolonged exposure can even contribute to the development of stress induced migraines.

Negative Health Effects

A key issue many cheap LEDs face is that they produce a lot of light in the high blue spectrum. Overexposure to light on this spectrum can weaken the human immune system and slow the development of melatonin—the neurotransmitter that controls sleep. This can contribute to the development of insomnia, seasonal affective disorder, and pre-diabetes.

Loss of Intensity

Unlike older lighting products, LED lamps do not burn out all at once. Instead they lose intensity over time. On average, LEDs have a lifespan of approximately 50,000 hours. While this is impressive, some lamps can experience a loss of intensity of up to 20% after just 8,000 hours. This drastic loss in intensity can significantly increase energy costs, lengthening the ROI time for your lighting system.

Reduced Productivity

Between the spectrum and flicker mentioned above, as well as brightness, light quality can have a major effect on productivity. Workers in facilities lit with bright, diffused, broad spectrum light perform better than those in more dimly lit buildings. Poor quality light leaves employees tired and unfocused, which can also harm the bottom line.

To learn more about the lighting systems available on the market, download our eBook A Comprehensive Guide to Sustainable Lighting.

(Photo: Forte Chance Piemonte, CC.)
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